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Abducted 11-year-old girl found dead; father arrested

NEWS STAFF AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Feb 15th, 2019

The search for an 11-year-old girl allegedly abducted by her father has come to a tragic conclusion.

Peel police said the body of Riya Rajkumar, who was the subject of an Amber Alert, was found at a house in Brampton. Her father, 41-year-old Roopesh Rajkumar, was taken into custody.

The girl did not live with her father on a full-time basis, police said, but was dropped off at a gas station in Mississauga around 3 p.m. Thursday so he could take her out for her birthday.

When he failed to return the child to her mother at 6:30 p.m. she called police.

Roopesh had made contact with the mother and made concerning comments about harming himself and his daughter.

The Amber alert was issued at 11 p.m. Peel police said Riya was found dead around midnight, and her father was arrested by provincial police a short time later about 130 kilometres north, near Orillia.

Police have not said how the Brampton home is connected to Roopesh and his family.

“My heart aches for this family, and as a parent, I can’t even begin to imagine what the mom is going through,” Peel Const. Akhil Mooken said.

“As one can expect in a tragic situation like this where your daughter goes to spend her birthday, and especially on Valentine’s Day, with the father, you expect your child to come home.”

Peel police’s homicide and missing persons unit have taken over the investigation.

Lin takes first steps on what could be magical ride with Raptors

MICHAEL GRANGE, SPORTSNET | posted Thursday, Feb 14th, 2019

TORONTO – Linsanity is no longer.

The Toronto Raptors‘ 129-120 win over the visiting Washington Wizards was nothing to be remembered for other than as another in a seemingly endless string of career-highs in scoring from Pascal Siakam, who led all players with a remarkable 44 points.

But for most of the night it was a game played by two teams mostly counting the minutes until their all-star break, with beach time on their minds. It will not be looped on YouTube for years or a cultural touchstone for one ethnic community or another. It won’t go down as anything other than Siakam’s big night and the Raptors’ 43rd win against 16 losses, their sixth straight and another ‘W’ to help them keep touch with the Milwaukee Bucks atop the Eastern Conference.

No one got hurt? Good. Let’s get to Cabo.

The contrast was fitting, in a way. Seven years ago almost to the minute, Jeremy Lin was the focal point of one of the most magical nights of basketball in Raptors history.

Sure it came in a loss, but let’s face it, the Raptors’ 2011-12 season was lost before it started.

But on Valentine’s Day 2012, Lin’s moonshot from undrafted, twice waived, couch surfing bench-warmer to the cover of both Sports Illustrated and Time Magazine peaked when he hit a game-deciding triple over then-Raptors guard Jose Calderon in front of a delirious crowd at the then-Air Canada Centre.

“Lin for the Win” was Raptors play-by-play voice Matt Devlin’s spot-on, spontaneous call. The crowd – packed with Lin fans who paid top dollar for tickets on the secondary market to see their personal comet – went crazy.

A lot has happened since then. Most notably, for the moment, Lin is now a Raptor, making his debut in far different circumstances that he was in seven years ago.

Not surprisingly, Lin couldn’t keep up the 27-point and nine-assist pace he managed through his first 10 games as part of an NBA rotation. Not surprisingly, instead of becoming basketball’s reigning Asian-American superstar, he became an NBA journeyman point guard.

Figuring that part out – how to carry the weight of millions of people’s hopes across the world while simultaneously trying to carve out a career at the most competitive position in the sport’s most competitive league – has been as big a part of his journey as the injuries and the trades and the doubts that are part of the job, but in his case, magnified.

He was trying to scratch out a career, but all anyone wanted to know him for was his first hit song.

“Yeah, I mean, I think I was really jaded after the New York stretch. I think there was a lot of things that happened that made me give up a little bit on people, per se,” he said of his sudden crush with fame, the residue of which is still potent enough that his post-game press conference was held at a podium in the media room rather than try to fit the media horde into the Raptors dressing room. “And that was a huge part of the story, and that was a huge point of contention for a lot of people as to why I was getting the publicity, or why things were the way they were. So I kind of wanted to run from that a little bit.”

Inevitably, time has put some distance between who he is now and who he was then – or who the world knew then. When he stepped out on the Scotiabank Arena floor to do his pre-game warmup with Raptors assistant coach Phil Handy, he was suiting up for his eighth team in nine seasons, with more games coming off the bench than as a starter in his career.

And while his presence still makes him the centre of attention – that a segment of the crowd chanted his name when he checked in with 4:05 left in the first quarter speaks to how powerful a moment ‘Linsanity’ was for so many – the Raptors need for him to be here was pure NBA expediency.

In the past week, the Raptors traded one of their backup point guards [Delon Wright, to Memphis]; their other one, Fred VanVleet, had thumb surgery on Wednesday and will be out for five weeks while their starter, Kyle Lowry, has a wonky back.

Enter Lin, now 30, bought out and waived by the lottery-bound Atlanta Hawks on Monday, signed by the Raptors Wednesday two-and-a-half hours before the opening tip.

The NBA is without a doubt the highest level of basketball played on the planet but at times like this it can feel like men’s league with private jet travel.

“Hey, what’s your name? Jeremy? Cool. I got next, you can run with me.”

How in-depth was Lin’s pre-game preparation after being officially signed at 5:00 p.m.? About 30 minutes.

“What do you do when you’re a point guard and have no idea what’s going on?” Lin said. “You just do your best.”

But Lin was more than an emergency replacement and certainly the best of the available point guards on the market.

Apart from needing him in such a hurry, Nurse was pleased to have him.

“I would have liked him to be a little more aggressive,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. “…[But] it was nice. I think he looks good out there. His speed, his quickness, ball-handling. He fits in nice out there.”

Lin’s ethnicity has always been front and centre as a Taiwanese-American. He is an NBA one-off. When he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Harvard it was by his hometown Golden State Warriors, where he was already a bit of a cult figure with the Asian community in the Bay Area. They had a press conference to announce his signing – nearly unheard of for an undrafted player. His jersey was on sale at the arena before he ever played a game. He made his NBA debut on Asian heritage night.

After being waived by the Warriors, his next opportunity came with the Rockets — another team with strong ties to the Asian community after their Yao Ming years.

His rocket-ride with the Knicks in his second season was part underdog story but a larger part was about Lin representing hope for a few hundred million Asian NBA fans without a hero to call their own.

There was no way he could sustain those kinds of expectations. But after struggling under the weight of them, he’s come around. He’s embracing them, recognizing that being unconditionally loved is a privilege few athletes are ever afforded.

“I would probably say three years down the road, I kind of turned a corner,” he said. “And I would say being hurt for two straight years, and seeing that my Asian fan base, I don’t feel like it dropped off one bit. … Like, every year I go over to Asia, and I can’t even walk through the airport, it’s insane.

“So to see them do that after all the highs and lows, but really going through the lows post-Linsanity, which culminated in those injuries, for me, I’m still blown away. And again, that’s fed into why I want to carry myself a certain way.”

Just because he’s never approached his Linsanity numbers with the Knicks doesn’t mean he can’t play and hasn’t had a career of note, rather than as a footnote. No one lasts in the NBA for nine seasons and counting without being a baller. No one makes it back through career-altering injuries – a torn hamstring, a season lost to a blown knee — by being someone’s idea of a gimmick.

After a rough first half – he had company as the Raptors as a group were awful — Lin was on the floor with the starters (minus Kawhi Leonard who was resting his sore left knee) as the Raptors ripped off a 13-0 run to get themselves back in the game after trailing by 12 with four minutes gone in the third. Lin’s fastbreak layup gave Toronto an 83-80 lead with 17 minutes to play. They never trailed again – Siakam saw to that.

But Lin asserted himself. He was active. He moved the ball quickly. He finished with eight points, five rebounds and five assists in 25 much-needed minutes. He got off a plane from Atlanta in a snowstorm and found a way to contribute.

That will suit the Raptors just fine in a season that has at once been so successful but often feels like it could disassemble at any given moment under the weight of injuries and unfamiliarity and expectations.

So the Raptors don’t need Lin to be Lin-sane. Those days are likely long gone. They just need him to be him: respected journeyman point guard. Do that and still in front of him and all his fans is the opportunity for a key role on a team that is trying to go places it’s never been, and Lin hasn’t either.

“It’s very important,” he said of his chance to be on a winner. “I’ve been to the playoffs four times and haven’t been past the first round … [so] to have a chance to play deep into the playoffs? Yeah, I’m tired of watching and being hurt for two straight years kind of adds to that.”

Lin has embraced his past. He understands what it has meant to so many people for all this time, through the highs and the lows.

But now in Toronto, where ‘Linsanity’ reached its fever pitch all those years ago, he’s excited to embrace his future.

WestJet flight ends up in snow after landing at Pearson Airport

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Feb 14th, 2019

Leftover snow from Tuesday’s winter storm caused headaches for some travellers flying to Toronto from Calgary.

WestJet Airlines reports no injuries following a mishap moments after a flight landed at Toronto’s Pearson airport Wednesday evening.

The Calgary-based airline tweeted that upon turning off the runway onto the taxiway, the nosegear of a WestJet 737-700 aircraft became stuck in snow.

WestJet says all 123 guests and six crew on flight WS-670 were uninjured.

The aircraft was later freed from the snow and taxied to the gate under its own power.

CN Tower, Toronto sign to be lit gold celebrating Drake’s Grammy win

DILSHAD BURMAN | posted Tuesday, Feb 12th, 2019

The “six god” is getting a glittering tribute in his hometown after his win at the Grammy awards on Sunday night.

Toronto’s own Drake took home the best rap song award for “God’s Plan” and after his win, he told reporters that the mayor of Toronto should “turn the CN Tower chrome and gold” to mark the occasion.

On Monday afternoon, Mayor John Tory took the hint and announced that the Toronto sign would be lit up in gold to celebrate Drizzy’s win.

Soon after, the CN Tower joined in, saying it would also turn gold to recognize all the Canadian nominees and winners at this year’s Grammy Awards.

Drake used his acceptance speech to lambast the Grammys, calling attention to his tempestuous relationship with the awards show that has nominated him several times but rarely awarded him the coveted gold gramophone.

“We play in an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport,” said Drake. This is a business where sometimes it is up to a bunch of people that might not understand what a mixed race kid from Canada has to say.”

He ended by saying the love of his fans and hometown hero status already made him a winner.

“You’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you are a hero in your hometown … you don’t need this right here, I promise you, you already won.

Several other Canadians also took home the hardware in a number of different categories.

R&B singer Daniel Ceasar won best R&B performance for “Best Part,” his collaboration with Gabriella Wilson aka H.E.R.

Music producer Greg Wells won for his soundtrack to “The Greatest Showman” and violinist James Ehnes won for his contributions to the album “Kernis.”

Art director Willo Perron, who is from Montreal, won the best recording package for his work on singer St. Vincent’s album “Masseduction” and Canadian-American violinist Lili Haydn won the best new age album award as part of the quartet Opium Moon.

Police investigating video of woman throwing chair near the Gardiner

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Feb 12th, 2019

Toronto police are looking into a video posted over the weekend that appears to show a woman throwing a patio chair onto the Gardiner Expressway from a balcony.

The clip, believed to be posted on Snapchat, shows a blonde woman standing on the balcony of a condo building holding a patio chair before launching it over the edge of the railing.

The video follows the chair on its way down towards the Gardiner below. The chair misses the expressway but the video cuts out before the chair lands.

A building resident told CityNews she saw the mangled chairs just a few feet away from the front door and thought the wind might have blown them over. She said she was outraged by what she saw in the video.

“It could have killed me. I walk in and out of this door multiple times a day. My husband walks out of here,” said Julia Mazurick. “There’s people with babies, with pets, dog walkers, everything. I don’t think there’s anything funny — I don’t know what kind of state of mind you would have to be in actually to think that would be funny.”

Const. David Hopkinson said the actions of the woman in the video are extremely thoughtless.

“How can you do something like that, that appears so callous? We’re looking at video of something that could absolutely cause somebody’s death,” he said

Sgt. Ron Boyce told 680NEWS police believe there were actually multiple items thrown off a very high floor of 55 Bremner Boulevard. Investigators also believe the incident could have been part of a social media stunt.

No injuries were reported in the incident which is believed to have happened at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with the chair landing next to a bike rack at the front entrance of the condo building. Police say no one has come forward regarding any crashes related to a collision with a chair.

Police are still working to identify the woman in the video and say she is wanted for mischief – endanger life. They are also looking for the person recording the video.

Const. Hopkinson says depending on the reason and what led to for the incident, the woman seen throwing the chair could also face more charges.

“Is she trying to harm somebody? Is her intent to throw the chairs on somebody specific? If that’s the case, we’re talking very, very serious either weapons or assault charges. Highest level you can think of.”

The woman in the video is described as white, in her 20s, five foot one to two inches tall, a slim build with long blond hair.

Watch the video here

Toronto, GTA under a winter storm warning

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Feb 12th, 2019

Get those shovels and snowblowers ready because a big belt of winter weather is headed to the GTA, including Toronto, on Tuesday.

A winter storm warning is in effect ahead of a system that’s threatening near white-out conditions for part of the morning rush, and snowy and icy roads for the trip home.

Environment Canada forecasts a combination of 15 to 25 centimetres of snow and ice pellets, along with possible freezing rain.

The agency said strong easterly winds of 40 km/h gusting to 70 km/h will cause reduced visibility in blowing snow, with stronger wind gusts up to 80 km/h possible near the shores of Lake Ontario.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said there will be quite a mix of weather on the way.

“Snow, at times heavy, will mix in with some ice pellets for the early afternoon and then freezing rain for the late afternoon — around 4 o’clock — and then rain tonight,” she explained.

“It’ll be mainly freezing rain for Niagara and areas to the southwest and mainly snow to the east.”

The impending weather caused several school closures across the GTA.

George Brown College will be closed all day — including services such as libraries, and the school’s child care centres.

All campuses of Centennial College will be closed for the day.

As well, Ryerson University is closed today. This includes all classes, university-run events, research labs, business services and administrative operations. Student residences remain open.

A number of school bus cancellations are also in effect. Click here for a full list of school bus cancellations and school closures.

City of Toronto has prepared its salt trucks to hit the streets on Tuesday morning.

The TTC is advising commuters to allow for extra time for their morning commute, as service may be slower than usual with the weather.

Pearson airport is also reminding travelers to confirm flight status with the airline before leaving home, as delays and cancellations are expected.

Female acts, rap songs win big at the Grammy Awards

MESFIN FECADO, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Feb 11th, 2019

Women and rap triumphed at the Grammys on Sunday as female acts took home top prizes including album of the year and best new artist, and Childish Gambino made history when his hit “This Is America” became the first rap-based track to win record and song of the year.

Kacey Musgraves’ country-pop release “Golden Hour” won album of the year, and British singer Dua Lipa won best new artist – a year after female voices were somewhat muted at the 2018 ceremony and the Grammys were criticized for the low number of female nominees.

Six women were nominated for best new artist, and five of the eight album-of-the-year nominees were women, including Brandi Carlile, who described herself as “a kid from the ’90s from Lilith Fair.”

“Those women were just dominating those platforms. They were dominating those arena and amphitheatre stages. They were getting record deals. They were becoming record executives themselves,” Carlile said. But watching those gains “backslide for the last 20 years has been heartbreaking.”

“Tonight gives me hope as a mother of two young daughters,” said Carlile, who won three honours in the Americana category and was the most nominated women with six.

Musgraves and Gambino were the night’s top winners, taking home four awards each. “This Is America” also won best music video and best rap/sung performance.

Ludwig Goransson, who co-wrote and produced Gambino’s song, said he was surprised a rap song had never won in the past.

“If you listen to the radio or if just you watch our culture or look at the most downloaded and streamed artists and bought albums, you see what’s at the top and what people listen to and you see what people get inspired by. It’s about time something like this happened,” he said backstage.

Gambino’s historic win comes years after rappers have struggled to win in the top categories, including Jay-Z, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar. Drake, who has lost in the big four categories over the years, told the room of musicians that winning awards isn’t necessary if you have real fans attending your concerts and singing your songs.

“Look, if there are people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain and the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here. I promise you. You already won,” said Drake, who won best rap song for “God’s Plan.”

He tried to continue speaking but was cut off as the ceremony suddenly went to a commercial.

The last time a rapper won album of the year was in 2004 with Outkast. Only a handful of rappers have won best new artist. Cardi B also made history as the first solo female to win best rap album (Lauryn Hill won as a member of the Fugees at the 1997 Grammys).

She was shaking onstage as she tried to give a thank-you speech with her rapper-husband Offset holding her arm.

“The nerves are so bad. Maybe I need to start smoking weed,” she said as the audience laughed. “I just want to say thank you everybody that was involved … I want to thank my daughter.”

At the 2018 Grammys, male acts dominated in nominations, and the only woman competing for the top award, Lorde, did not get a chance to perform onstage.

Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow, who last year said women need to “step up” and later acknowledged that it was a “poor choice of words,” seemed to address his 2018 comments during Sunday’s show.

“This past year I’ve been reminded that if coming face to face with an issue opens your eyes wide enough, it makes you more committed than ever to help address those issues. The need for social change has been the hallmark of the American experience, from the founding of our country to the complex times we live in today,” said Portnow, who did not seek a renewal on his contract, which ends this year.

Lipa alluded to Portnow’s 2018 words when she won best new artist: “I guess this year we’ve really stepped up.”

The Grammys kicked off with a group of powerful women, including Michelle Obama, describing the role of music in their lives.

“Music has always helped me tell my story,” said Obama, who surprised the audience with her appearance. “Whether we like country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves. It allows us to hear one another.”

Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith and Jennifer Lopez also spoke and stood in solidary with Obama, Gaga and Alicia Keys, who hosted the show.

“Yes, ladies,” Keys said. “There’s nothing better than this.”

Gaga won three Grammys, including best pop duo/group performance for the Oscar-nominated hit “Shallow,” a win she shared with Bradley Cooper. Gaga performed the song solo since Cooper was in London for the British Academy Film Awards.

Dolly Parton was honoured and performed alongside Miley Cyrus, Musgraves, Maren Morris and Katy Perry. But the country music icon truly shined when she sang “Red Shoes” with country foursome Little Big Town providing background vocals.

Yolanda Adams, Fantasia and Andra Day teamed up for a stirring performance of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” in honour Aretha Franklin, who died last year.

Diana Ross earned a standing ovation when she emerged onstage in a bright red dress to perform “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” and “The Best Years of My Life.” She celebrated her 75th birthday early with the performance, saying afterward, “Happy birthday to me!” Her actual birthday is March 26.

R&B singer H.E.R., who won two R&B awards, stunned as she played her guitar and sang. Chloe x Halle, nominated for two awards, impressed when they sang Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack’s “Where Is the Love.”

Ariana Grande won her first Grammy in the same week that she publicly blasted Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich and accused him of lying about why she was no longer performing at the show.

Beck was a double winner during the pre-telecast, taking home best alternative music album and best engineered album (non-classical) for “Colours.” Emily Lazar, one of the engineers who worked on the album and won alongside Beck, was the first female mastering engineer to win in the latter category.

Beyonce, Jay-Z, Ella Mai, Pharrell Williams, Hugh Jackman, Sting, Shaggy, Dave Chappelle, “Weird Al” Yankovic, the late Chris Cornell, Greta Van Fleet and even former President Jimmy Carter also picked up early awards ahead of the live show.

Drake wins best rap song Grammy award for ‘God’s Plan’

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Feb 11th, 2019

Drake picked up his fourth career Grammy for “God’s Plan” in the best rap song category at the awards held on Sunday night.

The Toronto rapper surprised many of his fans by showing up to collect his award — but he had a few choice words for organizers of the glitzy event.

The hitmaker, born Aubrey Graham, held his golden trophy in one hand while he acknowledged his turbulent relationship with the Grammys.

“This is like the first time in Grammy history where I actually am who I thought I was for a second, so I like that, that’s really nice,” he said as he accepted his award.

“I definitely did not think I was winning anything.”

Drake, who walked into the event with seven nominations, second only to Kendrick Lamar, wasn’t necessarily expected to show up to collect any wins. He often shuns appearances at awards shows and boycotted last year’s Grammys by not submitting anything from his previous release, “More Life.”

He’s also chose to forgo consideration at the Juno Awards again this year with his latest album “Scorpion.” Tensions have lingered after he hosted the 2011 show but was shut out of all of his five nominations.

As he accepted his Grammy, Drake added that working in the music industry is like “playing in an opinion-based sport, not a factual based sport.”

“It’s not the NBA where at the end of the year you’re holding a trophy because you made the right decisions and won the games,” he said.

“This is a business where sometimes it’s up to a bunch of people that might not understand what a mixed race kid from Canada has to say or a fly Spanish girl from New York or anybody else.”

He added that an artist has already won if “you have people who are singing your songs word for word” and “if you’re a hero in your hometown.”

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