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Dozens of students at Thornhill school develop ‘norovirus-like illness’

news staff | posted Wednesday, Nov 23rd, 2016

Dozens of students at Thornhill Woods Public School have come down with an illness causing diarrhea and vomiting, but health officials are still trying to confirm what it is.

A teacher at the school said 192 children went home sick on Friday, and about a quarter of the students in her class were absent on Tuesday.

“What we are seeing at this school is a sudden onset of a short-duration illness composed of vomiting and diarrhea with quick recovery that is typical of a norovirus-like illness,” a York Region Public Health spokesperson told CityNews.

“We do not have lab confirmation of norovirus. We are waiting for lab confirmation at this time.”

The department is working to identify who has become ill and to collect stool samples for testing.

They have dispatched a team to help clean and disinfect the school and will sterilize it on an ongoing basis.

Officials are also reminding people to wash their hands and stay home for 48 hours even after they start to feel better.

Noroviruses cause gastroenteritis, an illness that usually includes diarrhea and/or vomiting. It is very contagious, and people exposed to the virus usually develop symptoms within 24 to 48 hours.

TTC board approves 10 cent fare hike for 2017

news staff | posted Tuesday, Nov 22nd, 2016

For the sixth straight year “The Better Way” will be the more expensive way after the TTC board approved a 10 cent fare hike for 2017.

The hike will apply to tokens, adult tickets, and cash fares for students and seniors. The cost of a Metropass will also go up.

Only adult cash fares will remain the same, at $3.25.


The board also voted to freeze fares in 2018.

Earlier, TTC CEO Andy Byford said he understands the public’s frustration with the string of yearly hikes, but stressed that the cash-strapped transit commission has few other options when it comes to filling a significant budget gap.

Byford made the remarks at Monday’s special budget meeting that saw several angry riders show up with “stop the race to the bottom” signs.

“I understand their pain I really do,” Byford told 680 NEWS. “And a fare rise is not something we recommend lightly. We looked at every possible option before even contemplating a fare rise.”


The TTC has now hiked fares every year over the past six years, and TTC board member Coun.Joe Mihevc argued futilely that it was time to halt the increases.

“We’ve increased the fares 10 cents every year for the past several years,” he noted. “And I’ve supported virtually all of them. So I’m not against fare increases. What I’m against are fare increases that are out of whack with the inflation rate and right now it’s way out of whack with the inflation rate.”


The TTC is facing a projected $231-million budget shortfall. Like all city departments, it has been asked to reduce its budget by 2.6 per cent.

The proposed fare hike is expected to generate $28.7 million, but it comes with a cost as the TTC estimates ridership will drop by 1.2 million.


Trump says in video he is assembling a Cabinet made up of ‘patriots’

Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press | posted Tuesday, Nov 22nd, 2016

Donald Trump held court from his perch high above Manhattan on Monday, receiving a line of former rivals, longtime allies and TV executives while overseeing a presidential transition that at times resembles a reality show like the one he once hosted.

Trump met with nearly a dozen prospective hires, all of whom were paraded in front of the cameras set up in the Trump Tower lobby as they entered an elevator to see the president-elect. Out of public view himself, he fell back on his TV star roots by filming a video that touted his legislative goals once he takes office.

Trump; did not immediately announce any appointments after the meetings, which came on the heels of a two-day whirlwind of interviews at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Unlike his predecessors, who often spoke with Cabinet candidates under a cloud of secrecy, Trump has turned the search into a very public audition process. The extraordinary exercise took on a routine feel on Monday: First, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown stepped off the gold-plated elevator into the marble-coated lobby after his meeting to declare to waiting reporters that he was “the best person” to become Veterans Affairs secretary.

Next, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a candidate for interior secretary, did much the same, striding off the lift to say she had “a wonderful discussion” with Trump. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry declined to speak to reporters, but he did take time for a photo with the Naked Cowboy, the underwear-sporting, guitar-strumming New York institution who is normally a fixture at Times Square but has spent recent days camped out at Trump Tower singing about the president-elect.

Democratic Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who resigned her post on the Democratic National Committee after endorsing Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, also met with Trump but entered and exited out of sight. She later defended crossing party lines to meet with Trump about U.S. involvement in Syria, saying in a statement she would never “play politics with American and Syrian lives.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a longtime Trump ally, also arrived with his wife, Callista, and told reporters that he indicated to Trump that he was interested in being a “senior planner” to co-ordinate long-term political efforts among the Republicans in control of all three branches of government.

Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said of the visitors, “Not all of them will be in his Cabinet and his federal government, but they are all incredibly important in offering their points of views, their experience and certainly their vision of the country.”

No one was saying whether Trump would announce more appointments before heading to Florida for Thanksgiving. He was planning to leave Tuesday or Wednesday to spend the holiday at his Mar-a-Lago estate, while Vice-President-elect Mike Pence will spend Thanksgiving in Mississippi, where his Marine son is stationed.

Related stories:

Russian ambassador to Canada calls Trump’s election ‘victory for common sense’

Trump again slams ‘Hamilton’; Pence says he wasn’t offended

Romney reportedly a contender for Secretary of State under Trump

Trump has largely remained out of sight since winning the election, save for a flurry of brief public appearances over the weekend, often with Pence at his side, to flash thumbs-ups and provide quick updates on his progress in building a government. He remained in the upper floors of his skyscraper Monday, seeking counsel on the phone and interviewing candidates all while keeping an eye on the cable news coverage of the day’s events.

He appeared in a two-and-a-half minute video released late Monday in which he pledged to the American people that he was appointing “patriots” to his administration and reiterated a number of his campaign promises, including plans to renegotiate trade deals, scrap excessive regulations and institute a five-year ban on executive officials becoming lobbyists.

The video – which made no mention of key pledges to build a border wall with Mexico or repeal the Affordable Care Act – continues the president-elect’s practice of trying to go over the heads of the media and take his case directly to the American public. Since Election Day, he has twice ditched the group of reporters designated to follow his movements and has so far eschewed the traditional news conference held by the president-elect in the days after winning.

Trump has not held a full-fledged news conference since July.

But the media were clearly on his mind as he met with executives and on-air personalities from TV networks. He frequently singled out the media – declaring them “so dishonest” – for criticism during the campaign, but it’s not unusual for presidents to hold off-the-record meetings with journalists when trying to promote policies or programs.

Among the attendees were NBC anchor Lester Holt and ‘Meet the Press’ host Chuck Todd, ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ host George Stephanopoulos and anchor David Muir, CBS’ ‘Face the Nation’ host John Dickerson, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and several executives at the networks.

None of the attendees would discuss the meeting with reporters in the lobby, though Conway said it was “very cordial, very productive, very congenial.”

Those Trump met with over the weekend included former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a former critic now being considered for secretary of state; retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, who Trump dubbed an “impressive” prospect for defence secretary, and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, who is under consideration for Commerce secretary.

“We’ve made a couple of deals,” Trump said Sunday. He gave assurances that “incredible meetings” would be bringing “incredible people” into the government.

Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey in Bedminster, New Jersey, Dave Bauder in New York and Julie Bykowicz and Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.

Kanye West hospitalized in Los Angeles after cancelling tour

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Nov 22nd, 2016

Rapper Kanye West has been hospitalized in Los Angeles – reportedly for stress and exhaustion – after abruptly cancelling the rest of his Saint Pablo concert tour, including a Canadian date in Toronto on Dec. 18.

Police were called to a house Monday for what turned out to be a medical situation and say West was taken to hospital and placed on psychiatric hold.

Only hours earlier, he’d pulled the plug on his tour after days of erratic behaviour that included an epic rant against Jay Z, Beyonce and Mark Zuckerberg early in his Saturday show in Sacramento before he left the stage.

Ontario advises other provinces to keep an eye on hydro bills as coal phased out

Keith Leslie, The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Nov 22nd, 2016

TORONTO – Ontario has some advice for its fellow provinces as they move to meet the federal government’s newly unveiled goal of eliminating coal-fired power generation in Canada by 2030: keep an eye on those electricity bills.

The province’s Liberal government likes to boast that shutting down coal plants has all but eliminated Ontario’s once-ubiquitous smog days, making life easier for people with asthma and other breathing problems.

But it cost billions of dollars to build new transmission lines and replace coal with power from natural gas, wind, solar and biomass projects — not to mention maintaining a fleet of expensive nuclear reactors that still supply about half of Ontario’s electricity.

Electricity rates for homes and small businesses in Ontario jumped 70 per cent between 2006 and 2014 as coal was being phased out.

The province’s auditor general said the Liberal government’s planning and implementation of new power generation as it moved to replace coal cost consumers an extra $37 billion during that time — including an extra $9.2 billion for green energy projects — and was expected to cost another $133 billion from 2015 to 2032.

The political fallout from soaring hydro bills is still causing problems for Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government, which is looking to take steps it hopes will defuse the anger of ratepayers before the 2018 election.

Wynne admitted on the weekend that she should have paid closer attention to the impact of the government’s programs on hydro bills.

“People have told me that they’ve had to choose between paying the electricity bill and buying food or paying rent,” Wynne said. “That is unacceptable to me. Our government made a mistake. It was my mistake.”

The federal government wants 90 per cent of Canada’s electricity to come from sustainable sources by 2030, up from 80 per cent now.

Ontario phased out the last of its coal-fired generating stations in 2014, but coal power in Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia still accounts for more than eight per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault urged those provinces Monday to make sure they have a diverse supply mix— wind, solar, biomass and nuclear power — to replace coal-fired generation.

“You need all of those to ensure you can replace the power that you’re eliminating,” Thibeault said.

“But the one thing I would suggest is they can never take their eye off the affordability ball. That’s something we could have done a better job at.”

It would have been a lot cheaper to just build more coal plants, admitted Thibeault. “We made the choice of clean and green, which to us is the right thing to do.”

For decades, Ontario relied on cheap electricity to help attract industry and drive its economy, with coal accounting for about 25 per cent of the province’s power supply by the 1990s.

However, the province’s five coal-fired generating plants were Canada’s largest source of pollutants that included sulphur dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, mercury, arsenic, lead and carbon dioxide.

While the Liberals get credit for shutting down the coal plants, it was former Progressive Conservative Premier Mike Harris who took the first step towards a coal-free Ontario in 1999 by closing the Lakeview Generating Station in Mississauga, one of the biggest polluters in the Toronto area.

That same year, then-Opposition leader Dalton McGuinty promised to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2007 if the Liberals won the 2003 election, which they did.

McGuinty’s plan, which called for replacing coal with a combination of conservation, renewable energy, natural gas and nuclear power, came from his senior adviser, Gerald Butts, who now holds the same position in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office.

McGuinty was repeatedly forced to delay the ambitious promise; in the end it took until 2014 to close the last of the plants.

But the Ontario Clean Air Alliance said the use of coal had dropped to negligible levels by as early as 2011 — the largest single reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions in North America, and the equivalent of taking seven million cars off the road.

“A precedent had been set that demonstrated that it was possible to take meaningful action on climate change and air quality without stalling economic growth or lowering quality of life,” the group concluded.

Local boys make good: Drake, Bieber win big at AMAs

Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Nov 21st, 2016

The 2016 American Music Awards featured a number of pop stars strumming their guitars, Drake making a rare awards show appearance, an emotional speech from Selena Gomez and political moments about President-elect Donald Trump.


Drake, who has skipped his fair share of awards shows in recent years, was the big winner with four awards and debuted a new commercial for Apple Music.

The Toronto native collected awards for rap/hip-hop artist, rap/hip-hop song: “Hotline Bling,” rap/hip-hop album: “Views,” and soul/R&B song: “Work,” Rihanna featuring Drake.

“For our genre, I just like to keep things excited and keep making music. Shout out to everybody that’s trying to do the same thing,” said Drake, who broke Michael Jackson’s record for most AMA nominations after scoring 13 nominations.

Fellow Canadian Justin Bieber, who performed from his tour in Zurich, Switzerland, also won four awards – pop/rock male artist, pop/rock song: “Love Yourself,” pop/rock album: “Purpose,” and video of the year: “Sorry.”

Gomez, who lost artist of the year to Ariana Grande but won favourite female artist – pop/rock, gave a heartfelt speech onstage that earned a loud applause from the audience at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

“I think it’s safe to say that most of you know a lot of my life whether I liked it or not, and I had to stop, ’cause I had everything, and I was absolutely broken inside. And I kept it all together to where I never let you down. But I kept it too much together where I let myself down,” said 24-year-old Gomez, who recently took time off to treat depression and anxiety.

“I don’t want to see your bodies on Instagram. I want to see what’s in here,” she added, pointing to her heart. “And I have to say thank you so much to my fans because you guys are so damn loyal, and I don’t know what I did to deserve you. If you are broken, you don’t have to stay broken.”

Grande was shaking onstage as she collected artist of the year at the fan-voted show that aired live on ABC, beating Adele, Rihanna, Carrie Underwood and Bieber. “With or without this, I love you from the bottom of my heart,” she said to her fans.

Green Day was one of many big-named acts promoting new albums at the AMAs, including Bruno Mars, the Weeknd, Lady Gaga, Sting, John Legend and The Chainsmokers. But Green Day got political during their performance of “Bang Bang” as band leader Billie Joe Armstrong sang “No KKK, no fascist USA, no Trump” during the show.

The show’s hosts – former “Saturday Night Live” comic Jay Pharaoh and model Gigi Hadid – also mentioned the Trump family when telling jokes: After Pharaoh impersonated Jay Z, Hadid acted like Melania Trump.

“I love my husband, President Barack Obama, and our children, Sasha and Malia,” she said, scrunching up her face.

Strumming guitars while singing was one of the night’s themes: One Direction’s Niall Horan slowed things down for his acoustic-folk solo single, “This Town”: James Bay sang his smoky single, “Let It Go”; and Shawn Mendes performed his hit “Treat You Better” and switched to piano for the aching “Mercy.”

But the best singer-guitarist was Gaga, who beautifully belted the lyrics to her latest single, “Million Reasons.” She earned a rousing applause from the audience.

Sting also impressed, who performed “Message In a Bottle,” “Every Breathe You Take” and his new single, “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You.” He received the American Music Award of Merit, which was presented to him by Robert Downey Jr.

“American music lit the musical spark in my young mind,” the English singer said after his performance. “My musical soul is all American!”

Other highlights included double winners twenty one pilots and Mars, who kicked off the AMAs with his groovy hit, “24K Magic,” backed by his band who matched his slick, upbeat dance moves.

Grande and Nicki Minaj got steamy during their performance of the reggae-tinged “Side to Side”: Grande’s background dancers danced closely on her, and one male dancer even pulled up her skirt, while Minaj, who rapped from a chair, spread her legs widely.

Other performers included Maroon 5 with Kendrick Lamar; DJ Khaled with Minaj, Future, Rick Ross and August Alsina; and Fifth Harmony, who won collaboration of the year for “Work from Home” with Ty Dolla $ign.

Prince’s 1984 “Purple Rain” album, which gained new attention after his death in April, won top soundtrack. His sister, Tyka Nelson, collected his trophy onstage and cried as she spoke to the audience.

“We’ll keep this for you at Paisley Park until we see you again,” she said weeping and naming her siblings. “This is for you.”

Other winners included Tim McGraw, the Chainsmokers and Florida Georgia Line. Rihanna, who didn’t attend, won three awards. Adele and Beyonce were also absent but both won an award.

Zayn, who has won a handful of AMAs with his One Direction bandmates, took home new artist of the year.

“Wow. This one just has my name on it, right?” he said. “This has been a crazy year … I didn’t expect anyone to vote for me, so thank you for voting for me.”

With files from The Canadian Press

Special weather statement issued for Toronto and GTA

News staff | posted Monday, Nov 21st, 2016

Toronto and the GTA are under a special weather statement, with more snow in the forecast and icy roads expected to snarl the morning and evening commute.

Environment Canada issued the weather statement for Toronto, Caledon, Mississauga, Brampton, York, and Durham on Monday morning.

Flurries off of Georgian Bay are expected to continue, and some areas could receive an additional two to five centimetres of snow.

Roads may be icy and that will have a significant impact on traffic. Beck Taxi is already warning that wait times may run slightly longer than normal.

The weather will be cloudy and windy with few sunny breaks, 680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said.

Winds could hit 50 km/h, with even stronger gusts in some areas. There’s a high of 1 C in the forecast and with the wind chill, it will feel like -8 C.

Sabra brand hummus recalled due to Listeria concerns

News staff | posted Monday, Nov 21st, 2016

Health Canada has issued a product recall on certain brand of hummus.

Sabra Canada Inc. says all brands of hummus with best before dates up to and including January 23, 2017 are being recalled due to concerns over Listeria monocytogenes.

The recall coincides with a similar one in the United States where Listeria was found at the manufacturing centre but not in any of the products tested.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products, said the Health Canada statement.

The recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

Food contaminated with Listeria may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness. In severe cases of illness, people may die.

A complete list of the products affected can be found at this link.

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