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Florida preps for an ‘absolute monster’: Hurricane Dorian

Adriana Gomez Licon and Ellis Rua, The Associated Press | posted Friday, Aug 30th, 2019

Unsure where Hurricane Dorian is going to land over Labour Day weekend, many Florida residents faced a sense of helplessness as they prepared for what President Donald Trump said could be an “absolute monster” of a storm.

“All indications are it’s going to hit very hard and it’s going to be very big,” Trump said in a video he tweeted Thursday evening, comparing Dorian to Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida in 1992.

The National Hurricane Center said the Category 2 storm is expected to strengthen into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 with winds of 130 mph (209 kph) and slam into the U.S. on Monday somewhere between the Florida Keys and southern Georgia — a 500-mile (805-kilometre) stretch that reflected the high degree of uncertainty this far out.

“If it makes landfall as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, that’s a big deal,” said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. “A lot of people are going to be affected. A lot of insurance claims.”

With the storm’s track still unclear, no immediate mass evacuations were ordered. Along Florida’s east coast, local governments began distributing sandbags, shoppers rushed to stock up on food, plywood and other emergency supplies at supermarkets and hardware stores, and motorists topped off their tanks and filled gasoline cans. Some fuel shortages were reported in the Cape Canaveral area.

Josefine Larrauri, a retired translator, went to a Publix supermarket in Miami only to find empty shelves in the water section.

“I feel helpless because the whole coast is threatened,” she said. “What’s the use of going all the way to Georgia if it can land there?”

In Vero Beach, about 140 miles (225 kilometres) up the coast from Miami, Lauren Harvey, 51, scoured the aisles of a nearby supermarket in search for non-perishable food items that could last her throughout the storm.

Harvey, who works in medical billing, is going through a divorce and recently moved from the Philadelphia-area. She said she is not sure what to expect and is preparing to spend her very first hurricane alone.

“I just moved here, so I’m lost,” she said with a blank expression on her face, after grabbing a couple of water bottles from a scantly-stocked shelf. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Tiffany Miranda of Miami Springs waited well over 30 minutes in line at BJ’s Wholesale Club in Hialeah to buy hurricane supplies. Some 50 vehicles were bumper-to-bumper, waiting to fill up at the store’s 12 gas pumps.

“You never know with these hurricanes. It could be good, it could be bad. You just have to be prepared,” she said.

As of Friday morning, Dorian was centred about 260 miles (420 kilometres) east of the Bahamas, its winds blowing at 105 mph (165 kph) as it moved northwest at 12 mph (19 kph). The government of the Bahamas issued a hurricane watch for the northwestern Bahamas overnight. According to the advisory, a watch is usually issued 48 hours before tropical-storm-force winds are anticipated.

It is expected to pick up steam as it pushes out into warm waters with favourable winds, the University of Miami’s McNoldy said, adding: “Starting (Friday), it really has no obstacles left in its way.”

The National Hurricane Center’s projected track had the storm blowing ashore midway along the Florida peninsula, southeast of Orlando and well north of Miami or Fort Lauderdale. But because of the difficulty of predicting its course this far ahead, the “cone of uncertainty” covered nearly the entire state.

Forecasters said coastal areas of the Southeast could get 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 centimetres) of rain, with 15 inches (38 centimetres) in some places, triggering life-threatening flash floods.

Also imperiled were the Bahamas, with Dorian’s expected track running just to the north of Great Abaco and Grand Bahama islands.

Jeff Byard, an associate administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, warned that Dorian is likely to “create a lot of havoc with infrastructure, power and roads,” but gave assurances FEMA is prepared to handle it, even though the Trump administration is shifting hundreds of millions of dollars from FEMA and other agencies to deal with immigration at the Mexican border.

“This is going to be a big storm. We’re prepared for a big response,” Byard said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency, clearing the way to bring in more fuel and call out the National Guard if necessary, and Georgia’s governor followed suit.

Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian began rerouting their cruise ships. Major airlines began allowing travellers to change their reservations without a fee.

The hurricane season typically peaks between mid-August and late October. One of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S. was on Labor Day 1935. The unnamed Category 5 hurricane crashed ashore along Florida’s Gulf Coast on Sept. 2. It was blamed for over 400 deaths.

Dorian rolled through the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as a Category 1 hurricane on Wednesday.

The initial blow did not appear to be as bad as expected in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria two years ago.

But the tail end of the storm unleashed heavy flooding along the eastern and southern coasts of Puerto Rico. Cars, homes and gravestones in the coastal town of Humacao became halfway submerged after a river burst its banks.

Dorian caused an island-wide blackout in St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands and scattered outages in St. Croix, government spokesman Richard Motta said.

Back in Florida, Mark and Gina Emeterio enjoyed a peaceful afternoon sunbathing and wading in the ocean at Vero Beach. The newly retired couple from Sacramento, California, wanted to relax after spending the morning shuttering their home.

Mark, a retired pipe layer, and Gina, a retired state employee, planned to wait it out the storm with local friends more experienced with hurricanes.

“We got each other,” Mark Emeterio said. “So we’re good.”

“I told him, ‘Whatever happens, hold my hand,’” his wife joked.

Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein and Michael Balsamo in Washington; Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Marcia Dunn in Cape Canaveral, Florida; Freida Frisaro and Marcus Lim in Miami; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida, contributed to this report.

Labour Day long weekend: What’s on, open/closed info, road closures

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Aug 30th, 2019

The last long weekend of summer is upon us, so make it the best one ever. For those staying in town, below are some of the events taking place.

If you are heading out on Monday, scroll below for a list of what’s open and closed. Bookmark this page for updated road closures as well.


Air show highlights last weekend of CNE
This is the last weekend to enjoy the CNE before it closes up for another season. The main highlight this weekend is the Canadian International Air Show, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. This year’s show features the Royal Air Force’s aerobatic team the Red Arrows, which has performed around 5,000 times worldwide since 1965. In keeping with tradition, the Canadian Forces’ Snowbirds will be back doing what they do best. The show is scheduled to run from noon to 3 p.m. on each day of the long weekend. While at the CNE, stop by the Rose Garden to check out all things aviation, including the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Glider and other historical exhibits.

Buskers for a good cause
Street performers from around the work such as fire jugglers, magicians, aerial and acrobats artists, and musicians, will converge at Woodbine Park this weekend for the 20th annual Toronto International BuskerFest. The event, which starts on Friday, raises money and awareness for epilepsy. More revelry awaits the kids at the Family Fun Zone, which includes face painting, rides at the midway, interactive games, and a Be A Busker Zone — where kids can learn some of the arts that Buskers perform and trampoline fun to boot. There will also be a beer garden for the adults. Admission to the event is by donation.

Art fair at the Distillery
Artists from across Ontario and Quebec will be showcasing various types of their artwork at the four-day Artfest being held at the Distillery. Check out the paintings, pottery, sculpture, glassware, unique jewelry, photography exhibits, and more. There will also be live music and gourmet food, as well as a free art workshop for kids. Admission to the arts festival is free.

Put some jerk in it
If you like spice and barbecued food, then you need to be at Ca-Rib, Jerk and BBQ Fest this weekend. Starting on Friday and until Labour Day, Downsview Park will be sizzling with Caribbean food and the top reggae, dance hall and soca music artists including Shabba Ranks. Tickets are required for the concerts.

A museum birthday party
It has been five years since the Aga Khan Museum opened its doors, and you can be there for the celebration this weekend. Admission to the museum will be free on Saturday and Sunday. The party program includes Persian jazz, Filipino hip-hop, as well as a food fair, art activities, live music, dance classes, and free entrance to the Museum Collection.

What’s open and closed on Monday


  • TTC will run on holiday service
  • GO will run on a Sunday schedule
  • Select Beer Store locations, click here for a list
  • Tourist attractions: Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada’s Wonderland, Casa Loma, CN Tower, Hockey Hall of Fame, Ontario Science Centre, Canada’s Wonderland, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo
  • Several malls: Bramalea City Centre (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Eaton Centre (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.), Square One (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Promenade (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Toronto Premium Outlets (9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.), Upper Canada Mall (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Vaughan Mills (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.), Hillcrest Mall (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
  • 10 City of Toronto outdoor pools will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Click here for the list. Splash pads will be available on Labour Day.
  • The City’s swimming beaches will be open and supervised from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Fort York and Spadina Museum will also be open, as well as city-run golf courses. Click here for a full list of city-run programming.



  • LCBO stores
  • Some malls: Dufferin Mall, Erin Mills Town Centre, Fairview Mall, Scarborough Town Centre, Sherway Gardens, Yorkdale Shopping Centre
  • Government offices, municipal buildings and banks
  • All Toronto Public Library branches (they are also closed on Sunday)
  • Garbage collection: Curbside pickup is not provided on any Monday, but other solid waste collection will be affected too. Click here for details.
  • No mail delivery
  • Aside from the City of Toronto’s 10 outdoor swimming pools, all other outdoor and wading pools will close for the summer season at 4 p.m. on Sunday. All indoor swimming pools will be closed on Labour Day.
  • The City’s recreation centres will also be closed.


Road closures

Section of Bloor Street West (Until the end of December): Bloor Street West between Kipling and Prennan avenues will be closed until the end of December due to construction on the Six Points interchange.

Labour Day parade (Monday closure): Starting at 9 a.m. and until around 2 p.m., University Avenue from Richmond to Dundas streets will be closed, as well as Armoury Street from University to Chestnut Street, Centre Avenue from Armoury to Dundas, Queen Street West from Bay to Dufferin streets, and Dufferin from Queen to the Exhibition Grounds. Streetcars in the area will be diverted.

Stay tuned for updates

OPP to remind drivers of perils of distracted driving this long weekend

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Aug 30th, 2019

Distracted or inattentive driving has resulted in 26 deaths on provincial highways so far this year – almost half the total number recorded in 2018.

That’s why Ontario Provincial Police will be conducting a campaign this long weekend to remind drivers their full attention needs to be on the road at all times.

“It is absolutely preventable and we need driver’s – and all road users – to pay attention,” says OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt.

Another concern for police is the number of fatal crashes involving pedestrians.

“This year we have had 21 pedestrians die in collisions,” said Schmidt. “(We had) just 24 all of last year, which is a number that I’m scared we’re going to exceed.”

Schmidt also wants drivers to remember that the message of safe driving goes beyond this weekend especially as students are set to head back to school next week.

“We’ve already had 150-some odd school bus crashes this year. Last year we had over 300, and we only have half a school year behind us in 2019.”

Hong Kong democracy activists get bail, protest march banned

Ken Moritsugu The Associated Press | posted Friday, Aug 30th, 2019

Hong Kong police granted bail to well-known activist Joshua Wong and another core member of a pro-democracy group who were arrested earlier Friday, while authorities denied permission for a major march in what appears to a harder line on this summer’s protests.

The organizers of Saturday’s march, the fifth anniversary of a decision by China against allowing fully democratic elections for the leader of Hong Kong, said they were calling it off after an appeals board denied permission. It was unclear whether some protesters would still demonstrate on their own.

Police have been rejecting more applications for rallies and marches, citing violence at or after earlier ones. They also are arresting people for protests earlier this summer.

Andy Chan, the leader of a pro-independence movement, was arrested at the airport Thursday night. Three others were taken in earlier this week for the vandalizing of the legislature offices on July 1.

“The first priority of the Civil Human Rights Front is to make sure that all of the participants who participate in our marches will be physically and legally safe. That’s our first priority,” said Bonnie Leung, a leader of the group. “And because of the decision made by the appeal board, we feel very sorry but we have no choice but to cancel the march.”

Police said that Wong and Agnes Chow are being investigated for their role in a June 21 unauthorized protest outside a police station. Both face potential charges of participating in the demonstration and inciting others to join it. Wong also is being investigated on suspicion of organizing it.

Wong is secretary-general of Demosisto and Chow is a prominent member. He was one of the student leaders of the Umbrella Movement, the major pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014.

Both were granted bail hours following their arrests.

Isaac Cheng, the vice chair of the group, said the arrests are an attempt to spread fear and “white terror” among Hong Kong residents.

He accused authorities of trying to identify leaders in a “leaderless” movement that has rocked Hong Kong for nearly three months. The Communist Party-ruled government in Beijing is pulling the strings and has misjudged the situation, he said, urging residents to continue protesting despite the risk of arrest.

Demosisto first reported the arrests on its social media accounts, saying Wong was pushed into a private car as he was heading to a subway station around 7:30 a.m. and has been taken to police headquarters. It later said Chow had also been arrested, at her home.

Wong was released from prison in June after serving a two-month sentence related to that protest. He has been speaking out regularly in support of the pro-democracy protests that have racked Hong Kong this summer.

The protests were set off by extradition legislation that would have allowed suspects to be sent to mainland China to face trial and expanded to the general concern that China is chipping away at the rights of Hong Kong residents.

The extradition bill was suspended but the protesters want it withdrawn and are also demanding democracy and an independent inquiry into police actions against protesters.

Police said that Chan was arrested under suspicion of rioting and attacking police.

CAMH to develop therapy geared towards South Asians

Emerald Bensadoun, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Aug 29th, 2019

Canada’s largest mental health hospital is developing a specialized form of psychotherapy catered toward Canadians of South Asian origin to help members of that community overcome stigma around mental illness and seek treatment.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto says it hopes to have a culturally adapted manual on the targeted form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy — or CBT — as well as a therapist training package ready by November.

CAMH psychiatrist Dr. Farooq Naeem said he will be consulting with patients, caregivers, mental health professionals and community leaders as he adapts an existing CBT manual to meet the specific cultural needs of South Asian patients.

“The evidence shows that CBT is as good as medications to treat depression and anxiety, as well as to prevent relapse,” said Naeem.

“But we also have a lot of data that shows that CBT does not work as well with people from non-western cultural backgrounds. When we adapt it for other cultural contexts — as we’ve done for other racialized communities — it becomes far more effective.”

Naeem said he hopes the culturally-adapted CBT, which can be offered outside hospitals, will help reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness for South Asians and encourage members of the community to seek treatment when needed. A $1 million grant from Health Canada is helping to fund the CAMH project.

The specialized therapy manual and training package being developed could serve as a model for other types of culturally-adapted CBT programs across Canada in the future, Naeem added.

Canada is home to 1.6 million people of South Asian origin, one of the largest racialized groups in the country. CAMH said there were higher rates of anxiety and mood disorders for the population compared to immigrants from other parts of the world largely due to cultural and socio-economic factors.

The hospital said people of South Asian origin also have the highest perceived barriers to mental health treatment and are 85 per cent less likely to seek treatment for mental illness than those who identify as white.

Shreya Kumar, who was born in India and now lives in Ontario, knows first-hand how hard it can be for South Asians to seek treatment for mental illness.

The 26-year-old said she had her first major depressive episode at the age of 17 while living in Kuwait. Getting treatment for mental illness was unheard of in her community, she said, and it took her five years to get help.

“There is a culture-wide disdain for weakness among South Asians. If you’re anxious, you’re weak. If you’re depressed, you can’t cope and none of that is seen as a clinical thing, said Kumar, who works as a freelance graphic designer.

“There is no language around mental health and mental wellness, there isn’t really a tendency to talk about your feelings either. If you’re faced with a challenge, you should be able to cope with it and if you’re not, you’re doing something wrong.”

Kumar, who has now been benefiting from CBT for years, said she used to blame herself for her mental state.

“The illusion of being alone in the problem was what was the most debilitating thing for me,” she said. “When a culturally adept service is available and advertised well enough and people know about it, hopefully it encourages help-seeking behaviour and early intervention.”

Dr. Saunia Ahmad, the director of the Toronto Psychology Clinic, said there are a variety of barriers to South Asians that prevent them from seeking treatment, including cultural elements like arranged marriage, religion and language.

CBT, as it was originally developed, was created from a western point of view that assumes a white model of what healthy, human behaviour looks like, she said.

“A lot of people don’t even know what a psychologist is in South Asia. It’s a concept that you derive from North American values,” said Ahmad, who is also of South Asian descent. “It’s really important for us as therapists to recognize that where they’re coming from is also culturally circumscribed.”

With more adaptive programs, Ahmad said South Asian people will begin to feel recognized.

“They’ll start to feel like there’s a focus on them and understanding them,” she said.

Man wanted in unprovoked attack on woman in Scarborough

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Aug 29th, 2019

Police are searching for a 23-year-old man wanted in an aggravated assault investigation.

Investigators say a man and a woman were travelling by car when they pulled into a fast food parking lot in the area of Victoria Park Avenue and Ellesmere Avenue just before 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Police allege that the man, without provocation, stabbed the woman before fleeing the scene on foot.

Dazel Dacosta Henry is described as being six-feet tall, 200 pounds with a stocky build, a black afro and black moustache. He was wearing a black ‘Adidas’ hooded sweater with white stripes down the arm and a logo on the chest, black track pants and sneakers with yellow detailing.

Police caution that Henry is armed, violent and dangerous.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

Man attacked, stabbed after fight at Mimico bar

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Aug 29th, 2019

A man is in hospital with serious stab wounds after being attacked by three men on Royal York Road.

Police said the incident began with a fight a bar on Royal York and Newcastle Street, just south of Evans Avenue.

The fight ended without injury but later on, when the victim was walking home, a car stopped and three men jumped out.

According to police, another fight began and the victim was stabbed by the same person from the bar.

The victim then made his way to his mother’s house just before 3:30 a.m. and called police.

Suspect descriptions have not been released.

Driver sought after pedestrian hit at streetcar stop downtown

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Aug 29th, 2019

Toronto police are on the hunt for the driver who fled the scene after hitting a pedestrian downtown.

It happened on College Street near Yonge Street just before 5:30 a.m. Thursday.

The Range Rover was heading east on College when the driver rear-ended a parked car, then took out hydrant, hit a light pole, and struck a male pedestrian at a streetcar stop.

During the collision, the Range Rover lost its right front wheel and the driver turned south on Yonge. The driver got out and fled on foot.

The pedestrian is being taken to hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.

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