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Hot, humid start to the week in the GTA

News Staff | posted Monday, Aug 27th, 2018

The start of the work week will be a hot and humid one in the GTA with a heat warning in effect for the region, including Toronto.

For many, it is the final week of summer holidays before heading back to school.

Environment Canada issued the heat warning on Sunday, and it is expected to remain in place until Wednesday.

Temperatures are expected to reach 31 C with humidex values around 40 degrees.

Overnight temperatures will only drop to the low 20s, resulting in little relief from the humid conditions.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said Monday’s forecast includes varying amounts of sun and cloud with scattered showers and thunderstorms later in the morning. The humidity will make it feel like 42 C. Scattered showers and thunderstorms will continue mainly after 8 p.m.

Residents are reminded never to leave people or pets inside locked vehicles.

Temperatures are expected to drop back to seasonal on Wednesday night.

Toronto school board head reassures teachers on sex-ed curriculum

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Aug 27th, 2018

With just a week to go before a new school year begins, the head of Canada’s largest school board has sent a letter to teachers assuring them Ontario’s interim sex-ed curriculum still covers many important topics.

John Malloy, the director of education for the Toronto District School Board, published a letter online Friday saying the board is doing its best to take the “‘guess work’ out of determining what can be taught and when.”

He says while the Ministry of Education “has the right to set curriculum for Ontario students,” educators are responsible for how it is taught.

Malloy’s letter comes just days after TDSB chair Robin Pilkey said the Progressive Conservative government needed to spell out the differences between the interim sex-ed curriculum and the document it replaces.

The government issued the interim curriculum on Wednesday, warning teachers who use the scrapped version would face consequences — and inviting parents to anonymously report potential breaches to the province. The government also said it’s launching a website where parents can file such complaints, which critics have dubbed a “snitch line.”

In his letter, Malloy says that under the interim document, teachers can still discuss topics such as diverse families, online safety and consent to their students. But while “many important topics remain” in the interim curriculum, Malloy acknowledges “there may be other areas that are no longer reflected.”

Talks between Exhibition board, locked out stagehands called off Sunday

News Staff | posted Monday, Aug 27th, 2018

Talks between the union representing locked out workers at Exhibition Place and the city scheduled for today have been called off. And there’s no indication yet when negotiations could resume.

Justin Antheunis, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 58, says they were preparing to give the city a response to one of their proposals when they received word on Saturday night that Sunday’s 10 a.m. bargaining session had been cancelled.

“We were waiting to hear from the city as to whether they were willing to come back to the table today or not,” Antheunis tells 680News. “We said we would give that full, written response at the bargaining table (on Sunday). By about 7:30 last night we received an email response from them stating that it was too late to set up a meeting for today and they’re waiting for our written response and then they’ll respond to us in due course.”

Antheunis says the news that Sunday’s bargaining session was abruptly cancelled has left his membership angry and confused.

“Our bargaining team was angry because it seems that those who were responding to us and those who are sitting across from us at the table don’t really have any clue as to what’s going on on the ground,” he said. “They’re just sitting in their offices at City Hall not really caring about the people of Toronto who want to come to the CNE and not caring for the people of Toronto whose jobs that they’re trying to give away.”

Antheunis says they asked the board, through their lawyer on Sunday morning, when they were willing to meet again but they have yet to hear back from them.

On Saturday, the union accused city negotiators of bargaining in bad faith, saying they were not interested in reaching a new deal following 12-hours of talks on Friday.

The main stumbling block continues to be the refusal to take the contracting of outside workers off the table.

The dispute involving some 450 workers, which began back on July 20, has led to picket lines outside the annual Canadian National Exhibition, which is entering its final week before it closes for the season. A letter sent to Toronto mayor John Tory and city councillors by the head of the CNE claims the labour dispute could cost the annual fair more than $1.5 million.

War hero and presidential candidate John McCain dead at 81

NANCY BENAC, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Aug 27th, 2018

Sen. John McCain, who faced down his captors in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp with jut-jawed defiance and later turned his rebellious streak into a 35-year political career that took him to Congress and the Republican presidential nomination, died Saturday after battling brain cancer for more than a year. He was 81.

McCain, with his irascible grin and fighter-pilot moxie, was a fearless and outspoken voice on policy and politics to the end, unswerving in his defence of democratic values and unflinching in his criticism of his fellow Republican, President Donald Trump. He was elected to the Senate from Arizona six times but twice thwarted in seeking the presidency.

An upstart presidential bid in 2000 didn’t last long. Eight years later, he fought back from the brink of defeat to win the GOP nomination, only to be overpowered by Democrat Barack Obama. McCain chose a little-known Alaska governor as his running mate in that race, and turned Sarah Palin into a national political figure.

After losing to Obama in an electoral landslide, McCain returned to the Senate determined not to be defined by a failed presidential campaign in which his reputation as a maverick had faded. In the politics of the moment and in national political debate over the decades, McCain energetically advanced his ideas and punched back hard at critics — Trump not least among them.

The scion of a decorated military family, McCain embraced his role as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, pushing for aggressive U.S. military intervention overseas and eager to contribute to “defeating the forces of radical Islam that want to destroy America.”

Asked how he wanted to be remembered, McCain said simply: “That I made a major contribution to the defence of the nation.”

One dramatic vote he cast in the twilight of his career in 2017 will not soon be forgotten, either: As the decisive “no” on Senate GOP legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, McCain became the unlikely saviour of Obama’s trademark legislative achievement.

Taking a long look back in his valedictory memoir, “The Restless Wave,” McCain wrote of the world he inhabited: “I hate to leave it. But I don’t have a complaint. Not one. It’s been quite a ride. I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make a peace. … I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.”

Throughout his long tenure in Congress, McCain played his role with trademark verve, at one hearing dismissing a protester by calling out, “Get out of here, you low-life scum.”

But it was just as notable when he held his sharp tongue, in service of a party or political gain.

Most remarkably, he stuck by Trump as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee even when Trump questioned his status as a war hero by saying: “I like people who weren’t captured.” McCain declared the comment offensive to veterans, but urged the men “put it behind us and move forward.”

His breaking point with Trump was the release a month before the election of a lewd audio in which Trump said he could kiss and grab women. McCain withdrew his support and said he’d write in “some good conservative Republican who’s qualified to be president.”

By the time McCain cast his vote against the GOP health bill, six months into Trump’s presidency, the two men were openly at odds. Trump railed against McCain publicly over the vote, and McCain remarked that he no longer listened to what Trump had to say because “there’s no point in it.”

By then, McCain had disclosed his brain cancer diagnosis and returned to Arizona to seek treatment. His vote to kill the GOP’s years-long Obamacare repeal drive — an issue McCain himself had campaigned on — came not long after the diagnosis, a surprising capstone to his legislative career.

In his final months, McCain did not go quietly, frequently jabbing at Trump and his policies from the remove of his Hidden Valley family retreat in Arizona. He opposed the president’s nominee for CIA director because of her past role in overseeing torture, scolded Trump for alienating U.S. allies at an international summit, labeled the administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy “an affront to the decency of the American people” and denounced the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki as a “tragic mistake” in which the president put on “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

On Aug. 13, Trump signed into law a $716 billion defence policy bill named in honour of the senator. Trump signed the John S. McCain National Defence Authorization Act in a ceremony at a military base in New York — without one mention of McCain.

John Sidney McCain III was born in 1936 in the Panana Canal zone, where his father was stationed in the military.

He followed his father and grandfather, the Navy’s first father-and-son set of four-star admirals, to the Naval Academy, where he enrolled in what he described a “four-year course of insubordination and rebellion.” His family yawned at the performance. A predilection for what McCain described as “quick tempers, adventurous spirits, and love for the country’s uniform” was encoded in his family DNA.

On October 1967, McCain was on his 23rd bombing round over North Vietnam when he was shot out of the sky and taken prisoner.

Year upon year of solitary confinement, deprivation, beatings and other acts of torture left McCain so despairing that at one point he weakly attempted suicide. But he also later wrote that his captors had spared him the worst of the abuse inflicted on POWs because his father was a famous admiral. “I knew that my father’s identity was directly related to my survival,” he wrote in one of his books.

When McCain’s Vietnamese captors offered him early release as a propaganda ploy, McCain refused to play along, insisting that those captured first should be the first set free.

In his darkest hour in Vietnam, McCain’s will had been broken and he signed a confession that said, “I am a black criminal and I have performed deeds of an air pirate.”

Even then, though, McCain refused to make an audio recording of his confession and used stilted written language to signal he had signed it under duress. And, to the end of his captivity, he continued to exasperate his captors with his defiance.

Throughout, McCain played to the bleachers, shouting obscenities at guards to bolster the spirits of fellow captives. Appointed by the POWs to act as camp entertainment officer, chaplain and communications chief, McCain imparted comic relief, literary tutorials, news of the day, even religious sustenance.

Bud Day, a former cellmate and Medal of Honor winner, said McCain’s POW experience “took some great iron and turned him into steel.”

McCain returned home from his years as a POW on crutches and never regained full mobility in his arms and leg.

He once said he’d “never known a prisoner of war who felt he could fully explain the experience to anyone who had not shared it.” Still he described the time as formative and “a bit of a turning point in me appreciating the value of serving a cause greater than your self-interest.”

But it did not tame his wild side, and his first marriage, to Carol Shepp, was a casualty of what he called “my greatest moral failing.” The marriage to Shepp, who had been in a crippling car accident while McCain was imprisoned, ended amiably. McCain admitted the breakup was caused by “my own selfishness and immaturity.”

One month after his divorce, McCain in 1981 married Cindy Hensley, the daughter of a wealthy beer distributor in Arizona.

In one day, McCain signed his Navy discharge papers and flew west with his new wife to a new life. By 1982, he’d been elected to the House and four years later to an open Senate seat. He and Cindy had four children, to add to three from his first marriage. Their youngest was adopted from Bangladesh.

McCain cultivated a conservative voting record and a reputation as a tightwad with taxpayer dollars. But just months into his Senate career, he made what he called “the worst mistake” of his life. He participated in two meetings with bank regulators on behalf of Charles Keating, a friend, campaign contributor and savings and loan financier later convicted of securities fraud.

As the industry collapsed, McCain was tagged as one of the Keating Five — senators who, to varying degrees, were accused of trying to get regulators to ease up on Keating. McCain was cited by the Senate Ethics Committee for “poor judgment.”

To have his honour questioned, he said, was in some ways worse than the torture he endured in Vietnam.

In the 1990s, McCain shouldered another wrenching issue, the long effort to account for American soldiers still missing from the war and to normalize relations with Vietnam.

“People don’t remember how ugly the POW-MIA issue was,” former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey, a fellow Vietnam veteran, later recalled in crediting McCain for standing up to significant opposition. “I heard people scream in his face, holding him responsible for the deaths of POWs.”

Over a xx-year Senate tenure (took office 1987), McCain became a standard-bearer for reforming campaign donations. He denounced pork-barrel spending for legislators’ pet projects and cultivated a reputation as a deficit hawk and an independent voice. His experience as a POW made him a leading voice against the use of torture. He achieved his biggest legislative successes when making alliances with Democrats.

But faced with a tough GOP challenge for his Senate seat in 2010, McCain disowned chapters in his past and turned to the right on a number of hot-button issues, including gays in the military and climate change. And when the Supreme Court in 2010 overturned the campaign finance restrictions that he’d work so hard to enact, McCain seemed resigned.

“It is what it is,” he said.

After surviving that election, though, McCain took on conservatives in his party over the federal debt and Democrats over foreign policy. McCain never softened on his opposition to the U.S. use of torture, even in the recalibrations of the post-9-11 world. When the Senate in 2014 released a report on the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques at secret overseas facilities after the 9-11 attacks, McCain said the issue wasn’t “about our enemies. It’s about us. It’s about who we were, who we are and who we aspire to be. It’s about how we represent ourselves to the world.”

During his final years in the Senate, McCain was perhaps the loudest advocate for U.S. military involvement overseas – in Iraq, Syria, Libya and more. That often made him a critic of first Obama and then Trump, and placed him further out of step with the growing isolationism within the GOP.

In October 2017, McCain unleashed some his most blistering criticism of Trump’s “America first” foreign policy approach — without mentioning the president by name — in describing a “half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.”

Few politicians matched McCain’s success as an author. His 1999 release “Faith Of My Fathers” was a million seller that was highly praised and helped launch his run for president in 2000. His most recent bestseller and planned farewell, “The Restless Wave,” came out in May 2018.

‘You need to stand with your leader:’ Ford rallies federal Tories in Halifax

TERESA WRIGHT, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 24th, 2018

Ontario Premier Doug Ford threw his political weight behind federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer during an impassioned speech clearly aimed at rallying the troops at the national Conservative convention in Halifax Thursday.

Speaking to a room filled with thousands of Conservative delegates and members from across the country, Ford boasted of his recent electoral success in Ontario, which he said can also happen for the federal party in 2019 — if members remain united behind Scheer.

“My friends, it will not come easy. It will take effort and discipline. And most importantly, you will need to stand together and you need to stand with your leader,” Ford said, eliciting a standing ovation from the crowd.

Earlier in the day, Scheer sustained a searing attack from his former leadership rival, Quebec MP Maxime Bernier, who announced he was quitting the Conservative party. In a scathing diatribe, Bernier called the Tories “intellectually and morally corrupt” and said a Scheer victory next year would lead to “a more moderate version of the disastrous Trudeau government.”

Ford did not mention Bernier in his remarks, instead focusing his comments on praising Scheer and lending his personal slogan, “Help is on the way” to the federal party.

Brandishing his signature oratory cadence, Ford repeated many of his own oft-used electoral slogans to get the Halifax crowd on their feet — and jump to their feet they did.

Ford reiterated his vow to fight Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “punishing carbon tax” using every tool at his disposal. He also said he has been “burning up the phone lines” talking to U.S. governors to help get a deal on NAFTA.

But his speech was aimed mainly at offering hope and advice to federal delegates, offering his own recent electoral victory as an example to remain firm in their convictions that victory is possible.

“As you look towards the upcoming campaign, please remember we won in Ontario because we listened to the people and because we stayed true to our principles,” said Ford.

“And you can do it too with a great leader and future prime minister, Andrew Scheer.”

As Ford’s speech drew to a close, Scheer and his wife Jill joined the Ontario premier on stage, where they hoisted their hands together in the air, officially kicking off the three-day Conservative convention in Halifax.

Follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter.

Hurricane Lane soaks Hawaii’s Big Island with foot of rain


Hurricane Lane soaked Hawaii’s Big Island on Thursday, dumping 12 inches of rain in as many hours as residents stocked up on supplies and tried to protect their homes ahead of the state’s first hurricane since 1992.

The National Weather Service warned that some areas could see up to 30 inches (76 centimetres) before the system passes. Bands of rain extended 350 miles (566 kilometres) from the hurricane’s centre.

Lane was not projected to make direct hit on the islands, but officials warned that even a lesser blow could do significant harm.

“You do not need a direct strike to have major impacts from a hurricane this strong,” said Steve Goldstein, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Washington.

The centre of the Category 4 storm was predicted to move close to or over portions of the main islands later Thursday or Friday, bringing dangerous surf of 20 feet and a storm surge of up to 4 feet, forecasters said.

Tropical storm conditions, with winds of 73 mph (118 kph), were expected to reach the Big Island, Hawaii’s easternmost major island, later Thursday, with hurricane conditions possible after that.

As of 8 a.m., the hurricane was 290 miles (466 kilometres) south of Honolulu and moving northwest at 7 mph. Maximum winds had weakened slightly to 130 mph, the National Weather Service said.

Pablo Akira Beimler, who lives on the coast in Honokaa on the Big Island, said the road to Hilo was cut off due to landslides.

“Rain has been nonstop for the last half hour or so and winds are just starting to pick up,” Beimler said as he posted videos of trees being blown sideways. “Our usually quiet stream is raging right now.”

He said staying put is about the only choice he has.

“We essentially have one way in and out of our towns so sheltering in place is the priority,” Beimler said in a Twitter message.

Two campers were reported trapped overnight in Waipio Valley, along the Big Island’s northern coast. The campers called authorities Wednesday, but emergency crews could not mount a rescue operation.

“We can’t go in because the roads – there’s a river of water down there,” said Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe. Landslides had closed some roads.

In addition, there were reports of boulders falling into a park in Hilo on the east side of the island, Okabe said.

Shelters opened Wednesday on the Big Island and on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Officials urged those needing the Molokai shelter to get there soon because of concerns that the main highway on the island’s south coast could become impassable.

On the island of Oahu, shelters were scheduled to open Thursday. Aid agencies were also working to help Hawaii’s sizeable homeless population, many of whom live near beaches and streams that could flood.

Because there’s not enough shelter space statewide, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Tom Travis urged people who were not in flood zones to stay home.

On the island of Lanai, it was eerily dead still and grey, said Nick Palumbo II, who owns Lanai Surf School and Safari.

“It’s relatively like a regular day,” he said by telephone. “I got friends calling me telling me there’s surf at the beach, and they’re actually going surfing right now.”

He won’t be joining them and instead is staying home with his four children since there’s no school.

Palumbo is prepared for the storm after boarding up one large window and stocking up on snack food. He’s also got a freezer full of fish he’s caught on dives and deer he’s hunted on the island to last them through the storm.

“I don’t have a generator, but I figure as things thaw out, if the electricity goes, we’ll just get cooking,” he said.

The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with about only four or five named storms a year. Hawaii rarely gets hit. The last major storm to hit was Iniki in 1992. Others have come close in recent years.

Napua Puaoi of Wailuku, Maui, said she and her husband planned on boarding up their windows and sliding doors. She was 12 at the time of Hurricane Iniki.

“When it did happen, I just remember pandemonium. It was all-out craziness,” she said.

Unlike Florida or Texas, where residents can get in their cars and drive hundreds of miles to safety, people in Hawaii are confined to the islands. They have to make sure they have enough supplies to outlast power outages and other potential emergencies.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency moved several barges packed with food, water, generators and other supplies into the region ahead of Hurricane Hector, which skirted past the islands more than a week ago, FEMA Administrator Brock Long said.

Major electrical failure caused St. James Town building fire

News Staff | posted Friday, Aug 24th, 2018

A major electrical failure caused a six-alarm fire at St. James Town highrise which could leave approximately 1,500 people homeless for months.

Speaking outside the building on Thursday, Toronto fire Chief Matthew Pegg said the damage is considerable.

“There has been significant and major damage to the building’s electrical system,” he explained.

“There is no lights, no elevators, no fire protection systems, no power at all.”

Pegg said investigators are going room by room to inspect any further damage caused by the fire.

“It appears the damage inside the residents’ units appears to be very, very minimal,” he explained.

Pegg said it could take months to fully repair the damage done to the building.

Crews were called to the building near Parliament and Bloor streets around 1 p.m. Tuesday, after the fire started in a hydro vault in the basement and smoke quickly spread throughout the 20-storey building.

At the height of the fire, 26 vehicles, more than 100 firefighters, 17 pumpers and other equipment and personnel were at the scene.

In a release, the City of Toronto said four people had minor injuries.

Residents were allowed into their units Wednesday to collect their belongings.

Mayor John Tory said the building’s owner will cover the rent for all residents evacuated from 650 Parliament.

“While this seems obvious to all of us, I can assure you it was something that the tenants were worried about because the first of the month is close at hand,” he said.

“For as long as they are out of their homes, they will not be responsible for paying rent.”

Tory said that thanks to a number of partners, including several hotel groups and Airbnb, all evacuees have a hotel room or a home to stay in.

On Wednesday evening, Airbnb said it had activated its Open Homes program in Toronto and parts of the GTA till Sept. 2.

The program helps connect local residents who have been displaced with local hosts who are opening their homes for free in the event of major disasters.

Tory said one of the community centres will remain open for overnight stays “because we can’t necessarily anticipate people who might come and say they weren’t otherwise registered with us or looked after.”

In addition, Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) along with the Red Cross are working together to provide services to the residents including social service support, help to acquire medications, meals and sleeping rooms as well as pet retrieval and temporary housing for pets till they can be reunited with their owners. Animal Services has provided supplies for the displaced pets and and will provide support as needed.

Metropasses and food vouchers are being distributed to the affected families, as required, at the Wellesley Community Centre.

Ont. govt needs to spell out what’s new in sex-ed curriculum: TDSB chair


The chair of Canada’s largest school board says the Ontario government needs to spell out the differences between its newly released interim sex-ed curriculum and the document it is replacing.

Robin Pilkey, chair of the Toronto District School Board, says the interim curriculum doesn’t clearly address what teachers can and cannot teach when classes resume in less than two weeks.

She says board staff are currently combing through the new document and the now-repealed modernized version put in place by the former Liberal government in 2015 to figure out how they differ _ but notes the province had months to provide that information.

The Ontario government issued the interim curriculum Wednesday, warning that teachers who use the scrapped 2015 version would face consequences and inviting parents to anonymously report potential breaches to the province.

The government also said it is launching a website where parents can file such complaints, which critics have described as a “snitch line.”

Pilkey says the board already has a mechanism to address parents’ concerns, which focuses on resolving the issue constructively, and says the government’s proposed system is unlikely to bring the same results.

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