Freestyle Literature
Home
Writing Tips
Writing a Book
Writer's Articles
Resources
Directory
Site Map

Seven Ways to Select a Book Topic That Sells
by: Judy Cullins

Since a book title is the number one "Essential Hot-Selling Point" for your book, it's a good idea to choose one that sells well.
  1. Write what you are passionate about.
  2. Write down five topics that stir your passion.
  3. Write a book your audience needs or wants.
  4. Research your target market.
  5. Compare your book with other reputable, good sellers in your field.
  6. Survey your market.
  7. Create a winning vision for your book
[ Read Full Article ]


TORONTO STAR

TOPSTORIES

Ontario‚??s top court reprimands judge for ‚??frustrating administration of justice‚??

Thu, 25 May 2017 20:28:47 EDT


A judge with a history of releasing reasons for judgment years late was reprimanded by Ontario’s top court Thursday for “frustrat(ing) the proper administration of justice.”

This time, it resulted in the court ordering a new trial for a case involving serious allegations of domestic and sexual violence.

After a nine-day trial that ended in March 2016, Superior Court Justice Susanne Goodman acquitted the accused of all charges.

Goodman briefly gave her decision on a Friday and promised detailed written reasons to come on Monday.

They never came.

On Thursday, more than a year later, the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered a new trial, and, in a postscript to the ruling, gave a stern warning to Goodman.

“Our order directing a new trial is a terrible result for everyone involved in this proceeding,” Court of Appeal Justice David Doherty wrote for the three-judge panel.

“The trial judge’s failure to give reasons, despite her repeated promises to do so, has frustrated the proper administration of justice. Nor is this the first time that this trial judge’s failure to provide reasons has required this court to order a new trial. It must be the last time.”

Doherty also wrote the 2011 decision where the Court of Appeal ordered a new trial after it took more than two years for Goodman to provide reasons for her decision. The court found the delay compromised the integrity of her ruling.

In another case from 2011, the Star reported Goodman took 29 months to deliver a crucial decision on legal costs in a child support case. The decision was released the day after the Star’s story ran.

And just five months ago, a different panel of Court of Appeal judges decided to go ahead with a hearing after Goodman’s promised written reasons failed to materialize after six months.

“It was not in the interests of justice to delay the hearing of the appeal any longer,” Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Kathryn Feldman wrote.

A request for comment from Goodman, who has been a judge since 2000, was made through her judicial secretary and no response was received by this newspaper’s deadline.

The Office of the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice said it would not be appropriate to comment “as this matter is now before the Canadian Judicial Council.”

The Canadian Judicial Council is the regulatory body that oversees federally-appointed judges and reviews complaints.

The Court of Appeal decision released Thursday involves a case where the complainant alleges she was punched, beaten with a mop handle, attacked with a knife and raped by Stanislaw Sliwka. The abuse allegedly took place in 2013 and 2014. She called 911 on March 1, 2014 and answered the door wearing sunglasses and a hood on her head, according to police testimony. A police officer convinced her to take off the sunglasses and said he was horrified by what he saw. She had extensive injuries, including bruising, cuts, swelling and bleeding, and needed immediate medical assistance, the officer said. The police officers testified Sliwka told the complainant to be quiet and that it was only when she was alone in the elevator with them that she said Sliwka had beaten her.

Sliwka, denied ever assaulting the complainant. He said she sometimes hurt herself when she was drunk. He said that two days before the 911 call he came home and found his place ransacked. He believed intruders had broken in and assaulted the complainant.

After the trial, Goodman said she was left with reasonable doubt and acquitted Sliwka on all charges.

Sliwka’s appeal lawyer argued her reasons are clear based on the trial record, but the Court of Appeal disagreed.

“Counsel’s submissions go only so far as to demonstrate the need for careful reasons in this case. Unfortunately, the trial judge gave none,” Doherty wrote.”

The Crown filed an appeal and repeatedly asked for the written reasons between April and September 2016, Doherty wrote. Each promised date was missed. By the end of September, the Crown informed Goodman that they would argue the appeal should proceed as if no further reasons existed.

The frustration from the Court of Appeal is clear in the decision, says Michael Lacy, the vice-president of the Criminal Lawyer’s Association. He was not involved in the case.

“What I read from the postscript is, this could all have been avoided through the provision of reasons,” he said.

Judges are required to do two things, he said: decide cases fairly and impartially, and explain the reasons for their decision.

“Here there was obviously a really significant failing with respect to one of the two things we expect from judges,” he said. “It’s very unfortunate.”

Defence lawyer Reid Rusonik, who represented one of two men acquitted by Goodman, but ordered to have a new trial in 2011 after her ruling was released two years later, noted that the quality of Goodman’s written decisions are “excellent.”


Conservative leadership race down to its final days

Thu, 25 May 2017 18:36:08 EDT


Conservative party faithful from across the country will gather in Etobicoke this weekend to replace the only leader the modern party has ever known, and to take stock in the strength of their movement.

And by most measures, that movement is doing just fine.

The Conservative party out-fundraised the Liberals by almost a two-to-one margin in the early months of 2017, raising $5.3 million from more than 42,000 donors. This is despite an ongoing leadership contest that was expected to suck money away from the party in favour of particular candidates.

Their membership rolls have grown from roughly 90,000 people in late 2016 to more than 250,000 in April — more than the party even hoped for in the lead-up to their failed 2015 electoral campaign.

And whoever wins the leadership on Saturday will start Day One with control over one of the most sophisticated electoral machines Canada has ever seen: a motivated base of volunteers and grassroots activities, a serious approach to data-driven campaigning, and a pool of experienced former cabinet ministers to keep Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s feet to the fire in Ottawa.

Not to suggest the new leader won’t have challenges. The Liberals routinely poll above 40 per cent, and a poll from Léger this week puts the Conservatives under 20 per cent in Quebec, a crucial province.

But Conservative strategist Jason Lietaer said the new leader has a pretty good head start.

“Usually when you take over a party it’s debt-ridden, it’s on the down slide, its prospects are weak, its support is weak,” said Lietaer, who has worked with Conservative governments in Queen’s Park and Ottawa.

“By comparison, the (Conservative) party is in much, much better shape. And the key there, I think, the foundation, the fundamentals, when you’ve a good caucus and good fundraising, you’ve got a pretty solid base to build on.”

Quebec MP Maxime Bernier is widely perceived to be the candidate to beat on Saturday, holding a commanding lead in Mainstreet/iPolitics polls of Conservative members since television personality Kevin O’Leary dropped out of the race.

With a field of 14 candidates — O’Leary is still on the ballot, having quit after the party’s deadline — and the party’s unpredictable voting system, however, it would still be bold to make predictions.

The Conservative leadership ballot is ranked, and members can rank their preferences one through 10, or simply select one candidate for their vote. The Conservatives also give each riding equal say in who leads the party — so a riding in Calgary with thousands of Conservative members has the same weight as a riding in Montreal with 10.

Former Speaker of the House of Commons Andrew Scheer and former veterans minister Erin O’Toole are thought to have the best shot at upsetting Bernier, but again, the complexity of the voting system and the number of candidates makes the outcome difficult to predict.

The party has also committed to releasing detailed, riding-by-riding breakdowns of the voting, allowing for a close analysis of members’ desires for the future of the party.

For Rachel Curran, a former policy director in Stephen Harper’s PMO, the leadership contest has provided two clear paths: slight tweaks to Harper’s policies and approach — continuity candidates like Scheer or O’Toole — or significantly different policies offered by candidates like Bernier.

Curran, who recently wrote a comprehensive account of the policy choices facing the next leader in Policy Options, said that the “continuity” choice may be more challenging for the Conservative party than a fresher break.

“The successful candidate isn’t going to be successful in a national context, in the context of a national election, simply by putting together the same coalition that Harper put together in 2011,” Curran said in an interview Thursday.

“Our demographics are shifting, population centres are shifting. I don’t think simply trying to put those same pieces together, and having someone different try (to) put those same pieces together, it isn’t going to be sufficient to win a national election.”

With the party receiving a significant number of mail-in ballots, the leadership contest may already be over by the time Conservative members gather on Friday. The new leader won’t address members until Saturday night, after the final count is known.

Whoever it is will inherit a party that — despite an at-times divisive leadership contest, and the continued goodwill of the Canadian electorate to Justin Trudeau’s government — is ready to fight in 2019. Conservatives in Etobicoke this weekend will get a taste of what that leader intends to do with it.


Six games of puck, one game of luck: Arthur

Thu, 25 May 2017 18:52:20 EDT


PITTSBURGH—Chris Kelly has seen some things, over the years. The Toronto native has played more than 900 NHL games, regular season and playoffs; he has one Stanley Cup, with Boston in 2011. And on the morning of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final this year, he wasn’t sure he’d be in the lineup; he hadn’t played much in these playoffs at age 36, in this sport he thinks is more densely packed and unpredictable than ever before.

“Yeah, it’s even more than it has been in the past,” said Kelly, the morning before his Ottawa Senators played the Pittsburgh Penguins. “When they put the salary cap into place, the first year the old teams were trying to (keep) their teams together and players were still in place, and every year it got closer and closer. Now it’s more difficult to make the playoffs, let alone survive and continue to keep playing.”

“It’s fractions. It’s incredible. Looking back and thinking about the Game 7s I’ve played in, three of them went into overtime. How close can you get? It comes down to bounces. It’s a coin flip. Game 7s are coin flips. I hope the fans enjoy it, because it makes life stressful on us.”

Players don’t usually admit the game rattles the nerves, but Kelly has always been an honest soul. He played three Game 7s in the 2011 Cup run, and another the Bruins lost in overtime in 2012, and one more in 2013 — the Toronto game, if you remember that. All but the Cup final win over Vancouver were one-goal games. This season, there have already been 26 overtime playoff games, and Kelly has arrived at a place that could best be described as hockey Zen: hope for luck, but don’t expect it.

“You hope, but it’s a bounce,” said Kelly, who scored an overtime winner in Game 1 against Washington in 2012. “I remember when we played Tampa in ’11 in the conference final, and it was 0-0 until about six minutes left. No penalties. And I thought we played extremely well. And there was one time where (Martin) St. Louis had the puck and he shot it and it went off our defenceman’s skate and just went wide, and I was thinking, I hope we don’t lose this by a bad bounce, and I’m sure they’re thinking the same way.”

“I think if you look back, I think it was just a slight mistake that we were able to capitalize and score the winner. (Steven Stamkos tripped) on nothing. A 60-goal scorer does that 1,000 times and he never falls down and he’s always in the right place, and . . . it’s luck. I hate to say that. But it’s a little bit of luck. You need luck on your side. If you ask every team that’s won, they had it.”

Kelly says the same about the Leafs’ Game 7: “Play that game 100 times, 99 times you lose.” But Game 7s are irrevocable. Whatever happens, happens. No going back. It’s what makes them cruel, and great. Too often we write songs about the victors and we cast the losers out, and it was the result of some tiny burst of unknowable physics. Hockey.

“And you sign up for that,” Kelly said. “You know. But you have a great year and you don’t get the result you’re looking for and ultimately you feel disappointed and somewhat defeated. But when you have time to look back on the season, there are so many positives that can come out from a season, and I think that’s what you try to do if you don’t get the result you’re looking for.”

“I think you can live with just bad luck. I think the worst thing you can have is regret. Not feeling like you pushed hard enough, or you left a little bit out there. I think that’s something that — when you’re finished and done and you look back on your career, you know, ‘I was so close, I really wish I could have given a little bit extra,’ and you have that regret — I think that stays with you. Whereas bad luck, you can live with.”

It sounds easy, right? Sports is supposed to be a meritocracy, but in hockey eventually players surrender one part of that idea. The distinction becomes something different: process, as much as results. You earn your bounces, or at least you tell yourself that. Before Game 6, Kelly spoke to the Senators, who were facing elimination, and urged a simple thing: Be here, now.

“It’s funny — I had this conversation with one of the reporters earlier in the year, but everyone thinks that we have these movie speeches, where somebody gets up,” Kelly said. “That never happens. I watch the movies and go, that’s a good speech. I think it was important just to let the guys know, stay in the moment. It’s so easy to look ahead to the future or look to the past, but . . . the future doesn’t happen unless you stay in the moment. And I just tried to explain that to them, and that’s it.

On the morning on Game 7, Chris Kelly was hanging on at the end of a fine career, waiting for one more chance, possessed of an earned hockey wisdom. You give everything you have to earn the right to get lucky. Or not.


More rain expected as high waters consume Toronto islands, beaches

Thu, 25 May 2017 08:59:00 EDT


Looking out from the window of his home, Michael Page, a 35-year-resident of Ward’s Island, sees duck-filled ponds where there was formerly dry land.

The already swamped Toronto Islands got even worse Thursday as a record-breaking amount of rain fell on the city, causing Environment Canada to issue a heavy rain alert that lasted from morning to mid-afternoon.

“We’re sinking,” Page said. “It’s raining like crazy and there’s so sign of it really letting up.”

The crawlspace beneath his home has about 36 centimetres of water in it, said Page, adding he’s lucky there’s nothing of value in it. Many of his neighbours in a similar situation have heating units and heat pumps in their crawlspace, which are now badly damaged, he said.

Worse still, Page added, is the mould that will likely flourish because of the flooding.

“This whole mould issue is a really big health issue and everyone in our house has allergies,” he said.

Environment Canada said the Toronto Island station received close to 55 millimetres of rain between Wednesday and Thursday evening. On Thursday alone, the agency’s Pearson station received close to 40 millimetres of rain, breaking the previous record set in 1953 of 34.3 millimetres.

City spokesperson Wynna Brown said the latest rainfall has caused more flooding on Toronto Island Park, which is being monitored closely.

“There have been impacts on residences which vary depending on specific site conditions,” said Brown, adding the city has been working to mitigate the effects by using large industrial pumps to remove surface pooling and employing 25,000 sandbags.

The situation on the mainland wasn’t quite as dire Thursday, but flooding caused the closure of some roads including a portion of the Bayview Extension and an area near Kew Gardens.

Meanwhile, at the already waterlogged Woodbine Beach, water levels pushed even higher. The “pond” that had formed on the beach in recent weeks was gone, with any remaining portions of dry land consumed by the lake, and an off-leash dog park near Kew Gardens that borders the lake was completely submerged. On portions of the boardwalk, water swelled between the wooden planks with every step; on others, waves crashed into the side and sent spray more than a metre into the air, soaking unlucky walkers and joggers. The Leuty Lifeguard Station, a heritage building, sat in a massive puddle.

“I’ve have never seen anything like this,” Beach resident Lynn Wilsher said Thursday evening as she looked out at the roiling water. “I’ve just walked around in a daze. It’s crazy for the lake to come up on the beach. It’s consuming the beach.”

Another Beach resident, Henry Ing, said he’s lived in the neighbourhood for 35 years and has never seen the lake this high.

“We’ve always had break walls and they’ve always worked,” he said, adding he was worried about whether the boardwalk would survive such a major soaking.

“I love rain, rain is good for the earth, but I don’t know if the city’s infrastructure is ready,” he said. “It’s kind of spectacular.”

Ing’s friend, Steve Rickard, also lives in the neighbourhood and said he wished there was more communication from the city about what it was doing – if anything – to protect area homes, and what the city plans to do if the water continues to move inland.

“When do they start putting down sandbags? When do they start making preparations?” Rickard asked.

“They should let us know what they would do (if it gets worse). We should know.”

Rickard added groundwater started seeping into his basement last week while a neighbour’s basement completely flooded.

According to Toronto Water spokesperson Ellen Leesti, the city has seen an increase in basement flooding reports this year compared to last, with 2,278 reports from March 1 to May 25 compared to 1,660 in the same timeframe in 2016. As of Thursday evening, Toronto Water had received 61 calls about basement flooding, spokesperson Ellen Leesti said in a email, noting that number was “within the norm on a day experiencing this amount of rain.”

Although the heaviest of the rain is gone, Toronto’s not quite in the clear yet, Environment Canada meteorologist Ria Alsen said.

“The heaviest rains moved off and we’re left with a little drizzle Thursday night,” Alsen said.

With the exception of Saturday, the coming days are expected to bring more rain, Alsen said, adding the upcoming weather will be “seasonal, just a bit unsettled.”

With files from Alexandra Jones


Union Pearson Express ridership up, but still heavily subsidized

Thu, 25 May 2017 19:44:26 EDT


Ridership on the Union Pearson Express (UPX) increased during its first full year in operation with lower fares, but the provincial transit agency has declined to provide estimates for how much the controversial airport train service is costing the public.

According to figures provided by Metrolinx, the provincial agency that operates the line, 2.76 million people took the UPX during the fiscal year April 2016 to March 2017. Three-quarters of passengers were travelling to or from the airport, while the remaining riders used it for other reasons.

The ridership figures are a significant improvement compared to the air rail link’s first 10 months, when only about 747,000 people used the train.

Ridership spiked after Metrolinx decided under public pressure to slash ticket prices in March 2016. Before that, the $456-million line between Union Station and Pearson International Airport frequently ran mostly empty cars.

Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said the agency is “very pleased” with the new numbers. “The ridership level has grown much faster than we had even hoped for,” she said.

“We will continue to promote this service, which was delivered on time and on budget, because we want to see ridership continue to grow, and because we know that once folks use it, they’ll love it,” said Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca in a statement.

However, Aikins said she could not yet disclose how much the government is subsidizing each ride on the UPX.

“Those figures are just receiving their final audit, and they will be ready in the next few weeks, and we will be releasing all of that at that time,” Aikins said. The agency declined to provide estimates for the subsidy.

Metrolinx didn’t explicitly state the subsidy per ride in its financial reports for the first year of its operations either. But using ridership and revenue data made public in the agency’s annual report last June, the Star and other media outlets calculated that, for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, it was roughly $52.25 per trip, an enormous sum compared to Toronto public transit agencies.

A Star analysis of 2016-2017 data provided by Metrolinx suggests that the UPX per ride subsidy in the most recent fiscal year was much lower than that, but was still high, and could approach $20 per ride.

By comparison, the TTC subsidizes its passengers at a rate of about $1 per trip, while GO Transit’s subsidy is less than $1.50per passenger.

Metrolinx didn’t confirm the Star’s estimate, but Aikins said the agency is working to lower the UPX subsidy level.

“How low we can get it, that I’m not 100 per cent sure about yet. We’re still doing studies,” she said.

Before the UPX launched, the provincial Liberals pledged it would break even within five years, a promise that Aikins said is not possible under the new fare structure.

Michael Harris, transportation critic for the Ontario PC party, said he supports the UPX concept, but the subsidy remains too costly.

“Transit dollars are precious. We need to stretch them as far as we can, and we’re not, with this particular investment,” said Harris, who is MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga.

“Yet again, we’re seeing this government mismanage, I think, this particular project.”

Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s), who before the UPX opened in June 2015, pressed Metrolinx to lower its fares, said it was obvious from that the start that the service would never recoup its costs.

Initially, a ride between Union and Pearson cost $27.90, or $19 with a Presto card.

Tickets are now $9 with a Presto card, or $12 without.

“It was just so clumsily set up, so foolishly rolled out, and it didn’t have to take an economist, nor a planner, to tell them that it would have been a disaster,” he said.

Matlow argues that it would have been wiser to extend the planned Eglinton Crosstown LRT to the airport and charge riders a TTC fare rather than build the UPX.

But he says now that it’s up and running, it’s better to subsidize it than have empty trains.

“If we’ve got it, let’s use it.

“That being said. though, it should never have been done this way in the first place.”


Trump administration plans to take travel ban fight to U.S. Supreme Court

Thu, 25 May 2017 14:28:20 EDT


WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination,” a federal appeals court said Thursday in ruling against the ban that targets six Muslim-majority countries.

Trump’s administration vowed to take the fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a 10-3 vote, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban likely violates the Constitution. And it upheld a lower-court ruling that blocks the Republican administration from cutting off visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump

The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th Circuit is the first appeals court to rule on the revised travel ban unveiled in March. Trump’s administration had hoped it would avoid the legal problems that the first version from January encountered. A second appeals court, the 9th U.S. Circuit based in San Francisco, is also weighing the revised travel ban after a federal judge in Hawaii blocked it.

The Supreme Court almost certainly would step into the case if asked. The justices almost always have the final say when a lower court strikes down a federal law or presidential action.

Trump could try to persuade the Supreme Court to allow the policy to take effect, even while the justices weigh whether to hear the case, by arguing that the court orders blocking the ban make the country less safe. If the administration does ask the court to step in, the justices’ first vote could signal the court’s ultimate decision.

A central question in the case before the 4th Circuit was whether courts should consider Trump’s public statements about wanting to bar Muslims from entering the country as evidence that the policy was primarily motivated by the religion.

Trump’s administration argued the court should not look beyond the text of the executive order, which doesn’t mention religion. The countries were not chosen because they are predominantly Muslim but because they present terrorism risks, the administration said.

But Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote that the government’s “asserted national security interest ... appears to be a post hoc, secondary justification for an executive action rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the court’s ruling blocks Trump’s “efforts to strengthen this country’s national security.”

Trump is not required to admit people from “countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism until he determines that they can be properly vetted” and don’t pose a security threat, Sessions said.

The three dissenting judges, all appointed by Republican presidents, said the majority was wrong to look beyond the text of the order. Calling the executive order a “modest action,” Judge Paul Niemeyer wrote that Supreme Court precedent required the court to consider the order “on its face.” Looked at that way, the executive order “is entirely without constitutional fault,” he wrote.

Read more:

Obama gets rock-star welcome at Berlin talk, says nations ‘can’t hide behind a wall’

Trump scolds NATO leaders for not paying up, vows crackdown on Manchester leaks

U.S. federal judges ask if Trump’s travel ban is biased against Muslims

Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University, said if the Supreme Court follows a partisan divide, the Trump administration may fare better since five of the nine are Republican nominees. Still, he said, it’s difficult to make a confident prediction because “Supreme Court justices don’t always vote in ideological lockstep.”

The first travel ban issued Jan. 27 was aimed at seven countries and triggered chaos and protests across the country as travellers were stopped from boarding international flights and detained at airports for hours. Trump tweaked the order after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate the ban.

The new version made it clear the 90-day ban covering those six countries doesn’t apply to those who already have valid visas. It got rid of language that would give priority to religious minorities and removed Iraq from the list of banned countries.

Critics said the changes don’t erase the legal problems with the ban.

The case ruled on by the 4th Circuit was originally brought in Maryland by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center on behalf of organizations as well as people who live in the U.S. and fear the executive order will prevent them from being reunited with family members from the banned countries.

“President Trump’s Muslim ban violates the Constitution, as this decision strongly reaffirms,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the case. “The Constitution’s prohibition on actions disfavouring or condemning any religion is a fundamental protection for all of us, and we can all be glad that the court today rejected the government’s request to set that principle aside.”


Alleged Manchester bomber phoned mom before attack, said ‚??forgive me‚??

Thu, 25 May 2017 08:09:24 EDT


MANCHESTER—Libyan anti-terror official says the alleged Manchester bomber phoned his mother hours before the concert attack and said “forgive me.” British officials have said the attack was by British-born Salman Abedi, 22, whose family is from Libya.

Abedi’s father and younger brother were arrested in Tripoli on Wednesday. The Monday night bombing in Manchester killed 22 people. Abedi died in the attack.

Home searches across Manchester uncovered important items for the investigation into the concert bombing that left 22 people dead, Manchester’s police chief announced Thursday. A British official said Manchester police have decided not to share further information on the probe with the United States due to leaks blamed on U.S. officials.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said the eight suspects detained so far were “significant” arrests and said the searches will take several more days to complete. Police have swooped in on multiple addresses in the northwestern city since Tuesday and those arrested include Abedi’s brother Ismail.

Hopkins did not elaborate on the material that has been found so far.

A British official told The Associated Press on Thursday that police in Manchester have decided to stop sharing information about their bombing investigation with the U.S. until they get a guarantee that there will be no more leaks to the media. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

The White House had no immediate comment on the Manchester decision. Trump, in Brussels, ignored two questions from journalists on whether Britain can trust the U.S. with sensitive information. Trump himself has been accused of leaking confidential security information to the Russians.

Read more:

Manchester United’s Europa League win serves as tribute to victims of arena bombing

U.K. ‘right to be furious’ with U.S. over leaks about Manchester bombing

Found at the scene at the Manchester concert bombing: A detonator, shrapnel and a battery

The New York Times on Thursday defended its publication of photographs of evidence collected at the Manchester bombing crime scene.

“The images and information presented were neither graphic nor disrespectful of victims, and consistent with the common line of reporting on weapons used in horrific crimes,” the paper said. “We have strict guidelines on how and in what ways we cover sensitive stories. Our coverage of Monday’s horrific attack has been both comprehensive and responsible.”

Earlier, the Greater Manchester Police condemned the investigation leaks on behalf of the National Counter-Terrorism Policing units in a statement that suggested a severe rupture in trust between Britain and the United States.

“When the trust is breached it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their family,” the statement said. “This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorized disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter terrorism investigation.”

May insisted Thursday that progress is being made in the Manchester bombing investigation but added the national threat level remains critical — meaning another attack may be imminent.

“The public should remain vigilant,” May said, speaking after a meeting of the government’s crisis committee.

As hundreds of British soldiers protected some of the world’s most visited tourist sites in London and elsewhere, police are pressing to uncover the network that is thought to have helped Abedi in the deadly attack Monday night at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

At 11 a.m. Thursday, many across Britain fell silent and bowed their heads for a minute in tribute to the victims of Monday night’s bombing. Crowds gathered at well-known sites including London’s Parliament and Trafalgar Squares and Manchester’s Albert Square.

In one of the more touching moments, a crowd in Manchester then joined a woman singing the Oasis song “Don’t Look Back in Anger.”

Queen Elizabeth II, meanwhile, visited Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital to talk to some of the bombing victims, their families and the medical staff treating them.

“It’s dreadful. Very wicked, to target that sort of thing,” the 91-year-old monarch told 14-year-old Evie Mills and her parents.

She also chatted and shook hands with hospital staff, and told the father of another injured teenager at the hospital: “It’s not something you expect at all.”

In addition to those killed, 116 people have received medical treatment at Manchester hospitals for wounds from the blast. The National Health Service says 75 people have been admitted to eight hospitals, “including 23 patients currently receiving critical care.”

The Manchester United and Manchester City Football Clubs announced they have jointly pledged 1 million pounds ($1.29 million) to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund.

In Berlin, former U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent a message of solidarity to the Manchester bombing victims.

“(This is) a reminder that there is great danger and terrorism and people who would do great harm to others just because they’re different,” Obama said.

Mohammed Fadl, a spokesman for Libyan expatriates in Manchester, said Salman’s family was well known in the community, especially his elder brother Ismail, but said Salman “was not socially involved in the community.”

“Very few people in the community here were close to him and therefore Salman’s fanaticism wasn’t something the community was aware of,” he told the AP.

He said he heard that Salman’s father took his son’s passport away amid concerns about Salman’s close ties to extremists and criminals, but had no proof of that.

Manchester’s Libyan community held a meeting Wednesday night on combating radicalism, he said.

“Parents expressed fears of this danger, and agreed to take measures to help youths get more integrated in the community while making sure that future visits to Libya take place as families, and not as individuals,” Fadl said.

On the investigation front, Greater Manchester Police say two men were arrested overnight in Manchester and in the Withington area south of the city. Officers also raided a property in the city’s Moss Side neighbourhood early Thursday.

A German magazine, meanwhile, reported that British police informed their German counterparts that Abedi had received paramilitary training in Syria. It also said he passed through Duesseldorf airport four days before the concert attack.

Citing unnamed federal security sources, Focus reported that Salman Abedi twice flew from a German airport in recent years and wasn’t on any international watch list.

A German security official told the AP on Thursday the report was accurate, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information hadn’t been cleared for public release.

The bomber’s father, Ramadan Abedi insisted Wednesday in an interview with the AP that Salman had no links to militants, saying “we don’t believe in killing innocents.”

He and another of his sons, Hashim, were taken into custody Wednesday in the Libyan city of Tripoli.

Grande cancelled concerts that were to take place Thursday and Friday in London, and in several other sites in Europe.


City of Toronto to study safety measures for bike trail in wake of child‚??s death

Thu, 25 May 2017 12:45:28 EDT


The city of Toronto will look into safety measures for the Martin Goodman trail following the tragic death of 5-year-old boy who fell into traffic from a bike trail next to Lake Shore Blvd. W., Wednesday night.

“Earlier today I spoke with senior staff in the parks and transportation departments, who oversee the Martin Goodman trail, and they’ve agreed to urgently look into what safety measures we can put in along that most narrow portion of the trail,” said Councillor Gord Perks, the representative for the Parkdale-High Park area.

“At this point I’ve asked them to cast the net wide (for possible solutions) and give me their best advice for what we can do so that no other little children lose their lives,” he said.

One cycling advocate said a simple guard rail could have saved him.

“This was a devastating incident,” said Jared Kolb of Cycle Toronto, a not-for-profit advocacy group that educates Torontonians on a safer cycling culture.

“I don’t put blame on the driver, the parent, or whoever was with the child,” Kolb said. “The blame goes on the city’s infrastructure.”

Read more:

My daily commute by bike turned me into a witness of a truly tragic event

Boy, 5, dies after being hit by a vehicle in Parkdale

Police received the call around 6:20 p.m. Wednesday after a young boy riding west on the Martin Goodman bike trail, on the south side of Lake Shore Blvd. W, fell on the roadway and was hit by a car.

Paramedics rushed the boy to the Hospital for Sick Children, where he died of his injuries.

Toronto police Const. Clint Stibbe said the 29-year-old driver of a 2013 Toyota Camry remained on the scene and the investigation is ongoing.

“Alcohol is not a factor of the collision, but the speed the driver was travelling at is being investigated,” said Stibbe.

With a speed limit of 60 kilometres per hour, Lakeshore Blvd. W is a critical artery in the city that runs along a majority of the waterfront.

According to Stibbe, there is no barrier between the path and the highway, but the path in that area is “not closer (to the roadway) than any other bike paths” in the city.

According to Kolb, the lack of a barrier is the problem.

“The city’s adopted a Vision Zero plan that has not done its job and not prevented life-changing incidents,” said Kolb. “We need a systematic overturn of how we design bike trails next to highways.

Vision Zero is an international movement aimed at completely eliminating traffic deaths. So far in 2017 there have been 13 pedestrian or cyclist fatalities in Toronto. In 2016 there were 45 pedestrian fatalities.

“I’ve ridden on that trail. It’s for anyone riding, walking, rollerblading, skateboarding, all adjacent to a highway. This incident was just a matter of time.”

However, according to one safety advocate, the city needs to be less reactive, and more proactive.

“Here in Toronto, we react to deaths,” said Kasia Bribgmann-Samson, the co-founder of Friends & Families for Safe Streets. Bribgmann-Samson’s husband was killed in a hit-and-run while he was cycling in 2012.

“After a death happens, we react. We maybe go in and change the infrastructure, put in a safety camera or something like that. We need to look at it every time we make changes on a street, or that there is new roadwork being done — we need to put safety into the design. I remember when something like this happened in my family, the only thing that I see that would have prevented it from happening is better infrastructure and safer design,” she said.

According to Kolb, the city should also consider putting up jersey barriers for a quick fix and, in the longer term, they should launch a study that looks at various high speed motorways that can benefit from barriers.

“All these incidents are preventable. The little boy did not have to die. A barrier could have prevented the accident from happening,” said Bribgmann-Samson.

With files from David Rider, Alanna Rizza and David Hains, Metro


Trump meets his match in handshake showdown with Macron

Thu, 25 May 2017 11:30:37 EDT


BRUSSELS—U.S. President Donald Trump met his match in a handshake showdown with France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron.

At their first meeting, ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, the two men locked hands for so long that knuckles started turning white.

Trump finally seemed ready to pull away — but Macron evidently wasn’t. The French leader held the shake for a few seconds more. Both men’s jaws seemed to clench.

Trump has described himself as “a germ freak” and called handshakes “barbaric.” In his 1997 book The Art of the Comeback, Trump wrote he’d “often thought of taking out a series of newspaper ads encouraging the abolishment of the handshake.”

Trump’s aversion to hand-shaking seemed to lessen over the course of the U.S. presidential campaign. He’s now deep into an inaugural world tour that has forced him to exchange hand greetings with leaders from Israel to the Vatican.

Macron won France’s election this month by positioning himself as the anti-Trump, embracing globalization and open borders and quoting philosophers.

But as a 39-year-old who has never held elected office, Macron clearly was excited about the appearance with the U.S. president, which cemented his status as a new global player — and as a formidable hand-shaker.

Read more:

Why Melania Trump doesn’t always cover up for official trips

Trump meets European leaders as U.K. cuts off intel sharing over leaks

French President Emmanuel Macron mixes old and new, left and right in Cabinet


Deadly botulism outbreak in California may be limited to one nacho cheese bag

Thu, 25 May 2017 21:32:34 EDT


SAN FRANCISCO—A deadly botulism outbreak linked to nacho cheese sauce confiscated from a California gas station appears to be limited to an opened bag of the sauce, state health officials said Thursday.

The state Department of Public Health said tests on the opened bag sold last month in Walnut Grove, a suburb of Sacramento, have already confirmed the presence of the botulism toxin. In addition, investigators found no traces of the toxin when they tested another unopened bag seized from Valley Oak Food and Fuel station, the department said Thursday.

The outbreak left one man dead and sent nine people the hospital.

Read more:Man dies after apparent botulism outbreak from gas station nacho cheese

A 33-year-old woman has sued the gas station and the maker of the sauce, alleging negligence in the manufacturing, distribution and sale of the product.

According to the suit filed Tuesday in Sacramento County Superior Court, Lavinia Kelly ate tortilla chips with nacho cheese sauce bought from the station on April 21 and began to feel ill the next day. She was later admitted to a Sacramento hospital where she remains in intensive care. Her sister said she hasn’t been able to move much, speak or breathe on her own and is facing a long recovery.

“She called me and told she was having double vision ... by the time she was admitted to the ER, she couldn’t breathe and was struggling for air. She passed out a few times. It was scary for her,” Theresa Kelly said.

“She was hungry and she stopped for a snack to hold her off until she got home, she never expected a hold-off to potentially kill her,” the sister said.

An attorney for Wisconsin-based Gehl Foods said she hasn’t seen the lawsuit and couldn’t comment on the allegations. A call to the gas station went unanswered.

Gehl has said it’s working with federal, state and local health officials to determine what caused the contamination. The company says it retested samples from the lot of cheese linked to the outbreak and that it’s clear of contamination.

Botulism, a comparatively rare kind of food poisoning, can lead to paralysis, breathing difficulty and sometimes death. Survivors often are forced to spend weeks or months on ventilators to help them breathe.

The family of the man who died in the outbreak, Martin Galindo-Larios Jr., 37, said on an online fundraising page that he suffered “respiratory complications causing him to breathe through a ventilator and has become non responsive whatsoever to the point of being in a coma state.”

Kelly’s attorney, Bill Marler, said he knows of two other people who fell ill after eating the nacho-cheese sauce but their cases have not been confirmed.

The health department said symptoms usually appear within a few days after ingestion. Since the sauce was removed from the gas station on May 5, it is unlikely there will be any new cases associated with the weeks-old outbreak, the department said.


Wynne defends 25% hydro rate cut: ‚??All of those costs were on the shoulders of people today‚??

Thu, 25 May 2017 14:47:29 EDT


Premier Kathleen Wynne is making no apologies for the Liberals’ 25 per cent hydro rate cuts that a legislative watchdog warns will cost at least $21 billion over three decades.

In the wake of Financial Accountability Officer Stephen LeClair’s report on the “Fair Hydro Plan,” Wynne emphasized that Ontario electricity consumers demanded and deserved relief.

“You all read the newspaper, you listen to the radio and you watch television — you know the problems that families are having around the province paying for their electricity costs,” the premier told reporters Thursday in Timmins.

That’s why the government moved forward with a rate cut that will see the average household’s monthly hydro bill drop from $156 to $123 once it fully takes effect next month.

In a 15-page report released Wednesday, the financial accountability officer estimated the initiative would cost the province $45 billion over the next 29 years while saving ratepayers $24 billion for a next expense of $21 billion.

Both the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats oppose the Liberal rate cut.

But Wynne said the government has in effect renegotiated a mortgage so it will bankroll hydro infrastructure improvements over a longer time period in order to give customers a break now.

“We’re talking about a 30-year window here. It took at least 30 years, probably 40 years, to let the electricity system degrade to the stage that it had in 2003,” she said, noting “we were having blackouts and brownouts around the province” before her party took office that year.

“There were thousands of kilometres of line that needed to be rebuilt . . . that work hadn’t been done over those generations, so electricity costs were low over that period of time but the work wasn’t being done.”

When her predecessor Dalton McGuinty came to power in 2003, Wynne said Queen’s Park began spending billions on infrastructure improvements, including expensive subsidies for green energy, such as wind turbines and solar panels.

“There’s a lot of work that has been done since then. Literally thousands of kilometres of line have been rebuilt. The coal-fired plants have been shut down. The air is cleaner. There’s less pollution in the air. The system is reliable and renewable,” she said.

“So there’s a cost associated with that and what was happening was that was work that had to be done — and all of those costs were on the shoulders of people today.”

Wynne noted “this electricity grid is an asset that is going to be used for generations to come.”

“My grandchildren are going to benefit from this asset, so I think it’s fair that we spread the cost of that over that 30-year period,” she said.

“That’s how we made this decision.”


My daily commute by bike turned me into a witness of a truly tragic event

Thu, 25 May 2017 17:52:09 EDT


I’ve been biking to work year round from south Etobicoke to One Yonge St. for about eight years now, and when I strap on my helmet and head out, I don’t know what I am going to see that day.

I have seen so much beauty on these rides. Gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. A glowing orange moon rising behind the CN Tower.

I’ve seen stunning birds, lone coyotes on the hunt, mink swimming along the shore, ducklings learning to swim. I’ve enjoyed the laughter of children playing in parks and large families enjoying a picnic.

I’ve watched young adults racing dragon boats and a lone rower sneaking up the Humber River. I’ve been caught in spectacular lightning storms while I took refuge in a gazebo as sheets of vertical rain blew across the harbour.

I have also seen horrific scenes that have shaken me deeply.

Read more:

Boy, 5, dies after being hit by a vehicle in Parkdale

City of Toronto to study safety measures for bike trail in wake of child’s death

Last summer, a male cyclist was speeding past me, weaving in and out of traffic by the Tip Top Tailor Lofts, going far too fast for the conditions, when he hit a post and cracked his femur in two. I was right behind him and saw — and heard — the devastating accident.

As the man cried out in agony, I was able to stop and call 911. The dispatcher insisted I stay with the man and three of us made sure he stayed conscious until paramedics arrived. We tried to comfort and encourage him as he went into shock. It was disturbing, to say the least.

I’ve come across accident scenes after the paramedics had left but police were still on scene. One involved a cyclist who apparently lost control after hitting the streetcar tracks at the wrong angle on Lake Shore Blvd. in New Toronto and fell into traffic. She was hit by a minivan and died. Her bike was still on the road, the lights flashing.

On another early morning, the road was closed to traffic on Lake Shore in Mimico, but I biked on the sidewalk and past the scene of a single-car accident. The driver failed to negotiate the turn, and hit a light post. The driver was fine, but the passenger’s arm was torn off. Another driver lost his life in a single-car accident after hitting a light pole in front of the Boulevard Club.

I’ve been nearly run over by cars on two occasions while riding on the path through an intersection. I had the right of way. Last summer, another cyclist rammed into me from behind, causing us both to crash onto the pavement.

But, on Wednesday, biking home, I witnessed the worst possible accident.

A 5-year-old boy riding his bike lost control somehow and fell into traffic on Lake Shore Blvd W. He was hit by a car. When I arrived the boy was still on the road, motionless, and people were pulling out their phones to call 911.

A man picked the boy off the road and put him on the sidewalk. I believe it was the man cycling with the boy. Others rushed to his side. The rest is a blur. The driver who hit the boy had gotten out of his car and was standing beside me on the bike path. He was beyond devastated. People tried to help the boy until the paramedics arrived. I don’t recall who started the chest compressions.

Others, including myself, tried to comfort the 29-year-old driver. A man on the path told me he saw the accident and there was nothing the driver could have done. The boy died later in hospital.

I’ve been trying to process what happened.

That stretch of the Martin Goodman Trail runs right beside a high volume road. There is no boulevard or barrier. And it’s downhill. Cyclists frequently ride too fast. Other cyclists agree with me that site has been an accident waiting to happen. On windy days, with powerful gusts coming off the lake, I’ve worried about being blown into traffic myself. I believe a guardrail could have saved that boy’s life . . . and, I’ll bet, a future life.

I also feel there are unnecessary dangers every day, for all commuters, on the path. I do see that pedestrians, cyclists, joggers, drivers, and rollerbladers are far too often reckless. Too many people are in a hurry. People aren’t looking. People are angry and quick to lash out at each other.

People need to slow down. The injuries and deaths I’ve described were all preventable. When I pass one of the accident sites, I often think about what happened there. The daily commute shouldn’t feel like running a gauntlet of life and death.

Scott Colby is the Star’s Opinion Page editor.