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Toronto councillors vote for binding referendum on Ford’s plan to shrink council

News Staff | posted Tuesday, Jul 31st, 2018

Toronto city council is battling back against Premier Doug Ford’s plan to slash the size council by nearly half.

On Monday, councillors voted in favour of an emergency motion in response to the province’s plan to reduce the number of council seats to 25 from 47 before the October 22 municipal election.

Mayor John Tory’s emergency motion will have council request the province conduct a binding referendum on the legislation before proceeding with it.

The motion passed 28-13.

Council is also looking at proposals to consider legal action against the province to block the move.

“This is a flawed process, a deeply flawed process where something is being jammed on the City of Toronto without consultation, without proper discussion, without seeking the views of the public in any way — and that is wrong,” Tory told reporters on Monday.

Tory also reiterated that he heard rumours but wasn’t aware of any definite action on plan by the province to cut council until media reports on Thursday night. He said he then called the Ford around 9:30 p.m.

“Until I heard the premier tell me on the telephone he was moving ahead the next day and that it definitely applied to this election, I was not sure at all as to what was going to happen, if anything,” the mayor said.

On Friday, the debate over the emergency motion on the planned cuts, Coun. Mike Layton triggered a shouting matchby implying Tory knew about the plan beforehand and didn’t give council any warning. Tory replied he had a 50-second discussion that went nowhere and gave him no indication that the Ontario government had any intention of taking action.

Meanwhile, a group calling itself Our City Hall assembled at Queen’s Park on Monday to demonstrate their opposition to cutting council.

Male in hospital after overnight shooting in Mississauga

News Staff | posted Tuesday, Jul 31st, 2018

Peel police are searching for suspects after a shooting overnight in Mississauga.

It happened around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday on Wharton Way, near Dundas Street East and Dixie Road.

Paramedics said the victim, who is believed to be in his late teens or early 20s, suffered a single gunshot wound.

He was rushed to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

A suspect description has not been released.

Police continue to investigate.

Man stabbed several times near Martin Grove and Finch

News Staff | posted Tuesday, Jul 31st, 2018

A man in his 20s has been rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries after he was stabbed in Etobicoke.

The stabbing happened on Orpington Crescent in the area of Martin Grove Road and Finch Avenue West just before 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Toronto police say there was some sort of fight that led to the man being stabbed several times.

There is no word on suspects.

Woman charged following alleged racist attack against three women in Mississauga

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Jul 31st, 2018

Peel police say a woman has been charged with assault after allegedly flinging racial slurs at an 18-year-old woman and flicking a lighter towards her.

The alleged incident happened Sunday evening at a bus shelter at Hurontario Street and Paisley Boulevard in Mississauga.

Officers say another woman attempted to intervene, and the accused allegedly attacked her and tried to remove her hijab.

A third woman, a 56-year-old from Mississauga, was also allegedly assaulted and had racial slurs made towards her.

Investigators say the alleged assault is believed to be hate-motivated.

Police are asking the unidentified alleged victim to come forward so they can speak with her regarding some of the details of the incident.

Sharon Alexander, 35, of Mississauga has been charged with assault with a weapon, assault and uttering threats to cause bodily harm.

She is scheduled to appear in court at the end of August.

-with files from News Staff

Teenager goes missing while walking her dog in East York

News Staff | posted Monday, Jul 30th, 2018

Toronto police are asking the public for help in looking for a 15-year-old girl who went missing earlier this week in East York while walking her family dog.

Sydney Lakhani was last seen around 6 p.m. on Tuesday in the Cosburn Avenue and Coxwell Avenue area.

The family dog was later found tied up in the area she went missing.

She’s described as 5 foot 3 inches with purple dyed hair.

Lakhani was last seen wearing black skirt, white t-shirt and large hoop earrings. She is maybe carrying a pink and black knapsack.

Abdul Sultan Madhani, a friend of the family, said the family is in a lot of distress and they are frantically looking for her.

Anyone who may have seen her and had any contact with her is asked to contact police.

Prime Minister Trudeau to join mourners at funeral for Danforth shooting victim

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Jul 30th, 2018

Mourners will gather in east Toronto on Monday for the funeral of Reese Fallon, who died in last week’s mass shooting on the Danforth.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Toronto Mayor John Tory are among those expected to attend the service, which follows a public visitation held Sunday for the 18-year-old.

Fallon was among the two people killed and 13 wounded when a gunman charged down Danforth Avenue last Sunday, shooting pedestrians and restaurant-goers. Ten-year-old Julianna Kozis was also killed in the shooting that has left the vibrant neighbourhood reeling. Police said the 29-year-old gunman shot himself after exchanging fire with officers.

In an obituary posted online, Fallon’s family says the recent high school grad and aspiring nurse will be “deeply missed but not forgotten.” At her visitation Sunday, a friend described her as a kind person who “loved to make new friends.”

Fallon was set to attend McMaster University in the fall to study nursing. She was also a member of the Beaches-East York (Toronto) chapter of the Young Liberals, a youth organization for party supporters.

After attending the public funeral at the Highland Funeral Home in Scarborough, Trudeau will visit Alexander the Great Parkette on the Danforth that has become a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Greektown shooting.

Man seriously hurt after being struck by vehicle in east-end

News Staff | posted Monday, Jul 30th, 2018

A man in his 40s is in life-threatening condition after being struck by a vehicle on Lake Shore Blvd. E. and Coxwell Ave.

Paramedics were called to the area before 9:30 p.m. Sunday night and rushed the man to a trauma centre in an emergency run.

Toronto police say the driver remained on scene.

Eastbound Lake Shore is closed from Northern Dancer to Coxwell for the investigation.

Toronto students become published scientists after sending worms to space

ADINA BRESGE, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 30th, 2018

Some researchers spend years working to conduct an experiment in space, but for a group of young Toronto scientists, all it took was a school project.

The four students were in grades 8 through 12 when they first proposed shooting a tube of microscopic worms into orbit so they could study the effects of low gravity on muscle deterioration.

Now, the young women are all published scientists – half before earning a high-school diploma – after their experiment’s unexpected findings were featured in the peer-reviewed academic journal “Gravitational Space Research” last week.

“I never would have thought in Grade 8 that I would be doing something so meaningful with science,” Annabel Gravely, 16, said in a recent interview. “The nature of science, it’s all about the obstacles. What’s really cool about the process is learning different ways to get around those obstacles.”

It all began four years ago when a teacher at the University of Toronto Schools put out a call for entries in a student competition to send an experiment to the International Space Station.

Overwhelmed by the possibilities of space-bound study, Gravely said she wanted her proposal to be “meaningful,” so she decided to study the neural disease that led to her grandfather’s death a few years prior.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, attacks the cells that control muscles, causing them to progressively deteriorate until a person loses the ability to move, swallow and, eventually, breathe.

Gravely drew a connection between the disease and the muscle loss astronauts suffer after spending extended periods in space, where they become weaker because their bodies aren’t working against gravity.

If an ALS-linked enzyme were to increase in worms exposed to microgravity, Gravely theorized, it could help researchers understand the mechanism that causes muscle atrophy, which would have implications for a host of degenerative diseases.

“My family … (was) super attached to the project,” said Gravely. “Instead of it just being a research project, it was something that was a big part of my life.”

Gravely and Grade 8 classmate Alice Vlasov teamed up with upper-year mentors Amy Freeman and Kay Wu to refine their experimental methodology as the group progressed through rounds of competition.

When it became clear the project’s scientific scope well exceeded the high-school curriculum, Gravely enlisted the help of leading researchers in Canada and the U.K., who were touched by the girls’ dedication and provided expertise and resources.

Jane Batt, a scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital, lent the students lab space at the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science as she guided them through the process of trial and error required to bring such an ambitious project to fruition.

“It’s a massive undertaking for a young student,” Batt said. “We have university students who can’t do this, and Annie did this of her own accord and took it all the way through.”

Vlasov, 17, said she and Gravely were “literally jumping for joy” and laughing in the hallways upon getting word that their experiment was one of the few selected to take off into space.

In the summer of 2016, the student scientists stood on the launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Fla., to wish their worms bon voyage as a SpaceX rocket carried them into orbit.

“It’s permanently engraved in my memory,” Vlasov said, a smile sweeping across her face. “We couldn’t believe it was actually happening.”

During the roughly 10 weeks the worms were in space or being shipped back on land, the team was running an identical experiment in the Toronto lab.

When the two tubes were compared, the results were not what they expected, said 19-year-old Wu.

She said they found the worms that had been exposed to microgravity had lower levels of the ALS-linked enzyme than the control group.

The researchers also discovered that the “space worms” were longer and thicker than their Earth-bound counterparts.

But one of the biggest surprises was that the worms survived for 69 days with limited oxygen and nutrients, which appears to be a novel discovery, according to the group’s paper.

“(Gravely’s) question asked three other questions that deserve a further look, and this is the way science works,” said Batt.

“This may be a real finding that could be quite significant for looking at regulation of muscle mass in the future.”

With Gravely and Vlasov heading into Grade 12, and university students Freeman and Wu mulling over medical school applications, the young scientists are unsure what’s ahead after their summer vacations.

But Freeman, 21, hopes a new cohort of young scientists are already busy at work with their next cosmic discoveries.

“At any age, you can do science, and you can participate in the scientific process,” she said. “If you have an idea, don’t just kind of ignore it because you think that you’re too young to do it.”

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