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Toronto health board votes for immediate pot decriminalization

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Jun 13th, 2017

A woman exhales while smoking a joint during the annual 420 marijuana rally on Parliament hill on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 in Ottawa. An editorial in the latest Canadian Medical Association Journal says the Trudeau government’s plan to legalize marijuana will put young people at risk by setting 18 as the benchmark minimum age for buying pot. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Marijuana was a hot topic at Monday’s board of health meeting at City Hall.

With legalization slated for next year, the board unanimously voted to decriminalize possession of recreational pot immediately. However, the decision will ultimately be decided in Ottawa.

The call comes after a report from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health found a significant number of young Canadians will continue to obtain criminal charges before cannabis is legalized.

The board also discussed how ‘legal’ pot should be packaged and marketed, and agreed to set the legal age to purchase pot at 19.

Jeff Sessions to face sharp questions on Russia contacts


U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addresses law enforcement members at the Thomas Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in St. Louis, Miss., on March 31, 2017. GETTY IMAGES/Michael B. Thomas
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is preparing for sharp questions from his former Senate colleagues about his role in the firing of James Comey, his Russian contacts during the campaign and his decision to recuse from an investigation into possible ties between Moscow and associates of President Donald Trump.

The public testimony Tuesday before the Senate intelligence committee should yield Sessions’ most extensive comments to date on questions that have dogged his entire tenure as attorney general and that led him three months ago to step aside from the Russia probe.

Lawmakers for weeks have demanded answers from Sessions, particularly about meetings he had last summer and fall with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Those calls have escalated since fired FBI Director James Comey cryptically told lawmakers on Thursday that the bureau had expected Sessions to recuse himself weeks before he did from an investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

Sessions, a close campaign adviser to Donald Trump and the first senator to endorse him, stepped aside from the investigation in early March after acknowledging he had spoken twice in the months before the election with the Russian ambassador. He said at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.

Since then, lawmakers have raised questions about a possible third meeting at a Washington hotel, though the Justice Department has said that did not happen.

Sessions on Saturday said he would appear before the intelligence committee, which has been doing its own investigation into Russian contacts with the Trump campaign.

There had been some question as to whether the hearing would be open to the public, but the Justice Department said Monday he requested it be so because he “believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him.” The committee shortly after said the hearing would be open.

Related stories:

Knives coming out: Trump supporters float idea of firing investigator Mueller

Trump administration spread ‘lies, plain and simple’: Comey

Trump abruptly axes FBI’s Comey in midst of Russia probe

The hearing will bring contentious questioning for Sessions and likely some uncomfortable moments for the Trump administration.

Sessions is likely to be asked about his conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and whether there were more encounters that should have been made public. And he can expect questions about his involvement in Comey’s May 9 firing, the circumstances surrounding his decision to recuse himself from the FBI’s investigation, and whether any of his actions – such as interviewing candidates for the FBI director position or meeting with Trump about Comey – violated his recusal pledge.

Asked Monday if the White House thought Sessions should invoke executive privilege to avoid answering questions about his conversations with Trump, presidential spokesman Sean Spicer replied, “It depends on the scope of the questions. To get into a hypothetical at this point would be premature.”

He did not explicitly endorse Sessions’ appearance, saying in response to a question, “We’re aware of it, and we’ll go from there.”

Comey himself had a riveting appearance before the same Senate panel last week, with some key moments centred on Sessions.

Comey said Trump told Sessions and other administration officials to leave the room before Trump asked him in February to drop a probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia.

In addition, Comey has said Sessions did not respond when he complained that he did not want to be left alone with Trump again. The Justice Department has denied that, saying Sessions stressed to Comey the need to be careful about following appropriate policies.

The former FBI director also testified that he and the agency had believed Sessions was “inevitably going to recuse” for reasons he said he could not elaborate on.

“We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic,” Comey said.

Sessions’ appearance before the intelligence committee is an indication of just how much the Russia investigation has shaded his tenure. White House frustrations with the Justice Department spilled into public view last week, when Trump on Twitter criticized the legal strategy in defending his proposed travel ban.

Spicer, the spokesman, declined to say then that Sessions enjoyed Trump’s confidence, though spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later in the week that the president had confidence “in all of his Cabinet.”

Though the Justice Department maintains that it has fully disclosed the extent of Sessions’ foreign contacts last year, lawmakers have continued to press him for answers about an April 2016 event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, where both Sessions and Kislyak attended a foreign policy speech by Trump.

Senate Democrats have raised the possibility that Sessions and Kislyak could have met there, though Justice Department officials say there were no private encounters or side meetings.

Lawmakers, including Al Franken of Minnesota and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have asked the FBI to investigate and to determine if Sessions committed perjury when he denied having had meetings with Russians.

Police searching for missing Thornhill man, 84

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Jun 13th, 2017

Cornelius Meoko, 84, was last seen in Thornhill on June 12, 2017. HANDOUT/York Regional Police
York regional police are searching for a missing 84-year-old Thornhill man.

A command post has been set up for Cornelis Meoko. He was last seen near Green Lane and Bayview Avenue, north of John Street, around 9:30 a.m. on Monday.

Police and his family are concerned for his well-being. Anyone who has seen him is asked to call police right away.

Meoko is four-feet-10, with a very thin build. He has tanned skin and brown eyes. He is bald. He was last seen wearing a grey derby-style hat, dark pants, and a light-coloured shirt with green and brown stripes.

He walks with a shuffle.

York regional police are also searching for a second elderly man.

David Han, 73, was last seen around 4 p.m. on Monday in the area of Major Mackenzie Drive and Bayview Avenue in Richmond Hill.

He is visiting the city from Vancouver. His daughter reported him missing.

Han is Korean, five-feet-10-inches tall, and 170 pounds. He was wearing a blue baseball cap, a brown jacket, grey pants, black shoes, and red plastic-framed eyeglasses.
David Han, 73, was last seen on June 12, 2017. YORK REGIONAL POLICE

New 10.5-inch iPad Pro brings a lot of familiar with a bigger display, more power

Winston Sih | posted Monday, Jun 12th, 2017

Apple iPad Pro unveiled at Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif.

As computers become thinner and lighter, and tablets grow larger and more powerful, the line of whether you need one or the other is continuing to blur. Apple’s new productivity-focused tablet, iPad Pro is no exception.

If I had to choose between my MacBook Pro or iPad Pro, nine times out of 10, I’m still going to choose the laptop. I find I’m generally more comfortable and don’t get anxious about the limitations of using a tablet. The tech giant continues to market these devices to two very different crowds—but is it working?

Let’s get to the basics

Apple’s new 10.5-inch iPad Pro is just 6.1mm thick and less than one pound.

Apple’s new 10.5-inch iPad Pro is just 6.1mm thick and less than one pound.

iPad Pro now comes in 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models, the former replacing the previous 9.7-inch tablet. The 10.5-inch version rings in at 6.1 millimetres in thickness, while still giving you nearly 20 per cent larger screen surface.

Apple’s claiming iPad Pro to have the most advanced display, featuring their ProMotion technology—essentially a doubled refresh rate at 120Hz to give you enhanced responsiveness. And I would consider it a success. The screen looks more vivid, snappier, and interacts well with the Apple Pencil—an accessory sold at an additional $129 CAD.

You can tell this device is built for productivity. I launched almost every one of my over 50 apps, and iPad Pro barely slowed down. Apple has integrated their new 64-bit A10X Fusion chip that handles the most demanding of heavy apps, giving this up to 30 per cent faster CPU and 40 per cent graphics than the previous A9X chip. I successfully streamed multiple 4K videos with no lag whatsoever.

Software brings new features, but you’ll have to wait

iOS 11, the next iteration of the mobile operating system coming to iPad Pro, will bring a lot of familiar from its Mac counterpart. But you won’t get it until later this fall. Some of these features include an application dock that is reminiscent of macOS, but drastically increases multitasking, as well as improved file management and inter-app content flows like drag-and-drop photos.

It’s just too bad the hardware and software changes weren’t timed together, however very clear that Apple is saving the release to work with the launch of their flagship phone—iPhone—typically in the fall, too.

For those who like to hold their iPads up in big crowds and take photos

Yes, you know who you are—you’ll find a 12-megapixel camera capable of shooting 4K HD video, a front-facing 7-megapixel camera for video calls, as well as a four-speaker audio setup.

This device is great for content consumption. There is no doubt about that. I’d much rather have my iPad Pro out at the airport or on a flight than my MacBook. Be it magazines or movies, everything from visual to audio will be pristine.

Gorgeous accessories, but it’ll cost you

Apple iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard, Apple Pencil accessories.

Apple iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard, Apple Pencil accessories.

This is where I think Apple’s signature design aesthetic wins. Yes, you can buy third-party accessories, but nothing compares to the Smart Keyboard. The larger size now enables a full-sized keyboard, both software and hardware, and the Smart Connector allows for connectivity without charging or Bluetooth.

Apple iPad Pro’s Smart Connector, designed to work with their keyboard add-on.

Apple iPad Pro’s Smart Connector, designed to work with their keyboard add-on.

Coupled with the interactive Apple Pencil for annotations and note taking, the keyboard and pencil combo will set you back just under $350 CAD, before you even buy the device!

Other accessories include a leather sleeve, Apple Pencil case, and a Smart Cover that doubles as a stand.

The verdict

When I go back to the MacBook Pro vs. iPad Pro debate, if I had to pick one product, I’d still go back to the MacBook Pro. That is, if I’m strictly thinking productivity. You get the benefits of a full macOS with the thin and portable design of iPad with the keyboard and travelling case. Plus, the 12-inch iPad Pro is still really weighty. If you’re making your tablet look and perform like a laptop—just go get one.

10.5-inch iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard pictured above 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

10.5-inch iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard pictured above 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

iPad Pro is beautiful, but for it to be a true workhorse, you need the accessories. Add it to the starting-at pricing of $869 and $1,049 for the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models, respectively, you’re pricing out to be near a MacBook or MacBook Pro, not to mention competitors out there like Microsoft’s Surface.

For big content consumers who value the Apple ecosystem and the extensive App Store, alongside the improved, vibrant display, and expanded keyboard size, iPad Pro could bring over more folks who want to shed the full computer experience for a simplified and user-friendly mobile design—made even better with iOS 11.

Heat warning continues for Toronto and GTA

NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Jun 12th, 2017

Two women use paddle boards on Lake Ontario just off the boardwalk along Lakeshore Blvd., in Toronto on Tuesday, May 31, 2011. The temperature on the day was expected to hit 31C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Toronto and the GTA remain under a heat warning, with a high of 32 C in Monday’s forecast.

It will feel more like 40 with the Humidex, 680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said, and the city could break a weather record: June 12, 2007, saw a high of 32.4 C.

Monday will be sunny in the morning but cloudy in the afternoon, with a chance of showers or thunderstorms after 5 p.m. on 6 p.m. They should wrap up by 9 p.m., with a low near 20 C overnight.

Environment Canada and Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health issued the heat warning for Toronto and the GTA due to hot and humid conditions expected on Sunday and early next week.

The warning encompasses Toronto, Hamilton, and the regions of York, Durham, Halton and Peel.

The heat poses a health risk, especially for young children, pregnant women, older adults, people with chronic illnesses and those working or exercising outdoors. People are encouraged to cool off in air-conditioned places such as shopping malls, local libraries and community centres.

The city of Toronto has opened seven locations to offer relief from the heat:

  • Metro Hall, 55 John St. (24 hours)
  • East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Ave. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
  • North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge St. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
  • Driftwood Community Centre, 4401 Jane St. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
  • Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
  • McGregor Community Centre, 2231 Lawrence Ave. E. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
  • Centennial Community Centre, 1967 Ellesmere Rd. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)


The hot weather is expected continue into Tuesday, but will abate by the middle of the week.

Striking Toronto Zoo workers ratify new deal

NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Jun 12th, 2017

Striking Toronto Zoo workers rally at city hall, June 2, 2017. 680 NEWS/Momin Qureshi
If all goes well, the Toronto Zoo could re-open later this week.

The union representing employees at the Toronto Zoo ratified a new 4-year collective agreement on Sunday, exactly one month after workers walked off the job.

CUPE Local 1600 represents over 400 workers at the zoo, including zookeepers and horticulturalists. They cited concerns about job security as the main point of contention that lead to the strike.

During the month-long strike, the animals at the zoo were cared for my management staff, many of whom are former zookeepers.

The deal now needs to be ratified by the zoo’s board of management, which is expected to happen on Monday.

If the board votes in favour of the deal, the union says the zoo could re-open as early as Thursday.

Canadian show ‘Come From Away’ wins Tony for best director of a musical

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 12th, 2017

The cast of “Come From Away” performs at the 71st annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Michael Zorn/Invision/AP)
Christopher Ashley paid tribute to the people of Newfoundland as he accepted his Tony for best director of a musical for “Come From Away.”

The play is set in Gander, N.L., in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The remote East Coast town saw its population double in size as it sheltered 6,579 passengers and crew from planes diverted when U.S. air space was closed.

“Most of all, I’d like to accept this on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and all of the first responders and their families in New York … who gave their lives,” Ashley said in his acceptance speech.

“The people who extended their hearts and their homes and were generous and kind at the very worst moments, to all of you, thank you.”

Ashley also acknowledged the “extraordinary” “Come From Away” Canadian co-creators Irene Sankoff and David Hein who he said told the show’s story “with so much grace and heart.”

And he thanked his “theatrical home,” California’s La Jolla Playhouse, where “Come From Away” was staged several years ago on its lengthy journey to Broadway.

This is Ashley’s first Tony win following previous nominations for “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Memphis.”

Heading into Sunday’s awards, “Come From Away” was up for seven Tonys, including best musical.

“Dear Evan Hansen” captured the Tonys for best score and best book of a musical, beating Sankoff and Hein.

“Come From Away” star Jenn Colella lost the best featured actress in a musical Tony to Rachel Bay Jones of “Dear Evan Hansen,” while choreographer Kelly Devine lost to Andy Blankenbuehler for “Bandstand.”

The show also lost out on the best lighting design of a musical award to Bradley King of “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.”

Tonys host Kevin Spacey kicked off the telecast with a comedic medley of the best musical nominees – including Canadian show “Come From Away.”

“The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg joined Spacey onstage to offer him advice about helming the show, and the duo engaged in tongue-in-cheek banter with a nod to Newfoundland.

“If you want to learn, you’ve got to go to where some of the greatest hosts of all time have gotten their start. Carson, Crystal, Letterman. You’ve got to go to the Rock,” Goldberg said.

“What? All the way to Newfoundland?” Spacey replied.

Soon after, cast members from “Come From Away” went onstage linked arm-in-arm with dancers and performed a snippet of “Welcome to the Rock” from the hit musical.

The hospitality shown by the people of Gander was highlighted by fellow Canadian Ron Duguay, who introduced a full performance of “Welcome to the Rock” a few minutes after the opening teaser.

The cast of "Come From Away" performs at the 71st annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Michael Zorn/Invision/AP)

“I’ve been there, I know the people, I know the heart of these people,” said the former New York Ranger. “And while there was darkness happening on 9/11 in New York, there was a light in Gander, Newfoundland.”

“With their hearts they took these people in, made them feel comfortable,” he continued. “People from all over the world. They didn’t judge ’em, they just took ’em and they’re really good at happy hour. So they had happy hour every night for five nights and through that we have this wonderful play.”

Sidney Crosby wins Conn Smythe as Pittsburgh Penguins win second straight Stanley Cup

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 12th, 2017

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 11: Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) is shown with the Conn Smythe Trophy following Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Nashville Predators and the Pittsburgh Penguins, held on June 11, 2017, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby holds the Conn Smythe Trophy following Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Nashville Predators and the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 11, 2017, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. GETTY IMAGES/ICON SPORTSWIRE/Danny Murphy
Another Stanley Cup, and another Conn Smythe Trophy for Sidney Crosby.

Crosby was named the most valuable player to his team in the playoffs on Sunday for the second year in a row after his Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Nashville Predators 2-0 in Game 6 of the final for their second straight Stanley Cup.

The Pittsburgh captain led the Cup final in scoring with a goal and seven points in six games and finished second in scoring during the post-season with eight goals and 27 points in 25 games.

“There’s so many guys who could have easily won that, and I think we just had a group of guys that understood big moments and knew how to find ways to win,” said Crosby.

From Sportsnet:

Latest Stanley Cup for Crosby, Penguins etches their place in history
Penguins win second straight Stanley Cup with Game 6 win over Predators
Ron and Don: Malkin should be on 100 Greatest NHL Players list

Crosby becomes just the third back-to-back winner of the award, which was first handed out in 1965, after former Penguins captain Mario Lemieux (1991, 1992) and Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Bernie Parent (1974, 1975).

He also becomes just the sixth player to win multiple Conn Smythes.

When asked who he would have voted for, Crosby listed a group of teammates he believed were worthy of the award.

“I think (Evgeni Malkin) comes to mind right away,” said Crosby. “If you could somehow put our two goaltenders on there – you know, there were games that they stole for us throughout the playoffs.

“Tonight you look at an example of the way (Matt Murray) played. (Marc-Andre Fleury), throughout that whole Washington series. We were given no shot, no chance, and he just kept us in there, so those two guys come to mind. (Jake Guentzel), a young guy to come in like that and score the way he did is pretty incredible.”

Crosby has already won the Rocket Richard Trophy this season and is a Hart Memorial Trophy finalist.

“I would have to believe that with what Sid has been able to accomplish in his career to this point would put him in the company of the all-time greats,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan.

“You know, he’s arguably the best player of his generation, and he’s a guy that just knows how to win. And so he’s done it in all different venues, whether it be the NHL and Stanley Cups to the World Cup to the Olympics.”

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