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Two-legged puppy found in dumpster gets new prosthetic limbs

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Feb 10th, 2017

A two-legged puppy found in a Toronto dumpster late last month took its first steps with new prosthetic limbs on Thursday.

The Great Pyrenees cross, which was born without front legs, was found in a garbage bag in a dumpster behind a building.

The Oakville-based Dog Rescuers Inc. took the puppy in and named it Cupid.

The eight-week-old pup has to use “training skis” — which the Dog Rescuers calls the Canadian version of training wheels — to develop its back legs and core muscles and to learn how to move its legs forward.

The prosthetics were made by the Toronto-based company PawsAbility.

Python on the loose at University of Guelph

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Feb 10th, 2017

Campus police at an Ontario university say they’re searching for a snake believed to be loose in a building that houses the school’s administration offices, cafeteria and food court.

They say the small ball python was reported missing Thursday at the University of Guelph.

Officials say a student brought the reptile to campus in a backpack.

Campus police and pest control specialists are searching the building for the four-year-old brown and black snake that is about 60 centimetres long.

Ball pythons may bite, so people are being warned not to pick it up.

But Hugues Beaufrere, chief of the Avian and Exotic Medicine Service at the Ontario Veterinary College, says the python isn’t dangerous or venomous.

“People have nothing to fear from a small ball python,” Beaufrere said.

“It is likely scared and trying to hide, looking for some place warm,” he said.

U.S. appeals court refuses to reinstate Trump’s travel ban

Sudhin Thanawala, The Associated Press | posted Friday, Feb 10th, 2017

A federal appeals court refused Thursday to reinstate President Donald Trump’s ban on travellers from seven predominantly Muslim nations, dealing another legal setback to the new administration’s immigration policy.

In a unanimous decision, the panel of three judges from the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to block a lower-court ruling that suspended the ban and allowed previously barred travellers to enter the U.S. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is possible.

The court rejected the administration’s claim that it did not have the authority to review the president’s executive order.

“There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy,” the court said.

The judges noted that the states had raised serious allegations about religious discrimination.


U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order halting the ban last week after Washington state and Minnesota sued. The ban temporarily suspended the nation’s refugee program and immigration from countries that have raised terrorism concerns.

Justice Department lawyers appealed to the 9th Circuit, arguing that the president has the constitutional power to restrict entry to the United States and that the courts cannot second-guess his determination that such a step was needed to prevent terrorism.

The states said Trump’s travel ban harmed individuals, businesses and universities. Citing Trump’s campaign promise to stop Muslims from entering the U.S., they said the ban unconstitutionally blocked entry to people based on religion.

Both sides faced tough questioning during an hour of arguments Tuesday conducted by phone — an unusual step — and broadcast live on cable networks, newspaper websites and social media. It attracted a huge audience.

The judges hammered away at the administration’s claim that the ban was motivated by terrorism fears, but they also challenged the states’ argument that it targeted Muslims.

“I have trouble understanding why we’re supposed to infer religious animus when, in fact, the vast majority of Muslims would not be affected,” Judge Richard Clifton, a George W. Bush nominee, asked an attorney representing Washington state and Minnesota.

Only 15 per cent of the world’s Muslims are affected by the executive order, the judge said, citing his own calculations.

“Has the government pointed to any evidence connecting these countries to terrorism?” Judge Michelle T. Friedland, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, asked the Justice Department attorney.

The lower-court judge temporarily halted the ban after determining that the states were likely to win the case and had shown that the ban would restrict travel by their residents, damage their public universities and reduce their tax base. Robart put the executive order on hold while the lawsuit works its way through the courts.

After that ruling, the State Department quickly said people from the seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — with valid visas could travel to the U.S. The decision led to tearful reunions at airports round the country.

The Supreme Court has a vacancy, and there’s no chance Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, will be confirmed in time to take part in any consideration of the ban.

The ban was set to expire in 90 days, meaning it could run its course before the court would take up the issue. The administration also could change the order, including changing its scope or duration.

Hey, parents! Take your baby off social media

Colin Horgan | posted Thursday, Feb 9th, 2017

The way they tell it, Yasser Korany and Genevieve Maheux-Pelletier were asked to sign a photo waiver at their son’s school in Kleinburg, Ontario, which would allow for photographs and videos of their child to be posted to social media. Yasser and Genevieve refused to sign it. Now their kid, Karim, won’t appear in the class photo and, they say, has been excluded from some class projects.

When they complained, the school board responded by noting how impossible it would be to prevent photos of their son ending up online somehow. That’s likely very true; people take pictures of groups of children at school events and post them online constantly. How could the school do anything about that?

But Korany and Maheux-Pelletier aren’t crazy to ask for some leeway on the school’s policy—in fact, just the opposite. Their request is reasonable. Whether they realize it or not, they’re asking the school to grant their child a simple, but valuable thing: freedom.

As a new father, I think it’s a reasonable request. Before our son was born, my fiancée and I decided we would do all we can to keep his face off social media for as long as possible. In coming to that conclusion, we talked about the contrived social expectation that we post photos of him online.

Why would it actually be necessary, we asked? Wouldn’t we email or text pictures with our family members and close friends, anyway? What was it about the idea of posting photos to Facebook in particular that made it so alluring? I personally felt it just come down to the “likes”—that same fleeting feeling of outside validation obtained by posting photos of holidays or our cat. And if that were the case, then what benefit would our son receive in that scenario, as someone unable to reasonably consent to anything, let alone understand what we were doing?

Ultimately, the deal largely seemed to break down like this: We would get to post photos of our child and get to feel good about ourselves for a few minutes, and he would get his photo on the internet forever. That seemed unfair.

Because that profile created for him (even without an actual profile page, and small though it may be) would hardly be limited, even to whatever circle we chose in our account settings. Photos are still, for example, mined for data—particularly for information about who is in them. Whether we posted our child’s name along with the photo, or whether we tagged him in it or not, Facebook’s facial recognition software would likely still know he exists (as would Google’s or Snapchat’s). And though we, as adults, have notionally signed a consent for that to occur, our child had obviously not.

The information about us online, however much there is, is meaningful—perhaps more so than we consider day to day.

In Dave Eggers’s The Circle, Mae—an employee of a fictional mega-social media company—at one point finds, to her surprise, that her social media history is being displayed for a large group in an auditorium as part of a company presentation. Despite being a convert to the company’s ethos of openness and personal transparency, the incident irks her. What was it that mortified her?

“She couldn’t put her finger on it. Was it only the surprise of it? Was it the pinpoint accuracy of the algorithms? Maybe,” Eggers writes. “But then again, it wasn’t entirely accurate, so was that the problem? Having a matrix of preferences presented as your essence, as the whole you? Maybe that was it. It was some kind of mirror, but it was incomplete, distorted.”

Whether we like it or not, the information online that is attached to our face will—and already has—come to define who we are, in some fashion. It might not contribute a lot, but it’s something. As adults, we are aware of this. And if we find, for instance—maybe after installing ProPublica’s browser extension that reveals what Facebook thinks we like—that some of that information is incorrect, we can take steps to fix it, and to rein in the assumed parameters of our personality.

Children can’t do that on their own. So, every time their face goes online without their consent, there is the implied assumption they don’t have a personality worth protecting. Instead, the thinking seems to go, they’re just babies, doing baby stuff.

But one day they won’t be, and they will find themselves, even if in just a small part, defined for a large group of people and for companies—complete strangers, in other words—by images of their life someone else gave away. Where they have been, who they were with, what they did on a particular day—none of it will belong to them alone. It will all be proprietary data. They will not own those memories. They won’t even own the ability to forget.

They will be just like their parents. Except they had no choice.

Does this mean that we have shared nothing online with friends and family about our son? No. There is a picture of his legs. Another of his back. One of his arm. He has been the subject of status updates. We have not been perfect; nobody is. We’re also not Luddites. Photo printing is expensive or non-existent; it’s convenient to email or text a picture.

But the social media algorithms have yet to see his face. And for as long as possible, as much as we can, we will try to give him something many of his peers have already lost: freedom from the machine.

Is it too much to hope that other people help in that regard? I don’t think it’s crazy to ask.

Are You Being Discriminated Against Because of Your Name?

Andrea Chiu | posted Thursday, Feb 9th, 2017

Expectant parents know the importance of their baby’s name. They spend hours combing through books and consulting friends, trying to find the perfect name that incorporates their families’ roots and reflects their hopes for their child’s future.

However, if you’re an immigrant or a person of ethnic origin, you know that living in Canada with a “funny” name can result in discrimination. When we were kids, it meant getting teased on the playground. As adults, it means a more subtle kind of prejudice, often occurring in the workforce.

A recent joint University of Toronto and Ryerson University study found that when it comes to jobs requiring a university degree, Asian-named applicants have a 32.6 percent lower rate of interview selection when compared to Anglo-named applicants with equivalent Canadian qualifications. This trend was observed independently of the skill level required for the position and the size of the hiring company.

 When I posted this news story on Facebook, my friend Hsiu-Yan Chan, a Calgary-based engineer, was the first to comment. “This hits pretty close to home,” she wrote. Unlike my parents, Chan’s parents gave her a distinctly Chinese first name.
“I always knew it was my turn on roll call when the substitute teacher would awkwardly pause,” she remembers.

While she is proud to have a Chinese name, Chan knows that it has also presented her with more challenges. “I know that I have had to work harder to get the same opportunities compared to others who have more common ‘Canadian’ names. I know when somebody sees my name, they instantly see somebody ‘different.’”

To fit in and to make it easier for English speakers, people have long anglicized ethnic-sounding names to make them more palatable. Sometimes it’s a small change like changing the suffix of a last name like “Steinweg” to “Steinway.” Other times people adopt a given name completely different from their original name, like “Joe” or “Mike.”

Either way, their names are white-washed.

For decades, aspiring actors and musicians have been editing their names to be more “marketable.” They know anything that’s not anglicized, or at least edited to be easier to read or say, will be discriminated against by producers, agents or potential fans.

Peter Gene Hernandez didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a Latin singer, so he became Bruno Mars. Actor and writer Vera Mindy Chokalingam shortened her name to be Mindy Kaling, and years earlier, Chan Kong-sang became action star Jackie Chan.

Some might criticize these performers for diluting their names to appease the masses. However, some may not realize the masses—whether they’re conscious of it or not—are prejudiced.

If we can’t trust hiring managers to interview a qualified candidate just because their name looks Asian, it’s not a stretch to assume that “‘Uptown Funk’ by Peter Gene Hernandez” would have never been a number-one hit.

For me, the fear of discrimination based on my name takes place not at work, but at the border. When it was time for me to update my Canadian passport a few years ago, I was given the option to include my middle name, Rashida. It’s an Arabic name that means righteous and wise.

I considered the political climate, how Muslims can be received at borders and decided to remove the name from my passport. Now in Trump’s America, I’m very glad I made that choice.

I have complicated feelings about Islam and haven’t set foot in a mosque since my grandmother’s death 10 years ago, but I still resent the fact that fear of discrimination fueled this decision. My name, its heritage and meaning ties me to the generations of Muslim Malaysians from my mother’s family around the world. I chose to delete this part of me from an official document due to fear of discrimination.

I asked Chan whether she ever considered changing her name. “Personally, it doesn’t feel authentic,” she says. “My name reflects my Chinese background.”

Her experience with her name is something she has considered when naming her daughter.

“When we named our daughter, we gave her an anglicized first name and a Chinese middle name—it seemed like the right balance between recognizing our roots and helping her navigate in the future.”

I’d like to think that by the time my future daughter applies for her first job, she will live in a world where she doesn’t need to worry about this kind of prejudice. Maybe I’ll name her Jamila, after my grandmother.

EXCLUSIVE: Bus driver bypassing Lake Shore stop, TTC blames driver confusion

Faiza Amin | posted Thursday, Feb 9th, 2017

At first Adrian Brontmeyer thought it was just an isolated incident: A TTC operator drove past him at the bus stop, leaving him and other would-be passengers out in the cold.

But after it happened four more times in less than one week, he quickly learned that wasn’t the case.

“It’s been the same driver five out of the six days that has just bypassed me,” he told CityNews on Wednesday.

Each morning, Brontmeyer heads to the 501 stop on the corner of Lake Shore Boulevard and Twenty Seventh Street, and around 6:20 a.m. boards the bus to work.

He says a new driver has taken over the route in the last three weeks, and for the first time since last Wednesday, he’s been feeling cornered.

“I’ve never had words with him, except for saying good morning maybe, other than that, I’ve never had a conversation with him,” Brontmeyer said.

One bus driver has been bypassing this stop on Lake Shore Boulevard, seen on Feb. 8, 2017. CITYNEWS


After the first three times, he decided to start documenting the incidents on his phone. A video he shared with CityNews taken Tuesday morning, shows Brontmeyer at the stop with what seems to be two other riders. Seconds later, a bus can be seen zooming past them.

A second video, shows a bus slowing down, to which Brontmeyer can be heard saying: “must be a different guy, oh yeah he’s stopping for me now.” But the doors to the bus never open, and Brontmeyer says he now realizes the bus slowed down in the first place because of the red light.

“(He’s) stopping at a red light, looking right at me, shaking his head no, not opening the doors, and driving off,” he said. “I’m a little frustrated.”

Each time the bus zoomed past him, he says he filed a complaint with the TTC and even sent in both videos.

“Every morning they tell me the same thing, that they’re going to pass it to head office, but nothing has been done, it’s continually the same driver every morning,” Brontmeyer said.

The TTC tells CityNews bypassing stops happens from time to time, but confirms the stop Brontmeyer uses, is indeed a service stop and the bus should’ve picked up passengers.

“We have identified the operator in this particular case, and we will speak with him to ensure that going forward he does service that stop,” TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said. “We don’t understand why it wasn’t being serviced. It may, in fairness, be a matter of confusion.”

Ross says that the driver could have been confused, and thought that the stop was taken out of service.

“That portion of the 501 [route] along Lake Shore used to be all streetcars, but because of construction that’s happening a little east, it’s all buses now and no streetcars,” Ross explains. “It may have been some confusion, and that operator could be new to the route, so I want to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.”

CityNews asked if the driver would resume operations on the same route on Thursday. Ross said he doesn’t know.

“I rely on the TTC every day, and for the most part they’re good,” Brontmeyer explains. “But if this is going to continue, and they move him to another route, then I’d like to see something more done.”

More products added to PC Organics baby food recall due to botulism risk

CityNews | posted Thursday, Feb 9th, 2017

The Canadian Food Inspection (CFIA) has expanded its recall of PC Organics brand baby food pouches due to the risk of botulism.

The pouches by Loblaw Companies Limited were sold at various grocery stores across Canada up to and including Feb. 8.

In Ontario, the products were sold at Fortinos, Loblaws, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Real Canadian Wholesale Club, valu-mart, Your Independent Grocer, Zehrs, Shoppers Drug Mart, and other independent stores the sell the PC brand.

The recall was initially issued on Feb. 3 and was expanded on Wednesday.

Food contaminated with the Clostridium botulinum toxin may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, blurred or double vision, dry mouth, respiratory failure and paralysis. In severe cases of illness, fatalities can even occur.

Consumers who purchased the products should discard them or return them to the store.

The CFIA says there have been reported illnesses that may be associated with the products.

Click here to see photos of all the affected products.

No access to downtown from York-Bay-Yonge exit during Gardiner ramp rebuild

CityNews | posted Thursday, Feb 9th, 2017

Drivers: If you think you are frustrated with traffic in Toronto right now, you will have a major headache to deal with on the Gardiner Expressway in the spring.

On Wednesday, Mayor John Tory announced that the ramp from the eastbound Gardiner Expressway to York, Bay and Yonge streets will be closed starting on April 17, as construction crews tear down the ramp and move it to Lower Simcoe.

The closure, which is expected to last eight months, will be “disruptive,” Tory said at a news conference at York and Harbour streets on Wednesday. “I’m not going to sugarcoat this.”

The existing ramp at York-Bay-Yonge is being replaced with a shorter ramp to Lower Simcoe Street.

Harbour Street, from Lower Simcoe to Bay streets, will also be widened from three to four lanes, to accommodate traffic flow in the area, Tory said. The expansion should give pedestrians and cyclists better access to the waterfront. View before and after photos below.

City staff and drivers have nicknamed the York-Bay-Yonge ramp the “hot wheels ramp” because “you really do whirl around as you come off the highway,” Tory said.

“We need to get this work done. This off-ramp, like the rest of the Gardiner Expressway, is 50 years old, and it is reaching the end of its life. It is in poor condition.”

The construction will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, but not overnight since condo residents live near the construction zone.

The work is expected to continue until January 2018.

During the construction, drivers will have to exit the eastbound Gardiner at the Jameson Avenue, Spadina Avenue and Jarvis Street ramps. Motorists will also be able to access the eastbound Lake Shore Boulevard from the eastbound Gardiner ramp at Spadina Avenue.

Tory said the ramp removal and rebuilding work is part of the $312 million the city is investing in road and bridge infrastructure, as indicated in the 2017 budget.

On Tuesday, the mayor’s executive committee approved the budget heads to council next week. The $12.3 billion operating budget includes a two per cent property tax increase.

Before and after photos of the Harbour, Lower Simcoe, Bay and York streets redesign

Below is a before and after view of the intersection of Harbour and York streets. The redesign is expected to be completed in early 2018. Click here to view it. Photos courtesy of the City of Toronto.

Below is a before and after view of the west side of Harbour and Simcoe streets. The redesign is expected to be completed in early 2018. Click here to view it. Photos courtesy of the City of Toronto.

Below is a before and after view of the west side of Harbour, Bay and York streets. The redesign is expected to be completed in early 2018. Click here to view it. Photos courtesy of the City of Toronto.

Below is a before and after view of Harbour and Bay streets. The redesign is expected to be completed in early 2018. Click here to view it. Photos courtesy of the City of Toronto.



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