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Suspect in beating of man with autism also wanted in nightclub assault

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Apr 6th, 2018

A 25-year-old man who allegedly assaulted a man living with autism at the Square One bus terminal last month is also wanted in connection with another assault.

Police said a warrant was issued for Ronjot Singh Dhami after a large fight broke out both inside and outside the Rebel Nightclub on March 11 — three days before the attack on the 29-year-old man.

No further details on the fight have been released, including any possible injuries or motive for the fight.

Dhami turned himself in to police on March 26 and was charged with aggravated assault in connection with the Square One attack.

It’s believed that on March 13, Dhami and two other men — Parmvir ‘Parm’ Singh Chahil, 21, and a third man who may go by the name “Jason” — punched and kicked the man as he sat at the bottom of the bus terminal stairwell, putting on roller blades.

Police said the attack was unprovoked.

The unidentified victim suffered a broken nose and facial cuts.

Chahil is also facing one charge of aggravated assault.

Young girl suffers serious leg injury after being struck by train

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Apr 6th, 2018

Hamilton police say a young girl has been taken to hospital for surgery after she was hit by a slow-moving train in a residential area.

In a news release Thursday night, police say the girl and some friends were playing near the tracks between Maplewood Avenue and Cumberland Avenue in the neighbourhood of Blakeley.

They say it’s not clear whether the children were trying to jump onto the train, but the girl fell and the train ran over her leg causing serious injuries.

Officers responded to the scene and “provided life-saving measures,” and the girl was taken to a local hospital by paramedics.

Woman, 21, charged in Brampton hit-and-run that left woman with multiple fractures

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Apr 6th, 2018

Peel regional police have arrested a 21-year-old woman after a hit-and-run in Brampton that left a 45-year-old woman with serious injuries.

The victim, Linda Prakash, was crossing at Bramalea Road and Steeles Avenue when she was struck by a vehicle just after 10 p.m. on Monday.

The driver did not remain at the scene.

Prakash suffered two broken legs, a fractured pelvis, several broken ribs and a fractured skull.

On Thursday, 21-year-old Tiffany Keddie of Brampton was charged with fail to stop at the scene of accident causing bodily harm.

She was released on a promise to appear in court on May 7.

Blue bin blunders could cost Torontonians 3 per cent solid waste fee hike

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Apr 6th, 2018

Toronto homeowners could be facing a solid waste management fee hike because they’re tossing the wrong items into their blue bins which is costing the City of Toronto money.

Solid waste manager Jim McKay says revenue from selling recycled material has dropped and the expense of sorting out contamination has gone up, leaving him looking at a $9-million shortfall next year.

“That’s about a 3 per cent rate increase on the solid waste rate budget that would have to be required in order to offset that $9-million.”

McKay says too many homeowners are being careless about what they toss into the recycling bins.

“A lot of material ends up in the blue bin that really shouldn’t be there and its pretty obvious that it shouldn’t be in there. We see a lot of food waste, for example.”

A common mistake is to drop coffee cups and black plastic into the blue bins. While they may be stamped as recyclable, they aren’t accepted by the Toronto program.

UFC fighter Conor McGregor turns himself in to NYC police

The Associated Press | posted Friday, Apr 6th, 2018

UFC star Conor McGregor has turned himself into police in the wake of a backstage melee he instigated after a news conference for one of UFC’s biggest cards of the year.

Video footage appears to show the promotion’s most bankable star throwing a hand truck at a bus full of fighters , injuring at least one scheduled to compete Saturday.

McGregor was being processed and no charges had been filed as of Thursday night.

Video showed McGregor with a group of people causing chaos Thursday as they took an elevator to the loading dock at Barclays Center. He can be seen tossing trash cans and being prevented from throwing a barricade at a bus during his unannounced appearance in New York.

The New York Police Department said McGregor threw a hand truck at a bus causing minor injury to an individual on the bus. At least two fights at Saturday’s UFC 223 card have been scrapped as a result of the incident.

“The organization deems today’s disruption completely unacceptable and is currently working on the consequences that will follow,” UFC said in a statement. “Individuals involved in the incident are not welcome at tomorrow’s ceremonial weigh-in or Saturday’s event at Barclays Center.”

McGregor hasn’t fought for UFC since November 2016 and was stripped this week by UFC President Dana White of the 155-pound championship he had never defended. White also said this week he did not expect McGregor to attend Saturday’s fights.

McGregor profanely responded on Twitter and wrote, “You’ll strip me of nothing.”

McGregor last fought at all in a boxing match he lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Aug. 26, 2017.

The popular Irishman is tight with UFC 223 fighter Artem Lobov, who was involved this week in a scuffle in a hotel with Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov fights Max Holloway for the lightweight championship left vacant by McGregor.

Lobov was yanked from the card. Michael Chiesa was sent to the hospital with injuries sustained in the attack and was forced out of his scheduled fight against Anthony Pettis.

“A decision was made by the New York State Athletic Commission to pull me from UFC 223,” Chiesa tweeted. “I’m devastated to say the least. @showtimepettis I hope to run this match up ASAP. June 9th in your backyard. That’s all I have to say for now. Much love.”

Flyweight Ray Borg also was injured in the wake of the McGregor attack.

UFC President Dana White said this week in New York that McGregor would fight again for UFC this year. McGregor’s actions now put any future fights very much in doubt.

“He’s gonna be sued beyond belief. This was a real bad career move by him,” White said.

The 29-year-old McGregor once held the 145 and 155-pound championships at the same time and boldly stated he wanted an ownership stake in UFC. But the trash-talking, egocentric has been out of the fight game except for his boxing dalliance with Mayweather that made him wealthy enough to never have to fight again. McGregor and his girlfriend welcomed their first child, a son, in May 2017.

Facebook says data of 620,000 Canadians improperly shared with consulting firm

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Apr 5th, 2018

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made a public apology Wednesday for his company’s handling of users’ personal information – including more than 620,000 Canadians – as the social media giant faced a growing international uproar over the questionable use of personal data for political purposes.

The company estimates 622,161 users in Canada had their data improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica through apps used by themselves or their friends.

Overall, Facebook says that 87 million of its users worldwide were affected – significantly more than the 50 million originally believed to be affected – with nearly 82 per cent of them believed to be located in the United States.

The company said those affected will find out Monday if their information was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

Zuckerberg said the privacy breach showed his company didn’t take seriously its responsibility towards users “and that was a huge mistake.”

“It was my mistake. So now we have to go through every part of our relationship with people and make sure we’re taking a broad enough view of our responsibility,” he said during an afternoon conference call with reporters.

“It’s not enough to just connect people. We have to make sure those connections are positive and that they bring people closer together.”

Canada’s privacy commissioner said he wasn’t surprised at the magnitude of the number of Canadians affected. Speaking in Toronto, Daniel Therrien said the figure will work into his ongoing investigation about the data breach and whether there were any violations of federal privacy laws.

Facebook is facing its worst privacy scandal ever in the wake of allegations that Cambridge Analytica used data collected without users’ authorization to help Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and possibly other elections. Policy makers in Canada and other countries are now wrestling with how to respond to the spread of “fake news” on social media platforms like Facebook, which announced Wednesday it had also shut down accounts and pages linked to a Russian agency accused of online meddling in foreign elections.

Zuckerberg said the company would bring to 20,000 the number of workers dedicated to battling “fake news,” as he apologized for initially dismissing the notion that the misinformation campaign had any impact on election outcomes.

The social media giant plans to restrict data access on its platforms, which includes Instagram, to better protect users’ information. Facebook will disable a feature that let anyone search Facebook for a user with their email or phone number, saying in a post that “malicious actors” had used the tool to scrape personal data of most users on Facebook. And starting Monday, it will show people which apps use their Facebook information.

Zuckerberg is set to testify next week before a U.S. congressional committee, and he said top executives at the company would be dispatched to other countries wanting to hold government hearings on the scandal.

Canada’s acting minister for democratic institutions called Facebook’s admission of the scope of the breach “deeply concerning.”

“While Facebook has begun to take initial steps to address these issues, it is clear that much more needs to be done,” Scott Brison said in a statement.

Brison has said he’d be open to strengthening federal privacy laws, which don’t currently apply to political parties. And Zuckerberg appeared open to further regulation in a sector that has so far shied away from government oversight.

International experts in the national capital Wednesday to talk about the issue of “fake news” said the Liberals needed to enact stronger privacy laws to better regulate how social media giants use Canadians’ personal information.

“Since there are insufficient limits on what you can do with personal data, there is no countervailing force,” said David Carroll, an American academic who is suing Cambridge Analytica in the U.K. to gain access to his data.

“We need to realize that privacy legislation will weaken the behemoths in a healthy way.”

Other options put forward included greater transparency for online advertising that would enable users to easily learn who paid for a Facebook ad, how much they spent, how many people viewed it and why the ad targeted the user. Ben Scott, a former adviser in the State Department, said countries should look for ways to restrict the use of personal data for political targeting to avoid the kind of dirty tricks campaigns Cambridge Analytica is accused of conducting.

Sue Gardner, former executive director of Wikimedia Foundation, said there is general opposition south of the border to government regulations in the sector, with a belief that government involvement would make matters worse. Instead, recommendations in the U.S. centre around self-regulation.

“Those are massively insufficient for the scope of the problem,” she said.

Ford scrapping media bus for campaign suggests Tories want him out of the hot seat: experts

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Apr 5th, 2018

TORONTO – Ontario’s newly minted Progressive Conservative leader will not bring journalists with him on the campaign trail this spring, a rare move experts say suggests the Tories are keen to keep the unpredictable populist politician out of the hot seat as he takes on two more seasoned rivals.

Doug Ford’s team said Wednesday the former Toronto city councillor will not have a media bus following him as he criss-crosses the province ahead of the June election, an accommodation traditionally offered by Ontario’s party leaders to facilitate coverage while they hold multiple daily events in different cities.

Spokeswoman Melissa Lantsman said Ford’s campaign events will be broadcast online and his itinerary will be released for media interested in covering them in person.

“Most media outlets have shifted to covering events from their office and relying on live feeds. It is in our interest to have as much media coverage as possible and will do everything we can to ensure our events are streamed online to assist in that,” she said in an email.

Experts say the decision suggests a campaign strategy that centres on limiting questions and preventing Ford — a brash politician whose candid remarks often make headlines — from publicly going off-script.

And while this approach may prove effective politically, it’s concerning for democracy, they say.

“He is attempting to bypass the accountability function of the free press by limiting access to his campaign. This will not prevent coverage, but it alters the degree of access and creates a different, more opaque degree of transparency in the campaign,” said Tim Abray, a former journalist and current teaching fellow in political science at Queen’s University.

“This should not be blown off as insignificant,” he said.

Political parties have already done away with media buses in some Western provinces, but that has not been the case in Ontario, where leaders have deployed them — as well as chartered flights to more remote communities — in all recent elections.

News outlets pay thousands of dollars to the parties in order to reserve a seat on their buses and cover the costs of meals and other expenses.

It’s not new for politicians to try to control the narrative around their campaign by restricting media access in various ways, said Tamara Small, a political science professor at the University of Guelph.

The federal Conservatives did so under Stephen Harper by imposing a cap of five questions at news conferences, a rule that prompted a public pushback from journalists at the time, she said.

More recently, the federal Liberals have successfully peppered newspapers across the country with photos taken by the prime minister’s own photographer — a move the Ford camp may try to replicate if fewer news organizations send staff photographers, she said.

“The narrative is that you’re not going to get that photo that’s unattractive,” Small said. “You’re going to get the photo where the lighting is perfect and the right people are in the background and all of that kind of stuff and it tells the story that they want to tell.”

While Ford, nonetheless, needs media attention to grow his profile and attract new votes, he can get it in a much more controlled setting by doing one-on-one interviews with local media or forcing journalists to quote his tweets as U.S. President Donald Trump has done, she said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re trying to make sure that the plan is as clear as possible now so that they can operate as strategically as possible,” she said.

“One of the things that makes Doug Ford very attractive to people is his ability to sort of speak off the cuff and all that kind of stuff but that is also the stuff…that could become problematic,” she said.

The Tories may also be trying to shift the focus from their leader onto other issues such as their policies, as the federal Liberals did in the 1980s in the campaign for a then-unpopular Pierre Elliott Trudeau, said Jonathan Rose, a political science professor at Queen’s University.

“It’ll be interesting to see if Doug Ford maintains that script and doesn’t do as many photo ops as the other leaders,” he said. “The reason why you do that, of course, is to focus on the policy and avoid any kind of problems with Ford going off-script.”

Ford’s campaign would not say whether he will be holding daily events during the campaign, nor would it confirm whether he will deliver a fully costed platform before the election as promised.

“We have a plan for the people of Ontario and we will be rolling it out piece by piece over the coming weeks. Stay tuned,” Lantsman said.

In any case, Ford’s decision to scrap the media bus is a “shot across the bow to the media,” but the issue is unlikely to ruffle voters, said Rose.

“Voters don’t care about that and in fact it might play well to Doug Ford’s base that he is not playing nice with the media,” he said. “The U.S. wave of populism that has sort of washed over Ontario since his election may be evidence of that.”

Student charged after Cambridge school hit with threatening graffiti

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Apr 5th, 2018

Police in southwestern Ontario have laid charges against a high school student as they investigate several cases of graffiti threatening shootings at schools in the region.

Waterloo regional police spokeswoman Cherri Greeno said the student was charged in connection with a message at a school in Cambridge, Ont. – the sixth school in the area to be hit with graffiti threatening violence since mid March.

A female student at the Cambridge school was arrested Tuesday and charged with mischief under $5,000 and uttering threats to cause bodily harm or death, Greeno said. Police are not providing the age of the student but say she is under 18.

“(The message) was spray painted on the side of a storage unit at the school and said ‘school shooting April 6th,’” Greeno said. “All the other schools had similar messages, most of them were written in bathroom stalls, around harm being done at a school in terms of a shooting, all given different dates.”

The first incident of graffiti threatening violence took place at a high school in Kitchener, Ont., on March 21, Greeno said. That message was found on a bathroom stall and read “school shooting March 28th, not a joke, watch out,” she said.

Since then, five other schools in the region have been hit with alleged “copycat” incidents, which police say are all still under investigation.

“Whatever the intention behind these messages are, whether it’s considered a joke at the time, it certainly isn’t considered a joke to the students that share the school with these people … as well, it’s a significant drain on police resources,” Greeno said.

“We have had officers respond to each incident, working with the school board to a ensure a safety plan was put into place for students and staff.”

The Waterloo Region District School Board, which the Cambridge school is a part of, said the threats have caused “considerable disruption and worry for our students, staff and parent community.”

“We will work to ensure that those responsible for these threats know there are significant consequences to these choices and actions,” the school board said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“These types of situations will be fully investigated and disciplinary action will be taken as appropriate. Consequences, on the part of the school board, could include suspension and or expulsion.”

The Cambridge student’s arrest comes about two weeks after Ontario Provincial Police arrested five tweens and teens, charging them with threatening schools on social media.

Officials said at the time that they have seen a recent “spike” in online threats following a Florida school shooting in February in which 14 students and three teachers were killed.

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