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Terror charge laid against suspect in fatal hammer attack of Scarborough woman

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Feb 26th, 2020

A man charged with murder after a fatal hammer attack in Scarborough last week is now facing a terror-related charge.

Police tell CityNews evidence discovered over the weekend led investigators to believe the attack was a terror-related offence.

Saad Akhtar, 30, of Scarborough was initially charged with second-degree murder after he turned himself in to police. The charge was upgraded Tuesday morning to first-degree murder including terrorist activity.

Police say a woman was walking eastbound along Sheppard Avenue East near Markham Road when she was attacked by a man with a hammer around 7:15 p.m. Friday night.

When police arrived, the victim was pronounced dead on the scene.

She’s been identified as 64-year-old Hang-Kam Annie Chiu of Scarborough.

The RCMP say they believe the attack is an isolated incident and there is no further known threat associated with the accused.

Peter Nygard steps down from company following sex assault claims

JIM MUSTIAN AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Wednesday, Feb 26th, 2020

Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard is stepping down as chairman of his company following an FBI raid on his Manhattan headquarters over sex assault allegations.

“Recognizing the priority of the welfare of the thousands of Nygard employees, retail partners, loyal customers, vendors, suppliers and business partners, Peter Nygard has made the decision to step down as Chairman of the Nygard Companies and will divest his ownership interest,” Ken Frydman, Nygard’s spokesman, said in an email Tuesday night.

The FBI searched the designer’s Times Square offices Tuesday, less than two weeks after 10 women filed a lawsuit accusing Nygard of enticing young and impoverished women to his estate in the Bahamas with cash and promises of modelling opportunities.

Several plaintiffs in the suit said they were 14 or 15 years old when Nygard gave them alcohol or drugs and then raped them.

Nygard has denied the sex-trafficking claims through his spokesman.

“Nygard welcomes the federal investigation and expects his name to be cleared. He has not been charged, is not in custody and is co-operating with the investigation,” Frydman said.

Nygard International began in Winnipeg as a sportswear manufacturer. The company website says its retail division has more than 170 stores in North America.

The class-action lawsuit says Nygard used his company, bribery of Bahamian officials and “considerable influence in the fashion industry” to recruit victims in the Bahamas, United States and Canada.

It alleges he plied the young women with drugs and alcohol during “pamper parties” and kept a database on a corporate server containing the names of thousands of potential victims.

Nygard’s victims would have their passports taken from them when they were flown into the Bahamas, the lawsuit alleges, adding the designer “expected a sex act before he was willing to consider releasing any person” from his estate.

Frydman said authorities also executed a “search and seizure” on Nygard’s offices in California.

He blamed the raids on a “conspiracy” involving Louis Bacon, the billionaire hedge fund manager who owns an estate next door to Nygard’s in the Bahamas.

“After being viciously and maliciously attacked for over a decade by Louis Bacon and his operatives, which has included millions of dollars in payoffs to women and others to make false claims against him, Peter Nygard has decided that his legal battles with Louis Bacon will no longer be a distraction to the Companies,” Frydman said.

“Peter Nygard thanks his employees for their years of dedicated service.”

A spokesman for Bacon declined to comment.

South Korea virus cases jump again, 1st U.S. soldier infected

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Wednesday, Feb 26th, 2020

South Korean virus cases jumped again Wednesday and the U.S. military confirmed its first case among American soldiers based in the Asian country, with his case and many others connected to a southeastern city with a growing illness cluster.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 216 of the 284 new cases were in Daegu, where the government has been mobilizing public health tools to contain the spread of the outbreak, and in neighbouring towns.

The U.S. military said the 23-year-old soldier was in self-quarantine at his off-base residence. He had been based in Camp Carroll in a town near Daegu, and visited both Carroll and nearby Camp Walker in recent days, according to the statement.

South Korean authorities and U.S. military health professionals were tracing his contacts to determine if other people may have been exposed.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea. United States Forces Korea previously said a widowed dependent had the virus, the first case involving a USFK-related individual. South Korea’s 600,000-member military has reported 18 cases and quarantined thousands of soldiers as a precaution.

Bowling alleys, movie theatres and a golf course at four U.S. bases were closed after the soldier’s case was confirmed, Col. Edward Ballanco, commander of the U.S. Army Garrison Daegu, said. All restaurants at the bases, and at Camp George in Daegu, could now provide only takeout meals with soldiers and family members prohibited from dining there, he said.

“This is a setback, it’s true, there’s no getting around that, but it’s not the end of the war,” he said on a video message posted on Facebook.

“We are very well equipped to fight this thing off. I am certain that, that soldier that has tested positive, he’s on his way up to Camp Humphreys today, is going to get better medical care than anyone else in Korea who has the coronavirus.”

South Korea now has 1,261 confirmed infections of the virus and 11 fatalities from the COVID-19 illness it causes. The national government has been channeling medical personnel, protective suits and other supplies to Daegu, and there are concerns the local hospitals are being overwhelmed and fatigued doctors are becoming vulnerable to infections.

“This week will be critical in the fight to combat the illness,” Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun said at a meeting in Daegu City Hall to discuss quarantine efforts.

The number of cases were expected to rise as health workers finish testing hundreds of members of the Daegu branch of a church that has the country’s biggest cluster of infections. The Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which mainstream Christian organizations describe as a cult, provided a list of 212,000 members nationwide to government authorities who plan to widen the screening. Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said authorities plan to find and test churchgoers exhibiting symptoms first.

South Korea’s virus patients also include a 25-year-old cabin crew member of Korean Air, the country’s biggest airline, who worked on a flight that departed from Israel and arrived in South Korea on Feb. 16, according to Jung Eun-kyeong, director of the KCDC. The flight also carried a group of tourists, of which 30 have tested positive.

China, by far, still has the most cases and deaths from the illness, though its daily increase in cases has slowed recently. Chinese officials Wednesday reported another 406 cases and 52 additional deaths, all of them in hard-hit Hubei province and all but 10 in the epicenter of the city of Wuhan.

China has recorded 2,715 deaths from COVID-19 and 78,064 confirmed cases of the virus on the mainland since the illness emerged in December.

China has put Wuhan and nearby cities under virtual quarantine for weeks, halting nearly all movement except for disease prevention, health care and supplying necessities. It has sent thousands of personnel to build and staff virus-dedicated hospitals in the epicenter region. In the capital Beijing and throughout the country, public events were cancelled and factories, offices and schools closed.

Chinese banks have been ordered to disinfect old banknotes before reissuing them to the public. State broadcaster CCTV showed staff of a state-owned bank in Shanghai putting old banknotes under ultraviolet disinfection and putting them into a vault. The bank told CCTV money removed from high-risk sites such as hospitals and markets would not be returned to circulation. Other banknotes will be disinfected and sealed for at least 7 days before being recirculated, the bank said.

Uncertainly remained over how best to stem the spread of the illness. Italy had taken Europe’s most stringent preventative measures and yet became home to the biggest outbreak outside Asia. Experts in Japan acknowledged the mishandling of a virus-stricken cruise ship could have allowed the problem to magnify.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga on Wednesday downplayed the assertion by International Olympic Committee veteran member Richard Pound the fast-spreading virus could cancel the Tokyo Olympics set to open in July. Pound said organizers face a three-month window to decide the fate of the games.

Suga said Pound’s opinion does not reflect the official view of the IOC. Suga said the IOC and local organizers are going as planned with the Tokyo Olympics.

Several Middle Eastern countries reported jumps in cases tied to travel from Iran, which has the highest in the Middle East with 95 cases and 15 deaths. Kuwait’s KUNA news agency said 12 cases have been confirmed there, and Bahrain’s state-run news agency said it had 26 cases.

Japan’s total of 861, third highest behind China and South Korea, includes 691 from the Diamond Princess. Four former passengers on the ship have died and more than a dozen people who were evacuated by their home countries later tested positive for the virus. Six government officials involved in the quarantine effort also became sick.

Overnight, 445 Filipinos who were mostly crewmembers on the ship flew home to begin a 14-day quarantine. Eighty Filipinos from the ship have the virus and stayed behind in hospitals in Japan.

Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Stephen Wade in Tokyo contributed to this report.

GTA under a snowfall warning

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Feb 26th, 2020

A snowfall warning remains in effect for Toronto and the rest of the GTA, as a slow-moving storm sweeps into the region on Wednesday.

Environment Canada said snow will become heavy in the afternoon and continue into the evening, before tapering to flurries overnight.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said around 15 to 25 centimetres of snow could fall by Thursday morning.

Taylor said the snow in the GTA will mainly intensify during the evening, which will affect the commute home. The snow will be accompanied by a gusty wind.

Those north of the city can expect another dose of winter weather this week, with significant snow squalls expected into Thursday and Friday.

Canary Islands hotel quarantined after virus confirmed

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Tuesday, Feb 25th, 2020

A tourist hotel on the Canary Island of Tenerife was placed in quarantine Tuesday after an Italian doctor staying there tested positive for COVID-19.

The press office for the town of Adeje said Tuesday that the H10 Adeje Palace hotel was in quarantine.

Spanish news media reported that some 1,000 tourists staying at the complex are not allowed to leave.

The Canary Islands, an archipelago located some 100 kilometres west of the African coast, is a popular vacation destination that attracts many northern Europeans all-year-around.

The Italian doctor who is positive for the COVID-19 disease has been quarantined in a local clinic while samples are analyzed in a hospital near Madrid to confirm the initial diagnosis, the archipelago’s President Angel Victor Torres announced late on Monday in a series of tweets.

Spanish private news agency Europa Press, citing the regional government’s health department, said the visiting tourist had arrived from one of the areas in northern Italy where a cluster of the coronavirus has infected hundreds. The patient voluntarily went to a clinic in Tenerife on Monday when he began feeling unwell, Europa Press reported.

It’s Spain’s third case of COVID-19 and the second in the islands that lie some 100 kilometres west of the African coast. A German tourist was quarantined earlier this month in the island of La Gomera and a British citizen in the Mediterranean’s Balearic Islands. Both were released after recovering and showing no further symptoms of the illness.

The Spanish government has convened a special commission of various ministries Tuesday and a separate meeting with health authorities of all the Spanish regions to assess preparations for a possible uptick in cases.

1 stabbed outside McDonald’s in Richmond Hill

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Feb 25th, 2020

One person is in hospital with serious injuries after a stabbing Monday evening outside a fast food restaurant in Richmond Hill.

Police say some kind of altercation broke out between two people in the parking lot of a McDonald’s around 7 p.m.

The altercation escalated and the suspect stabbed the victim.

He was rushed to a local hospital. Although his injuries are serious they are not considered life-threatening.

Police said the suspect fled the scene. No description has been released.

Investigators don’t know if the suspect and the victim knew each other prior to the altercation or if they were strangers.

Minister’s comments have stalled negotiations: Catholic teachers union email

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Feb 25th, 2020

Talks between the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) and the government appeared to have broken down again.

In an email that was sent to union members and obtained by CityNews on Monday night, OECTA said they initially suspended strike action this week as a “show of food faith” in order to move forward on the talks.

The email said that that the onus was on the government to come to the table with an acceptable proposal for the union. But after Education Minister Stephen Lecce “spent the weekend making baseless, inflammatory comments about catholic teachers and our association…his negotiating team came to the table with the same proposals to take resources out of the classroom.”

The email said it appeared to OECTA the government had “no real intention of negotiating an agreement.”

“We will not tolerate the government’s disrespect for our members or their insistence on making permanent cuts to publicly funded education,” the email continued.

OECTA said they will continue the administrative strike action, and “will also be considering options for further strike action.”

Please visit CityNews for updates on this story.

Wet’suwet’en protest stops GO train service between Niagara Falls and Aldershot

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Feb 25th, 2020

Service on the Lakeshore West GO line between Aldershot and Niagara Falls has been cancelled Tuesday morning due to protesters blocking train tracks between the Aldershot and Hamilton GO stations.

The protest began Monday afternoon, forcing Metrolinx to suspend service on that section of Lakeshore West GO train line.

A group called Wet’suwet’en Solidarity said they are occupying the tracks in response to the OPP’s removal of protestors on a CN Rail line near Belleville, Ont., on Monday.

Metrolinx said trains running between Toronto’s Union Station and Aldershot were delayed during Monday’s rush because of the protest. At around 7 p.m., regular service between Union and Aldershot had resumed.

Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said Tuesday morning’s service on the line has been adjusted for Niagara, St. Catharines, Hamilton and West Harbour GO customers. Buses will be in service to take travelers along the line to Aldershot.

There has been no word on how long this protest may last.

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