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Toronto Tool Library needs a helping hand

Nitish Bissonauth | posted Tuesday, Feb 6th, 2018

From power tools, to camping equipment to children toys — for the past five years, the Toronto Tool Library and the Sharing Depot have loaned out over 65,000 items. Torontonians can borrow any of these items the same way one can borrow a book from the library.

However, the sharing network that has helped city residents build, borrow and fix is now in need of a helping hand itself.

“We just want to exist as this thing for our community but we’re facing this 20% shortfall right now in our budget” says Lawrence Alvarez, one of the co-founders.

High rent, a lack of grants for existing projects and city permit issues are contributing to their budget crisis.

“We’ve made the choice to be downtown and accessible … and we want to basement our membership prices as much as possible.” Alvarez adds. “So it’s difficult to get money for operations.”

The organization says they now need $35,000 to stay afloat and have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds.

The sharing network, which has nearly 5000 members and 20,000 supporters online, hopes to further expand the project which they say promotes a sharing economy. The money they raise will go towards adding new items to their shelves and new workshops.

“There are huge benefits to have these physical locations where people can come and share things” says Alvarez. “This exists for people who want to do DIY projects, fix their own stuff and feel empowered. We want to give them the skills and teach them how to do tiling, drywall, plumbing — all these different kind of things.”

So far they’ve reached 70% of their goal through crowdfunding and they’re in talks with the city to become a municipal service.

“We are excited about this idea because we see it as part of a large global solution that is necessary for this planet that is finite” says Alvarez. “We cannot continue to take out and not replace.”

Global stock markets tumble after Wall Street battering

Pan Pylas and Elaine Kurtenbach, The Associated Press | posted Tuesday, Feb 6th, 2018


Stock markets around the world took a battering Tuesday, following a dramatic sell-off on Wall Street that triggered concerns that a potentially healthy pullback from record highs could turn into a protracted bear market.

However, signs that Wall Street will stabilize when it opens later helped ease the selling pressure during European trading hours.

The drop, which gathered pace Monday when the Dow Jones industrial average posted its biggest percentage decline since August 2011, has been fueled by fears the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates faster than expected due to a pick-up in wages.

“If investors look at underlying earnings growth and the fundamentals of the global economy, there is reason for optimism,” said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital.

“However once this kind of stampede starts it’s hard to stop.”

Among the biggest fallers on Tuesday was Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 stock average, which ended 4.7 per cent lower at 21,610.24, having earlier been down a massive 7 per cent. All other Asian bourses tanked, too, including the Shanghai Composite index, which closed 3.4 per cent lower at 3,370.65 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, which skidded 5.1 per cent to 30,595.42. Australia’s benchmark S&P ASX 200 slid 3.2 per cent to 5,833.30 and South Korea’s Kospi declined 1.5 per cent to 2,453.31.

The selling persisted into European trading hours, though there were some signs of recovery. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 1.6 per cent lower at 7,221 while the CAC 40 in France fell 1.5 per cent to 5,209. Germany’s DAX was down 1.9 per cent at 12,445.

Though many stock indexes are close to where they started the year, the losses mark a major reverse following a sustained period of gains, a pullback that market pros have been predicting for some time.

Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and CEO of Blackstone, warned recently at the World Economic Forum of a potential “reckoning” in markets.

A 10 per cent drop from a peak is often referred to as a “correction” while a bear market is generally defined as a 20 per cent or so drop in indexes. The S&P 500, for example, has fallen 7.8 per cent since it set its latest record high on Jan. 26.

“Seemingly the only hope for the markets at the moment is that investors suddenly decide that the sell-off has been a bit overdone,” said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at Spreadex.

Despite the sea of red in global stock markets, there are hopes that the retreat won’t last long given the fact that global growth has picked up pace and the financial system is more robust following the financial crisis.

“That is not to say that we won’t see further falls in coming days, but in an environment where growth is good and earnings are expected to rise globally, there are decent underpinnings,” said James Knightley, chief international economist at ING.

The catalyst for the latest sell-off came in jobs figures last Friday showing that wage growth in the U.S. was creeping higher. For many traders, that was a sign that the Fed will have to pick up the pace of its rate hikes — higher wages have the capacity to fuel inflation.

Much could hinge on the open on Wall Street and futures markets are predicting a modest improvement — Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures are up 0.6 per cent at 1.2 per cent, respectively.

On Monday, the Dow finished down 4.6 per cent at 24,345.75, while the S&P 500 sank 4.1 per cent, to 2,648.94. Falls like this have not been registered since August 2011 when investors were fretting over Europe’s debt crisis and the debt ceiling impasse in Washington that prompted a U.S. credit rating downgrade.

Toronto’s TSX index also felt the pressure, tumbling 271 points, closing at 15,334.81.

Still, while stocks take a hammering, other financial assets are becoming more attractive to investors. Gold, for example, was up 0.5 per cent at $1,343 an ounce.

The U.S. dollar remained fairly resilient despite the stock market sell-off, which at one stage Monday saw the Dow shed 1,597 points. The euro was up 0.4 per cent at $1.2415 while the dollar rose 0.1 per cent to 109.22 yen.

The Associated Press’ Rod McGuirk and Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.

Paying it forward: Homeless man’s act of kindness helps reunite him with his family

Cristina Howorun | posted Tuesday, Feb 6th, 2018


It had been eight years since Danny MacKillop had seen his mother. The 38-year-old had spent the better part of those years living in stairwells and alleys in downtown Toronto — a world away from the oceanside Cape Breton community where he was raised.

Danny is addicted to fentanyl and heroin and had shut himself off from his family. Homeless and struggling with an addiction, the man with striking good looks and a contagious smile, made his way by hustling.

He’s not exactly the kind of guy you’d expect to hand over found money, but that’s exactly what happened.

Last November, Jason Kirkwood, a special constable with Toronto Community Housing withdrew money from an ATM near his work. He was halfway down the road when he heard an “unkept” man yelling after him, running to catch up.

Jason waited. It was Danny.

“He looks at me and asks me how much money I just took out of the machine, I get a little guarded but tell him the amount,” Jason recounts in a Facebook post.

“He then asks me to count my money. He pulls the 40 dollars out of his pocket and tells me I left it in the machine. He could have easily just kept the money and I would have been none the wiser. People never cease to amaze me,” he wrote.

He thought that was the end of it. But this is where the story gets really good.

A few days later, he gets a friend request from Danny asking Kirkwood to tag him in the Facebook post so that maybe his “mom will see and know (he’s) not such a bad guy.”

“So I add him on Facebook and it takes about a month for him to get back to me, and I tag him,” says Kirkwood. “And all of sudden, emails, and posts and everything from his family and friends was overwhelming, exciting. It was fantastic, especially his friends.”

And of course, Danny’s mom, Mary MacKillop also saw the post and immediately replied.

“Oh my God! Somebody knows where he’s at and then I just immediately called Jason and I was just so happy,” Mary told CityNews from her Cape Breton home. ” I mean he’s alive and he’s well and he’s doing good things!”

Danny used to call home regularly, but two years ago he stopped after he bailed on a rehab opportunity in Ottawa.

“He just said he had had enough of lying to me. Pretending that everything was okay and he was doing well,” Mary recalls.

She and her sister hopped on a plane without a goal but to find Danny and get him help. The problem was, they didn’t know exactly where he was, and they didn’t really have a plan.

“We just walked, we went to all the soup kitchens,” Mary says. “They were nice to us, they let us sit in the back so we could watch people come in. It was cold so they opened up extra hostels and we checked there too.”

But they didn’t have much luck. The two women marched up down the streets and parks near Queen and Sherbourne, armed with a dated picture and hope that was slowily waning.

They had given up for the day and were determined to start their search again in the morning.

“We’re just walking and all of a sudden this person says “I know you, you’re my mother.” I didn’t even see him, he saw me,” Mary recalls.

I wouldn’t have recognized him anyway, he was so thin, lots of facial hair. He had a hoody on, and a big backpack and it took me a few minutes to recognize that it was him. He was just dirty, that’s all.”

And this is where his chance for a new start and a cleaner life began. With the support of his mother, he not only physically cleaned up, but he is on his way to recovering a life he once had.

Mary got him on a bus to meet up with his close friend in Calgary who drove him to a Vancouver rehabilitation centre this weekend.

“It’s a three-year program,” Mary explains. “Danny could be done earlier, but there’s the option to stay for three years.”

The hope is once he’s completed the program, he’ll return to Nova Scotia to be with his family. “I’m 67 years old and this was before I went to my death bed, I needed to known where my sons are.”

Although Kirkwood isn’t family, he hopes the best for Danny.

“For him to even give me back the money, it’s totally unexpected, he could have used it more than me. I’m very proud of what he has done. I’m rooting for Danny. I hope he makes it.”

Vigil held in Toronto church for LGBTQ victims of alleged serial killer

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Feb 5th, 2018


At an emotional candlelight vigil in Toronto’s east-end Sunday, the city’s LGBTQ community gathered to remember the alleged victims of a serial killer as members of the community — not just victims.

There was Majeed Kayhan, the 58-year-old man who loved Bollywood movies and dancing, or 49-year-old Andrew Kinsman, a known community figure who volunteered at an AIDS support group and was always willing to offer a helping hand to anyone.

At the Metropolitan Community Church, a venue known for being one of the first institutions to marry same sex couples, pastors took a moment to remind mourners of the kinds of people the men were as they lit a candle for each.

Reverend Sandra Morris also lit a sixth candle to remind those in attendance that police believe there are still a number of victims to be found.

“We also remember that there others still missing and there maybe more victims before this nightmare ends,” said Morris.

The other victims include Selim Esen, 44, who had immigrated from Turkey in search of a more accepting country; Dean Lisowick, who was either 43 or 44 when he died, and was described as a gentle soul who’d be the first to come to rescue in times of need; and Sorush Mahmudi, 50, whose circumstances were less known, but who left behind a wife and two children.

The ceremony came after police charged Bruce McArthur, a 66-year-old landscaper, with first-degree murder in the deaths of five men in and around Toronto’s LGBTQ neighbourhood in what they called an unprecedented event for the city.

Senior Pastor Jeff Rock used the event, which was packed full of mourners, to emphasize that solidarity and support for marginalized communities were important in the wake of the tragedy.

“This week, the news has led many of us on an emotional roller-coaster,” said Rock, who implored people not to blame the victims, and to push aside any stigma about LGBTQ people.

Leighton Ling, a man who often attends services at the Metropolitan Community Church, said he came to the event because he felt it was important to show support for the community

“I could have been one of those persons. It affected so many people in the community because of that,” said Ling, who said a friend of his had known one of the dead men.

“I’m glad that we have a space that we can come to and feel at ease, even if you don’t have the answers to the questions. It helps to make you feel better.”

Morris said that the church would continue to offer support to anyone who needed it, as the police investigation continues and the scope of the tragedy becomes clearer.


Ontarians encouraged to carpool to work, school this week

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Feb 5th, 2018


The province’s transit agency is encouraging users to share a ride to work and school this week as part of carpool week.

Smart Commute — the annual campaign led by Metrolinx – was launched on Monday and runs until Sunday.

The program encourages people to carpool and see how much they can save by driving to work, school or an event with at least one other person.

Officials say carpoolers can reduce their costs considerably by sharing the drive to work.

The average cost of owning and operating a vehicle in Canada is more than $10,000 a year. They also say that if two people share a 50-kilometre total commute five days a week, they will each save about $54 in gas alone in one month.

Click here to calculate how much you can save by carpooling and to find other people who take similar routes to work.

Caroline Mulroney joins PC leadership race

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Feb 5th, 2018


Caroline Mulroney, the Toronto lawyer and daughter of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, is running to become the leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party.

Mulroney confirmed the news, which has been rumoured for over a week, in a series of interviews Sunday afternoon at a hockey arena in north Toronto. She took questions from reporters between watching her two boys play on their Triple A teams.

The 43-year-old mother of four said despite the recent turmoil within the party after the sudden resignation of former leader Patrick Brown, the Tories can come together and win the June 7 provincial election.

“After 15 years of Liberal government we need a fresh change,” she said. “People are tired. They want a new government. They want something new. So, I decided to put my name forward.”

Mulroney believes she’s the candidate to unite the disparate wings of the PC family, despite never having held elected office.

“I am committed to making sure that we deliver this change,” she said. “People deserve a government that cares about them. As I’ve been knocking on doors, I know that I can be that leader and provide that leadership to the party.”

After taking a quick break between interviews to snack on french fries her husband Andrew Lapham brings by, Mulroney gets down to business, addressing the criticisms which have already been levelled at her.

“That means they’re nervous,” she said of her competitors in the race. “I can’t control what other campaigns do. All I can do is make sure I can run a campaign that’s true to the kind of person that I am.”

Mulroney has already been criticized for spending part of her life outside of Canada — she attended Harvard and New York University — but she says the attacks don’t hold up.

“That’s just a misstatement of fact,” she said. “I’ve lived the majority of my life in Canada and Ontario.”

Just hours after confirming she was in the race, Mulroney received a key endorsement from another rumoured candidate. Former Postmedia executive Rod Phillips said he will not seek the leadership and will throw is support behind Mulroney.

“Caroline and I, like many of our Party’s candidates across Ontario, represent a new generation of inclusive and accountable leadership for the Progressive Conservative Party,” Phillips, who’s also the PC candidate for Ajax, said in a statement. “Caroline will unite our party and lead us to victory in June, and I look forward to working closely with her to achieve that.”

Mulroney also weighed-in on some of the most difficult issues facing the Tories as they try to re-group following Brown’s resignation. She intends to consult party members about the PC platform — the so-called People’s Guarantee — but says it’s too early to say if she’d want to make changes to the document.

“I’ll make sure we’re open to conversations, but it’s Day One of my campaign,” she said.

Mulroney said she will stick to the PC pledge to cancel the Ontario government’s cap-and-trade climate change plan, but hinted that she will keep the Tory platform’s carbon tax, which funds most of the spending in the plan.

“This is something the federal government is imposing on all of the provinces,” she said. “We have a choice to let them keep the revenue and administer it or we can make sure that we … put the money back in people’s pockets. I think we would be better suited to doing that than the Liberals are.”

Mulroney also said she will not re-open the divisive debate about the Liberal government’s sex education curriculum update.

Politics is just the latest move in a diverse career for Mulroney, who was acclaimed as a Progressive Conservative candidate in the riding of York-Simcoe, north of Toronto, last August.

In 2014, she was appointed to the Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority to help oversee the development of a $4 billion second border span between the two cities.

In 2011, Mulroney co-founded the Shoebox Project, a non-profit that collects and distributes gifts to women who are homeless or at risk.

Prior to announcing her political plans, she served as vice-president of Toronto-based BloombergSen Investment Partners, and used to work at a venture debt fund.

“It wasn’t her plan to seek the leadership. She was very, very focused on the riding and on the community and that’s where her efforts went,” said Peter Van Loan, a legislator with the federal Conservative Party who acted as an adviser to Mulroney.

Though new to politics, Mulroney has shown herself to be hardworking and genuine, which has won her support in the community _ even among those who may judge her based on the family name, Van Loan said.

“She has intrinsic strengths and intrinsic talents of her own, whatever her name may be,” he said.

Mulroney’s lack of political experience will likely be her biggest challenge, particularly against more seasoned candidates.

But Kathy Brock, a policy expert and political science professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., said it could also play in her favour, bringing some freshness to the Tories at a time where their interim leader has vowed to clear out the “rot” from the party.

“This is one of the ways in which being more of a newcomer … might actually be an advantage, given what the Conservatives are going through,” Brock said.

Brown and former party president Rick Dykstra resigned within days of each other after being confronted with allegations of sexual misconduct, which they deny. The allegations have not been independently verified by The Canadian Press.

Mulroney’s entry into the race means there will now be two high-profile women competing for the Tory reins, which could bolster the party’s image, Brock said. Former Tory legislator Christine Elliott threw her hat in the ring in the last week.

“That might be the type of thing that they need to get over the incident with Dykstra and Patrick Brown. It just gives them a new focus and new energy and it makes them look a little more current with the times,” Brock said.

Toronto politician Doug Ford, brother of the city’s late former mayor Rob Ford, is also in the running.

Candidates have until Feb. 16 to register, and the new leader will be announced March 10.

Canadian hospitalized following shooting in Mexico

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Feb 5th, 2018

MEXICO - FEBRUARY 9: The Mexican flag, Ensenada, Northern Baja California, Mexico. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

A Canadian citizen has been hospitalized in Mexico following a shooting, a spokesperson from Global Affairs Canada has confirmed to CityNews.

Few details are available regarding the shooting.

It’s not clear where in Canada the victim is from or where the shooting took place.

In a statement to CityNews, the Global Affairs spokesperson said “consular officials in Mexico are in contact with local authorities and are providing consular services to the Canadian and the family.”

“To protect the privacy of the individual concerned, further details cannot be released.‎‎”

Last week, Mexican officials dispatched 5,000 additional federal police officers to several tourist cities after a series of violent incidents.

Some of the tourism destinations include Cancun, Los Cabos, Manzanillo and Colima.

Kylie Jenner announces birth of ‘healthy,’ ‘beautiful’ girl

The Associated Press | posted Monday, Feb 5th, 2018


NEW YORK — After months of speculation that she was pregnant with her first child, Kylie Jenner has announced the birth of a baby girl.

In an Instagram post Sunday, Jenner says the baby was born Thursday. It’s the first child for the 20-year-old reality TV star and 25-year-old rapper Travis Scott.

In her post, Jenner apologizes for keeping fans “in the dark through all the assumptions.” She says she chose to keep her pregnancy private and “not to do in front of the world.”

She says pregnancy was “the most beautiful, empowering and life changing experience.”

Jenner says her daughter is healthy and beautiful. She posted a video on her app that showed her mother, Kris Jenner, giving birth to her and ended with a message about her own baby. It stated her daughter was born Thursday afternoon and weighed eight pounds and nine ounces.

Neither post revealed her daughter’s name.

A message to Kylie Jenner’s publicist wasn’t immediately returned.

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