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Shame on us: Pride Toronto member resigns in solidarity with Black Lives Matter

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jul 7th, 2016

A member of Pride Toronto has resigned, saying they support Black Lives Matter.

“I have resigned my position at Pride Toronto as of yesterday morning in solidarity with BlackLivesMatter and apologise profusely for the mistreatment, thoughtless and complete disregard which came along with being honoured,” Jacqie Lucas wrote on Facebook.

“Thank you for being leaders that we should all aspire to be. I love you. Black Lives They matter Here. I got your back.”


Related stories:

Black Lives Matter briefly stops Toronto’s Pride parade

Tory expresses ‘serious concerns’ if police excluded from Pride

Black Lives Matter flooded with hate mail following Toronto Pride Parade sit-in


Lucas wrote that they resigned because of the backtracking of Pride organizers. During the parade, members of Black Lives Matter staged a sit-in that lasted about 30 minutes. It ended when Pride executive director Mathieu Chantelois signed a document agreeing to a list of demands.

“We did the thing we had to do, make sure the parade was moving,” Chantelois later said. “[The parade] was not a place of negotiation, it was a place of you sign this paper or the parade stops forever, they would still be sitting in the street right now. I did what I had to do.”

Black Lives Matter was the honoured group during this year’s parade.

“That high came crashing down when I read in the paper that we at Pride Toronto were liars,” Lucas wrote.

“We listened to the demands of funding stages for Black Queer Youth, increasing funding for Blocko, reinstating a South Asian stage and asking police to march without uniforms etc and agreed we could do that. We said all the things that BlackLivesMatter wanted to hear, fair and easy requests and signed it with a hug and feathery queer pen but turned around and said ‘We really just wanted to get the parade moving.’”

The sit-in, and the list of demands from Black Lives Matter Toronto, was criticized in the days after the parade. This was misinterpreted as the removal of all police from the parade. Mayor John Tory, police union Mike McCormack, and at least one police officer criticized the request.

Members of Black Lives Matter Toronto also received hate mail.

The full list of demands can be seen below:

https://twitter.com/BLM_TO/status/749754649951948800/photo/1

In their resignation, Lucas wrote that “this is the honoured group doing honourable things and we can’t even give them the dignity of a second thought because we are pissed off that we had to wait 20 mins?”

Lucas went on to say that listening to Black Lives Matter would only make Pride stronger.

“And now today you, Toronto, are celebrating us as if we at Pride are some hero queer force who smashed the evildoers when really all we did was just marginalize those already on the peripheral of our community who were supposed to be honoured for their work in equality.

“The division in the community is deafening and shocking but only to us, BlacklivesMatter saw it all along. Shame on us.”

Pride Toronto said it hopes to gather feedback on this year’s Pride events at a public town hall scheduled for August.

Heat warning continues for third straight day

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jul 7th, 2016

Katrina Furtado, 10, and Cassandra Rota, 7, play in a wading pool in Toronto on Aug. 15, 2003. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Harris

The GTA, including Toronto, is in for more intense heat and humidity on Thursday, but relief is just around the corner.

Environment Canada issued a heat warning for much of southern Ontario on Monday, and it continues for a third straight day. The heat warning issued by Toronto’s medical officer of health also remains in effect.

A heat wave is three consecutive days when the maximum temperature is 32 C or higher, and it appears Toronto will hit that mark on Thursday.

The forecast calls for sun and cloud with a slight chance of showers or an isolated thunderstorm, 680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said. The high is expected to soar to 32 C but it will feel more like 40 C with the humidity.

However, this is not the first heat wave the city has experienced. Toronto had three days of 32 C on June 18-20. So far this year, Toronto has seen 12 days with temperatures over 30 C. In 2015, that number at July 6 was zero days.

However, cooler weather is on the GTA’s doorstep, providing much-needed relief from the intense heat. Showers and thunderstorms are in store on Friday with the temperature dropping to a comfortable 27 C.

But until then, residents still have to deal with the sweaty conditions for one more day. People are being advised to keep out of the heat and to drink plenty of liquids.

One way to cool off is to head to the city’s outdoor pools, including more than 90 splash pads and more than 100 supervised wading pools. There are also several air conditioned spaces in the city for people to cool off at.

The heat is also impacting GO and UP Express trains. On Wednesday, Metrolinx said trains would be going slower in the afternoon due to the warm temperatures.

Metrolinx said sustained temperatures above 30 C can cause what it calls “sun kinks” in steel rails. These bends in the rail can cause a safety issue if trains pass over them too quickly.

With files from The Canadian Press

Oscar Pistorius sentenced to six years for murder of Reeva Steenkamp

Christopher Torchia and Gerald Imray, The Associated Press | posted Wednesday, Jul 6th, 2016

Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, with the judge who decided the punishment calling the double-amputee Olympian a “fallen hero.”

South Africa’s minimum sentence for murder is 15 years but the judge said “substantial and compelling circumstances” existed to give Pistorius a lesser sentence for shooting Steenkamp at his home in 2013.

Judge Thokozile Masipa described Pistorius as a “good candidate for rehabilitation.”

Pistorius was asked to stand and face Judge Masipa as she announced his sentence in a courtroom in the South African capital, Pretoria. He was calm after the sentence was announced, embracing his aunt and tearful sister before being led down a courtroom staircase to a holding cell.

Steenkamp’s parents, Barry and June, were also present in the courtroom, which was packed with relatives of both Pistorius and Steenkamp, journalists and other observers.


Related stories:

Oscar Pistorius convicted of murder

Oscar Pistorius granted bail following murder conviction


After announcing Pistorius’ sentence, the judge ordered a recess to give prosecutors and Pistorius’ defence lawyers time to decide they want to appeal the sentence. It was not immediately clear if either would.

Prosecutors had sought at least 15 years in prison for the 29-year-old Pistorius. His defence lawyers had asked for no jail time at all for the athlete, and asked that he be allowed to do charity work with children.

The sentencing is the latest act of a three-and-a-half year legal drama that has often played out on live television and shown the fall from grace of a runner once viewed as an inspiration to many for overcoming his disability. Pistorius had both legs amputated below the knees when he was 11 months old because of a congenital defect.

He made history by running at the 2012 Olympics on his carbon-fiber running blades, and was one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

Pistorius killed Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and reality TV star, in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day in 2013 by shooting her multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in his home. Pistorius maintained he killed Steenkamp by mistake thinking she was an intruder hiding in the bathroom.

Prosecutors charged that he killed her intentionally after the couple argued.

In 2014, Pistorius was acquitted of murder by Masipa following a dramatic seven-month trial. He was instead convicted of manslaughter and served one year in prison.

His conviction was upgraded to murder last year when prosecutors appealed to South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal.

Gerald Imray reported from Somerset West, South Africa

Heat warning continues in Toronto

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jul 6th, 2016

It’s another hot day in the city, with temperatures hitting 21 C before 6 a.m. on Wednesday.

A heat warning, which was issued by Environment Canada on Monday, remains in effect for parts of the GTA, including Toronto, as well as the Hamilton and Niagara areas. Toronto’s medical officer of health also issued a heat warning for the city.

A heat wave is three consecutive days when the maximum temperature is 32 C or higher, CityNews weather specialist Frank Ferragine explained.

Toronto is heading for a heat wave and it won’t be the first time this year.

“It’s not the first time that we’ve had a heat wave, if you will, three days of 32 C or more for three or more days. We had that June 18-20 at Toronto Pearson,” 680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said on Tuesday.

So far this year, Toronto has seen 12 days with temperatures over 30 C. In 2015, that number at July 6 was zero days.

The high in the GTA on Wednesday will be 32 C but a humidex near 40, Taylor said. There is a slight chance of showers or thunderstorms, she said.

It is hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk? In 2007, the Ontario Science Centre conducted an experiment to find out. Watch it below or click here to view it.

Environment Canada issues a heat warning when “very high temperature or humidity conditions are expected to pose an elevated risk of heat illnesses, such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion.”

The health risks associated with the heat are the greatest for seniors, children, people with breathing difficulties and heart conditions, the homeless, those who work and exercise in the heat, and people without access to an air conditioned space.

People are being advised to keep out of the heat and to drink plenty of liquids.

The good news is that the city’s outdoor pools are open, including more than 90 splash pads and more than 100 supervised wading pools. There are also several air conditioned spaces in the city for people to cool off at.

Aside from diving into pools and cranking the air conditioner, below are some other ways to help you cool off:

  • With 92 per cent water content, watermelons are one of the best ways to stay cool in the sweltering heat
  • Eating spicy food helps you cool down by making you sweat
  • Adjust the ceiling fan so that the blades run counter-clockwise, pulling hot air out instead of just twirling it around the room
  • Sleep with cotton sheets because they let the skin breathe

With files from Jaime Pulfer and The Canadian Press

Donaldson among three Blue Jays named to MLB all-star game roster

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jul 6th, 2016

Reigning American League MVP Josh Donaldson was among three Toronto Blue Jays named to the MLB all-star game roster on Tuesday.

Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion will make his third all-star game appearance after a strong first half to the season while right-hander Marco Estrada was named to the team for the first time all-star after a career-best start to 2016.

Canadian outfielder Michael Saunders was one of five finalists for the all-star game final vote. Voting for those spots begin Tuesday night with the winners begin announced on Friday afternoon.

Donaldson, who was named as a reserve to the AL roster, entered Tuesday’s play hitting .298 this season with 20 home runs and 58 runs-batted in. His .411 on-base percentage ranks sixth in the MLB while his .581 slugging percentage is third in the American League.

This is Donaldson’s third-straight all-star game appearance after suiting up in a Jays uniform last season and once with the Oakland Atheltics in 2014. The 30-year-old third baseman may also be a candidate for the home run derby after participating in the event the last two years.

Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles was named the starting AL third baseman.

The 33-year-old Encarnacion has 22 home runs and 76 RBI to go along with a .264 batting average in 84 games. Encarnacion leads the majors in RBI and is tied for fourth in MLB home runs.

Encarnacion has previously appeared at the all-star game in 2013 and 2014 — both with the Blue Jays.

Estrada is 5-3 with a 2.93 earned-run average in 16 starts. His ERA leads all Toronto starters and is tied for third-best among AL pitchers.

Estrada’s first half was highlighted by a June 5 game against the Boston Red Sox when he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.

Saunders, a Victoria native, is hitting .290 with 15 home runs and 38 RBI in 76 games so far this season. His .910 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) is second on the Blue Jays roster.

Saunders will be vying for his first all-star game appearance.

The 87th all-star game takes place on July 12 at Petco Park in San Diego.

BlackBerry to end production of BlackBerry Classic smartphone

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jul 6th, 2016

BlackBerry is hanging up on the Classic, less than two years after it launched the smartphone in an effort to keep its grip on customers who favoured its standard keyboard.

The decision to stop making the device comes as BlackBerry faces calls to get out of its money-losing hardware business altogether and instead focus solely on its burgeoning software technology – calls it has so far brushed aside.

“The Classic has long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone in today’s market,” Ralph Pini, the company’s chief operating officer and general manager for devices, said in a company blog post dated Tuesday.

The BlackBerry Classic hit the market in December 2014, offering customers a 3.5-inch screen – 60 per cent larger than the previous BlackBerry Bold 9900 that it was modelled after, only with more modern touches such as a longer battery life and, in addition to a keyboard, a touch screen.

BlackBerry said consumers tend to upgrade within a year to 1 1/2 years after purchasing a phone, while companies keep theirs between three and four years. The Waterloo, Ont.-based firm will now focus on updating its smartphone lineup, Pini said.

“We are ready for change so we can give our customers something better,” he said. The company will continue to support its BlackBerry 10 operating system with software updates, with a new version scheduled for release in August, he added.

BlackBerry is expected to release two new mid-range, Android-powered smartphones before the end of February. CEO John Chen has said one will feature a touch screen. More information on the devices is expected this month.

In its first quarter, its most recent, BlackBerry sold roughly 500,000 smartphones, about 100,000 fewer than in the previous quarter. Despite the lacklustre results, the company has no plans to stop making the Priv, the Android-power phone it released late last year.

BlackBerry’s decision to continue to make new models seems to be a penetration tactic, said Marc-David L. Seidel, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.

“It would not surprise me if they moved further away from hardware and more towards the software back end for the secured communications,” he said, adding that BlackBerry may still offer a few smartphones preloaded with the software they are trying to push.

Chen has said he believes a new venture to license BlackBerry’s mobile software to other companies can help turn its mobile business segment profitable this fiscal year, which ends in February. Seidel said that approach could become profitable for the company as it is still perceived to have a competitive advantage in security software, but it would have to move quickly as they face a lot of competition in that area.

“Their best chance of survival going forward would be to focus more on the software side,” said Seidel.

Canada Post issues 72 hour lockout notice; work stoppage possible Friday

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Jul 5th, 2016

Canada Post said it has issued a 72-hour lockout notice to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), raising the spectre of a work stoppage by Friday.

The announcement came hours after Canada Post said its latest offer presented on June 25 was fair and reasonable and that it still hoped to negotiate a deal with the union.

But in a statement early Tuesday, Canada Post said it plans to suspend the collective agreement as of Friday. It blamed prolonged negotiations, the union’s strike mandate and the financial cost of a rapid decline in mail volume.

Canada Post said the 72-hour notice does not necessarily mean it will shut down on Friday.

Rather, it said, the measure would allow it “take measures that are necessary to respond to the changing business reality.”


Related stories:

Canada Post says latest offer to CUPW is ‘final’
Canada Post still hopes to negotiate ‘reasonable’ deal with union: spokesman
Some benefit cheques will be mailed if there’s a Canada Post labour disruption


In its response, CUPW said the corporation is using the lockout notice to drive 50,000 workers “out onto the streets without pay in an effort to impose steep concessions on them.”

“They refused to negotiate fairly with us and now they’re locking the doors and will try to starve us into submission,” said CUPW president Mike Palecek.

The two sides have both said the key sticking point in negotiations involves changes to employee pension plans.

The Crown corporation said Monday that CUPW’s demands are “not affordable” and would add $1 billion in costs over the life of a new contract. The union accused Canada Post of preparing to lock workers out, and creating uncertainty by warning the public to avoid the post office.

Canada Post has said that in the event of a full work disruption, it will not operate – mail and parcels will not be delivered, and no new items will be accepted.

The Canada Revenue Agency has deemed Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan, Working Income Tax Benefit and the Canada Child Benefit cheques “essential” – even during a labour disruption.

Spokesman Jon Hamilton said Canada Post has a memorandum of agreement with the union “where the federal socio-economic cheques will be delivered.”

“In the event of a work disruption we would arrange … delivery one day of the month,” he said Monday.

Toronto on the verge of a heat wave

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Jul 5th, 2016

The air conditioner will be working overtime the next couple of days with sizzling temperatures expected in Toronto and much of southern Ontario.

A heat warning, which was issued by Environment Canada on Monday, remains in effect for parts of the GTA, including Toronto, as well as the Hamilton and Niagara areas.

The national weather agency said temperatures are expected to reach highs near or above 31 C.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said the high in the GTA on Tuesday will be 31 C but it will feel like 36 C with the humidity. As of 4 a.m., the temperature in Toronto hit 22 C.

The extreme heat is expected to continue into Wednesday and Thursday with a high near 33 C and 32 C expected on each respective day. Showers and thunderstorms are also in the forecast on both days.

“It’s not the first time that we’ve had a heat wave, if you will, three days of 32 C or more for three or more days. We had that June 18-20 at Toronto Pearson,” Taylor said.

The nighttime is not expected to provide much relief, with overnight lows of about 21 C expected.

People are being advised to keep out of the heat and to drink plenty of liquids.

Environment Canada issues a heat warning when “very high temperature or humidity conditions are expected to pose an elevated risk of heat illnesses, such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion.”

The health risks associated with the heat are the greatest for seniors, children, people with breathing difficulties and heart conditions, the homeless, those who work and exercise in the heat, and people without access to an air conditioned space.

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