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Trump, North Korea trade escalating threats of fire


President Donald Trump talks about North Korea at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., on Aug. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
In an exchange of threats, U.S. President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang of “fire and fury like the world has never seen” and the North’s military claimed Wednesday it was examining plans for attacking Guam.

The high-level tit-for-tat follows reports that North Korea has mastered a crucial technology needed to strike the United States with a nuclear missile.

Despite regular North Korean threats against Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific about 3,400 kilometres from the Korean Peninsula, it is extremely unlikely that Pyongyang would risk the assured annihilation of its revered leadership with a pre-emptive attack on U.S. citizens. It’s also not clear how reliable North Korea’s mid-range missiles would be in an attack against a distant target given the relatively few times they’ve been tested.

Even so, the competing threats and Trump’s use of North Korea-style rhetoric – Pyongyang has long vowed to reduce Seoul to a “sea of fire” – raise already high animosity and heighten worries that a miscalculation might spark conflict between the rivals.

The North Korean army said in a statement that it is studying a plan to create an “enveloping fire” in areas around Guam with medium- to long-range ballistic missiles. The statement described Andersen Air Force Base on Guam as a “beachhead” for a potential U.S. invasion of North Korea it needed to neutralize. It was unlikely the North’s threat was a direct response to Trump’s comments to the camera at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which deals with matters related to North Korea, said the North’s army statement hurts efforts to improve inter-Korean relations. Ministry spokesman Baek Tai-hyun said Seoul remains committed to both dialogue and sanctions for solving the North Korean nuclear problem and called for Pyongyang to stop its provocations. Baek did not mention Trump’s comments.

Trump spoke hours after reports indicated North Korea can now wed nuclear warheads with its missiles, including its longest-range missiles that may be able to hit the American mainland. The North has strived for decades to have the ability to strike the U.S. and its Asian allies, and the pace of its breakthroughs is having far-reaching consequences for stability in the Pacific and beyond.

The nuclear advances were detailed in an official Japanese assessment Tuesday and a later Washington Post story that cited U.S. intelligence officials and a confidential Defence Intelligence Agency report. The U.S. now assesses the North Korean arsenal at up to 60 nuclear weapons, more than double most assessments by independent experts, according to the Post’s reporting.

“North Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States,” said a stern-looking Trump, seated with his arms crossed and with his wife beside him. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

“He has been very threatening beyond a normal state. And as I said they will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

The remarks appeared scripted, with Trump glancing at a paper in front of him. They evoked President Harry Truman’s announcement of the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, in which he warned of “a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”

But it wasn’t clear what Trump, who is prone to hyperbole and bombast in far less grave situations, meant by the threat. White House officials did not elaborate.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement afterward saying, “We need to be firm and deliberate with North Korea, but reckless rhetoric is not a strategy to keep America safe.”

The Trump administration considers North Korea to be America’s greatest national security threat and tensions have steadily risen this year.

Pyongyang responded angrily to the U.N. Security Council’s adoption this weekend of new, tougher sanctions spearheaded by Washington. The sanctions followed intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month, the second of which was estimating as having a range that could reach more of the U.S. mainland. The newly revealed U.S. intelligence assessment indicates those missiles can carry nuclear warheads.

Denouncing the U.N. sanctions through state media, the North warned: “We will make the U.S. pay by a thousand-fold for all the heinous crimes it commits against the state and people of this country.”

For North Korea, having a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike America would be the ultimate guarantee against U.S. invasion.

It is an ambition decades in the making. North Korea began producing fissile material for bombs in the 1990s and conducted its first nuclear test explosion in 2006. Four subsequent nuclear tests, the latest a year ago, have accelerated progress on miniaturizing a device – something North Korea already claimed it could do. Over that span, multiple U.S. presidents have tried and failed to coax or pressure Pyongyang into abandoning its nuclear ambitions.

The secrecy of the North’s nuclear program and the underground nature of its test explosions make it very difficult to properly assess its claims. But the new assessments from Japan and the U.S. suggest that doubts over the North’s abilities are receding.

In an annual report, Japan’s Defence Ministry on Tuesday concluded that “it is possible that North Korea has achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and has developed nuclear warheads.” Japan, a key U.S. ally, is a potential, front-line target of North Korean aggression.

The Post story, citing unnamed U.S. intelligence officials, went further. It said the Defence Intelligence Agency analysis, completed last month, assessed North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, including by intercontinental missiles.

Officials at the agency wouldn’t comment Tuesday. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence also wouldn’t discuss the report.

It’s unclear how North Korea’s new capabilities will immediately affect how the U.S. approaches the country’s regular missile launches and occasional nuclear tests. The U.S. military has never attempted to shoot a North Korean missile out of the sky, deeming all previous tests to pose no threat to the United States. The U.S. could weigh military action if the threat perception changes.

The calculation of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal at 60 bombs exceeds other assessments, which range from around one dozen to about 30 weapons. The assessments are typically an estimate of the amount of plutonium and enriched uranium North Korea has in its inventory rather than how much of that material has been weaponized. It’s unclear how many, if any, miniaturized warheads North Korea has built.

Last month’s ICBM tests highlighted the growing threat. Both missiles were fired at highly lofted angles and landed in the sea near Japan, but analysts said the weapons could reach Alaska, Los Angeles or Chicago if fired at a normal, flattened trajectory.

North Korea threatened to hit Guam with its Hwasong-12 missiles, which it says can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.

Not all technical hurdles have been overcome, however. North Korea is still believed to lack expertise to ensure a missile could re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere without the warhead burning up. And it’s still working on striking targets with accuracy.

Kim Tong-hyung and Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, Deb Riechmann in Washington and Catherine Lucey in New Jersey contributed to this report.

Sidney Crosby charms 3-year-old with cancer during Halifax hospital visit

ADINA BRESGE, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 8th, 2017

Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby visits Harper Saunders, 3, at a hospital in Halifax on Aug. 6, 2017. Photo credit: Twitter/@keeperofthecup
A three-year-old girl battling leukemia could be a Pittsburgh Penguins fan in the making after Sidney Crosby placed her plush, toy pink kitten atop the Stanley Cup in her Halifax hospital room.

The NHL star welcomed the Cup to his native Nova Scotia for a third time this weekend, surprising fans of all ages as he made the rounds in Halifax with the trophy in tow.

Social media posts show the Pittsburgh Penguins captain showing off professional hockey’s most prestigious trophy at a farmers’ market, a veterans’ retirement home and a children’s hospital Sunday.

Robbie Hall said he and his three-year-old daughter, Harper Saunders, were taking a nap in her hospital room when a nurse woke him up to let him know that Crosby was on his way.

“She loves hockey, but she’s too young to understand who (Crosby) is,” Hall said in an interview. “She’s kind of grumpy when I wake her up, so I told her, ‘Do you want to meet a super hockey player?’”

Hall said Harper has been in and out of hospital since she was diagnosed with leukemia in May. He and Harper’s mother, Reba Saunders, have been travelling back and forth from Woodstock, N.B., to Halifax for about a month while the toddler receives treatment at the IWK Health Centre.

Harper has been adjusting to a new feeding tube in recent days, Hall said, but she perked up during Crosby’s visit Sunday, running in and out of her room as she waited for the ball-capped hockey star to make his way down the hall.

Hall said when the three-time Stanley Cup champion arrived, Harper seemed a little starstuck.

“She was a little shy, but she was excited at the same time,” he said. “I tried to get her to stand beside the cup, because it’s taller than her, but she didn’t want to be on her own there.”

Crosby tried to put her at ease by putting one of her favourite toys – a pink kitten named Sophie – on the Cup’s rim, Hall said.

A photo of the encounter has been shared hundreds of times on social media, including the Helping Harper Facebook page.


“There’s a lot of hockey fans where we come from, so they were all a little excited and jealous,” Hall said. “They were happy to see it happen to her after everything that’s been going on.”

Crosby autographed a pint-sized hockey stick for the youngster, which Harper has been showing off to all the nurses, Hall said.

“It’ll be a good story once she gets older,” he said. “We just might have a Penguins fan.”

Crosby will celebrate his 30th birthday on Monday by parading the trophy through Halifax and Rimouski, Que.

He has brought the Cup to his hometown of Cole Harbour, N.S., twice before, including in 2009 and last July.


Driver makes wrong turn; car ends up under water in Ashbridge’s Bay

NEWS STAFF AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 8th, 2017

Police responded to a call for a car submerged under water at Ashbridge’s Bay on Aug 7, 2017. CITYNEWS
A wrong turn left a car completely under water in Ashbridge’s Bay near Woodbine Beach on Monday night.

Toronto police were called to the park around 10:30 p.m. A tow truck managed to pull the car up a boat ramp.

Police say the two women in the car may have mistaken the boat ramp for a parking lot exit.

Despite the car becoming fully submerged, everyone inside the vehicle managed to escape safely.

According to police, alcohol is not a factor.

1 arrested in King and Brant shooting, victim seriously injured

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Aug 8th, 2017

Toronto police investigate a shooting at King and Brant streets on Aug. 8, 2017. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy
Toronto police have one person in custody after a shooting in downtown Toronto.

Emergency crews were called to King Street West and Brant Street, near Spadina Avenue, around 3:20 a.m. on Tuesday.

A man in his 20s was rushed to hospital with serious gunshot wounds.

After shots were fired, a suspect vehicle – a white Chevy Cruze – was seen heading westbound along King. It hit the back of a TTC service truck and came to a stop at Portland Street.

Three suspects got out of the vehicle and tried to flee the scene, but one person was arrested.

King is closed between Brant and Portland for the police investigation.

Toronto police ‘work to rule’ amidst 911 response time ‘crisis,’ union boss said

AVERY HAINES | posted Friday, Aug 4th, 2017

Frontline Toronto police officers have been quietly “working to rule” for the past month, and it appears to be putting pressure on how long it takes for officers to respond to calls.

Union boss Mike McCormack read through random dates from 911 dispatch to CityNews on Thursday. From suicide threats and domestic violence to gun calls, in many cases it took hours before a unit was sent to the scene.

As an example, McCormack said one person waited more than two days for an officer to come to their home after calling 911.

“Somebody was so aggravated they waited 55 hours to report a break and enter that they walked into the police station to report it. And it’s not that it’s just happening in an isolated area. This is across the city,” he said.

McCormack said the issues are caused by staffing shortages and a deployment re-organization.

However, he acknowledged a frontline “slow-down” is playing out as well due to low morale. He said the service is about to undergo its biggest transformation in decades.

“They’re frustrated at the lack of staffing, the lack of information around the transformation task force,” McCormack explained.

“We’ve advised our members on the street to make sure they don’t jeopardize their safety or public safety… we want them not to be going from call to call, not to be taking short cuts because it could have an impact on their safety, public safety. So when we look at that we will take any appropriate action to take care of our members and to take care of public safety.”

The union said a survey of its members found almost 70 per cent of officers agree morale is suffering and 93 per cent believe police are under-resourced.

But Mayor John Tory said the upcoming transformation has to happen in order to modernize the police service.

“I’m committed to modernizing the Toronto Police Service so we continue to be the safest major city in North America,” Tory said in a statement.

“A shift schedule that hasn’t changed in 35 years doesn’t help us effectively deploy our police service. I can’t understand why the police association doesn’t want to even discuss changing that 35-year-old schedule because I believe frontline officers are looking for change.”

In a statement, the Director of Corporate Communications for Toronto Police Services told CityNews, “we experienced one of the busiest 36-hour periods in recent memory.”

“The public would expect us to deal with the most serious calls, and get to the less serious calls as soon as we could. That is what we did.”

Markham man accused of defrauding women in online romance scam

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Aug 4th, 2017

Randolph Aquino allegedly defrauded three women in a romance scam, Aug. 3, 2017. TORONTO POLICE SERVICE/Handout
Toronto police are trying to track down a Markham man suspected of defrauding three women of more than $1,000,000 in a romance scam.

It’s alleged Randolph Aquino contacted women on dating websites that included Match.com, Ourtime.com and Chemistry.com.

The victims were misled into believing they were involved in a relationship with a wealthy person who was in trouble in a foreign country and needed cash.

They wired the money into a business account with the name “Tresa Group Ltd.”

Investigators believe Aquino may have fled to the Philippines.

He is described as 46 years old, clean-shaven, five-foot-seven,180 pounds with short hair. He dresses well and describes himself as a professional in the financial services industry.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 416-808-7300.

Toronto police create dedicated bike lane enforcement unit

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Aug 4th, 2017

The Toronto Police Service is cracking down on drivers who park in bike lanes.

The Parking Enforcement Unit has announced it will be permanently assigning three officers to oversee the city’s bicycle lane network.

The three officers will work Monday to Friday and will be using social media to assist them in finding and ticketing anyone parking in the bike lanes.

Regular duty parking enforcement officers will also continue to patrol the bicycle lanes for infractions.

Last year, Toronto police wrote 7,285 bike lane tickets. During the first seven months of 2017, police issued almost 5,000 tickets.

Ontario women get free access to abortion pill as of Aug. 10

THE CANADIAN PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Aug 4th, 2017

The abortion-inducing drug RU-486 is shown in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sept. 22, 2010. (AP photo/Charlie Neibergall) 

Women in Ontario will be able to get an abortion pill for free with a prescription as of Aug. 10.

Mifegymiso, an alternative to surgical abortion, is a combination of the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol.

It can be used to terminate pregnancies at an early stage, up to seven weeks from the start of a woman’s last menstrual period.

The window can be up to nine weeks. The drug can be used for a pregnancy with a “gestational age up to 49 days as measured from the first day of the Last Menstrual Period (LMP) in a presumed 28-day cycle,” according to a Government of Canada website.

The Ontario government says it will be available next Thursday at participating pharmacies for women with a valid health card and prescription.

“The commitment to publicly funding Mifegymiso means women across Ontario will have fair and equal access to safe abortion without payment, judgment or exception,” Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister of the Status of Women, said in a statement on Thursday.

Dr. Eric Hoskins, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, said Queen’s Park is “safeguarding women’s right to choose … making it easier to access health care where and when they need it.”

However, one pro-life group says it’s that ‘when-and-where’ – as well as the entire issue of abortion – that has them concerned.

“We have great concerns about the abortion pill. It’s a type of procedure which interferes with the natural process of motherhood,” Diane Watts, a researcher at REAL Women, told CityNews on Thursday.

“There may be complications. To assume that if you’re in the country, away from a medical doctor or from a hospital, everything’s going to go extremely well is a bit of a stretch,” Watts said, adding that women could be “left on their own to deal with this situation, which could take days, which could be painful, which could be traumatic.”

Health Canada’s website says that there are already procedures in place for physician oversight.

The pill can only be dispensed by a physician. While the patient does not have to take the pill in front of their doctor, “anyone using the drug is required to attend appointments at a medical clinic at certain stages in treatment.” There can be complications, the government warns, and it is estimated that up to one in 20 women who use this drug will require a follow-up surgical procedure because their pregnancy is not successfully terminated.

New Brunswick and Alberta also cover Mifegymiso, and the Quebec government has said it hopes to do so.

Related links:

The abortion pill vs the morning-after pill: What’s the difference?

Health Canada fact sheet on Mifegymiso

What’s the difference between the morning-after pill and the abortion pill? (Planned Parenthood)

Related stories:

Counter-protesters target controversial anti-abortion demonstrators at Ryerson

Alberta latest province to cover the cost of abortion pill Mifegymiso

Ontario making abortion pill Mifegymiso free for all who need it

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