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Train derails in north India, killing up to 96 passengers

Rajesh Kumar Singh, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Nov 21st, 2016

At least 96 people were killed Sunday when 14 coaches of an overnight passenger train rolled off the track in northern India, with rescue workers using cutting torches to try to pull out survivors, police said.

The body of a victim lies buried amid the mangled remains of crashed bogies after 14 coaches of an overnight passenger train rolled off the track near Pukhrayan village,Kanpur Dehat district, Uttar Pradesh state, India, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. Dozens were killed and dozens more were injured in the accident. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

The body of a victim lies buried amid the mangled remains of crashed bogies after 14 coaches of an overnight passenger train rolled off the track near Pukhrayan village,Kanpur Dehat district, Uttar Pradesh state, India, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. Dozens were killed and dozens more were injured in the accident. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Daljeet Chaudhary, a director general of police, said the death toll was likely to rise because rescue workers had yet to gain access to one of the worst-damaged coaches.

The bodies were retrieved from the mangled coaches that fell on their side after the train derailed at around 3:10 a.m., jolting awake passengers. More than 200 other passengers were injured as some coaches crumpled when they crashed into others, trapping hundreds of people inside.

“We are being very careful in using the cutting torches,” Chaudhary said.

The derailment occurred near Pukhrayan, a village near the industrial city of Kanpur.

Rescuers used the torches to open the derailed train cars to reach those trapped inside, while cranes were deployed to lift the coaches from the tracks. However, rescue workers were moving cautiously as some of the coaches were precariously tilted and there was the danger of the coach toppling over, causing injuries to people trapped inside.

Medical teams were providing first aid near the site, while the more seriously injured were moved to hospitals in Kanpur, Chaudhary said. Around 200 people were injured, 72 of them seriously, he said.

Police were having a hard time keeping away hundreds of people from nearby villages who were the first to reach the accident site. “We have cordoned off some area near the coaches to keep people from hampering the rescue efforts,” Chaudhary said.

Passenger Satish Kumar said that the train was travelling at normal speed when it stopped suddenly.

“It restarted, and then we heard a crash. When we came out of the train, we saw a few coaches had derailed,” said Kumar, whose coach remained standing on the track.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his concern over the derailment.

“Anguished beyond words on the loss of lives due to the derailing of the Patna-Indore express. My thoughts are with the bereaved families,” Modi posted on his Twitter account.

Kanpur is a major railway junction and hundreds of trains pass through the city every day. Several trains using the line have been diverted to other routes, Anil Saxena, spokesman for Indian Railways, said in New Delhi.

It was not immediately clear what caused the coaches to derail. Rail authorities have ordered an investigation into the accident, Saxena said.

Accidents are relatively common on India’s sprawling rail network, which is one of the world’s largest but lacks modern signalling and communication systems. Most crashes are blamed on poor maintenance and human error.

Trains are the most popular mode of transport for millions of Indians, with around 23 million using the country’s vast railway network every day.

India’s worst train accident occurred in 1981 near Saharsa Bihar when a passenger train fell into the Baghmati River, killing nearly 800 people. Several other major train crashes have claimed hundreds of lives each since then.

Christmas time is here: Santa comes to town, tree lighting events this weekend

PATRICIA D'CUNHA AND SAMANTHA KNIGHT | posted Friday, Nov 18th, 2016

Santa Claus is coming to town on Sunday. So soon, you ask? No, he is right on time.

With Christmas just over a month away, the holly and jolly festive season kicks into high gear in the GTA this weekend. The parade in Toronto is one of the highlights of the season.


Toronto Santa Claus Parade
It’s that time of year, again, when St. Nick temporarily leaves the North Pole to make his appearance at the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto on Sunday.

He is a very busy man at this time of the year. While he is making a list of who has been naughty or nice, he also has a list of places to visit before Christmas Eve.

On Sunday, Santa will make his way to the 112th annual parade but not before floats and marching bands delight children (and the young at heart). The parade starts at 12:30 p.m. at Bloor and Christie streets. It then heads down Bloor to Queen’s Park Crescent East, University Avenue, Wellington Street, and ends at Front and Jarvis streets around 3-4 p.m. Click here or see below for the parade route.


Ahead of the parade, the Holly Jolly Fun Run will travel the parade route at 11:45 a.m., but ends at Maple Leaf Square.

Toronto Christmas Market
Rediscover the magic of Christmas at the Toronto Christmas Market. The Christmas Market is now in its seventh year and has once again taken over the Distillery District.


Revellers can take in sparkling Christmas displays, traditional music and carols, and dance performances. There are also family-friendly activities including Santa’s House, a Ferris wheel, a carousel and a life-sized gingerbread house. You can get cozy with your loved one at the “Under the Mistletoe” sculpture, or strike a pose in the Hershey’s Kisses Deluxe Photo Booth.

The event officially kicks off on Friday with a special tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. The market runs until Dec. 22.

Tree lighting
In the lead up to next weekend’s Cavalcade of Lights at Nathan Phillips Square, several tree-lighting events will brighten up Toronto this weekend. There is also a tree-lighting event in Mississauga.


Illuminite, the tree-lighting ceremony at Yonge-Dundas Square, will take place on Saturday. Revellers can enjoy live music starting at 5 p.m. ahead of the tree lighting at 6 p.m.

Around the same time, a tree lighting ceremony takes place in Bloor-Yorkville. The event, which runs from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Village of Yorkville Park, features a live performance from Shawn Desman. For a suggesting donation of $2, you can enjoy some refreshments too. Money raised will go to the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research.


That same day, at 2 p.m., Rosedale will hold its own Cavalcade of Lights celebration along a portion of Yonge Street. Aside from the tree lighting, there will be live music, food and drinks, photos with Santa and carriage rides. The event runs until 6 p.m.

Light Up the Square
Mississauga’s Celebration Square will be turning into a wintry wonderland this Saturday with Light Up the Square.

There will be skating, carousel rides, family activities, a pop up Holiday Street Market and plenty of cheer to go around. There will also be food trucks, in case you get hungry. Canadian singer Stella Rio will perform Christmas classics and new music to help celebrate the season. Mayor Bonnie Crombie, members of council and Santa Claus will be on hand for an official lighting of the Christmas tree.

Light Up the Square runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and guests can check out the Holiday Street Market all day long from noon to 11 p.m.

Hot Docs Podcast Festival
You listen to them while your commuting to work, washing the dishes, at the gym and falling asleep. Now, you can see your favourite podcasts live on stage. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema is hosting a Podcast Festival from Friday to Sunday.

It includes one-of-a-kind events, live podcasts, various panels and networking opportunities. Some of the podcasts include Criminal, Under the Influence with Terry O’Reilly, and Mystery Show.

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo
Wine and cheese lovers, rejoice. The Gourmet Food and Wine Expo is back for its 22nd year at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.


The four-day-long event, which starts on Thursday, will allow you to sip and savour your way through international gourmet cuisine, exotic delicacies and over 1,500 fine wines, spirits and beers. Highlights include the Tutored Tasting Program, the Chef Stage and the Spiritology Pavilion.

There will also be live entertainment throughout the show. Guests must be 19 years or older to attend.

Trinity Bellwoods Flea Pre Holiday Market
It’s never too early to get a head start on your Christmas shopping list, and the Trinity Bellwoods Flea Pre Holiday Market is here to help.

The market features 75 vendors offering one-of-a-kind gifts. You will be able to find everything from art, fashion and beauty to baby supplies, jewelry and food. The market runs Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Studio Bar located on Dundas Street West near Bathurst Street.

TTC closure

Line 3 shutdown
TTC riders in the east end will have to rely on shuttle buses to get them downtown on Saturday. The entire Line 3 (Scarborough RT), from McCowan to Kennedy stations, will be shut down for track work.

Line 3 will also be shut down on Nov. 26 for track work. Shuttle buses will be running.

Toronto police board approves revised carding policy that retains old data

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Nov 18th, 2016

The Toronto Police Services Board has approved a new carding policy that will allow police to retain data collected under the old system.

Police Chief Mark Saunders emerged from Thursday’s board meeting, saying the data can be useful in a variety of ways, and would only be accessed with great discretion.

“In order to get access to it, it has to go through me,” he said. “(We want) the public to have an understanding of why we are using the information.”

New provincial regulations on carding come into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, prohibiting officers from stopping any person to collect data based on race.

Police must also inform members of the public of their right not to talk with an officer. Refusing to co-operate cannot be used as a reason to compel information.

In a statement, Mayor John Tory said he “advocated for the deletion of the historical data” but added the board “received compelling advice related to the legal and practical rationale against deletion.

“I am satisfied that the resulting policy appropriately restricts access to this data and increases accountability and transparency around its use.”

Journalist, activist and vocal opponent of carding, Desmond Cole, derided the decision on Twitter, saying “the racist practice continues.”

With files from The Canadian Press 

Youngest ever MPP elected in Niagara byelection on Thursday

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 18th, 2016

The Progressive Conservatives have held the riding of Niagara West-Glanbrook in one of two byelections tonight, electing a 19-year-old student as the youngest ever member of the Ontario legislature.

Sam Oosterhoff, a social conservative who lives with his parents, easily held onto the Niagara riding that had been represented for the past 21 years by former Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak.

Oosterhoff led from the start, and with over 96 per cent of polls reporting had garnered more than 53 per cent of the vote, compared with 25 per cent for New Democrat Mike Thomas.

“Today we sent a very strong message to Premier (Kathleen) Wynne: people are fed up. People have had enough of soaring hydro rates. People have had enough of cuts to health care,” Oosterhoff said to cheering supporters at his campaign celebration in Grimbsy.

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said instead of campaigning on their record, the Liberals attacked Oosterhoff for his social conservative beliefs.

“The Liberals resorted to a smear campaign on Sam, but Sam focused on jobs. Sam focused on how we’re going to get Ontario back on its feet,” said Brown.

Brown had been accused of muzzling Oosterhoff after the home-schooled social conservative who lives with his parents won the party’s nomination, in part by courting people opposed to the 2015 update to Ontario’s sex ed curriculum.

Brown himself had flip-flopped on the sex ed issue in a September byelection in Toronto’s Scarborough-Rouge River riding, eventually saying he backs the curriculum changes. And he said Oosterhoff now supports the party’s position.

But Oosterhoff repeatedly refused to say if he would try to repeal the sex-ed update if the Conservatives win the 2018 general election.

He described himself as “100 per cent pro life,” but wouldn’t say if he’d vote with the Conservatives to support a Liberal bill that would update the definition of families to recognize the rights of same-sex couples by using the word parent in place of father or mother.

“We have a long-standing tradition within the PC party of allowing members to vote their conscience,” he said in a recent interview.

However, Brown said that while he likes some free votes, “I have asked my caucus to support the direction I’m taking as a party.”

Oosterhoff said his age was not an issue when he knocked on doors during the campaign, but he balked at questions about his home-schooling experience, and got defensive when pressed for details.

“You know what, the people who accepted my application and gave me big scholarships at Brock (University) seemed to like it okay,” he said.

When asked how much he got in scholarships, the teen responded: “That’s for me to know and you to find out.”

In tonight’s other byelection, Liberal Nathalie Des Rosier held on to the Liberal stronghold of Ottawa-Vanier, fending off a challenge from a former Ontario ombudsman.

With over 80 per cent of polls reporting, Des Rosier had over 48 per cent of the vote, compared with 28 per cent for Progressive Conservative Andre Marin.

Patrick Brown had called Ottawa-Vanier the safest Liberal seat in the province and hoped to embarrass Premier Kathleen Wynne by coming within 10 percentage points of the Liberals, but it was not to be.

At Des Rosiers’ victory party, Wynne said the new MPP will fight at the legislature for the values she has fought for her whole career, including a “fair and inclusive society.”

When asked if she is worried Oosterhoff will work against those values, Wynne was coy.

“All I can do as a politician, as a human being, is to stand up for what I believe in and gather people around me who share the same values and we are working in our party for that inclusive society,” she said.


Volkswagen to shed 30,000 jobs to cut costs after scandal

DAVID MCHUGH, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 18th, 2016

Automaker Volkswagen said Friday it will shed 30,000 jobs to cut costs as it tries to recover from its diesel emissions scandal and invests more in electric-powered vehicles and digital services.

Company officials said at a news conference at headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, that 23,000 of the job cuts will come in Germany. It said the measures will save some 3.7 billion euros ($4 billion) a year from 2020.

Volkswagen has agreed to pay $15 billion under a settlement with U.S. authorities and owners of some 500,000 vehicles with software that turned off emissions controls. Around 11 million cars worldwide have the deceptive software. The scandal has been a spur for the company to address problems such as excessively top-down management and excessive fixed costs at its manufacturing locations in Germany.

The company has said it aims to cut nonessential costs and investments and shift investment toward battery-powered cars and services such as car-sharing and ride-sharing.

CEO Matthias Mueller said it was “the biggest reform package in the history of our core brand.” In addition to Volkswagen, the company also makes cars under other brands including Porsche, Audi, SEAT, Skoda and Lamborghini.

Herber Diess, head of the core Volkswagen brand, said that Volkswagen had let its costs rise and “lost ground in terms of productivity.”

Volkswagen Group, with its multiple brands, has more than 600,000 employees but the cuts will mainly fall on its 120,000-strong German work force.

The company cut a deal with its powerful worker representatives under which future investment would be in Germany and the reduction in staff would rely on voluntary departures such as early retirement, with no firings.

Top employee representative Bernd Osterloh said that “the next generation of electric vehicles will be made here in Germany, not abroad.”

Other job cuts are foreseen in Brazil and Argentina.

Leonard Cohen died in his sleep after a fall, manager says

The Associated Press | posted Thursday, Nov 17th, 2016

Singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen died in his sleep after falling down in the middle of the night at his Los Angeles home, his manager said Wednesday.

“The death was sudden, unexpected and peaceful,” manager Robert B. Kory said in a statement.

The details from Kory provided the first glimpse of how Cohen died. No cause was given last week in the initial announcement of his death.

The statement also said that Cohen died on Nov. 7 – three days before his passing was made public.

The singer, songwriter and poet behind “Hallelujah,” “Bird on a Wire” and “Suzanne” was 82 when he died. Cohen had been in declining health for much of the year, though he revealed few details.

He is survived by his children, Adam and Lorca, and his three grandchildren, Cassius, Viva and Lyon, the statement said.

Cohen was buried in Montreal in a small ceremony on Nov. 10, the same day his death was announced.

“With only immediate family and a few lifelong friends present, he was lowered into the ground in an unadorned pine box, next to his mother and father,” Adam Cohen wrote in a statement last week.

Cohen’s representatives say a memorial in Los Angeles is being planned.

Peel garbage collectors on strike

News staff | posted Thursday, Nov 17th, 2016

Private waste collectors in a large part of Peel Region are now on strike after a midnight deadline came and went without a new agreement.

Talks between Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 183 and Emterra Waste Management broke down Wednesday afternoon.

Workers began picketing outside Emterra Environmental, at 1611 Britannia Rd. E. in Mississauga, before 5 a.m. on Thursday.

The job action affects more than 60 per cent of homes in Peel Region, including large sections of Mississauga, Brampton and all of Caledon. About 150,000 homes are affected. A map of the affected area can be seen below, or click here to view it.


Garbage collection in the southern part of Peel is handled by a different company and not affected by the strike.

Residents are asked to put their garbage out according to their regular collection schedule. They can also drop off their garbage at one of the region’s community recycling centres, which will have extended hours for the duration of the strike. Residential disposal fees will not apply for garbage, recycling and yard waste during the strike.

Click here for the list of community recycling centres.


Ontario PCs hope to unseat Liberals in two byelections, elect teen


Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives hope to make history Thursday in two byelections, with a teenage candidate in the Niagara area and a former provincial ombudsman trying to take an Ottawa seat from the Liberals.

The Tories are expected to hold Niagara West-Glanbrook even with an upstart 19-year-old candidate stirring up controversy by taking social conservative stances that run contrary to PC leader Patrick Brown’s attempts at modernizing the party.

But the Tories are also taking a hard run at Ottawa-Vanier, which has elected only Liberals since 1971.

Former ombudsman Andre Marin is running under the PC banner there and is trying to capitalize on anger over rising electricity rates and the declining popularity of Premier Kathleen Wynne.

When he mentions Wynne’s name while campaigning, people “bristle,” Marin said. “They have a physical reaction.”

The Liberal candidate, civil liberties lawyer Nathalie Des Rosiers, acknowledged that hydro prices are a hurdle for her in the campaign.

“It’s normal at mid-mandate that one issue becomes a catalyst for disappointment on a variety of points of view, so in a byelection that usually is the case – there’s one issue that becomes the symbol of discontent,” she said.

The Liberal government announced an eight-per-cent rebate on electricity bills will come into effect Jan. 1, but it remains to be seen whether it is enough to satisfy the 94 per cent of Ontarians that government-commissioned polling shows are eager for hydro price relief.

The Liberal candidate in Niagara West-Glanbrook, Vicki Ringuette, was booed and jeered at a recent all candidates meeting when she talked about the rebate.

“It is not the kind of reaction I’m getting at the doors,” said Ringuette. “They want to talk about the issues that are important to this community, health care, schools, the fact that we’re getting increased day care spaces.”

But PC candidate Sam Oosterhoff – who would be the youngest person elected to the legislature – said rising electricity bills and anger over the installation of giant wind turbines in the riding are the top issues people bring up with him.

“People are upset and are worried about the direction the Liberals are taking Ontario,” he said. “People want a voice of change and I’m excited to be that voice.”

Oosterhoff, who describes himself as “100 per cent pro life,” said he agrees that Ontario’s sex-education curriculum needed to be updated, but he wouldn’t say if he’d work to repeal the changes if the Tories win the 2018 election.

“I think we need to ensure that we have a curriculum that was crafted in consultation with parents, and the Liberals have done a really bad job on that,” he said.

Oosterhoff, who beat out PC party president Rick Dykstra and a party vice-president to win the nomination, also refused to say where he stands on same-sex marriage, insisting it’s not an issue in the byelection.

The teenage candidate believes he can vote against his party’s positions in the legislature.

“I’m very proud of the PC party having a long-standing tradition of allowing open votes on matters of deeply held conscience,” he said.

The Liberals claim Oosterhoff started “sanitizing” his Twitter account to delete posts about his social conservative views, while some Conservatives accused Brown’s office of “muzzling” their candidate.

In Ottawa-Vanier, the Liberals took a screen capture of a now-deleted tweet showing Marin’s campaign manager holding a pro-Trump sign, and planned to use it to say the Tories’ values are not in line with the community’s.

Marin said he doesn’t perform “mind control” on his staff, who are free to do what they want.

“Listen, I’m just about as far from a Trump supporter as you could possibly imagine,” Marin said.

“(The Liberals) should look at themselves in the mirror and say, ‘You know, we’re a lot like Trump’ because in many ways he won the election by being a slimy, sleazy smearer and Nathalie Des Rosiers should think twice before she embarks on that course of action.”

The NDP candidate in Ottawa-Vanier is Claude Bisson, brother of the party’s house leader in the legislature, Gilles Bisson. The New Democrat running in Niagara is former Hamilton police officer Mike Thomas, who signed a five-year membership in the Ontario PC party in September.

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