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Jamaican woman facing deportation loses bid to stay in Canada

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 21st, 2017

A Jamaican woman facing deportation has lost her bid to remain in Canada.

Beverley Braham has been ordered by the Canada Border Services Agency to report for removal on Thursday after her appeal was denied.

Braham, 38, is married to a Canadian citizen and has a four-month-old son, who was born in Canada. She came to Canada in 2012 on a six-month visa, but overstayed her visa.

On Sept. 6, she took her son and husband with her when she met with an official from CBSA. That’s when, Braham says, a CBSA official made her husband leave the room, called Children’s Aid Society (CAS), and took away her baby food.

Braham says they were kept in detention for nearly three full days.

Her supporters, including the Black Lives Matter Movement, held a demonstration to protest her detention and deportation, blocking the intersection of Yonge and Bloor for almost 20 minutes during rush hour on Tuesday morning.

On Wednesday, she returned to the CBSA to plead her case to remain in Canada.

In a letter obtained by CityNews, the CBSA considered several requests to defer her removal, first on the basis of her current medical circumstances and another in the best interests of her four-month-old child.

In both instances, the CBSA determined there was not enough evidence for a deferral of the removal order.

Braham argued that leaving the country would “be detrimental to her health” as she was undergoing treatment for a blood clot in her lungs. However, the CBSA noted that Braham has been treated for her condition and air travel at this time would not be detrimental to her condition.

With regards to the best interest of her infant son, who requires surgery “in the near future,” the CBSA noted that the child – being a Canadian citizen – would receive all the necessary medical care which is available to all Canadians. It also noted that no surgical procedure has been scheduled and it’s uncertain when this procedure would be done.

“While I am sympathetic to the family’s circumstances, it is [sic] must also be understood that the separation of family members is an unfortunate but inherent aspect of the removals process,” reads the letter.

The letter concludes by saying Braham is expected to report for her removal on September 21 as directed.

Hurricane Maria slams Puerto Rico, moves to Dominican Republic

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 21st, 2017

Hurricane Maria is lashing the northeastern Dominican Republic early Thursday and is expected to pass near the Turks and Caicos later in the day.

The Category 3 storm’s maximum sustained winds are near 185 km/h and the U.S. National Hurricane Center said some strengthening is possible during the next day or so.

Maria, which has killed at least 10 people across the Caribbean, is centred about 110 kilometres north of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and is moving northwest near 15 km/h.

Meanwhile, Puerto Ricans are rebuilding after the hurricane slammed into the U.S. territory Wednesday, crushing concrete balconies and paralyzing the island with landslides, flooding and downed trees.

Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans stunned by a hurricane that crushed concrete balconies, twisted metal gates and paralyzed the island with landslides, flooding and downed trees vowed to slowly rebuild amid an economic crisis as rescue crews fanned out across the U.S. territory Thursday.

The extent of the damage is unknown given that dozens of municipalities remained isolated and without communication after Maria hit the island Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years.

Uprooted trees and widespread flooding blocked many highways and streets across the island, creating a maze that forced drivers to go against traffic and past police cars that used loudspeakers to warn people they must respect a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew imposed by the governor to ensure everyone’s safety.

“This is going to be a historic event for Puerto Rico,” said Abner Gomez, the island’s emergency management director.

Previously a Category 5 with 281 km/h winds, Maria hit Puerto Rico as the third-strongest storm to make landfall in the U.S., based on its central pressure. It was even stronger than Hurricane Irma that storm roared into the Florida Keys earlier this month.

In the capital of San Juan, towering eucalyptus trees fell nearly every other block over a main road dotted with popular bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, some of which were damaged. Outside a nearby apartment building, 40-year-old tourism company operator Adrian Pacheco recounted how he spent eight hours in a stairwell huddled with 100 other residents when the hurricane ripped the storm shutters off his building and decimated three balconies.

“I think people didn’t expect the storm to reach the point that it did,” he said. “Since Irma never really happened, they thought Maria would be the same.”

Hurricane Irma sideswiped Puerto Rico on Sept. 6, leaving more than one-million people without power but causing no deaths or widespread damage like it did on nearby islands. Maria, however, blew out windows at some hospitals and police stations, turned some streets into roaring rivers and destroyed hundreds of homes across Puerto Rico, including 80 per cent of houses in a small fishing community near the San Juan Bay, which unleashed a storm surge of more than four feet.

“Months and months and months and months are going to pass before we can recover from this,” Felix Delgado, mayor of the northern coastal city of Catano, told The Associated Press.

The sound of chain saws began to fill the silence that spread across San Juan late Wednesday afternoon as firefighters began to remove trees and used small bulldozers to lift toppled concrete light posts. Some neighbors pitched in to help clear the smaller branches, including Shawn Zimmerman, a 27-year-old student from Lewistown, Pennsylvania who moved to Puerto Rico nearly two years ago.

“The storm didn’t bother me,” he said. “It’s the devastation. I get goosebumps. It’s going to take us a long time.”

Maria has caused at least 10 deaths across the Caribbean, including seven in the hard-hit island of Dominica and two in the French Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe. Puerto Rico’s governor told CNN one man died after being hit by flying debris. No further details were available, and officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Puerto Rico’s electric grid was crumbling amid lack of maintenance and a dwindling staff even before the hurricanes knocked out power. Many now believe it will take weeks, if not months, to restore power.

Edwin Rosario, a 79-year-old retired government worker, said an economic crisis that has sparked an exodus of nearly half a million Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland will only make the island’s recovery harder.

“Only us old people are left,” he said as he scraped a street gutter in front of his house free of debris. “A lot of young people have already gone…If we don’t unite, we’re not going to bounce back.

Stroman turned away from Cactus Club after leading Jays to victory

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Sep 20th, 2017

He brings the heat on the mound, but Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman was denied a hot meal on Tuesday night after securing his career-best 12th win against the visiting Kansas City Royals.

Stroman took to Twitter after the 5-2 victory, saying he was thrown a curve ball when he tried to celebrate at the Cactus Club Cafe on 77 Adelaide St. W.

“Shout to the security guards at @cactusclubcafe for denying me entry for a post-game meal. Off to @SohoHouse with the family!”

A witness who was inside the restaurant at the time tells CityNews Stroman walked into the Cactus Club with a party of three after the game, but was abruptly confronted by a security guard. When asked if they had a reservation, Stroman said they did, but for reasons unknown the security guard told him they were not welcome inside the establishment.

When the baseball star objected, the witness alleged the guard physically blocked Stroman’s path.

The witness maintains the guard appeared to be escalating the situation and acting in an intimidating fashion.

Stroman is reportedly a regular at the restaurant, which issued an apology on Twitter.

“Please know we are deeply sorry for last night and fixing the issue right now. You’re always welcome at Cactus.”

Despite a disappointing season of dashed playoff hopes for the Jays, Stroman has been a bright spot for the team.

The 26-year-old right-hander is nearing his second 200-inning season, and his ERA stands at 3.01 after Tuesday’s game — the ninth best in Major League Baseball.

Farewell, Wiarton Willie: Ontario’s popular prognosticating groundhog has died

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Sep 20th, 2017

Wiarton Willie has always been greeted by cheers – whether he saw his shadow or not. Earlier this year, he did not see his shadow and predicted an early spring, much to everyone’s delight. As it turns out, that was his last forecast.

On Wednesday, the Town of South Bruce Peninsula announced that the prognosticating groundhog died. He was 13 years old.

“Willie was 13 years young and served our town, province and country with immense pride each and every Groundhog Day,” Janice Jackson, the town’s mayor, said in a statement.

The town will host a memorial service for Willie on Sep. 30 at 11 a.m. at Wiarton’s Bluewater Park – the same park where thousands have been gathering every Groundhog Day to find out if Willie saw his shadow.

A funeral procession will travel through the park where “Willie will be honoured behind the statue of his likeness.”

Mourners can also sign a memory book at the town hall.

Most groundhogs in the wild live to be around four years old. Albino groundhogs, like Willie, have shorter lifespans. But Jackson said daily care and living in a “safe and protected environment” helped Willie to live longer.

Willie’s two-year-old understudy “Wee Willie” will take over. Sorry, Dundas Donna.

Blue Jays nearing one-year extension with Marco Estrada

Sportsnet | posted Wednesday, Sep 20th, 2017

TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays and Marco Estrada are nearing agreement on what’s expected to be a one-year contract extension that could be announced as soon as Wednesday, an industry source told Sportsnet.

The news, first reported by MLB.com’s Jon Morosi late Tuesday night, adds a bit more certainty to the Blue Jays rotation for 2018, with the right-hander slotting in behind Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ. Joe Biagini is also being looked at as a potential starter while veteran lefty Brett Anderson is with the team for an extended audition.

General manager Ross Atkins hinted at an extension when Estrada wasn’t dealt before the non-waiver trade deadline, saying, “we’ll start thinking about not only how he impacts us now, but how he can potentially impact us beyond 2017.”

Later that day, after Estrada threw seven innings of one-run ball against the Chicago White Sox, he said in an interview that, “I’m sure they want me back. I hope they do. I’ve expressed a lot that I’m really happy here and I’d like to stay, and I guess today is a sign of that if I wasn’t traded.”

 “Or maybe nobody really wanted me – I haven’t been pitching all that great and it’s hard to get what you want for me. I don’t know. That stuff, I really don’t want to worry about it. I’m here, I’m pitching for these guys, at the end of the season we’ll try and work something out, I hope. That’s all I can ask for.”

Estrada is finishing out a $26-million, two-year deal he signed after his breakout 2015 season, starring in the playoffs the past two years while growing into one of the team’s more popular players.

The new deal comes 11 games before he would have become a free agent, and in the midst of a strong rebound from a dismal 10-start stretch in June and July during which he posted an 8.87 ERA in 45.2 innings with a 1.019 OPS against.

Over his past 10 starts, he’s pitched to a 3.75 ERA in 62.1 innings with 48 strikeouts and a .678 OPS against.

Ontario college to offer 1st post-secondary certificate in cannabis production

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Sep 20th, 2017

 A southern Ontario college says it will be the first to offer a post-secondary credential in the production of commercial cannabis.

Niagara College says the graduate certificate program will launch in the fall of 2018 and aims to prepare students to work in the licensed production of cannabis, which includes marijuana, hemp fibre and hemp seed.

The school says the one-year post-graduate program was approved this summer by the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.

It will be open to those with a diploma or degree in agribusiness, agricultural science, environmental science/resource studies, horticulture or natural sciences, or an acceptable combination of education and experience.

The college’s president, Dan Patterson, says the program is meant to address a growing labour market need in the wake of legislative changes in Canada and abroad.

The school says the production of cannabis is highly regulated and the program, which will be taught at its Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, will conform to all regulations and requirements.

A community college in New Brunswick announced last year it would offer a course in horticulture tailored to equip students with the skills to work in a the growing marijuana industry.

School officials at the French-language College communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick have said the course was designed in collaboration with industry leaders.

The federal government has pledged to legalize recreational marijuana by next summer.

The new law would allow adults 18 and over to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent in public, share up to 30 grams of dried marijuana with other adults and buy cannabis or cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer.

The government has also said it intends to bring other products, including pot-infused edibles, into the legalized sphere once federal regulations for production and sale are developed and brought into force.

Provinces, territories and municipalities would be able to tailor rules for their own jurisdictions, enforcing them through mechanisms such as ticketing.

They will also be allowed to set their own licensing, distribution and retail sales rules, establish provincial zoning rules for cannabis businesses and change provincial traffic safety laws.

In Ontario, the provincial Liberal government recently announced a controversial plan to restrict the sale of cannabis to 150 stores run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

Hurricane Maria aims at Puerto Rico after slamming Dominica, Guadeloupe

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Sep 20th, 2017

Puerto Rico faced Wednesday what officials said could be the strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. territory as they warned it would decimate the power company’s crumbling infrastructure and force the government to rebuild dozens of communities.

Maria barrelled toward the island with 250 km/h winds and was expected to make landfall Wednesday midmorning along Puerto Rico’s southeast coast as a Category 4 storm, punishing the island with life-threatening winds for 12 to 24 hours, forecasters said.

Maria had previously been a Category 5 storm with 281 km/h winds.

“This is going to be an extremely violent phenomenon,” Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. “We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history.”

The number of power outages spiked as Maria approached, with the storm centered early Wednesday about 115 kilometers southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and moving northwest at 17 km/h, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Maria ties for the eighth strongest storm in Atlantic history, when measured by wind speed. Coming in second is this year’s Irma, which had 300 km/h winds and killed 38 people in the Caribbean and another 36 in the U.S. earlier this month.

Puerto Rico had long been spared from a direct hit by hurricanes that tend to veer north or south of the island. The last Category 4 hurricane landfall in Puerto Rico occurred in 1932, and the strongest storm to ever hit the island was San Felipe in 1928 with winds of 257 km/h.

As Maria approached, U.S. President Donald Trump offered his support via Twitter: “Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster Hurricane. Be careful, our hearts are with you- will be there to help!”

More than 4,400 people were in shelters by late Tuesday, along with 105 pets, Rossello said.

The storm’s center passed near or over St. Croix overnight Tuesday, prompting U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp to insist that people remain alert. St. Croix was largely spared the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irma on the chain’s St. Thomas and St. John islands just two weeks ago. But this time, the island would experience five hours of hurricane force winds, Mapp said.

“For folks in their homes, I really recommend that you not be in any kind of sleepwear,” he said during a brief news conference. “Make sure you have your shoes on. Make sure you have a jacket around. Something for your head in case your roof should breach. … I don’t really recommend you be sleeping from 11 o’clock to 4 (a.m.). … Be aware of what’s going on around you.”

Maria killed one person in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe when a tree fell on them Tuesday, and two people aboard a boat were reported missing off La Desirade island, just east of Guadeloupe, officials said.

About 40 per cent of the island – 80,000 homes – were without power and flooding was reported in several communities.

The storm also blew over the tiny eastern Caribbean island of Dominica late Monday, where Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit sent out a series of dramatic posts on his Facebook page, including that his own roof had blown away.

“The winds are merciless! We shall survive by the grace of God,” Skerrit wrote before communications went down.

The storm knocked out communications for the entire island, leaving anyone outside Dominica struggling to determine the extent of damage, though it was clearly widespread. “The situation is really grave,” Consul General Barbara Dailey said in a telephone interview from New York.

She said she lost contact with the island about 4 a.m. At that point, officials had learned that 70 per cent of homes had lost their roofs, including her own.

Flooding was a big concern, given the island’s steep mountains, cut through with rivers that rage even after a heavy rain. Dominica was still recovering from Tropical Storm Erika, which killed 30 people and destroyed more than 370 homes in August 2015.

Forecasters said the storm surge from Maria could raise water levels by six to nine feet  near the storm’s center. The storm was predicted to bring 25-38 centimeters of rain across the islands, with more in isolated areas.

To the north, Hurricane Jose weakened to a tropical storm Tuesday night. Forecasters said dangerous surf and rip currents were likely to continue along the U.S. East Coast but said the storm was unlikely to make landfall. Big waves caused by Jose swept five people off a coastal jetty in Rhode Island and they were hospitalized after being rescued.

A tropical storm warning was posted for coastal areas in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and tropical storm watches were up for parts of New York’s Long Island and Connecticut.

Associated Press writers Ben Fox in Miami and Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.

Equifax says 100,000 Canadians affected by cyberattack

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Sep 20th, 2017

Equifax Inc. says approximately 100,000 Canadian consumers may have had their personal information compromised in the massive cyberattack on the credit data company made public earlier this month.

The company says the investigation is ongoing and the information that may have been breached includes names, addresses, social insurance numbers and in some cases credit card numbers.

It adds that hackers obtained access to files containing the personal information of some Canadian consumers through one of Equifax’s consumer website applications intended for use by U.S. consumers.

Equifax Canada’s president and general manager Lisa Nelson apologized to Canadian consumers whose data may have been compromised in the breach.

On Sept. 7, Equifax announced that it suffered a data breach that may have compromised the personal information of 143 million Americans and less than 400,000 U.K. residents.

Canada’s privacy watchdog announced last Friday that it was probing the data breach and Equifax has committed to notifying those affected in writing as soon as possible.

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