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Demystifying The Spookiest of Animal Species

Julian Victor | posted Tuesday, Oct 29th, 2019

With Halloween approaching, it’s that time where we tell scary stories and revel in all things spooky and creepy. These annual practices also include some our animal neighbors who have been associated with harmful myths and superstitions. Theses animals that we fear, in reality, play a very important role in the ecosystem and we can benefit from their presence.

 

Bats

  • The symbol of all things dangerous and terrifying about the dark  and the most popular associations to Halloween. Their night time lifestyle and their liking of dark areas such as caves and ruins makes it pretty easy for people to associate bats with evil things such as of the commonly  vampires and witches.
  •  Some bats do drink blood.  There are only 3 types of vampire bats and they all live in Central and South America.
  • vampire bats do not like to drink human blood. They mainly get blood from cows, sheep, and horses.
  • Bats play a crucial role in sustaining the ecological balance of many environments around the world. Here in Ontario alone, we have 8 species of bats.
  • There  are many plants that rely on bats to pollinate their flowers, others on bats to spread their seeds.
  • They are also great  pest controllers by eating insects (one brown bat can eat up too 600 mosquitoes  in one night)

Snakes

  • Since the beginning of time, snakes have had a bad reputation being deemed evil, sly and deadly from  Religious beliefs and folklore.
  • When someone speaks about what they fear in life, most often snakes are at the top of the list.
  • Snakes are important in their native environments because they regulate the populations of their prey such as rodents which cause a variety of issues such as  diseases and property damage).)
  • Snakes can sometimes also be prey for other predators such as raccoons, skunks,birds of prey and other snakes.
  • 11 species of snakes on Ontario,

Spiders

  • People are naturally afraid Spiders.
  • Associated with witchcraft  during the pilgrim new world times and is a staple for Halloween
  • They embody true evil, they prey on fear with the idea of them crawling on you and be ridiculously gross with their eight legs, which can sound really disgusting.
  • Spiders are not known to transmit diseases to humans,

Common spiders found in Canadian households include the house spider, wolf spider, cellar spider, and fishing spider and  typically found in basements, garages, gardens, and similar locations.

  • Benefits Spiders eat other pests, like mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches and those insects are known to leave an area if they know spiders are around.
  • Their venom is rarely harmful to humans and have been used for medical purposes.

Opossums

  • Not the traditional  Halloween animal but people are scared of them.
  • Nobody’s favorite animal( not cute like Raccoons)pretty ugly, scary looking with hairless tail,pointed teeth, seen as pest and they make a scary hissing sound as a defense mechanism. They sometimes come into a house through a pet door.
  • The’re  beneficial for your garden by eating snails, slugs, insects and sometimes even small rodents.
  • They’ll clean up spilled garbage and rotten fruit that has fallen off trees.  They also eat ticks( up to 5000 in a single season) which can carry Lyme Disease( celebrities such as Bella Hadid,Avril lavigne and Shania twain have it).
  • Studies have also shown that they are immune to snake venom and very rarely carry rabies due to their low body temperature.

Coyotes 

  • Very bad reputation as evil vicious predators who routinely harass humans and their companion animals.
  • More frequently seen and heard in urban areas( areas in Toronto)
  • Seen as a threat  to livestock and have been hunted and baited for decades due to that misconception.
  • Recent research suggests that coyotes play some beneficial roles in our ecosystem.
  • They are Keystone species  which means that their presence or absence has a significant impact.
  • They prey on small to medium size  mammals like rabbits rats( who can carry diseases like Lyme Disease from ticks that come from deer) and deer, who reproduce rapidly and become overpopulated and without predators like coyotes.
  • They Also prey on small predators like foxes,opossums, raccoons  and cats which consume eggs and small or young ground nesting birds and without them can possibly affect bird populations.

Why should we care?

We need to respect and understand their value in the way they positively contribute to their ecosystems. When we harbor these feelings of fear based on the myths and negative perceptions given to these animals, we won’t care about them and they’re  then left vulnerable to disappearing. 

Many of these species are declining

  • Bats( white nose syndrome)is a disease that affects hibernating bats and is caused by a fungus and caused them to behave erratically and die.
  • Coyotes have been prosecuted mercilessly and are being hunted for their fur for winter coats and trapped because they are seen as vermin, a threat to domestic pets and livestock.
  • Snakes (massasauga rattlesnakes) are threatened and timber rattlesnake has been completely exterminated.  Habitat Loss and overage rated fear.

And if we lose them it will be negative effects of the environment. So with more understanding, we will no longer fear them and can appreciate them and preserve them.

Ford to lay off 450 workers from Oakville assembly plant

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Oct 29th, 2019

The Ford Motor Company is making cuts to its assembly plant in Oakville, it was revealed on Monday.

An internal email shared among workers at the start of the day said the layoffs will affect about 450 workers who will likely lose their jobs early next year.

The news comes as Ford plans to end to the production on the Ford Flex, which will officially stop being made towards the end of November.

Ford sold just shy of 2,500 flex crossovers through September — those sales numbers trailed all other Ford light trucks in their lineup.

This round of lay-offs is the second in less than a year, after cuts announced in July which the company blamed on slowing production and consumer demand.

Minister of Economic Development Vic Fedeli issues a statement saying he was disappointed to hear of the decision.

“We want the employees at the Oakville Assembly Plant to know that our government stands with them and their families,” he said in a statement.

Fedeli said the government has been in touch with Ford and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and will be reaching out to offer support to those affected.

Group behind legal challenge to child vaccination scheme to hold rally in Toronto

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 29th, 2019

TORONTO – A group launching a legal challenge to Ontario’s child vaccination regime is planning a rally at the provincial legislature today.

The group, which includes five parents and the organization Vaccine Choice Canada, is also expected to hold a news conference on its constitutional challenge.

They allege the Immunization of School Pupils Act breaches several charter rights, including those to freedom of conscience and religion as well as liberty and security of the person.

The law requires that children be immunized against certain diseases unless their parents obtain an objection for medical reasons or over their beliefs.

In order to get a non-medical exemption, however, parents must sign a statement of conscience or religious belief and, as of 2017, attend an information session.

Children whose parents don’t comply can be suspended from school on order from a medical officer of health.

The allegations have not been tested in court.

A spokeswoman for the minister of health says the government can’t comment on a case before the courts but is committed to ensuring a strong and effective immunization system.

Trial begins for Toronto cop, brother accused in Dafonte Miller beating

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Oct 29th, 2019

A Toronto police officer and his brother are set to stand trial on Tuesday, accused of brutally beating a Whitby teen nearly three years ago, then trying to cover it up.

Const. Michael Theriault and Christian Theriault are jointly charged with aggravated assault, and separately charged for attempting to obstruct justice, in connection with the incident in 2016.

Dafonte Miller, who was 19 at the time of the attack, suffered broken bones and such heavy damage to his left eye that it had to be removed.

When Durham Regional police arrived at the scene, Miller was charged with theft as well as assault with a weapon. Those charges were eventually withdrawn.

Criminal charges against the brothers were not laid until seven months after the incident.

Woman struck by vehicle in Brampton, driver arrested

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Oct 29th, 2019

Another pedestrian has been struck in Peel region, just a few hours after a man was struck and killed Mississauga.

A woman believed to be in her 40s has been taken to a trauma centre after being struck by a vehicle at Kennedy Road and Queen Street.

Police were called to the scene before 10 p.m. on Monday night.

She suffered serious injuries, but police say she was still breathing when she was transported to hospital.

The driver involved remained on the scene and has been taken into custody for allegedly driving with excess blood alcohol levels.

Eastbound Queen Street is closed as officers investigate.

The tip, the raid, the reveal: The takedown of al-Baghdadi

DEB RIECHMANN AND AAMER MADHANI, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Oct 28th, 2019

**Warning: Some of the details below are graphic**

___

The helicopters flew low and fast into the night, ferrying U.S. special forces to a compound where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was hiding in Syria. Half a world away, President Donald Trump watched the raid in real time via a video link as troops blasted into the hideout and sent the most-wanted militant running the last steps of his life.

The daring raid was the culmination of years of steady intelligence-gathering work — and 48 hours of hurry-up planning once Washington got word that al-Baghdadi would be at a compound in northwestern Syria.

The night unfolded with methodical precision and unexpected turns. This reconstruction is based on the first-blush accounts of Trump and other administration officials eager to share the details of how the U.S. snared its top target, as well observations from startled villagers who had no idea al-Baghdadi was in their midst.

___

A celebration and a secret two-day scramble

Events developed quickly once the White House learned on Thursday there was “a high probability” that al-Baghdadi would be at an Idlib province compound.

By Friday, Trump had military options on his desk.

By Saturday morning, the administration at last had “actionable intelligence” it could exploit.

There was no hint of that interior drama as Trump headed to Camp David on Friday night to celebrate the 10th wedding anniversary of daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Then he was off to Virginia on a brisk fall Saturday for a round at one of his golf courses.

He teed off with Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, in town for the World Series, and Sens. Lindsey Graham and David Perdue.

Trump got back to the White House at 4:18 p.m. By 5 p.m., he was in a suit in the Situation Room in the basement of the West Wing to monitor the raid. They named it after Kayla Mueller, an American humanitarian worker abused and killed by al-Baghdadi.

The rest of Washington had its focus on Game 4 of the World Series about to get underway a few miles away at Nationals Park.

___

Panic then death

Moments after the White House team had gathered, U.S. aircraft, mostly twin-rotor CH-47 helicopters, took off from Al-Asad air base in western Iraq.

Within hours, al-Baghdadi was dead.

The first inkling that something was afoot came when villagers saw helicopters swooping low on the horizon.

“We went out in the balcony to see and they started shooting, with automatic rifles. So we went inside and hid,” said an unidentified villager. Next came a large explosion — Trump said soldiers blasted a hole in the side of a building because they feared the entrance might have been booby-trapped. Al-Baghdadi fled into a network of underground bunkers and tunnels that snaked through the compound.

The stout, bearded militant leader wore a suicide vest and dragged along three children as he fled from the American troops.

Trump, happy to play up the drama, said that as U.S. troops and their dogs closed in, the militant went “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way” to his death.

“He reached the end of the tunnel, as our dogs chased him down,” Trump said. “He ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children.”

___

‘It was him’

Al-Baghdadi’s body was mutilated in the blast, and the tunnel caved in on him. To get to his corpse, troops had to dig through debris.

“There wasn’t much left,” Trump said, “but there are still substantial pieces that they brought back.”

That’s when the military raid turned into a forensics operation — and the special forces had come prepared.

They had brought along samples of al-Baghdadi’s DNA.

The soldiers who conducted the raid thought the man who fled looked like al-Baghdadi, but that wasn’t enough. Various accounts had heralded his death in the past, only for him to surface yet again.

This time there could be no doubt.

Lab technicians conducted an onsite DNA test to make sure and within 15 minutes of his death, positively identified the target.

“It was him,” Trump said.

Al-Baghdadi’s body wasn’t all they retrieved.

Trump said U.S. troops remained in the compound for about two hours after al-Baghdadi’s death and recovered highly sensitive material about the Islamic State group, including information about its future plans.

After the American troops retreated, U.S. fighter jets fired six rockets at the house, levelling it.

___

Trump’s initial reaction

Trump was so excited he couldn’t contain himself.

He hinted of the successful military operation late Saturday by tweeting obliquely that “something very big has just happened!” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley announced the president would make a “major statement” Sunday morning.

That sent reporters in Washington and the Middle East scrambling, and news organizations soon confirmed that U.S. forces believed they had killed America’s most-wanted man.

It was a measure of the strained atmosphere in Washington that two top Democrats — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff, who heads the House intelligence committee — didn’t get a heads-up from Trump about the operation.

Trump didn’t trust them to keep it secret.

“Washington is a leaking machine,” Trump said. In this case, he said, “there were no leaks, no nothing. The only people that knew were the few people that I dealt with.”

___

The reveal: ‘The biggest’

Trump chose the Diplomatic Room to make his big announcement on Sunday.

In announcing al-Baghdadi’s death, he leaned into comparing the successful operation with the 2011 mission to kill 9-11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

While bin Laden orchestrated the deadliest militant attack in U.S. history, the killing of al-Baghdadi — who helped the IS group at its height control more than 34,000 square miles of territory in Iraq and Syria — was “the biggest there is,” Trump said.

Reveling in the moment, Trump spent more than 45 minutes speaking and taking questions about the raid.

By late Sunday afternoon, Trump’s reelection campaign was ready to turn the raid into political capital. It sent a text to supporters that said, “Trump has brought the #1 terrorist leader to justice-he’s KEEPING AMERICA SAFE.”
___

Associated Press writers Sarah El Deeb in Beirut, Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad and Nancy Benac in Washington contributed to this report.

High Park area school implements ‘car-free school street’ pop-up starting Monday

News Staff | posted Monday, Oct 28th, 2019

School pickup and drop-off will look a little different starting Monday for some families near High Park.

Keele Street Public School will become the city’s first ‘car-free school street.’

Traffic barriers will be placed in front of the school on Mountainview Avenue near Keele Street and Bloor Street West for one hour during the start and end of the school day, in an effort to prioritize pedestrian safety.

Students are encouraged to bring bikes, ride scooters and bring toys to play in the car-free street every day this week. Regular yard supervision will begin as usual at 8:30 a.m.

The ‘school streets’ pop-up, organized by the group 8 80 Streets, will run until Thursday.

York police investigating Newmarket assault as possible hate crime

News Staff | posted Monday, Oct 28th, 2019

York police say they are investigating an assault that occurred in Newmarket as a possible hate crime.

Officers were called to a parking lot on Yonge Street near Dawson Manor on Sunday afternoon.

It’s believed two men, who were not known to each other, had a verbal altercation and one of the men allegedly punched the other.

One man was taking to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and is expected to be released tonight. The other man was arrested shortly after the altercation without incident.

Police said in a tweet that hate crime investigators have been engaged in the investigation.

They add further details are expected to be released on Monday.

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