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Ontario donating $150k to Irma relief in hard-hit Caribbean islands

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Sep 13th, 2017

TORONTO – The Ontario government is contributing $150,000 to the Canadian Red Cross to help people in the Caribbean recovering from hurricane Irma.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says in a statement that Irma and its consequences are “a worst nightmare come true” for millions of people.

Wynne also says she has sent a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott offering her sympathies and support.

Hydro One employees and equipment are already on their way to Florida to help restore power to millions of Floridians.

And Wynne says she has informed the federal government that Ontario is ready to assist a Canadian response to the disaster.

The death toll from hurricane Irma stood at 47 on Tuesday. At least 37 people were reported killed across the Caribbean islands while 18 deaths were reported in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

“On behalf of the people of Ontario, I extend our heartfelt compassion to all of the people who are suffering in the destructive aftermath of hurricane Irma,” Wynne said Tuesday.

“I want to thank every single person here in Ontario who has committed to help, and encourage everyone to consider making a personal donation to the Canadian Red Cross,” she said.

Apple iPhone 8 and X: 10 things you need to know

Winston Sih | posted Tuesday, Sep 12th, 2017

Apple unveiled the latest iterations of iPhone at their futuristic Apple Park campus in Cupertino, Calif., Tuesday morning. At the first event in the Steve Jobs Theater, the tech giant is hoping not one—but three—new devices will have consumers digging for their wallets to get their hands on a new smartphone.

Celebrating the 10th-anniversary of iPhone, here are 10 things you need to know about the newly announced devices:

1. Three new iPhones to choose from

Unveiled were iPhone 8 and 8 Plus—an upgrade from their iPhone 7 sibling on the market today. It features an all-new glass and aluminum design, single- and dual-lens cameras on the devices, respectively, and an A11 Bionic chip that runs 30 per cent faster than the previous A10 chip. Also announced was iPhone X—pronounced ‘ten’— featuring an all-glass design and an OLED Super Retina display.

2. There’s still no headphone jack, and they ditched the home button, too

Yes, the headphone jack is gone—likely for good—and while iPhone 8 preserves the button that seemingly does almost everything, iPhone X ditches the home button, too. It is replaced by swipe gestures to unlock, multitask, and a new side button allows you to activate the Siri voice assistant and Apple Pay.

3. Your face will unlock your phone

Through a new feature on iPhone X, FaceID will replace the biometric TouchID fingerprint reader. It uses a unique camera system to map a user’s face on the fly, and depth-sensing technology allows you to unlock your device, use Apple Pay, and gain access to secure apps.

4. The screen that changes everything

If you’re looking for an immersive experience, iPhone X is worth waiting for. The device features an all-new, edge-to-edge, 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display. This means you’ll get truer blacks, vivid colours, and a wider gamut through high-definition resolution. The OLED display is a first-of-its-kind in an iPhone, and features a 2436×1125 resolution.

5. Say goodbye to cord city

Apple is doubling down in wireless charging technology, through the all-glass backs on iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X. Through third-party accessories that support the Qi charging standard and their own AirPower mat accessory, users will now be able to charge their iPhone, Apple Watch Series 3, and AirPods without plugging in individual cables—a challenge many users have been hoping for a solution to for a long time.

6. Augmented reality is in

Coupled with the new A11 Bionic chip and new cameras on iPhone 8 Plus, the company believes augmented reality technology is in. Cameras are designed to work with built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers to track motion, and with graphics supported at 60 frames per second, developers will be able to tailor apps to enable users to star gaze, read live player stats at baseball games, and more, right from an app on your phone.

7. All-new cameras

All three devices feature improved cameras—12 megapixel rear cameras to be exact. iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X feature a dual rear camera, and that brings new functionality like the Portrait Lighting mode that can digitally modify lighting to users’ specific preferences—all in real time.

8. Animojis to make you laugh

One of my faves—emojis have become part of our everyday vernacular, and Apple is bringing them alive by way of an ‘Animoji.’ An animated emoji that will use the front-facing camera to measure your face, animate your favourite emojis into life-like characters, and record a short clip for text messaging. This will no doubt be addictive to not just your everyday millennial, but grandparents alike.

9. Yes, it’s pricey

It’s a steep price point, but no doubt many will be lining up overnight to be the first to get their hands on a device. In Canada, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will be available in 64GB and 256GB capacities starting at $929, and iPhone X will retail for over $1,300. Wireless carriers will have individual pricing on contract.

10. Is it worth the upgrade?

If you’ve been waiting out for a new iPhone—this is a good time to upgrade. iPhone 7 users will see improvements through the free iOS upgrade.  Whether it’s iPhone 8 or iPhone X, you’re sure to see many improvements on both software and hardware fronts. iPhone X—a special-edition device in itself, celebrating 10 years of iPhone—will be a high-demand smartphone, but you’ll have to wait out until Nov. 3 to get your hands on one. You can pre-order iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus on Sep. 15, in stores on Sep. 22.

Tory would beat Ford in mayoral election: poll

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 12th, 2017

Toronto is more than a year away from the next municipal election, and a new poll suggests things might look the same in 2018.

John Tory should not have much trouble getting re-elected against Doug Ford, according to a poll released on Tuesday.

A new Mainstreet/Postmedia poll finds Torontonians would easily elect Tory, with one big caveat.

“John Tory has nothing to fear from a one-on-one match-up against Doug Ford,” said Quito Maggi, president of Mainstreet research, “but things get much more interesting if there’s a strong progressive candidate in the race.”

Against Ford, Tory wins easily with a 27-point lead (including undecided voters) but the lead is cut by 20 points to just seven points if he were to face both Ford and city councillor Mike Layton.

“It’s clear that if both Layton and Ford were to run that Tory would be in trouble, at least initially,” Maggi said in a statement.

“None of us can guess how a mayoral campaign might turn out and what missteps the candidates could make. In a three-way race with Layton and Ford, Tory receives 35 per cent [of the vote], Ford 28 per cent and Layton 26 per cent. it’s a situation in which any of the three could ultimately win the campaign. The risk for progressives is a strong campaign from the left could mean the election of Doug Ford as mayor and vice-versa the risk for ‘Ford Nation’ is that Ford’s candidacy could lead to a mayor further to the left than Tory.”

In the chart below, Tory supporters are shown in green, Ford voters are blue, Layton supporters are orange,and undecided votes are in dark blue.

Mainstreet spoke to 1,000 Toronto residents on the phone, both landline and cell phone, on Sept. 8 and Sept. 9. The margin of error for survey results is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Mainstreet spoke to 1,000 Toronto residents on the phone, both landline and cell phone, on Sept. 8 and Sept. 9. The margin of error for survey results is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Doug Ford, the former one-term city councillor, announced his intention to enter the mayoral race during his family’s annual Ford Fest barbecue in Etobicoke on Friday.

“I’m here to continue on Rob’s legacy … and I just have to say Robbie, this one’s for you,” Ford told the crowd.

The next day, Saturday, Tory said he wasn’t “going to worry about it.”

Tory avoided any mention of Ford by name but referred to the “total dysfunction” of City Hall before he won the mayoral race three years ago.

Ontario puts $200M to supportive housing, nearly half to Toronto

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 12th, 2017

Ontario is putting $200 million to supportive housing over three years, with almost half of that money going to Toronto.

The investment is aimed at housing people who experience chronic homelessness and give them supports such as counselling and addiction services to help them stay there.

Toronto is set to receive $90 million over three years and the province says it will announce funding for more municipalities this fall.

It’s the second announcement in recent weeks in which Ontario has doled out millions to Toronto on housing, which had become a contentious file between the two governments.

Mayor John Tory has long advocated for the need for more social housing money from the province, saying there is an approximately $2-billion repair backlog, and slamming the Liberals for a lack of support in this year’s provincial budget.

Housing Minister Peter Milczyn announced last month that more than half of up to $657 million over five years in money for social housing repairs and retrofits would go to Toronto.

City worker in hospital after garbage truck and SUV crash at Lake Shore and Bay

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 12th, 2017

A two-vehicle crash sent a city worker to hospital and closed Lake Shore Boulevard on Tuesday morning.

It appears an SUV struck a small garbage truck near Bay Street around 3 a.m.

The garbage truck ended up on its side, and the SUV sustained significant damage.

The driver of the garbage truck, a city worker, was taken into hospital. A woman, the driver of the SUV, was taken into custody. Toronto police told CityNews the woman is suspected of impaired driving.

The Lake Shore was closed in both directions from Bay to Yonge Street.

Trudeau targets Tories in gender equality remarks, saying they don’t get it

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 12th, 2017

The strongest opposition to including issues such as gender equality in discussions over the North American Free Trade Agreement has come not from the United States but from within Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday.

Speaking during a question and answer session at the first Toronto edition of the Women in the World conference, the prime minister said his government has faced hurdles in adding a gender chapter to NAFTA as it did in a free trade deal with Chile.

“The pushback we’re getting is actually not from south of the border, the pushback we’re getting is from Canadian Conservatives, who said ‘Oh no this is about economics, it’s about jobs… it’s not about rhetorical flourishes of being good on environment or being good on gender,”’ Trudeau said.

“To see that there is a supposedly responsible political party out there that still doesn’t get that gender equality is a fundamental economic issue as well as many other things, that environmental responsibility is fundamentally an economic issue highlights that we do have a lot of work still to do in Canada.”

The Conservative party said it had no comment.

Trudeau has positioned himself as a champion of gender equality since taking office, when he explained his decision to appoint a half-female cabinet with the headline-grabbing quip, “because it’s 2015.”

But he told the conference Monday that despite his government’s efforts to bolster the ranks of women in politics, retention has proven a challenge, in large part due to the vitriol aimed at female politicians.

“Women who have made it, who have succeeded, who have gotten elected are now two years into it and wondering ‘Is this really what I signed up for?’ because of the nastiness, because of the negativity,” he said.

He pointed to the case of Iqra Khalid, a Toronto-area Liberal MP who introduced a private member’s motion condemning Islamophobia and “ended up experiencing death threats and a level of online violence and commentary and viral videos against her that were quite terrifying.”

Khalid went through a “very difficult time” and questioned whether she wanted to keep her seat, he said.

Trudeau said it is his goal to tackle the “hidden attitudes” that lead to inequity but stressed the matter won’t be resolved during his tenure – rather, it will take generations.

The Liberal government recently tabled a federal budget that promised to consider the way programs and policies impact different genders in different ways.

But the government is also facing criticism over the troubled national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, with some families calling for a complete reboot of the process.

When asked about the controversy during Monday’s talk, Trudeau admitted there were some difficulties but said the process was “on the right track.”

West Nile virus kills 2 in Windsor

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 12th, 2017

Health officials say two people in the Windsor area have died as a result of the West Nile virus.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit confirms that two deaths within the last week have been attributed to the virus.

Acting Medical Officer of Health Doctor Wajid Ahmed says the two people who died were seniors.

The health unit says the virus will continue to be a risk in the area until temperatures dip below freezing.

Irma weakens to a tropical storm

SETH BORENSTEIN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Sep 11th, 2017

Irma has weakened to a tropical storm as it moves over Florida toward southern Georgia.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds decreased Monday morning to near 70 mph (110 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says it’s expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon.

Irma is centred about 105 miles (170 kilometres) north-northwest of Tampa, Florida, and is moving north-northwest near 18 mph (30 kph).

Irma hit southern Florida on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.

Related stories:

Federal government sends team to determine how Canada can help hurricane victims
Toronto-based Global Medic sends volunteers to storm-stricken St. Maarten
Hurricane Irma downgraded to Category 2 as it pummels Florida

Before crashing into Florida, Hurricane Irma set all sorts of records for brute strength as it flattened Caribbean islands and swamped the Florida Keys. Irma’s assault – so soon after Harvey’s deluge of Houston – marked the first time the U.S. was hit by two Category 4 storms in the same year.

Irma hit the Sunshine State as a big wide beast, though not quite the monster it once was shaping up to be. Earlier, it was the most powerful recorded storm in the open Atlantic. But as the once-Category 5 storm neared the U.S. mainland, it lost some oomph after running into the northern coast of Cuba.

Winds dropped to a quite potent 115 mph (185 kph) by the time Irma made landfall on Marco Island, on the Florida peninsula, still a major and dangerous hurricane yet not near its 185 mph (297 kph) former self when it set a record Tuesday for the most powerful storm in the open Atlantic. And on top of that, Irma avoided what could have been its most destructive paths along the Florida peninsula – over Miami and the heavily developed Atlantic seaboard. Still, at about 400 miles (640 kilometres) wide, it raked much of the state with devastating storm surge, destructive winds and drenching rains before weakening.

“There’s a huge difference between a (Category) 3 and 5 when it makes landfall,” said private meteorologist Ryan Maue of WeatherBell Analytics. “Barbuda is an example of that. It was wiped.”

“This is obviously not the worst case scenario for Florida overall,” Maue said. Had the centre of Irma hit Florida 20 to 30 miles (32-50 kilometres) to the east “it would have been much worse.”

Florida can thank Cuba, where it did hit as a Category 5 storm, said Maue and Jeff Masters, meteorology director for Weather Underground.

Irma would probably have hit Florida as a Category 5 hurricane if it had missed Cuba, Masters told The Associated Press.

The storm briefly trekked over Cuba’s low populated coast Friday evening through Saturday afternoon. That weakened Irma enough that when upper level winds from the west eroded some of the storm’s top and also blew in dry air, it had the combined of effect of making Irma more ragged, Masters said. It was at that, he said, that Irma’s southwest eyewall sort of came apart, no longer a perfect circle on satellite imagery.

Slightly weakened from Cuba, the storm got caught up in competing weather systems a little longer, delaying its northward right turn into Florida. And that delay pushed the track further west, making it more of a threat to Florida’s west coast than its east.

Florida’s west coast has about $1 trillion in property at risk to a storm, compared to $1.5 trillion on the east, according to insurance computer modeling firm AIR Worldwide. The company estimates insured losses for Irma will be between $15 billion and $50 billion.

And even another 20 to 30 miles (32-50 kilometres) would have put the nasty and stronger northeast quadrant of stronger winds, storm surge, rainfall and tornadoes more directly in Miami, Maue said. And even hitting the Tampa region from land to the south instead of from open water will reduce storm surge ever so slightly, Masters said.

Despite all that, Masters predicts that when Irma is done it will go down as one of the five costliest hurricanes in U.S. history, but not up with the top three of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, 2012’s Sandy and this year’s Harvey. Still, he guessed, it will be grouped with two other South Florida storms: 1992’s Andrew and 2005’s Wilma.

Irma’s two U.S. landfalls were unusually powerful. When Irma passed over the Florida Keys Sunday morning its central pressure was the seventh lowest for a smack into the United States. Only the 1935 Labor Day storm, 1969’s Camille, Katrina, Andrew, an 1886 Indianola, Texas, storm, and a 1919 Florida Keys storm were more intense based on atmospheric pressure. Irma ties the killer 1928 Lake Okeechobee hurricane.

Irma’s second landfall on Marco Island, taken by itself, still would rank among the top couple dozen landfalls in intensity, slightly weaker than Harvey.

Irma set plenty of records, according to a two-page list compiled by Colorado State University researcher Phil Klotzbach:

–Its 185 mph (297 kph) winds were the highest on record for the open Atlantic ocean, outside the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean sea. Only one other storm in the entire Atlantic basin – 1980’s Allen – was stronger.

–It spent three consecutive days as a top-of-the-scale Category 5 hurricane, the longest in the satellite era.

— It generated the second most Accumulated Cyclone Energy _ a key measurement that combines strength and duration _ in the satellite era. Irma generated about as much as energy as entire normal Atlantic hurricane season.

–It was the strongest storm to hit the Leeward Islands.

–It’s the first Category 5 hurricane to hit Cuba, which regularly gets assaulted by hurricanes, in nearly 100 years.

“This storm is the real deal,” Klotzbach said.

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