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Pearson airport restricted to only travellers starting June 1

BT Toronto | posted Friday, May 29th, 2020

Pearson International Airport officials are limiting the number of people who will be allowed to enter the terminal starting next week.

According to a directive sent by the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, “meeters and greeters” will not be allowed to accompany passengers arriving and/or leaving in to the airport. An exception will be made for anyone who is travelling as an unaccompanied minor or assisting anyone with disabilities.

The restriction also applies to those individuals who work at Pearson.

“Airport workers who need to meet with family members or other acquaintances for any reason before, during or after their workday, must do so outside the terminal buildings,” reads the directive. “Family members or acquaintances are not permitted inside the terminals for any reason until further notice from the GTAA.”

All airport workers are asked to maintain a two metre distance between colleagues and passengers wherever possible in the terminal.

Also as of June 1, all passengers and airport workers will be required to wear a face covering at all times when in public areas of the airport including security screening, parking facilities, sidewalks and curbs outside the terminal and other outdoor public areas.

The directive says you may be asked to remove the face covering for identification purposes or if you are seated and physically distanced when eating or drinking.

Since April 20, people flying to or from Canadian airports have been required to wear face covering following a Transport Canada directive.

When it comes to enforcing the new measures, the GTAA says Peel Regional Police, security guards and the airport’s public safety officers will be “politely educating” staff and passengers who are not following the new requirements.

Hannah Georgas on what it’s like being a pop star in the COVID-19 era

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, May 29th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, imagine you’re a Canadian pop star about to go international. You’ve been working your way up the charts, year by year, with awards, acclaimed albums, and bigger and bigger tours. You’ve now got a new album on the way and a full European tour planned. You’re ready for this to be the biggest year of your career. And it’s February 2020…

The music industry has been ‘disrupted’ a whole bunch of times in recent years, but never have the lives of the people who make the music and the thousands of people who make the magic happen been changed like this. When will live shows return? When would you feel comfortable at a packed concert? How do non-superstar artists survive without tour income? And how well can living room concerts replicate the intimacy of a killer live show?

 

Minneapolis police station torched amid George Floyd protest

TIM SULLIVAN AND AMY FORLITI, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, May 29th, 2020

Cheering protesters torched a Minneapolis police station Thursday that the department was forced to abandon as three days of violent protests spread to nearby St. Paul and angry demonstrations flared across the U.S over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck.

A police spokesman confirmed late Thursday that staff had evacuated the 3rd Precinct station, the focus of many of the protests, “in the interest of the safety of our personnel” shortly after 10 p.m. Livestream video showed the protesters entering the building, where fire alarms blared and sprinklers ran as blazes were set.

Protesters could be seen setting fire to a Minneapolis Police Department jacket.

Late Thursday, President Donald Trump blasted the “total lack of leadership” in Minneapolis. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he said on Twitter.

Visibly tired and frustrated Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey made his first public appearance of the night at City Hall near 2 a.m. and took responsibility for evacuating the precinct, saying it had become too dangerous for officers there. As Frey continued, a reporter cut across loudly with a question: “What’s the plan here?”

“With regard to?” Frey responded. Then he added: “There is a lot of pain and anger right now in our city. I understand that … What we have seen over the past several hours and past couple of nights here in terms of looting is unacceptable.”

He defended the city’s lack of engagement with looters — only a handful of arrests across the first two nights of violence — and said, “We are doing absolutely everything that we can to keep the peace.” He said Guard members were being stationed in locations to help stem looting, including banks, grocery stores and pharmacies.

Protests first erupted Tuesday, a day after Floyd’s death in a confrontation with police captured on widely seen citizen video. On the video, Floyd can be seen pleading as Officer Derek Chauvin presses his knee against him. As minutes pass, Floyd slowly stops talking and moving. The 3rd Precinct covers the portion of south Minneapolis where Floyd was arrested.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz earlier Thursday activated the National Guard at the Minneapolis mayor’s request, but it wasn’t immediately clear when and where the Guard was being deployed, and none could be seen during protests in Minneapolis or St. Paul. The Guard tweeted minutes after the precinct burned that it had activated more than 500 soldiers across the metro area.

The Guard said a “key objective” was to make sure fire departments could respond to calls, and said in a follow-up tweet it was “here with the Minneapolis Fire Department” to assist. But no move was made to put out the 3rd Precinct fire. Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner said fire crews could not safely respond to fires at the precinct station and some surrounding buildings.

Earlier Thursday, dozens of businesses across the Twin Cities boarded up their windows and doors in an effort to prevent looting, with Minneapolis-based Target announcing it was temporarily closing two dozen area stores. Minneapolis shut down nearly its entire light-rail system and all bus service through Sunday out of safety concerns.

In St. Paul, clouds of smoke hung in the air as police armed with batons and wearing gas masks and body armour kept a watchful eye on protesters along one of the city’s main commercial corridors, where firefighters also sprayed water onto a series of small fires. At one point, officers stood in line in front of a Target, trying to keep out looters, who were also smashing windows of other businesses.

Hundreds of demonstrators returned Thursday to the Minneapolis neighbourhood at the centre of the violence, where the nighttime scene veered between an angry protest and a street party. At one point, a band playing in a parking lot across from the 3rd Precinct broke into a punk version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” Nearby, demonstrators carried clothing mannequins from a looted Target and threw them onto a burning car. Later, a building fire erupted nearby.

But elsewhere in Minneapolis, thousands of peaceful demonstrators marched through the streets calling for justice.

Floyd’s death has deeply shaken Minneapolis and sparked protests in cities across the U.S. Local leaders have repeatedly urged demonstrators to avoid violence.

“Please stay home. Please do not come here to protest. Please keep the focus on George Floyd, on advancing our movement and on preventing this from ever happening again,” tweeted St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, who is black.

Erika Atson, 20, was among thousands of people who gathered outside government offices in downtown Minneapolis, where organizers had called for a peaceful protest. Many protesters wore masks because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there were few attempts at social distancing.

Atson, who is black, described seeing her 14- and 11-year-old brothers tackled by Minneapolis police years ago because officers mistakenly presumed the boys had guns. She said she had been at “every single protest” since Floyd’s death and worried about raising children who could be vulnerable in police encounters.

“We don’t want to be here fighting against anyone. We don’t want anyone to be hurt. We don’t want to cause any damages,” she said. “We just want the police officer to be held accountable.”

The group marched peacefully for three hours before another confrontation with police broke out, though details were scarce.

After calling in the Guard, Walz urged widespread changes in the wake of Floyd’s death.

“It is time to rebuild. Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they’re charged to protect,” Walz said.

Much of the Minneapolis violence occurred in the Longfellow neighbourhood, where protesters converged on the precinct station of the police who arrested Floyd. In a strip mall across the street from the 3rd Precinct station, the windows in nearly every business had been smashed, from the large Target department store at one end to the Planet Fitness gym at the other. Only the 24-hour laundromat appeared to have escaped unscathed.

“WHY US?” demanded a large expanse of red graffiti scrawled on the wall of the Target. A Wendy’s restaurant across the street was charred almost beyond recognition.

Among the casualties of the overnight fires: a six-story building under construction that was to provide nearly 200 apartments of affordable housing.

“We’re burning our own neighbourhood,” said a distraught Deona Brown, a 24-year-old woman standing with a friend outside the precinct station, where a small group of protesters were shouting at a dozen or so stone-faced police officers in riot gear. “This is where we live, where we shop, and they destroyed it.” No officers could be seen beyond the station.

“What that cop did was wrong, but I’m scared now,” Brown said.

Others in the crowd saw something different in the wreckage.

Protesters destroyed property “because the system is broken,” said a young man who identified himself only by his nickname, Cash, and who said he had been in the streets during the violence. He dismissed the idea that the destruction would hurt residents of the largely black neighbourhood.

“They’re making money off of us,” he said angrily of the owners of the destroyed stores. He laughed when asked if he had joined in the looting or violence. “I didn’t break anything.”

The protests that began Wednesday night and extended into Thursday were more violent than Tuesday’s, which included skirmishes between officers and protesters but no widespread property damage.

Protests have also spread to other U.S. cities. In New York City, protesters defied New York’s coronavirus prohibition on public gatherings Thursday, clashing with police, while demonstrators blocked traffic in downtown Denver and downtown Columbus. A day earlier, demonstrators had taken to the streets in Los Angeles and Memphis.

In Louisville, Kentucky, police confirmed that at least seven people had been shot Thursday night as protesters demanded justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot by police in her home in March.

Amid the violence in Minneapolis, a man was found fatally shot Wednesday night near a pawn shop, possibly by the owner, authorities said.

Fire crews responded to about 30 intentionally set blazes on Wednesday, and multiple fire trucks were damaged by rocks and other projectiles, the fire department said. No one was hurt by the blazes.

The city on Thursday released a transcript of the 911 call that brought police to the grocery store where Floyd was arrested. The caller described someone paying with a counterfeit bill, with workers rushing outside to find the man sitting on a van. The caller described the man as “awfully drunk and he’s not in control of himself.” Asked by the 911 operator whether the man was “under the influence of something,” the caller said: “Something like that, yes. He is not acting right.” Police said Floyd matched the caller’s description of the suspect.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI in Minneapolis said Thursday they were conducting “a robust criminal investigation” into the death. Trump has said he had asked an investigation to be expedited.

The FBI is also investigating whether Floyd’s civil rights were violated.

Chauvin, the officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck, was fired Tuesday with three other officers involved in the arrest. The next day, the mayor called for Chauvin to be criminally charged. He also appealed for the activation of the National Guard.

Associated Press writers Steve Karnowski, Jeff Baenen and Doug Glass in Minneapolis, and Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee contributed to this report.

Man shot multiple times in North York

BT Toronto | posted Friday, May 29th, 2020

A man is in serious condition following a shooting in North York.

Police said they received multiple reports of gunshots in the area of Grandravine Drive and Driftwood Avenue around 10 p.m.

When they arrived on the scene they discovered a male victim suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

Paramedics transported the man to a trauma centre with serious injuries.

Witnesses tell police two suspects were seen fleeing the area on foot southbound towards Sheppard Avenue West.

The first suspect is described as being male, black wearing a black hoodie with a black bandana while the second suspect is male, black wearing a grey hoodie and a black bandana.

Man suffers life-threatening injuries in east end shooting

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, May 28th, 2020

Toronto police say a man has life-threatening injuries after he was shot multiple times on Wednesday in the city’s east end.

In a tweet police said they received several calls about shots fired in the Main Street and Gerrard Street East area.

A victim was located and rushed to hospital.

No further details were immediately available.

It’s the second straight day of gun violence in Toronto.

On Tuesday a 21-year-old man was killed and two others were injured in what police are calling a targeted shooting near King Street and Blue Jays Way.

 

What’s the next disaster we need to prepare for now?

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, May 28th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, you may have heard that lots of people saw this pandemic coming. We still weren’t adequately prepared. So what do we need to do now to make sure we are ready for whatever comes next?

A pandemic is a low-probability, high-consequence events—it probably won’t happen tomorrow, but it will happen eventually. Every year intelligence agencies, scientists and analysts spend a lot of time figuring out which of these events may be looming. Today’s episode is about what they see right now.

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

 

MPP Raymond Cho sends cardboard cutout of himself to event due to coronavirus concerns

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, May 28th, 2020

The Minister for Seniors and Accessibility may have looked a little stiff at a community event on Wednesday, and for good reason.

MPP Raymond Cho sent a cardboard cutout of himself to a photo-op thanking the Korean community for their donation of personal protective equipment.

Many on Twitter were bemused by the photos posted by the minister and questioned why he sent a life-sized cutout of himself, complete with mask, instead of attending in person.

In a statement, the minister tells CityNews the move was prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advice from public health officials at all levels strongly recommends that people over 70 years old, those who have compromised immune systems and/or those with underlying medical conditions self-isolate and remain indoors as much as possible.

“As Minister for Seniors and Accessibility and as a person who is over 70 years old, I take this advice very seriously,” said Cho. “Though I could not attend today in person, I wanted to show that I was there in spirit. The cardboard cut-out from an old campaign of mine was a creative way to demonstrate my virtual presence during this time.”

The minister also encouraged other seniors like himself to be “vigilant about the risks of contracting this virus and to heed current medical advice about the necessity of self-isolating and social distancing.”

Minister Cho added that the photo-op marked an important donation drive led my himself and the Consul General of the Republic of Korea.

The donation included 10,000 surgical masks, 1,000 hand sanitizers and 1,000 COVID testing kits from the members of Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and the Korean Chamber of Commerce.

The Ontario Korean Businessman’s Association (OKBA) also donated 10,000 masks and 200 large bottles of hand sanitizer and the Traditional Chinese Medicine Communit donated 10,000 surgical masks and 4,800 N95-grade masks.

Trudeau co-hosts UN summit to develop global pandemic recovery plan

JOAN BRYDEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, May 28th, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will co-host Thursday a major United Nations conference aimed at developing a co-ordinated global response to mitigate the devastating social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unless countries come together now to co-ordinate a recovery plan, the UN estimates the pandemic could slash nearly US$ 8.5 trillion from the world economy over the next two years, forcing 34.3 million people into extreme poverty this year and potentially 130 million more over the course of the decade.

Trudeau is co-hosting the four-hour virtual conference with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

More than 50 heads of state and government are to participate, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron, along with representatives of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the private sector.

It was not certain late Wednesday, however, whether U.S. President Donald Trump, who has argued that wise leaders put the interests of their own countries first, would take part.

In a release about the event, the UN says all countries face economic strain due to the pandemic, particularly developing countries which were already in “debt distress” before the crisis and can’t afford to cushion the blow for their citizens or to undertake fiscal stimulus measures.

“We are in an unprecedented human crisis because of a microscopic virus,” Guterres says in the release. “We need to respond with unity and solidarity and key aspect of solidarity is financial support.”

Trudeau says that “the best way to help our people and economies rebound is to work together as a global community.”

“We want to support collective and individual actions to enable a recovery that leads to more inclusive, sustainable and resilient economies, where no one is left behind.”

Earlier this week, when he announced his role in the conference, Trudeau argued that ensuring poorer countries survive the crisis is not just the right thing to do, it’s in Canada’s own self-interest.

“Canadian jobs and businesses depend on stable and productive economies in other countries, so it matters to us how everyone weathers this storm,” he said Tuesday.

The conference is to address “six urgent areas of action” to mobilize the financing needed for a global recovery.

Those six areas include:

— Expanding liquidity in the global economy and maintaining financial stability.

— Addressing debt vulnerability for developing countries “to save lives and livelihoods for billions of people around the world.”

— Involving private sector creditors in recovery plans.

— Enhancing external financing for inclusive growth and job creation.

— Preventing illicit off-shore financial holdings and money laundering that siphon off trillions of dollars needed for rebuilding economies.

— Aligning recovery policies with sustainable development goals.

The conference aims to create a discussion group in each of the six areas, with the goal of providing concrete proposals by mid-July.

“There is no time to lose,” the UN release says. “Solutions cannot wait and decisive action is required.”

The conference comes just as Canada is competing for one of two non-permanent  seats on the UN Security Council next month against Norway and Ireland.

The UN vote is set for next month, and Canada is running on a platform of trying to help rebuild the post-pandemic world.

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