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Clinton reaches out to Republicans mortified by Trump in convention speech

ALEXANDER PANETTA, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 29th, 2016

PHILADELPHIA – Hillary Clinton used the biggest speech of her career to reach across the political aisle to voters mortified by their own party’s choice, casting the stakes of the election as far higher than a typical campaign battle of left versus right.

She rolled through the challenges of this era: stagnant wages, terrorist attacks, climate change, student debt, laying out promises for tackling them as a roomful of supporters waved U.S. flags, chanted her name, and drowned out periodic heckling from left-wing protesters.

Then Clinton raised the stakes.

She described this election as a moment of reckoning for a country that risks electing a uniquely dangerous man — whom she characterized as an ill-informed, thin-skinned, hate-mongering bully too reckless to hold the great levers of power.

“Imagine him in the Oval Office,” she said, after accepting the Democratic nomination as the first female presidential candidate for a major U.S. party.

“A man we can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

She referred to him calling women pigs, mocking a judge of Mexican heritage, miming a disabled reporter, and insulting former Republican nominee John McCain for being captured in Vietnam: “Here’s the sad truth,” Clinton said. “There is no other Donald Trump. This is it.”

She called him unworthy of a country whose Latin motto is, “Out of many, one.” Likening him to a childhood tormentor, Clinton shared a story about her mother refusing to allow her in the house as she tried fleeing a bully: “She literally locked the door. ‘Go back out there,’ she said… She was right. You have to stand up to bullies.”

It’s a recurring theme of the Democratic convention.

While the party has a variety of progressive planks in its platform it does not intend to fight this election on a left-right axis — but on other fronts. Unity versus division. Ideas versus a cult of personality. Her versus Trump. Or, as Protestant minister William Barber summed it up in a speech before she took the stage: “Some issues are not left versus right. They are right versus wrong.”

The convention saw speakers and scoreboard videos name-check Republicans including McCain, Ronald Reagan, Mitt Romney, George W. Bush. Barbara Bush and Marco Rubio in an effort to make the case that this candidate should be uniquely unpalatable to self-respecting Republicans.

The message was underscored by speakers like President Barack Obama. He extolled the conservative values of his grandparents’ Kansas and described the Republican candidate as a demagogue unworthy of being associated with them.

Current and former Republicans filed to the podium like Michael Bloomberg, the ex-New York mayor. On Wednesday, a former official in the Reagan administration said he would vote Democrat for the first time, because his loyalty to country exceeded that to party. Doug Elmets compared him unfavourably to his own party’s hero: “Donald Trump, you are no Ronald Reagan,” he said. “Reagan saw nuance.”

In a campaign where Trump proposed a blanket ban on Muslim travel to the U.S., before rewording the proposal to apply to immigration from an unspecified list of countries, American Muslims were given a sequence of speaking roles.

Basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabaar spoke. Then came Khizr Khan whose son, a Muslim immigrant, was killed while serving the U.S. Army in Iraq: “The best of America,” he said of his son, Humayun. “If it were up to Donald Trump, he would never have been in America.”

He urged all immigrants to take this election seriously, and for all voters to teach Trump a lesson on Nov. 8.

The challenge of reaching out to moderates was underscored repeatedly Thursday.

The left-most tip of the party’s left wing was conspicuous in its annoyance all week. Dozens of the hardest-core supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders repeatedly heckled military speakers, including retired Gen. John Allen and veteran Florent Groberg, who lost his leg in a suicide attack.

Protesters repeatedly chanted: “No more wars,” and, “Peace, not war.” They got annoyed stares and demands to keep quiet from the rest of the crowd. They were drowned out by chants of, “U-S-A!” and were made to disappear behind the waving of large American flags distributed to delegates around them.

Many on the left were already convinced the party was biased against them, unconvinced that Clinton had defeated Sanders fairly — even though she got one-quarter more primary votes and won many more states.

They were annoyed when Sanders endorsed her. And fuel was poured over their still-smouldering anger in form of internal party emails, which the U.S. government suspects were stolen by Russian hackers and provided to the site Wikileaks.

Some held up a banner that read, “WIKILEAKS,” in all-caps.

Clinton was introduced by her daughter Chelsea. A Clinton aide said the nominee had still been working on the speech Wednesday. She had been working on it for weeks, with her staff and her husband Bill.

“(Bill) knows her voice extremely well, having spent years by her side,” said aide Kristina Schake. “So he’s helping her craft the message that she wants to give tonight to the American people.”

Tory ‘horrified’ after developer clear-cuts 30 trees

CityNews | posted Friday, Jul 29th, 2016

Mayor John Tory says he is “horrified” after a developer chopped down 30 trees on two lots in York Mills, adding it may be the worst case of illegal clearing ever in Toronto.

He said forestry staff estimates dozens of trees were destroyed without a permit over the weekend, at 103 and 108 Bayview Ridge near Bayview Avenue and York Mills Road, confirming a story CityNewsfirst reported on Wednesday.

The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) recently approved the development there of 11 townhouse units and four single, detached dwellings.

“This, I’m told by our official … may well be the largest single alleged infraction ever in terms of the number of trees and the size of the trees that were cut down,” Tory told reporters on Thursday.

“This should be a case … that calls for a very harsh penalty. The kinds of penalties we’ve seen sometimes imposed in the past don’t even begin … to indicate how unacceptable this conduct is if it’s found to have contravened the law.”

The maximum fine for removing a protected tree without a permit is $100,000 a tree. That fine has never been levied.

The developer, Format Group, issued a statement to CityNews saying their arborist had prepared a report for the city outlining the number of trees to be removed and they figured they could start preparing the site before the permit arrived.

“We assumed we were allowed to follow the report and prepare the site in anticipation of the building permit, since it was clear that the documentation was imminent,” the statement reads.

But Tory said if the company’s owner was sophisticated enough to hire a lawyer to go to the OMB and conducted a complete inventory of trees on the property, he likely knew what he was doing.

“The notion to me that this is some mystery, that this person knew nothing about this and didn’t know they had to apply for a permit or thought the OMB decision authorized a permit is not really believable.”

Forcillo granted bail as he appeals conviction in Yatim death

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jul 29th, 2016

A Toronto police officer sentenced to six years for gunning down a troubled teen on an empty streetcar three years ago has been granted bail while he appeals the conviction.

The appeal judge, Justice Eileen Gillese, said in her decision that Const. James Forcillo poses no risk to the public “as there is no risk that he would commit further offences.”

Gillese noted that until Thursday, the Crown consented to bail being granted every time the issue arose, including after Forcillo, 33, was convicted of attempted murder in January in the death of Sammy Yatim, 18.

A condition of Forcillo’s bail is that he surrender himself on Nov. 9. Gillese said that before that date, the Crown and defence lawyers should update the presiding judge on the status of the appeal. If the appeal isn’t ready to be heard, Gillese said the surrender date can be modified.

James Forcillo Bail Decision by CityNewsToronto on Scribd

At sentencing on Thursday, Justice Edward Then said Forcillo abused his authority in a way that undermines public trust in law enforcement and the justice system.

Then said that in letting loose a second volley of shots on Yatim, Forcillo committed an “egregious breach of trust” and his sentence must serve as notice to other police officers.

Forcillo’s lawyer, Peter Brauti, said an appeal had already been filed on the conviction and sentencing.

Both sides were in appeal court shortly after the sentencing as the defence applied for bail pending appeal.

The defence argued that Forcillo should be granted bail because he wouldn’t be likely to reoffend, given that the conditions under which he shot Yatim would not be repeated.

Related stories:

Forcillo sentenced to six years for Yatim shooting death

Yatim’s family delivers emotional statements at Forcillo sentencing hearing

Police officers need better training, and they need it urgently: ombudsman

After the sentencing, Toronto police suspended Forcillo without pay, according to spokesman Mark Pugash.

Police Chief Mark Saunders said in a statement that Forcillo still faces a disciplinary matter in the Toronto Police Service Tribunal, but declined to comment on the criminal case.

The outrage over Yatim’s death prompted Saunders’ predecessor to launch a review of officers’ use of force and their response to emotionally disturbed people.

Then cited cellphone video as “powerful evidence” that what Forcillo said occurred on the streetcar that night did not actually happen.

Forcillo did not mistakenly believe that Yatim was getting up after being struck with a first volley of bullets, as the officer testified in court, Then found. Instead, he based his decision to fire again entirely on the fact that Yatim had managed to recover his knife, he said.

Under police training, that alone would not justify shooting a suspect, the judge said. The second volley of shots was “not only contrary to (Forcillo’s) training, but unreasonable, unnecessary and excessive.”

Toronto officer who fatally shot Sammy Yatim sentenced to six years

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jul 28th, 2016

A Toronto police officer has been sentenced to six years in the shooting death of a troubled teen on an empty streetcar.

Const. James Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder in the 2013 death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, which was was captured on a cellphone video that went viral and spurred outrage in Toronto.

The disgraced police officer, wearing a dark suit, stood straight and stone-faced as he was handcuffed. Murmurs ran through the courtroom as Justice Edward Then delivered his sentence. Yatim’s parents looked at Forcillo, then turned to one another in silence.

In handing down his sentence, Then said the cellphone video was “powerful evidence” that what Forcillo said occurred on the streetcar did not happen.

The judge spent almost 90 minutes dissecting the evidence that came to light during the trial, delivering a series of stinging rebukes to Forcillo’s conduct that July night three years ago.

Forcillo’s behaviour “constitutes a fundamental failure to understand his duty to preserve all life, not just his own,” Then said.

He also rejected the defence’s assertion that Forcillo should not be subjected to the mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for the attempted murder conviction. But he also said the Crown’s request that the officer spend between eight to 10 years behind bars was “unreasonable.”

Forcillo’s lawyers, who had argued for house arrest instead of a prison sentence, filed a constitutional appeal, arguing the mandatory minimum was never intended to apply to peace officers who legitimately carry a gun at the behest of the state in order to protect society.

Prosecutors say the mandatory minimum is meant to apply to everyone, arguing police officers shouldn’t get special treatment.

They also argued that Forcillo’s case appears to be “among the most egregious examples of unjustified violence by a police officer in Canada.”

Related stories:

Yatim’s family delivers emotional statements at Forcillo sentencing hearing

Mandatory minimum sentence ‘overboard’ for Forcillo’s case, lawyer says

Police officers need better training, and they need it urgently: ombudsman

Prosecutors say the mandatory minimum is meant to apply to everyone, arguing police officers shouldn’t get special treatment.

They also argued that Forcillo’s case appears to be “among the most egregious examples of unjustified violence by a police officer in Canada.”

The outrage over Yatim’s death prompted the city’s police chief to launch a review of officers’ use of force and their response to emotionally disturbed people.

Yatim’s mother, Sahar Bahadi, told the court she will never forgive Forcillo for killing her child.

“They say to move on, you have to forgive,” she said during her victim impact statement. “But as a mother, I will not forget and I will never forgive. Human life matters. My son, Sammy, matters.”

The teen’s father also said he struggled to make sense of his son’s death and wondered what would have happened if another officer had been on duty that night.

Forcillo’s wife, meanwhile, said her husband doesn’t deserve to go to jail because he isn’t a risk to society.

In a letter Then, Irina Forcillo said her husband is “the one whose purpose has always been to protect.”

Forcillo had been out on bail since being charged. He’s seeking bail again today pending an appeal.

The officer fired two separate volleys – three shots and then six shots – at Yatim, who had consumed ecstasy and was wielding a small knife on an empty streetcar.

Forcillo testified that he never wanted to kill anybody when he confronted Yatim, but fired because he thought the teen was about to come at him with his switchblade.

Pearson Airport could set new summer travel record

Kevin Misener | posted Thursday, Jul 28th, 2016

Nearly 10 million people will pass through the gates of Pearson International Airport this summer, setting a new record for summer travel.

Pearson has been handling an average of 120,000 fliers a day this summer. That is an increase of about 10,000 travellers a day compared to this time last year.

Shabeen Hanifa with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority said that continues an upward trend.

“We’ve seen in the past three to four years about a six-per-cent increase each year,” she explained,

The next four Fridays will be the busiest travel days at Pearson, with between 147,000 and 148,000 passengers each day.

Hanifa said an improved economy, combined with high summer demand, is behind the increase.

“We have three real peaks throughout the year – Christmas, March Break and then summer which is a bit more prolonged because kids are out of school,” she explained. “There’s peaks within each day – during the early morning, as well as around the dinner hour.”

Hanifa said social media is the friend of the modern traveller, especially during high peak times.

“Follow us on Twitter at Toronto Pearson because we provide travel updates through our twitter feed,” she said.

To reduce long line-ups, travellers are advised to check in online, have documents ready for security and for those using Terminal 3 there is now a self-serve baggage drop.

Democrats still in love with Obama; he asks them to love someone new

Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jul 28th, 2016

PHILADELPHIA – Christine Williams is spending the Democratic convention with her back turned mostly to the stage. She’s an usher guarding a nosebleed-section doorway. Yet she made sure to spin around and snap a picture of a once-in-a-lifetime moment Wednesday.

The young woman had never seen Barack Obama speak — she’s from his hometown, Chicago, but it took a work stint in Philadelphia to bring her within camera range of the president.

Some people wept as he entered, following a video that chronicled the highs and lows of his presidency: the health law, the Bin Laden raid, relations with Cuba, the economic turnaround, the Iran nuclear deal, and mass shootings that made him weep too.

Some grasped at signs with his name being handed out. One man screamed, ”Best president ever!”

The usher took a photo.

“I’ve been blessed to have this opportunity,” Williams said.

“To hear him in person. Capture a picture. It’s amazing.”

The biggest star in the Democratic party urged its members to chart a course toward Hillary Clinton, in a speech where he acted as a top-level character witness, having gone from her rival, to colleague, to staunch supporter.

Obama called her the most qualified person ever running for president; said she’d shown her lifelong commitment to social causes; and compared her to an opponent who had never shown any regard for ordinary people.

He cast the election as a moral choice — not simply between left and right, or Democrat versus Republican, but as a national referendum on whether the country would abide by its optimistic and pluralist traditions or turn to hatred and bitterness.

”The choice isn’t even close,” Obama said. ”People outside the United States don’t understand what’s going on in this election.”

When he mentioned Donald Trump’s name, people booed. Obama cut them off: ”Don’t boo. Vote!… I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me.” At the end, she joined him onstage prompting a rise in decibel levels from the crowd.

And that’s the president’s role. In an election where his party is seeking a rare third term, Obama is being deployed as the base-mobilizer-in-chief. His favourable rating is about 10 percentage points higher than Clinton’s among the general public, due partly to the affection for him within the party.

The choice of locale for their first joint appearance recently offered clues into how she intends to deploy her campaign ally. They appeared together in North Carolina, a state with a large African-American population that he carried in 2008.

If she can mobilize a similar minority turnout from young African-American voters like Williams, it might blunt gains Republicans are hoping to make among working-class whites in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. A civil-rights icon urged the party to come together for Clinton.

“If blacks register and vote in great numbers, progressive whites win,” Jesse Jackson told the crowd Wednesday.

“Women win. When women win, children win… It’s Hillary time.”

The obstacle to that has been glaringly evident throughout this convention. The lack of enthusiasm on the far left has translated into protests and sporadic boos from the floor since Monday.

A small minority even jeered during a speech from former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg — who came to ridicule the business track record of his fellow Manhattan billionaire, Trump, while endorsing Clinton.

Speakers and videos throughout the evening mentioned mainstream Republicans — John McCain, Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, Barbara Bush and John Kasich — in a transparent campaign to swipe some moderate votes.

A lifelong Republican, former admiral John Hutson, referred to Trump insulting the 2008 nominee: “Donald, you’re not fit to polish John McCain’s boots.”

Obama made a similar pitch, to Clinton’s detractors on the left and right. People around the arena showered their love on him. They booed when he referred to the end of his presidency. One man shouted, ”Four more years!”

Claire Merced campaigned for him in 2008.

When asked who she was most excited to hear speaking at this convention, she mentioned the president. The schoolteacher called him a compelling speaker, kind, and a good representative for the country these last eight years.

A constitutional amendment passed six decades ago precludes him from running again. Merced paused when asked whether she wished he could go for a third term: “I mean, I would love…” she began.

Then she added that she supports term limits and said: “I think it’s time for other people, with new ideas. And, if it’s Trump,” she went on, adding a touch of dark humour, “to destroy the country.”

She was wearing a Hillary Clinton button.

Over in the doorway, Williams was of a similar mind. She sounded a bit wistful when asked whether she yearned for a third Obama term: “Kind of. Yes,” she said.

“But things are always changing.”

BlackBerry launching new smartphone with emphasis on beefed up security

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jul 27th, 2016

In a bid to once again make its struggling hardware business profitable, BlackBerry is launching a new smartphone billed as the most secure Android device available.

The company announced the launch Tuesday of the DTEK50, a phone it hopes will appeal to “everyone” due to the insidious threat that mobile security risks now pose to the public at large.

“We feel that customers today, certainly businesses and consumers, are beginning to understand just how important security is when it comes to their smartphone,” said Alex Thurber, senior vice-president of global device sales, during a webcast from BlackBerry’s headquarters in Waterloo, Ont.

Everyone should be aware of security and privacy, whether they’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a parent, he said.

“I certainly want my children to have secure devices. I don’t want the world looking at what they take pictures of or their emails or their text messages.”

BlackBerry said the DTEK50 has been designed to fend off cyberattacks with features such as built-in malware protection and encryption of all user information. In addition, it provides the ability to see and control which apps are allowed access to features like the phone’s camera.

The new product is also BlackBerry’s thinnest and has an on-screen keyboard – not its traditional keyboard.

The DTEK50 will retail for C$429, a sign that the company may have learned from the sales flop of its first Android-powered phone, the Priv. At a cost of C$899 without a carrier contract, the Priv was released late last year and at the time, it was the most expensive Android phone on the market.

While BlackBerry hasn’t disclosed Priv phone sales, its most recent quarterly results released a month ago showed the company sold 500,000 smartphones in total (including the Priv). That’s a drop of 100,000 over the previous quarter and 200,000 fewer than two quarters earlier.

“We’re very confident that from a product perspective this will sell very well,” Thurber said of the DTEK50, whose name is derived from a feature on the Priv that informs users of their device security status and how to improve it.

But that price likely won’t be enough to win over a large number of customers, said Detlev Zwick, an associate professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

They will ask themselves what makes the DTEK50 different from other phones in the same price range, and while the answer may be its stronger security measures, that may not be enough to sway them, he said.

“I think most consumers in that price range simply don’t care much about that,” he said. Instead, they’re more concerned with how user-friendly an interface is, how fun applications are and how quickly they can access their Facebook friends, Zwick said.

“If they really want to change momentum, BlackBerry would need a hit with a handset,” he continued. “This is not it.”

BlackBerry anticipates the majority of DTEK50s will be sold to business clients, Thurber said later in a media roundtable in Toronto.

Related stories:

BlackBerry to end production of BlackBerry Classic smartphone

Smartphone maker BlackBerry Priv, company’s first Android device, goes on sale

BlackBerry maintains enthusiasm for smartphones despite lacklustre sales

The company has faced calls to stop making smartphones because of disappointing sales and instead focus solely on its growing software and security business.

CEO John Chen has so far shown no inclination to heed those calls, having promised earlier this year to release two mid-range, Android-powered phones before the company’s fiscal year ends Feb. 28, 2017.

Thurber reiterated that commitment, saying BlackBerry will continue to develop and release Android phones. Multiple devices are planned to be released before the financial year ends, he said, including one in the near future that will have a physical keyboard.

The DTEK50 is available for pre-order online, with plans to start shipping Aug. 8.

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