Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Strength In Numbers

Here's a video of today's action by the aforementioned protest warriors in NYC.

It's one thing to read Orwell, but it's always another entirely to see real life people chanting "fascist!" at people who were just attacked by their side for standing against their mob and its ideology!

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Delivery, talk

So we were talking about these people earlier. I hadn't visited their site for a year or so but there's lots of great stuff on here.


This American group, an answer to ANSWER, organized online, infiltrates ANSWER marches across the country with sarcastic/ironic signs that reframe ANSWER slogans, videotapes the funnyscary results, edits into movies, and posts them.

"Act Now to Stop War and End Racism" indeed. The very name is beyond parody, so this is a second-best.

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Hail to Heritage Designations! Just when you thought Council was running out of things to waste our money on

Heritage designation moves ahead
Posted by Don Menard to AltLondon Weblog on Thursday August 26 2004 @ 11:34PM EDT

Dear Neighbour,

As you are probably aware London City Council in September 2003, authorized a study to assess the appropriateness of creating London's third heritage conservation district in the Old East Village area. Since that time, the consulting team - Stantec Consulting , in association with Nexus Architects, TourisTICS and Mike Baker- has been selected to carry out Phase 1 of the study.

The primary purposes of phase 1 were to determine whether thes study area was suitable for a heritage conservation district with respect to its history and architecture, what the condition of the building stock was, what relevant planning, zoning, traffic and landscaping issues were present and whether the proposed boundaries for the area were satisfactory.

The consulting team conducted a second public meeting at Lorne Avenue Public School in May and shared their early observations with those in attendance. At that meeting a questionnaire was made available and further community responses were sought.

Since then the consultants have presented an interim report to the members of the Old East Heritage Conservation District Steering Committee and to the members of the London Advisory Committee on Heritage. Further information was provided at smaller community meetings.

In their preliminary findigs the consultants have suggested that the original boundaries for the district be expanded somewhat to extend the boundaries to include the residential blocks approaching Dundas St., Adelaide St. and Central Ave. However, they are not recommending that these more commercial streets be included in the proposed district. The west side of Quebec Street would remain the eastern boundary. Further, the consultants have suggested that there are good arguments to be made to recommend to Coucil a return of Queen's Avenue to two-way traffic.

Other recommendations are also made in the preliminary report.

Before the completion of the report, the consultants, in conjunction with the City of London, have scheduled a second public meeting for Wenesday, September 8, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Lorne Avenue Public School. Residents are strongly urged to attend this meeting to hear in more detail what the consultants have determined to this point and to provide input into their final report.

This will be an opportunity to ask questions of the consultants and the city representatives, to identify concernns and to suggest options for consideration. The consulting team will incorporate information from this public meeting into their final report which will be presented to the Planning Committee and to City Council in mid-October.

Council will then make a determination as to whether to proceed into phase 2 of the process which will see the development of a District Plan and Guidelines for the area before a heritage conservation district is created by a municipal by-law.

We hope to see you there on September 8. If you need further information before this meeting please contact Don Menard (Heritage Planner) at 661-5102 or Maureen Zunti (Stantec Consulting) at 645-2007.

Posted on the AltLondon Weblog, August 2004

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Gord Hume takes credit. He's a big man.

Core residents win parking meter battle
JOE BELANGER, Free Press City Hall Reporter
2004-08-31 01:37:05

Residents in London's core area won another battle over parking meters last
night. City council's transportation and environment committee backed residents
to block a plan to install meters on several streets, including Hyman and Pall
Mall streets near Richmond Street.
"Parking meters are an unfair nuisance to
residential neighbourhoods when they have guests or expect service vehicles,"
said Allan Drewlo of Hyman Street.
"They're an eyesore and a a slap in the
face to core residents. It just doesn't help with community appeal."
Sutton of Pall Mall was equally upset.
"Meters will take away from the
residential feel of our community and destroy the appearance of our
neighbourhood," Sutton said.
Controller Gord Hume backed the residents,
noting it was his motion during a similar battle in March not to put meters in
"predominantly residential" areas.
"These streets look predominantly
residential to me," Hume said.
Abandoning the plan will cost the city an
estimated $72,000 in annual revenue.
The city says parking meters help to
keep traffic moving in the core, freeing up parking spaces.
But the move is
also aimed at increasing revenue to city coffers and easing the burden on
The city originally wanted to install 342 meters on streets
adjacent to Richmond Row and immediately north and south of Oxford Street.
That would have brought in an estimated $229,000 a year in new revenue.
But residents opposed the plan, forcing the city to cut back the number of
Among those opposed was Shmuel Farhi, owner of 50 downtown
buildings, who said meters undermine the city's efforts to revitalize the

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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'Human rights' cost London taxpayers big in unaccountable (and bewildering to mayor Anne Marie DeCicco) outside legal costs.

What are we paying the in-house lawyers for? (Don't ask our Mayor, Anne Marie DeCicco.) This is a clear case of city council playing free with our money with little recognition that it is our money. Clean up your act, council. If you did what you are supposed to do, which is to provide emergency, road and sewer services, and nothing more, there wouldn't be too many legal problems in the first place.

City hall's legal tab tops $1MThe spending, over 3 1/2 years, is in excess of in-house lawyer pay.
Mary-Jane Egan, Free Press City Hall Reporter
2004-08-31 02:05:36

London taxpayers have paid more than $1 million for outside legal help at city
hall since 2001, even though the city has seven lawyers making $77,000 to
$100,000 a year.
"We're paying over a million bucks since 2001 and that's
still not the final bill," an irate Ward 3 Coun. Bernie MacDonald told The Free
Press yesterday.
"We have staff here that are making a very good wage and we
can't, every time we turn around, run and grab an outside lawyer. I mean,
where's it going to end?"
Three months ago, MacDonald demanded a full
accounting of outside legal fees in the wake of a series of city hall
controversies since the negotiated departure of former acting city manager Jeff
Malpass in 2002.
The breakdown of outside legal fees -- totalling $1.06
million and set to go to council's board of control tomorrow -- doesn't include
the growing costs of outside lawyers retained by at least four city councillors
over a dispute on development limits along part of Richmond Street.
Nor does
the tab take into account the final legal fees of high-profile London lawyer Jim
Caskey, hired as an outside lawyer to represent the city in the zoning dispute.
Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco was hard-pressed last night to account for the
city's rising legal tab. She didn't know whether the dollar figure was
unprecedented or accurate.
"It could be (accurate)," she said, when
confronted with the total, tabulated by city treasurer Mike St. Amant and
obtained by The Free Press.
The tally, which covers about three-and-a-half
years, includes billings as large as $462,092 for one law firm that worked on a
human rights file, and payments as little as $14,338 to another firm for
confidential legal advice.
MacDonald railed at the costs, given city
"When you've got your street full of potholes and you've got a
million dollars going down the sewer for nothing, I mean somewhere, somehow,
somebody's got to take hold of the reins and take control and that's not
happening," he said.
"It's almost like two trains coming down the track wide
open and they're ready to hit and when they hit, I think the roof is going to
blow right off of city hall."
But DeCicco said the city sometimes needs
specialized legal advice.
"The way I look at it is the goal should always be
to reduce the legal fees as much as possible, as we do have internal staff. But
from time to time, specialized issues come up where you need to hire someone who
has the absolute best expertise to provide the best counsel," she said.
DeCicco said the city's legal team is best equipped to deal with hearings
before the Ontario Municipal Board, a quasi-judicial agency.
"But if we're
dealing with a personnel matter, for example, where we could be sued, we want to
have the absolute best experience in that and it sometimes means that you have
to go outside."
City solicitor Jim Barber, paid more than $100,000 a year,
confirmed last night he has a staff of six making between $77,000 and $95,000 a
They are Janice Page, David Mounteer, Geoff Belch, Pat Billington,
Kelly Dawtrey and Lyn Marshall.
Barber confirmed he has occasionally
recommended city council retain outside legal help. He had "no comment" on the
mayor's suggestion in-house lawyers are best suited for Ontario Municipal Board
The breakdown of outside legal fees includes:
* $45,602:
Various fees for employee departures.
* $41,212: To Lerner and Associates,
for employee departures.
* $114,699: To Siskind Comarty, for employee
* $97,850: To consultant KPMG, for policy review.
* $15,000:
To Lerner and Associates, again for employee departures.
* $23,569: To
Filion Wakely of Toronto, for employee departures.
* $17,506: To Aird and
Berlis of Toronto, for the interim control bylaw.
* $59,264: To Siskind
Cromarty, for the interim control bylaw.
* $16,298: To Weir and Foulds of
Toronto, for the interim control bylaw.
* $16,757: To Filion Wakely, for
confidential legal opinion.
* $17,557: To Sanson and Hart of Toronto, for a
human rights probe.
* $109,564: To McKenzie Lake, also for human rights.
* $462,092: To Hicks Morley, on human rights.
* $14,338: To Cohen
Highley, for confidential legal advice.
Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Monday, August 30, 2004

London City Council TAKE NOTE! Just as in Greece, Londoners will have to pay for your hedonism!

Greeks face tax hikes as Olympic debts rise
By Nick Britten in Athens
(Filed: 31/08/2004)

Greece's Prime Minister has called emergency cabinet meetings to prevent the country from being plunged into debt following the Olympics.

Having rushed to complete the venues in times for the opening of the Games, the Greek government faces being left with a dozen or more unused arenas.

Fanni Petralia, the deputy culture minister, said the Games's €7 billion (£4.7 billion) bill - which is expected to rise to €10 billion - was stretching finances to the limit, raising the prospect of huge tax rises to pay to keep the venues running.

After years of construction delays, the government pulled out all the stops to get the venues ready in time. In the rush, it appears that not much was done to secure long-term usage after the Games.

Kostas Karamanlis, the Prime Minister, has set up a state-owned holding company, Hellenic Olympic Properties, to look into ways to make the venues profitable.

While Mr Karamanlis can justifiably argue that he inherited a timebomb when he took office in March, he is already feeling the heat from taxpayers despite Athens benefiting from a new tram system, underground and an improved road network.

As the cost of hosting the Olympics spirals, the government has been forced to ask taxpayers to pay next year's income tax in advance.

The finance minister, Yiorgos Alogoskoufis, has also pushed back to 2007 a proposed 10 per cent cut on corporate tax - a move seen as vital to attract foreign investment.

Christos Chatziemmanouil, HOP president, said: "Greek taxpayers have paid enough. The time for dividends has come."

However, he said that there were no concrete deals on the table. "We have to create demand first," he said.

Talks are understood to be underway with AEK Athens, the football club, to lease the main Olympic stadium, while the new 33,000-seater Karaiskaki stadium in Faliro will be handed to another of the city's teams, Olympiakos.

The non-competition venues will be easier to fill. Several television stations are said to be interested in the International Broadcasting Centre (IBC), the hub for the Games's television and radio transmissions, while other venues will be used as government ministries, a police academy and student accommodation.

The sailing venue is earmarked for a retail and residential complex, but elsewhere there is trouble brewing. The wrestling and judo stadium is located in a downmarket suburb of Athens and suffers from poor public transport access and no subsequent use for it is in sight.

The boxing hall, conversely, is in a congested area with little need for such a facility. The €150 million rowing centre in Schinias lies in a nature reserve and Mr Chatziemmanouil has told potential investors that development of the site will be hindered by environmental regulations.

While the weightlifting centre will probably be kept on as it is one of Greece's most popular sports, there is the tennis centre, volleyball centre and velodrome to consider.

Mr Chatziemmanouil, who has taken a two-year sabbatical from his job as an assistant professor at the London School of Economics, added: "If we confine the venues to their Olympic use, they would bleed financially.

"If we turn them into supermarkets, they would lose their immaterial value."

Even if all the venues manage to find leasers, Mr Chatziemmanouil has given up hope of recovering their huge construction costs. "The realistic target for most venues is a good management to cover maintenance and operation," he said.

To make matters worse, nobody knows yet how high operational costs will be. "We don't know the extent of maintenance and operation costs," he said.

Related estimates vary wildly, ranging from €25 to 100 million euros a year.

He said that real estate agents were excited by the new business prospects, but also feared that an oversupply of office space as well as conference and concert halls could lead the Athens property market to collapse.

The final budget will be more than double the initial estimate, 40 per cent of the overspend going on increased security costs after the September 11 attacks.

Greece may not want to cast an eye to Montreal, which this year will pay off the final instalment of the debt accumulated when it held the Games 28 years ago.

The International Olympic Committee recently brought in regulations demanding that applications carry with them a detailed plan of what happens to venues after the Games.

A source said: "We're not too concerned about Greece. Generally legacies are a 25-year plan and you don't tend to see the first results until about seven years after the Games finish. So while it may look bad at the moment, it's not as bad as it looks."

Representatives of the London 2012 bid have been keeping a close eye on the situation.

Lord Coe, who is spearheading the bid, has said:"The new regulations are a very good discipline. We will not only have a sporting legacy with world class facilities, but they will all be community adapted."

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004.

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Sadly, it takes a study these days....Dr. Wesley Perkins style

Student binge-drinking exaggerated: Study


The binge alcohol consumption depicted in movies such as Animal House and Old School does not accurately reflect student drinking patterns, according to a study released today.

A study into post-secondary student drinking in Canada released by the Student Life Education Company suggests 63 per cent of students drink just twice a month, or less.

But students believe their peers drink much more — at least once a week — the survey shows.

The study was conducted by the Centre for Social Norms and Research, a branch of the company that is financially supported by an operating grant from the Brewers Association of Canada.

"When students misperceive an exaggerated amount of alcohol as typically consumed by their peers or when they perceive their peers are not drinking responsibly they are at greater risk of increasing their own alcohol intake," Dr. Wesley Perkins, the lead researcher of the study, said told a news conference.

"Conversely, by promoting the truth about student drinking, those students who do engage in unsafe or irresponsible drinking will see that their behaviour is outside the norm and will be more constrained by peer influence."

But what about the media representation of student drinking? Are the keg parties, shot drinking contests, and outrageous drunken behaviour in movies and television just a myth?

The finding that students drink just twice a month "does seem slightly on the low side," said Alexandra Dodger of the Ontario Federation of Students.

"But it isn't unreasonable to suggest students aren't drunk all the time. Maybe it's a case where students don't realize they are drinking as much as they are."

Most students, 64 per cent, consumed one to four drinks at parties or bars, the survey found. But 67 per cent believed their counterparts have at least five drinks when they go out.

"You can see a trend, especially with the double cohort and the fact that a lot of students are underage, that students aren't drinking as much as movies might depict," Dodger said.

Student unions at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa recently turned campus bars into cafes, citing the fact that a large percentage of their students can't access the bars because they are underage.

The findings of today's study will be used to produce a marketing campaign to educate students about drinking and to ultimately lead them to make safer and more responsible choices about alcohol consumption.

Similar campaigns have led to reductions in student drinking at a number of colleges and universities in the United States, Perkins said.

More than 5,000 students at 10 universities and colleges in seven provinces were polled for the survey last fall. The Brewers of Canada provided the research centre with a $1 million grant to execute the study.

"Ensuring that people drink responsibly is integral to the future health and image of our business and this project is a meaningful investment against that objective," said Jeff Newton, president and chief executive officer of the Brewers.

The Brewers of Canada represents brewing companies operating in Canada. Its members account for 98 per cent of the jobs and economic activity in Canada's brewing sector.

The Toronto Star © 2004

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Thames Valley School Board and The Library Board get cozy = bad budget decisions

Work late as classes restarting

MARISSA NELSON, Free Press Education Reporter   2004-08-30 01:40:30  

Deliberately set fires and labour unrest will mean children will be alongside work crews in school hallways this September. The Thames Valley District school board is scrambling to clean up three schools damaged by fires believed to have been set by vandals and won't have one major project done in time for the start of school Sept. 7 because of a strike by masons.

"We're trying to bring the schools back to normal as quickly as we can," Thames Valley spokesperson Chris Dennett said yesterday of the three schools.

"Three fires in a row is unusual and has been the cause of some concern."

The first fire was July 26 at Woodstock's D.M. Sutherland school, followed by a fire at Byron Southwood in London on Aug. 18. In both cases, fires were deliberately set outside the buildings but the flames spread and damaged two classrooms.

The latest, late last week at Tweedsmuir school in London, was set inside the school and damaged a kindergarten classroom.

All three fires are being investigated by police.

Dennett said crews are working hard to fix the damage, but the schools will open as scheduled Sept. 7.

The Thames Valley's biggest renovation project this summer will not be done by the start of school either because of labour problems.

Eagle Heights elementary school -- the amalgamation of the Empress and Oxford Park school communities in the former Oxford Park building -- will not have all the finishing touches done in time because of a strike by masons, Dennett said.

The more than $3 million update, which adds space to accommodate the two communities under one roof, will be done in the next six weeks, Dennett said, but children will be in the building at the start of the school year.

"When it is all finished the school community will be very proud of their school and their new facilities," Dennett said.

The $1.3-million renovation of North Meadows school in Strathroy and a $1.3-million addition to East Williams Memorial school in Ailsa Craig were completed on schedule.

Plagued by tight timelines and labour unrest, not all of the London District Catholic school board's summer projects will be done in time, said board chairperson John Ferris.

St. Jude's school in Ingersoll will not accept students back until Sept. 27, but St. Catherine of Siena, the new school in north London, will be ready except for finishing touches on the gymnasium that won't be completed until the second week of school.

"Both St. Catherine of Siena and St. Jude's had aggressive schedules and we missed by a little bit on one of them," said Ferris, referring to the delay at St. Jude's.

"There will be some adjustment (for St. Jude's pupils) but it isn't a major problem."

The St. Jude's project, worth $4 million, had delays because the masonry company that was working on it filed for bankruptcy this summer.

The town also hadn't finished the water and sewer work on the school's street.

St. Catherine of Siena is a $7.4-million new school -- the largest ever built by the board.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2004

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At least 58% of Canadian are idiots

Most Canadians satisfied with school system: poll

CP   2004-08-30 01:41:10  

MONTREAL -- Fifty-eight per cent of Canadians surveyed in a recent poll expressed satisfaction with the education system in their province. The Leger Marketing poll found 36 per cent were dissatisfied. The others didn't know or refused to answer.

Regionally, 67 per cent of Manitoba and Saskatchewan respondents were satisfied with their education system. Other breakdowns along the same lines were: Atlantic provinces and Quebec, 62 per cent; Alberta and Ontario, 55; and British Columbia, 52.

The poll of 1,502 Canadians was conducted Aug. 3-8 and is considered accurate within 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

On another topic, the 478 respondents with children in elementary or high school estimated they would spend an average of $1,119 on clothes and school supplies during the school year.

The figure broke down to $439 on school supplies and $680 on clothes.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2004

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"Nobody's taking responsibility for the quality of the information"

Approval sought for photo screening
The Passport Office wants to compare applicants' photos to those of terror suspects.
CP   2004-08-30 01:41:18  

OTTAWA -- Federal officials plan to screen the photos of Canadian passport applicants against images of suspects on terrorist watch lists. The Passport Office recently tested a computer program that compares a picture of a face with thousands of other mugshot-style photos and zeroes in on possible matches.

The office is seeking approval from the federal privacy commissioner to use the facial-recognition technology in processing passport applications.

The proposal has raised questions about the accuracy and potential intrusiveness of the system among those who study the effect of security measures on privacy and civil liberties.

The pilot project, however, persuaded federal officials the system is "mature, efficient and advanced enough" to be considered for use, says an article published by the Public Safety Department.

The article appears in the current issue of a magazine produced by the department's Integrated Justice Information Secretariat, which is responsible for data-sharing systems.

Jocelyn Francoeur, the Passport Office's adjudicator and ombudsman, directed the pilot project, designed with help from the University of Ottawa's department of mathematics and statistics.

The exercise was aimed at determining whether the computer program could consistently match two different images of the same person.

Officials used 6,000 pairs of digitized photos in the test. They increased the difficulty of the challenge by scattering the images in an electronic database of another 143,000 photos of passport holders.

The system matched photos correctly 75 per cent to 90 per cent of the time, depending on image quality and the overall number of photos in the database -- results Francoeur called "quite positive."

The Passport Office initiative prompts concerns about the watch lists, said Roch Tasse of the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group.

There is no system for managing such security lists, many of which are compiled from various sources, he said.

"Nobody's taking responsibility for the quality of the information. There are no known mechanisms to get your name off the list if you were put there by mistake."

© The London Free Press 2004

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Proposed tax grab License fee for pitbulls the occasion for yet more public meetings?

Bringing bad dogs to heel
A council committee hears tonight what the city can do about aggressive breeds.
DEBORA VAN BRENK, Free Press Reporter   2004-08-30 01:41:25  

If London Coun. Rob Alder has his way, a pit-bull ban -- or at the very least, a higher licence fee for aggressive dog breeds -- will be one step closer after a city committee meeting tonight. Alder said he's been wanting to push for changes to London's bylaw for five years and recent dog-biting incidents in London and area show the time is more than right.

"This bylaw initiative had momentum even before these biting incidents occurred and another biting incident only increases my resolve, not decreases it."

But that's a step too fast, said Coun. Roger Caranci, head of the environment and transportation committee, who said tonight's meeting is to hear options, not to recommend any.

"I've had dozens of calls and e-mails that we're (intent on) banning pit bulls. We are not looking at that right now."

Before any council decision does take place, the committee will hold public participation meetings, he said.

"We should look very seriously at pet ownership, the responsibility of the pet owner" in drafting any new bylaw, Caranci said.

In June, Alder asked staff for a report on whether recent changes to the Municipal Act would allow cities to pass breed-specific sanctions. The old act didn't and so London passed a bylaw allowing officials to require known biters be muzzled.

Alder said pit bulls and some other breeds "have a history" and their bites inflict serious injury.

A more expensive licence would help offset extra enforcement costs and be an incentive to the owner to be responsible, he believes.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Sunday, August 29, 2004

More employment for the Lawyers

US counties sue Microsoft
Paul Elias
AUGUST 30, 2004

SEVERAL California cities and counties have sued Microsoft, accusing the company of illegally charging inflated prices for its products because of monopoly control of the PC operating system market.

The lawsuit, which was filed last Friday in San Francisco Superior Court, is the latest in a string of similar actions brought against Microsoft across the country. The plaintiffs include San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The local governments are asking a judge to make the case a class action on behalf of all California cities and counties. If a judge approves the lawsuit as a class action and Microsoft is found liable, the company could be liable for many millions of dollars, perhaps billions.

"It's anticompetitive, it's predatory, and it denies consumers, and in this case taxpayers, the benefits of innovation that a free marketplace should provide," said San Francisco attorney Dennis Herrera.

Last month, a San Francisco Superior Court judge granted final approval to a $US1.1 billion ($1.57 billion) settlement between Microsoft and California consumers who accused the company of violating state antitrust and unfair competition laws — nearly the same accusation made in the suit filed last week.

Similar class-action lawsuits were filed in at least 16 other states on behalf of consumers. The company has agreed to settle 12 of those cases, including a $US104 million settlement in Arizona, and a $US34 million settlement in Massachusetts.

They're separate from the antitrust case that Microsoft settled in 2002 with the Justice Department and several states.

Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said the company's lawyers hadn't fully reviewed the lawsuit, but she defended the company's prices.

"In fact," she said, "we've built our business on delivering innovative software at low prices, and have been the market leader in reducing prices while increasing the value contained in software."

The Associated Press

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Everyone Denies Responsibility, including Canada Post

Canada Post denies dead man's mailbox full

2004-08-29 02:04:36  

WINNIPEG -- Canada Post says suggestions a letter carrier repeatedly emptied the overflowing mailbox of a man who had been dead for two years without questioning his whereabouts are untrue. The body of Jim Sulkers was found Wednesday in his Winnipeg apartment. Police said the 52-year-old man had been dead for two years.

Canada Post spokesperson Brian Garagan said contrary to reports by neighbours, Sulkers only received about 15 letters during that period.

It's the Crown corporation's policy that when mailboxes are full, letter carriers are to empty them and alert their supervisor. The supervisor would then have contacted the building owner.

But Garagan said that didn't happen because Sulkers didn't receive enough mail.

Nicole Kurtz, Sulkers's niece, said there was a note from Canada Post slipped under Sulkers's door dated about a year ago stating his mailbox was full.

"We're very upset about how this was handled."

Investigators have determined Sulkers, who had muscular sclerosis, died of natural causes.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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A plea from lowly municipal leaders alike - Federal Government! Please make our cities grow and sustain us as we continue to excessively spend and tax

Sarnia mayor decries losing Air Canada flight

Mike Bradley says his city's business community will suffer from the loss of service.

JULIE SACCONE, Free Press Reporter  
2004-08-29 02:04:53  

Air Canada's decision to scrap a Sarnia flight will hurt the city's chances of attracting new business, says Mayor Mike Bradley, who is calling for a federal review of the entire airline system. The flight between Toronto and Sarnia, arriving daily in Sarnia at 9:23 a.m. and departing at 9:45 a.m., will be cancelled beginning Sept. 7, the airline confirmed last week.

Laura Cooke, an Air Canada spokesperson in Toronto, cited difficulties in landing the mid-morning flight in Toronto and a decline in demand as factors in the airline's decision.

An Ontario Superior Court judge approved a plan this month that will see Air Canada emerge from bankruptcy by the end of September with a smaller workforce and fleet, more international routes and plans to spin off some subsidiaries.

The flight cancellation will reduce the airport's revenue and turn people away from the service, Bradley said.

"When we want to attract new business and industry, this is a handicap," he said. "This is not just a Sarnia issue, this is happening at airports across the country."

Nearly seven years ago, the federal government transferred the operation and cost of airports to municipalities -- and municipalities are struggling to keep them afloat, Bradley said.

"I think it's time the federal government did a review of the impact of what's happened with the transfer of the airports and with what's been going on with Air Canada and the entire airline system with smaller communities," Bradley said.

The number of daily flights between Sarnia and Toronto will be cut to three with the cancellation of the flight.

Note that there will still be flights between Sarnia and Toronto

For the airport, which makes money on landing, terminal, parking and passenger fees and fuel sales, the loss of the flight will mean a drop in revenue.

"That will mean a 25-per-cent reduction in revenue for the fuel terminal and landing fees," said Clare Webb, manager of Sarnia's Chris Hadfield Airport.

But Webb also worries about the loss to the city. "The biggest concern is that the business community isn't going to be served into Sarnia because they can't get a flight till 4 p.m.," he said.

Until Sept. 7, daily flights out of Sarnia for Toronto leave at 6 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 4:10 p.m. and 8:10 p.m.

Mike Seabrook, vice-president of London International Airport, said Air Canada isn't cutting any flights serving London.

I guess London city council have friends who work for Air Canada?

"We're hoping to increase services when they come out of bankruptcy protection in the next month," he said.

On average, the airline has about 10 flights a day between Toronto and London, he said.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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It is unfortunate that it takes the tragic drowing of a young boy to remind people of common sense

Drowning has families on high alert

NORMAN DE BONO, Free Press Reporter  
2004-08-29 02:04:52  

PORT STANLEY -- Maria Dudley's nine-year-old daughter ran to her, asking if she could swim off the main beach here yesterday afternoon. "They always ask me now," said Dudley as both her daughters waded knee deep in Lake Erie. "It used to be they would just run in. Not anymore. I've been spooked by this."

A week ago yesterday, Mitchell Temple-Medhurst, 8, drowned off the beach after disappearing underwater while playing with three other boys under the supervision of Madame Vanier Children's Services.

But Mitchell, who could not swim and did not have a flotation device, was watched from the shore by counsellors -- a move that shocked families on the beach yesterday.

"When they go in, the rule is I am in the water with them and they are pretty good swimmers," said Dudley, from St. Catharines. "It's just common sense, you have to be cautious around the water."

Nearby, Shannon Wells from London arrived at the beach with her seven-year-old son and promptly pulled a life-jacket from her beach bag.

"Well, I brought this with me. Definitely, it was on my mind when I got here today," she said.

"He (Mitchell) should have had something on," Wells said. "I just don't get it. If he didn't know how to swim, he shouldn't have been in the water by himself. End of story."

Along with Vanier staff, lifeguards also have come under scrutiny for searching in a wrong area when Mitchell was reported missing and for not staffing all lifeguard chairs. There are three chairs, but all lifeguards were located at one, central chair while Mitchell went missing at the beach's eastern section, where a chair was vacant.

Yesterday afternoon, five lifeguards were on the beach, but they were all at the single, central chair and the two others were vacant.

Central Elgin municipal officials have launched a review of water-safety procedures at the beach. Police and the coroner's office also are investigating.

All visitors to the beach should know there is a strong undertow off the beach and no child should be left unattended, said Helen Haddow of St. Thomas, who was visiting the beach with her three grandchildren.

"You cannot let kids go far without being right beside them. Everyone knows you have to supervise children in the water," she said. "People let their guard down here, but a lot of people have drowned off Port Stanley."

"I always go in with him," Wells said of her son. "What happened was so sad, but I hope people see what can happen. The water is not safe."

Along with the strong undertow, the main beach is also known as an area where the sand can shift quickly beneath the waves, added Don, who declined to give his last name.

"You can walk in this water one day and it will be flat and the next day there will be a hole. This has always been a dangerous beach."

After a board meeting Friday, Madame Vanier's chairperson read a prepared statement saying it is investigating the drowning and believes staff followed established policies. Board members declined comment on whether the supervising staffers could swim and were in street clothes at the beach.

The London Free Press © 2004

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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Controversial toys recalled

Twin towers toys recalled
Toys depicting the 9/11 tragedy were found in candy bags.
2004-08-28 02:21:18

MIAMI -- Small toys showing an airplane flying into the World Trade Center were packed inside more than 14,000 bags of candy sent to small grocery stores around the United States before being recalled. Lisy Corp., the wholesaler that distributed the candy bags, said yesterday the toys were purchased in bulk from a Miami-based import company.
The toys depicting the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the twin towers came in an assortment purchased sight unseen from L&M Import in Miami that included whistles and other small toys, said Luis Pedron, Lisy's national sales manager. The invoice listed the toy as a plastic swing set.
"I hate to blame the importer," Pedron said. "He probably did not know what he was getting. He brings them in 12-metre (40-foot ) containers. But whoever made it knew exactly what they were making."
Pedron said Lisy did not notice the small plastic figurines until two people complained, but there is no mistaking what the toys represent: At the bottom of each is the product number 9011.
"When we found out what happened, we recalled them immediately," said Pedron, who said the toys do not reflect the company's view. "I was offended by them."
The company's 100 distributors sent out the candy bags. Most are sold to small Hispanic and Mexican groceries, Pedron said. He estimated about 90 per cent of the bags had been retrieved.
Anna Rodriguez, who bought a bag of the candy for her grandson, said she was stunned when she saw the toy.
"It makes me angry," she told a television station. "I was offended because I couldn't believe that someone would give something like that to a kid."
Pedron said he's returning the toys to the distributor.
Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Public barred from public institution

'People place' library behind bars
BRIAN WHITWHAM, Free Press Reporter
2004-08-28 02:21:29

Touted as a people place when it first opened, London's showpiece downtown library has taken a page from the pawnshop security manual. Steel security bars have gone up on the library's large outdoor window ledges along Dundas Street, sealing off the inviting ledges many library-goers and panhandlers used to sit on and relax.
"We're trying to ensure that the Dundas Street facade is appealing to the public. But we want to also ensure that it's a safe, inviting environment," library spokesperson Bill Irwin said of the new measure.
Merchants asked for the bars because the sitting areas were attracting the wrong kind of people, said Coun. Cheryl Miller.
"I love them," Peter Dennett, owner of The Ugly Mug Cafe across the street, said of the galvanized steel bars.
"The type of people sitting there were spitting, smoking and swearing."
He even spotted a couple having sex on one ledge, he said.
That did nothing to sell downtown to Londoners already worried about safety, he added.
"People are afraid of the street."
But the bars haven't impressed everyone.
The library is the last place that should have barred windows, said Jason Dickson at Attic Books across the street.
"That fence is put there to deter people," the store employee said.
"In that regard, it seems hypocritical. (The library is) a public institution.
"I think the pigeons littered downtown more than those people did."
When the library was built, the facade along Dundas Street was touted as a highlight.
"This is going to be a total, absolute renaissance of Dundas Street," said Controller Gord Hume, then the library board's chairperson.
Hume could not be reached for comment yesterday.
But the library didn't do much for Dundas Street, anyway, Dennett said.
"Business will come when people come. We need housing," he said.
The library installed the bars this month.
A dark oval also was painted on the pavement in front of the doors to designate a no-loitering, no-smoking area.
The bars also were added because littering was becoming a problem, said library chief executive Darrel Skidmore.
"We were having to power wash it with a high degree of regularity. It was difficult to keep clean," he said.
If nothing else, the ledges provided some entertainment, said Vanessa Brown, another Attic Books employee.
"People would congregate over there and it was like watching a circus," she said.
Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Friday, August 27, 2004

Gord Hume - board of control member of London City Council - has not updated his website since the municipal election, which took place last fall, 2003.
Gord Hume

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Public Safety is Paramount - Even if that overrides the rights and privacy of law abiding citizens

When the SWAT team makes a house call

Ian Gillespie, Free Press Columnist   2004-08-27 01:56:16  

A man wants to set the record straight about a story he says was "way off the mark." Here's The Free Press item, which was published Aug. 9.

"Middlesex OPP were called to a house on Woodhull Road . . . yesterday after reports of a distraught male. About 3 p.m., officers surrounded the residence and tried to communicate with a 47-year-old man. A tactical unit was called in. The man, with the help of his lawyer, turned himself in to police about three hours later. Firearms were found inside, but no charges were laid."

The man says he doesn't want his name mentioned because "that article did enough damage.

"I would like something in the paper saying I was not a distraught, crazy Rambo on a binge," he says.

He says he was wearing earplugs and sleeping in his bedroom on a Sunday afternoon when the phone rang. It was a friend, who told him to look out his window.

When he did, he was startled to see that his house was surrounded by gun-wielding police officers.

"There is like an infantry out there," he says. "There's SWAT guys everywhere, there's cruisers everywhere, and I'm going, 'Oh boy.' "

After calling 911, the man says he was connected to the on-site OPP commander, who told him to come out of the house.

The man says he told police he wanted his lawyer, who arrived at the police barricades then advised the man, by phone, to leave the house.

"So I come out the front door and I'm on crutches," says the man, adding he needs knee surgery. "And there's a SWAT team guy standing about six feet in front of me with an assault rifle aimed at me, which is quite lovely."

The man was handcuffed and hustled off to hospital, where he was held 72 hours for mandatory psychiatric assessment.

The man says he was "completely exonerated" by hospital officials, who he says told him he was neither bipolar nor schizophrenic.

As for the firearms found by police, the man freely admits he owns four weapons: two shotguns, a .22-calibre rifle and a handgun. He says he's a licensed gun owner and his weapons were properly registered and stored in a locked cabinet.

The man argues the police actions were unwarranted and could have been avoided if an officer had phoned or knocked on his door.

"If I was drinking and shooting my shotguns off, then, by God, I should've been tear gassed," he says. "But I didn't do anything wrong. Do you know what that must have cost the taxpayer?"

OPP Sgt. Dave Rektor says police tried to contact the man.

And though he confirms no charges were laid, Rektor says the police action, which involved at least a dozen Tactical Response Unit members, was "pretty much textbook."

"Considering the information we had, that seemed like the most logical way to approach this case," he says. "Public safety is paramount."

What information did police have?

Rektor didn't elaborate. But the man says one of his son's friends called police because he believed the man was going to shoot golfers nearby, then kill himself -- a suggestion the man says is ludicrous.

The man adds, however, that his girlfriend called police two days before the incident because painkillers had made him delirious.

The man's lawyer, Brian Phillips of the London firm Cohen Highley, says he doubts his client would harm himself or others and that the incident "was probably an over-reaction."

But he also says police were "extremely professional and had nothing but the best intentions."

A quick postscript. Three years ago, the man was the victim of a nasty prank when a friend mailed him an envelope of talcum powder in the wake of anthrax threats in the U.S.

As a precaution, the man and his son were decontaminated by a fire department hazardous materials team.

The prankster later was acquitted of mischief.

However you look at it, it's a doozy of a tale. But I'll leave the last word to the man from Woodhull Road.

"My lawyer," he says, "told me flat out: 'I want to be the first in line for your movie rights, man.' "

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Bureaucrats for hire

Long-term care homes to get family councils

GILLIAN LIVINGSTON, CP   2004-08-27 01:56:51  

TORONTO -- The provincial government will make it mandatory for all long-term care facilities in the province to have family councils that can look out for the care of their loved ones, Health Minister George Smitherman said yesterday. As part of that goal, the province is spending $385,000 to aid organizations that can help set up more family and resident councils at long-term care facilities across Ontario.

"It needs to be mandated because I think it's obvious that it would be good to have one in every home, and we don't," Smitherman said during a visit to a nursing home in downtown Toronto.

"Family councils, bottom line, raise the quality of care for residents in long-term care facilities . . . including those that don't have families of their own to take care of them."

Smitherman said the councils allow family members and residents to look out for their loved ones who live in nursing homes and bring any care concerns to the attention of staff.

He said the government is working on legislation that will strengthen the rights of residents' councils and will mandate family councils at all facilities.

Of the nearly 600 nursing homes in the province, only about 25 per cent have family councils, Smitherman said.

Last fall, reports about abuse of seniors at nursing homes made headlines and raised the spectre of a crisis at long-term care facilities.

"Our government is changing this," the minister said.

Since then, the province has created a new hotline for people to get care concerns addressed by the government and started impromptu inspections of nursing homes.

About $215,000 of the funding will go to the family council program to teach people how to advocate on behalf of their relatives in long-term care facilities.

Another $60,000 will go to the Ontario Association of Residents' Councils to boost the number of such councils.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Should have played at the JLC - censorship rears its ugly head

Beenie Man show may be cancelled

Free Press staff and news services   2004-08-27 01:56:56  

The plug may be pulled on a London show by Beenie Man, the Jamaican dancehall and reggae star just booted from the MTV Video Music Awards show for his anti-gay lyrics. "We care what the general public thinks," Toronto-based promoter Vivek Malhotra said yesterday after hearing complaints about Beenie Man's Sept. 17 show at Centennial Hall. Tickets were on sale yesterday.

The promoters are concerned about the way groups and people are depicted by performers, Malhotra said.

Beenie Man's lyrics include "I'm dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays" and "Queers must be killed." The promoters, Toronto-based Substance Group/Hard Knox, also had received complaints about staging such a show, he said.

"That's why we're looking into it," Malhotra said of the possible cancellation. A decision is expected as early as tomorrow.

Beenie Man was dropped from the MTV awards show Wednesday after gay groups said they planned to protest the Sunday event in Florida.

Beenie Man has had concerts cancelled in Europe and the U.S. in recent weeks after gay groups protested.

Though he has previously defended his lyrics, earlier this month, Beenie Man issued an apology for his songs, including Bad Man Chi Chi Man (Bad Man, Queer Man).

"Certain lyrics and recordings I have made in the past may have caused distress and outrage among people whose identities and lifestyles are different from my own . . . I offer my sincerest apologies to those who might have been offended, threatened or hurt by my songs," the apology said.

The apology was rejected as insincere by Montreal activist Michael Whatling, a McGill University lecturer on diversity, who yesterday called Centennial Hall and other venues where Beenie Man is to appear. Whatling said he was urging the shows be cancelled.

"We're just trying to inform people and get them to do what they need to do," Whatling said of the campaign by Montreal activists.

Other stars of dancehall, a sensuous, more contemporary form of reggae, also have recorded anti-gay songs and have been targeted for protests by gay groups because of their lyrics.

"They say vile things (about) setting fires to gays, shooting them in the head . . . Is this what we want in Canada?" Whatling said.

Beenie Man, born Anthony Moses Davis, is on a world tour promoting his new album, Back to Basics. His songs include his recent hit, Dude, Girls Dem Sugar and Who Am I? His album Art and Life won the Grammy Award for best reggae album in 2001. That year, Beenie Man played the Drink in London, pulling a crowd of about 800 fans.

London activists could not be reached for comment.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Fishway could cost the city a bundle

Dam repairs delayed at least a year

CARLY WEEKS, Free Press Reporter   2004-08-27 01:56:59  

Concerns about fish habitat have prompted the province to delay repairs at London's Springbank Dam for at least a year, possibly jeopardizing two-thirds of the funding for the $4.2-million project. The Natural Resources Ministry and the city have agreed the city will spend as much as $30,000 to study possibilities for building a fishway at the dam, an aide to Minister David Ramsay said yesterday.

Anne-Marie Flanagan said the decision was made last week after fishing and conservation groups pressed Ramsay to question plans to repair the dam without including a fishway.

"The local groups, it's them who I think sometimes tip us off . . . that there's a problem with something," she said.

The groups argue a fishway would let fish travel up and down the Thames River all year, even when the dam is closed between May and October.

Construction to repair damage to the dam caused by flooding in July 2000 was to have begun in October.

Plans are only on hold until next fall, but could be delayed longer if the ministry decides in favour of a fishway.

That's because an environmental assessment and plans for construction would have to be completed before work on the fishway could begin.

Another challenge would be to determine how the cost of the fishway -- estimated at about $500,000 to $1 million -- would be covered.

The Springbank Dam is owned by the city and operated by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority.

Karl Grabowski, city manager of engineering planning, said the city would look to higher levels of government to help foot the bill.

The city and the authority say dam repairs can take place before any fishway plans are finalized. They hope approval will be given to begin needed repairs next fall.

Otherwise, funding for the multi-million dollar project could expire.

"There's a risk it will lapse, but we are working to ensure there is some extension and some latitude and there is optimism that will happen," said Ian Wilcox, general manager of the conservation authority.

The federal, provincial and city governments are each to pay a third of the $4.2 million cost of the dam repairs.

The federal and provincial portions were originally to expire in March 2006.

But the province decided this week to extend that by a year, Grabowski said.

Repairs at the dam are scheduled to take place over the course of two fall seasons because many groups use the river when the dam is closed from May to October and construction can't proceed when the water freezes in winter.

Since timing is so limited, funding may expire if the project is delayed beyond next fall.

Wilcox said he hopes another funding extension will be granted, if needed, because the ministry is the source of the delay.

He said the longer the repair project is delayed, the greater the risk of another flood, like the damaging one of 2000.

"We've got to do these repairs or there'll be no dam to put a ladder around."

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Lawn Mowing potentially subject to new regulations - no credit given to common sense

Disturbing picture

I was disturbed by the photo on the front page of The Londoner (Aug. 12 issue) entitled Little John Helps His Dad Cut the Grass. 

The media is a very strong public influence and therefore has a moral obligation to publicize responsibly. There have been an increase in the number of devastating lawn mower injuries involving children this summer, most resulting in life altering consequences. This picture, especially on the front page, only reinforces unsafe practices. 

A child should never be outside when a lawn mower is in operation. Not only is the child outside in this picture but the child happens to be in direct line of the discharge area of the lawn mower.  

A lawn mower is a very dangerous piece of equipment and one that children should most definitely not be around when in use. Remember that all accidents are preventable. Please be careful when publishing articles such as this one and keep in mind the message that it is sending the public.

Tina Holden, London

Letter to the editor, published in The Londoner, 2004, August 26th edition

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Crack but no Sex in Winnipeg Manitoba

Cops aim vice-cam at johns
Images posted on website

Winnipeg police have unveiled their newest weapon in the fight against the world's oldest profession. It's called Operation Snapshot -- a website featuring video footage of alleged johns picking up hookers on city streets.

"What we're trying to do is show the people that are fuelling the sex trade, which is the johns, that they're not anonymous," said patrol Sgt. Kelly Dennison, who heads the Winnipeg police morals unit.

"If you're going to fuel the sex trade, we're not going to let you hide."

For the past three weeks, officers have been walking the city's well-known hooker strolls in the West End and North End -- armed with digital video cameras.

Four short video clips taken this month have been put on the website, which was launched yesterday morning and is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in Canada.

Faces and licence plates have been blurred out for legal reasons. In each of the clips, which run between 12 and 16 seconds, motorists are clearly seen stopping to talk to women on the street before driving off with them.

"We're not putting clips on there that aren't realistic," Dennison said.

"We're not in the business of wrecking families. That's not my job. These johns that are out there can do that themselves."

The pilot project, the brainchild of morals unit Const. Gene Bowers, is expected to be a deterrent to johns.

"As soon as you set that camera up on the street and you've got 'Winnipeg Police' on your back, people go away," Dennison said.

But Manitoba's privacy commissioner questioned whether cameras are justifiable, reasonable or effective when measured against the intrusion of privacy.

"My concern would be they're not the panacea; they're not the answer to crime," Barry Tuckett told Canadian Press.

The john-cams are supported with financial assistance from the West End Biz.

West End activist Harry Lehotsky said he is 100% behind the initiative.

The Winnipeg Sun © 2004

Check this craziness out here: Operation Snapshot

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Art Scene News - Cleaner makes important discovery about Modern Art

Cleaner thinks modern art is garbage
Fri 27 August, 2004 02:41

LONDON (Reuters) - A cleaner at London's Tate Britain modern art gallery threw out a bag of garbage which formed part of an artwork because it was thought to be trash, newspapers have reported.

The transparent bag of garbage -- full of newspaper, cardboard and other bits of paper -- formed part of a work by German-born artist Gustav Metzger called "Recreation Of First Public Demonstration Of Auto-Destructive Art".

It was on display next to a sheet of nylon that had been spattered with acid, and a metal sculpture on a table when a cleaner tossed it out with the other trash.

A Tate spokesman said the mistake was made the day before the exhibition opened at the end of June, and although the bag was later rescued, it had been damaged and Metzger had to replace it with another one.

Friday's newspapers said the spokesman would not reveal how much the bag had cost to replace.

"It's now covered over at night so it can't be removed," the spokesman told the Times.

Reuters UK © 2004

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Ban the evil weed, but hand out instructions with official crack pipes

Winnipeg makes crack smoking safer

Globe and Mail Update

Social workers in Winnipeg have begun handing out “high-quality” crack pipes and instructions to addicts on the city's streets, part of a harm-reduction strategy put in place by local health officials.

The program is modelled on one in Toronto and comes decades after Winnipeg began giving injection-drug users clean needles in return for dirty ones. Although fully approved, the program was launched with no public notice and has only this week become widely known, said Dr. Margaret Fast, a medical officer of health who works for the city.

Dr. Fast told globeandmail.com Thursday that she had so far received only two phone calls from irate citizens, but she conceded that there may be more to come as the story gains wider circulation.

“The major concerns seem to be that this will encourage drug use ... but that's done elsewhere,” she said in a telephone interview from Winnipeg. “The process we use for providing [the pipe] is relatively rigorous, I think.”

The kits are not handed out to just anyone who asks, she stressed, but are given to crack cocaine users who have been assessed by trained social workers, who in many cases have had multiple interactions with those users.

Dr. Fast said that the program was launched because patrolling social workers with an outfit called Street Connections had noticed that some injection-drug users were switching to crack and that others were using the cocaine derivative in addition to their habitual drug. With that shift came a new slate of health concerns.

Using makeshift or poorly-made crack pipes can cause oral cuts or burns. If shared, these pipes can also help spread blood-borne diseases, particularly if the group includes drug users who also sell sex. The transmission of both hepatitis and HIV is a concern in such a situation, Dr. Fast said, describing the grim scenario of a pipe passing from mouth to mouth, repeatedly coming into contact with bleeding lips and cracked gums.

Winnipeg's new harm reduction strategy – dubbed the ‘safer crack use kit' – is designed to minimize these dangers. It is intended for use by a single person only and includes a good-quality glass pipe less likely to injure users. It also includes metal screens, alcohol swabs (for those users who do end up sharing), pipe cleaners, matches, lip balm, at least one condom and information about where addicts can get help. It also includes instructions on how to use the kit.

Dr. Fast said that it is too early to assess how well the program is working. Surveying will be done, she said, though success goes beyond the disease-reduction goals themselves. Such a kit has the corollary benefit of giving social workers an excuse to engage crack users in conversation, she said, and it gives the users a reason to co-operate with the social workers.

Globe and Mail © 2004

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Balanced budget = deferral of debt in London Ontario

Thames Valley has a balanced budget

APRIL KEMICK, Free Press Reporter   2004-08-26 01:32:31  

Just two weeks before kids hit the books again, public school board trustees have approved a balanced budget for the new school year. After confronting a potential $8.5-million shortage before the summer break, the Thames Valley District school board trustees balanced the board's 2004-2005 budget Tuesday without any cuts to programs, services or staffing.

By rescheduling debt repayment on retired teachers' benefits and using the cash to pay down a deficit, trustees were able to achieve balanced budget of about $609 million.

"Rescheduling the payment enabled us to buy a year's worth of time and get school started on Sept. 7, which is only two weeks away," said Brian Greene, board treasurer.

In February, trustees authorized the board to pay off $2.8 million of the debt in 2004-2005. Tuesday's final budget cut this year's payment to $500,000.

Another $1.6 million was cut by getting a more accurate grip on figures for the board's benefits program.And another $4.6 million in special education and learning opportunities grants from the province over the summer also helped balance the budget.

Despite the good news, staff and trustees warned several long-term budget and planning issues won't be solved until the Education Ministry clarifies funding for special education and small rural schools.

The board also lost $4.6 million from its special education reserve fund due to a provincial clawback.

"It will be extremely difficult to do long-term budgeting with the difficulties we have right now," said London trustee Terry Roberts, who chairs the board's budget advisory committee.

But Greene said improved communication between the ministry and the board is encouraging.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Official philosophical musings explain nothing

Generator likely fuel leak source

CARLY WEEKS, Free Press Reporter   2004-08-26 01:33:35  

KOMOKA -- A diesel leak that's left 2,300 rural London-area residents without drinking water likely came from a generator for the area's water supply system, officials say. But as the Kilworth-Komoka water scare on London's outskirts entered its second day yesterday, the area's mayor said officials still don't know how long the fuel had been leaking before it was detected.

While the municipality of Middlesex Centre distributed free water to area residents left in the lurch, not everyone was happy with how quickly the response came.

"I just think it's a shame," said cashier Doreen Feke at the Komoka Foodland store, which had a run on bottled water by affected residents.

"Twenty-four hours without water, the township should have had it sooner. I think that's a long time."

Middlesex Centre Mayor Bev Shipley said the suspected leak could have been cumulative, building up over time.

"Sometimes you get very, very small, minute leaks that build up over a period of time and then the cup fills and once the cup's full, it runs over," Shipley said.

He said it appears diesel from a 400-litre generator storage tank in the area's water supply pumphouse somehow leaked or spilled.

The fuel was absorbed and carried into the Thames River by drainage tile, which normally carries overflow water from the pumphouse into the river.

Shipley said officials are investigating how the leak occurred.

Workers hired by the City of London detected the leak about noon Tuesday after noticing a film on top of the water, Shipley said.

The Middlesex-London health unit issued a water advisory at about 5 p.m. Tuesday, warning residents not to drink the water.

Shipley said the advisory is a precaution since no diesel odours have been detected.

The advisory will be in place until at least tomorrow, said Elena Carmichael, Middlesex County's client services representative for the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA), a provincial agency that operates the water and wastewater facilities.

Because the diesel wasn't detected near the river bottom, that likely means only a small amount spilled, Shipley said.

If there is any diesel in the well water, it would have seeped in through the ground, he said.

A containment boom and absorbency sponges were put near the edge of the river to absorb the diesel, he said.

After the fuel was discovered, officials cut the system off so no water from the tile could get into the river.

While the area's well water isn't taken from the river, officials issued the water advisory because of the proximity of the diesel leak to the area where well water is drawn.

The pumphouse is beside the area's three wells.

The health unit has not received reports of anyone falling ill from the water, said Jim Reffle, director of environmental health.

While it's not known -- and investigators may never find out -- how long diesel had been seeping into the river, Shipley said the well water is tested regularly by OCWA.

Maureen Looby, Middlesex Centre's manager of public works and engineering, said test results received yesterday showed no contamination.

That test is the first of three checking for the presence of diesel in Kilworth-Komoka's water supply system.

Looby said the health unit must wait for more definitive results.

Those results are expected sometime this evening but likely won't be fully analyzed by the health unit until tomorrow.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Who's going to pay for your 'holistic' utopia? Huh?
Part 989 374 278 881 of an ongoing series of exposes about people who want to spend your money

Coves plan will get plenty of public discussion

CARLY WEEKS, Free Press Reporter   2004-08-25 01:27:19  

City hall wants public input before deciding how far it will go to protect London's ecologically-sensitive Coves area. Friends of the Coves Subwatershed Inc., a non-profit group, sent a plan to preserve the low-lying area west of Wharncliffe Road and south of the Thames River to the city's planning committee last month.

Recommendations included improving stormwater quality, erosion control and restricting development on some land.

"I think there are a number of positive initiatives in the report, things that will help to improve water quality in the area, help to minimize erosion, provide for some open spaces," city senior planner Terry Grawey said yesterday.

But Grawey said some recommendation could get scrapped because of the cost.

Friends of the Coves president Allan Ralph said no recommendations should be left out because the plan is a "holistic document."

"I can't imagine the plan having any integrity without its entire content," he said.

Before any decisions are made, the city's planning and environment and transportation committees will meet this fall. City staff will recommend whether all or part of the plan should be adopted. That recommendation will then go to a council committee, followed by full council.

An outstanding sore spot in the Coves is the former Valspar Corp. paint factory.

Friends of the Coves would like its 10 hectares turned into green space. But it can't do that without financial support, Ralph said.

Valspar's director of risk and real estate said the company is in talks with non-profit groups interested in buying the property, but nothing has been nailed down.

"We don't have anything too far down the road in terms of coming up with ideas," Elizabeth Cannon said from the company's Minneapolis office.

Ralph said the area around the factory suffers from contamination that scares most potential buyers away.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Welcome to Canada! Yew gots a joint in there, y'all?
Former Londoner gains notoriety in Hick Country

Emery jailing spawns protests

CP   2004-08-25 01:27:35  

SASKATOON -- Pro-pot activists are staging protests and writing letters after well-known marijuana supporter Marc Emery was sentenced to three months in jail for passing a single joint. Emery's supporters gathered at Saskatoon's provincial court building yesterday to protest the jail sentence, which came last week after Emery pleaded guilty to trafficking.

"We'll be here every day until Marc Emery is released," said protest co-ordinator Dana Larsen of Vancouver, editor of Emery's Cannabis Culture magazine.

"I don't think this will succeed in getting Marc out early, but I think it will draw attention. Our goal really is to stop this from happening to anybody else."

Emery, president of the B.C. Marijuana Party and a former London bookstore owner, was charged with trafficking after he passed a joint while speaking at a political rally at the University of Saskatchewan earlier this year.

While it was Emery's eleventh drug-related conviction, it was the first time he has been sentenced to jail.

The B.C. Marijuana Party has also begun a letter-writing campaign to federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler. In July, Prime Minister Paul Martin promised to reintroduce legislation to decriminalize possession of 15 grams of pot or less.

"The sentence, viewed by many as extreme, has evoked outrage in the marijuana community," said the party in a release.

"Mr. Emery has the dubious distinction of being the first person in Canada to be charged and convicted of trafficking for passing a joint."

Larsen said he wants to prevent others from being jailed for simply passing a joint. "I think most Canadians would think that's pretty extreme . . . and would look upon Saskatoon as a backward place because of that, like the Alabama of Canada.

"I don't think anyone else has ever been convicted of trafficking this quantity before."

Seven persons joined Larsen yesterday. They carried a pot-leaf version of the Canadian flag and handed out flyers entitled Free Marc Emery.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Crisis in London! People who don't pay attention are angered, confused

Branch libraries shut down in rotation

BRIAN WHITWHAM, Free Press Reporter   2004-08-25 01:27:27  

Like many Londoners, Tony Lefebvre was disappointed to find the windows dark and the doors locked at his neighbourhood public library yesterday. The 24-year-old student moved here recently from North Bay and wanted to use the computers at the Sherwood branch.

"I usually do my job searches here," he said. "I live across the street. It's the only (library) I know how to get to."

The closing came on the first day of a rotating schedule under which half the city's library branches will be closed this week and the other half next week.

The Central Library is keeping regular hours with reduced staff.

The aim is to save $35,000 in utility costs and wages for casual and temporary employees.

The library had to reduce costs to meet the city's budget, said library spokesperson Bill Irwin.

"We looked at these rotating closures as a way to ensure no branches are closed permanently," he said. "Whatever we did, we wanted to make it fair and equal across the library system and the community.

The library's permanent employees aren't affected by the closings. Many have been asked to use time as vacation.

Irwin said the board will decide in October whether to use rotating closings again, based on savings and public feedback.

"We're a public library, but we have fiscal responsibility, so it's a balancing act."

Many patrons were annoyed at the inconvenience but said it was preferable to closing branches.

But Harvey Blackwell was angered when he couldn't get into the Carson branch and said the closings shouldn't be needed.

"I can't afford to take a cab downtown and back just to go to the library and I don't have time for the bus," he said.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Monday, August 23, 2004

Beer brewed in a former outhouse

'Smallest' brewery reopens

A mid Wales brewery which claims to be the smallest in the world has re-opened.

Less than 5ft square and formerly an outside toilet, Bragdy Gwynant brews ale for just one customer - the Tynllidiart Arms next door.
Based in Capel Bangor, near Aberystwyth, the brewery has gone back into production after a two-year break.
It takes 14 days to produce nine gallons of the as-yet unnamed ale.
Margaret and Mark Phillips, who own the Tynllidiart Arms and the brewery, said the beer had a secret recipe.
"The previous owner of the pub moved out two years ago and up until two weeks ago the pub was closed and the brewery was too," said Mr Phillips, who moved in just two weeks ago.
"We thought it would be nice to brew our own local beer and luckily we had a brewer living a few doors down who was able to help.
I'm using a secret recipe but brewing beer is like making a good curry - it takes a few goes to get it absolutely spot on
Brewer Chris Giles
"We've tasted the ale and it does need some tweaking, but it should be ready for customers to taste this weekend."
Mrs Phillips added: "We've tried to use as many local ingredients as we can in the beer and we use the same policy in our restaurant."
The brewery once claimed a place in the record books.
"It was in the Guinness Book of Records a few years ago as the smallest brewery in the world, but when it closed two years ago it lost its place," said Mrs Phillips.
"But we'll be applying again in the next few weeks to become the smallest commercial brewery again."
Brewer Chris Giles, who lives a few doors down from the brewery, runs a real ale business.
He said: "The brewery was originally the men's outside toilet.

Brewer Chris Giles checks out the colour of the new ale
"It's very small and there's not much room once all they brewing equipment is in there.
"We don't have a name for the beer yet and it's in the experimental stage.
"It may need a bit of development over the next few weeks before we get the definitive pint.
"I'm using a secret recipe but brewing beer is like making a good curry - it takes a few goes to get it absolutely spot on."
Tony Jerome of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said: "We are always pleased to hear of real ale breweries re-opening as this means more choice for the beer consumer to try."

BBC News &copy 2004

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Bathroom Woes at Galleria London

Locked door angers handicapped shopper

By JULIE BELL The Londoner

A few times a week, Duncan O’Doherty, 63, and Margaret, his wife of 42 years, bid adieu to their cat Fester, ready their motorized scooters and set out on a journey for downtown from their East London home.

“It’s usually a nice trip for us. We head over to the Galleria mall and have a coffee and shop around a bit. It takes us around 20 minutes to get there and it’s an enjoyable time.”

Such was not the case when the couple visited the mall last week, he says.

After visiting the Burger King in the mall’s food court to purchase some dinner, Mr. O’Doherty decided he needed to use the washroom.

“I went to open the door to the handicapped washroom and it was locked.”

Things only became worse, he adds, when he inquired about having the washroom door opened. He was told he had to find the cleaning lady to get it opened.

 “When I finally found her, she was cleaning tables and I asked her to unlock the washroom for me. She hardly spoke any English and she told me it was already unlocked.

“At this point I really needed to use the washroom. My wife was with me, and she is deaf so she really had no idea what was happening. Some of the people in the food court were laughing, and others seemed disgusted by what was happening. It was just terrible.”

Finally, after much explanation, Mr. O’Doherty made it clear to the woman which door he needed unlocked.

“When I went inside, I became even angrier. There was toilet paper all over the floor, the sink and toilet seat were very dirty and the toilet hadn’t been flushed. It was an absolute mess.”

Mr. O’Doherty decided he would visit the mall office to speak to the management.

“The only place I could think to go was the security office, because that’s usually where the mall offices are. We stopped by on our way out and nobody was there.”

Sad and disgusted, the couple went home. Mr. O’Doherty’s disappointment in the incident didn’t change when he got there, he says.

“I’m angry that there were many other people in wheelchairs and scooters in the food court that day and I’m positive that at least one other person would have needed to use that washroom.”

Mr. O’Doherty has been riding his scooter for seven years due to multiple strokes and a crushed leg he received when he rolled a transport truck. His wife has been riding hers for four years due to a double back injury. This was the first time the couple has had a problem of this nature according to Mr. O’Doherty.

“All I ask is to be treated like any average Joe. I don’t expect any special treatment; I just want to be able to use the washroom when I need it. I just want them to do a better job at keeping that washroom clean and available for people who need to use it.”

The management at Galleria could not be reached for comment.

The Londoner © 2004

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Children should only be fed these shining little pills -- See, like the ones here ...

Big beef with billboards
Cattle producers slam campaign that claims feeding kids meat is child abuse

Beef producers dismissed a new PETA campaign targeting meat consumption yesterday as nothing more than misinformation and below-the-belt tactics. The billboard at the heart of the campaign shows a young, overweight boy biting into a hamburger.

A line in bold letters that reads "Feeding kids meat is child abuse," appears next to the photograph.

"Feeding kids meat is like feeding them tobacco or alcohol," said the campaign's co-ordinator Matt Rice.

"It's absolutely detrimental to their health and if that's not child abuse, what is?"

The billboard was recently rejected by an advertising firm in St. John's, Nfld., but the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced they plan to have the billboard in cities across Canada within a few months.

Rice defended the controversial message and the spirit behind the ad saying the claims are backed by scientific data.

"We're trying to warn parents that in the short-term, feeding their children meat will lead to weight problems," said Rice. "But in the long-term, they're setting them up for cancer, stroke or heart disease and putting their lives at risk."

But the billboard is a scare tactic aimed at shocking rather than educating, said Alberta Beef Producers' chairman Arno Doerksen.

"This is misinformation ... we obviously don't agree," he said.

"This is highly inappropriate, but it is the kind of tactics this organization seems to thrive on."

In which Canadian cities PETA will try to run the ad is still to be determined, but they will likely target regional areas that have shown to be prone to obesity or other health issues, said Rice.

PETA said the billboard may also make its way to Calgary.

The same billboard has already gone up in several U.S. cities, including Indianapolis, Cleveland, Chicago, and Philadelphia, but has been rejected in Jefferson City, Mo., Raleigh, N.C., and Seattle.

Rice said the billboards do cause controversy, but that is not the end goal of the campaign.

"We make our ads interesting and newsworthy because we want people to become informed and seek more information," he said. "It's not about the controversy -- we want people to learn for themselves that a vegetarian diet is much healthier and better for the animals."

© 2004 The Calgary Sun

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Report on taxis slammed
Cabbies' concerns about safety have been overlooked, in favour of economic issues, critic says.
JULIE SACCONE, Free Press Reporter   2004-08-23 02:05:45  

A commissioned report on issues facing London's taxi industry gives short shrift to improving cabbie safety, says a member of a special task force. "We get an inch for safety and pages for economics," Stephen Orser, a citizen member of city hall's taxicab- limousine task force, said over the weekend.

The $50,000 report was commissioned by the city and goes to London's board of control in a special meeting Wednesday.

The report comes in the wake of a series of recent attacks on cabbies in London, the most recent a violent assault this month that left driver Haddish Gebrehiwet with cuts to his forehead and left hand, a broken right hand and an injured shoulder.

The report recommends emergency flashing lights be required on taxi vehicles.

But to ensure driver safety, Orser said satellite global positioning systems, security cameras in vehicles and a protective shield between the driver and the back seat should also be considered.

Although such features are discussed in the report by BMA Management Consulting Inc., held out as options the city may want to consider, only the flashing lights -- for use in emergencies -- are recommended.

"Global positioning satellite systems make it easy to find someone in trouble fast through multiple means, notifying other people on the fleet, notifying police and dispatch of the exact location of the vehicle in trouble," said Orser.

Vehicle cameras have become common in North America and the use of a Plexiglas shield, separating the driver from backseat passengers, is "the best deterrent against a crack head and robber," said Orser.

Orser is pushing for safety improvements for cab drivers, who he says are far more likely to be hurt or killed on the job than most workers.

"One stand-alone reason . . . for safety concerns to be implemented is the massive saving of police time and resources," he said.

The structure of the taxi industry, with middlemen who lease out plates to companies or individuals, hinders improvements in driver safety, he said.

"The middlemen have no purpose," said Orser.

"That is where the safety problems are. That is why there are rundown vehicles, because the money is sucked out from the system, away from investment," he said.

The report calls for a passenger bill of rights -- Toronto has one, listing what cab drivers can and cannot do -- and use of a city phone number so complaints or compliments can be fielded.

"Instead of the customer being upset at all cabbies, they simply phone in and e-mail in and that ends it instead of fighting with the cabbie," said Orser.

Injured U-Need-A driver Gebrehiwet said he'd feel safer with a shield in his vehicle. He said the city's top priority should be driver safety.

"People are scared now driving at night."

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Strange goings on.

Iconic Scream painting stolen
2004-08-23 02:05:46

OSLO -- Armed, masked thieves burst into a lightly guarded Oslo museum yesterday
and snatched the Edvard Munch masterpiece The Scream and a second Munch painting
from the walls as stunned visitors watched. It was the second time in a decade
that a version of the iconic Scream had been stolen from an Oslo museum.
two or three thieves, who fled by car, also grabbed Madonna, another priceless
painting that, like Scream, is part of Munch's Frieze of Life series painted in
1893-94, depicting themes of sickness, death, anxiety and love.
The masked
thieves threatened a Munch Museum staffer with a handgun before grabbing the
paintings, snapping wires that held them to the wall, witnesses and police said.
Many visitors panicked, thinking terrorists were attacking.
One thief,
wearing a black face mask, used "something that looked like a gun" to force a
security guard onto the floor, witness Marketa Cajova told the NTB news agency.
"In this museum, there weren't any means of protection for the paintings, no
alarm bell," a French radio producer, Francois Castang, who saw the theft, told
France Inter radio.
"The paintings were simply attached by wire to the
walls," he said. "All you had to do is pull on the painting hard for the cord to
break loose -- which is what I saw one of the thieves doing."
A photo taken
by an unidentified witness outside the museum appears to show three black-clad
robbers, two walking to a small, black getaway car with paintings in hand, the
third robber appearing to open the trunk.
Police said no one was hurt during
the robbery and police had found the escape car -- an Audi A6 -- and fragments
of the paintings' frames.
Munch (pronounced "moonk"), a Norwegian painter
and graphic artist who worked in Germany and his homeland, developed an
emotionally charged style of significance in the birth of the 20th-century
Expressionist movement. He died aged 81 in 1944.
The stolen Madonna depicts
an eroticized virgin with a blood-red halo in a dark, swirling aura.
made four versions of The Scream, an image that has fascinated experts and the
public for decades. Art historians and amateurs alike have pondered the meaning
of the enigmatic, seemingly bleak image that has found fame not only in serious
reproductions, but in cartoons and novelties.
The Munch Museum had two
Scream pictures, a private collector owns a third and the fourth is on display
at Oslo's National Gallery. That version was stolen in February 1994 but
recovered three months later.
Knut Forsberg, manager of Blomqvist Fine Arts,
Norway's oldest auction house, estimated the value of The Scream at between $77
million and $97 million Cdn. But he said it would be impossible to sell either
painting on the open market because of their notoriety.
"Most likely, the
thieves will demand a ransom to deliver the paintings back," he said.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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What's going on here? I never understand what goes on when I read the paper . . .

Standoff ends in 4 arrests
TEVIAH MORO, Free Press Reporter   2004-08-23 02:05:48  

Tear gas was fired and rattled neighbours kept indoors as heavily-armed London police swooped down on a quiet neighbourhood during a nine-hour standoff yesterday. No one was hurt in the confrontation, which ended with police arresting four people who had barricaded themselves inside the south London house.

The four -- one woman and three men -- were taken into custody on suspicion of weapons offences, said Const. Jane Crosby.

Police said little about what triggered the standoff at the rental house, which brought officers armed with submachine-guns and wearing bulletproof vests to the scene after 3 a.m.

No charges had been laid.

One neighbour, Randy Roden, who lives across the street, said early morning noise from the house at 191 Wharncliffe Rd. S. alerted him to the trouble.

Police were "yelling, 'Open up the front door, London police response unit,' " he said. "It's pretty wild."

Next-door neighbour Ryan Davis had returned home from work early yesterday to find he couldn't get past the police barrier to his wife and two young children at home.

"I was two feet away from my front doorstep and they told me I can't go in," he said.

Davis said he was expecting out-of-town guests for his daughter's second birthday party yesterday.

"Now I want to move," said Davis, 25, who moved into the area just this month.

The occupants of the house -- in the block between Erie Avenue and Elmwood Place -- wouldn't co-operate with officers or leave the building, barricading themselves inside instead, Crosby said.

Heavily-armed officers took up posts behind and along both sides of the house, using neighbouring dwellings as cover.

Police fired several tear gas canisters into the building through upstairs and downstairs windows.

The area was partly evacuated and other residents were told to stay inside during the standoff, Crosby said.

Police wouldn't confirm there were weapons in the house.

"In situations like this, we have to take all necessary precautions in the event that weapons are involved in the interest of protecting the public and police," Crosby said.

A man who lives in the Davis house was there during the standoff and said he heard people arguing in the surrounded house about 3 a.m.

The man, who didn't want to be identified, said he went to his neighbours' window and asked them to quiet down.

"They heard me and I went back to bed," he said.

After keeping quiet for a while, they started fighting again, he added.

The man said he and his wife got off to a bad start with the neighbouring tenants, who had moved in recently. He said dogs belonging to them had attacked his cat.

Police officers yesterday removed a pit bull -- restrained with a snare -- from the surrounded house.

The neighbour said the house that police swooped down on contains two apartments, one on the main floor and one upstairs.

The landlord said police were after tenants and a friend on the main floor, but he had never had any problem with the tenants before.

"I'm very (ticked) off about it because I never expected this type of thing to happen so close to home," he said.

Police kept Wharncliffe Road South between Bruce Street and Duchess Avenue sealed off during the standoff.

The last of four people arrested was led out about noon, with police waiting for a warrant to search the building.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Still Proud to be a Canadian taxpayer?

Clarkson's jet trips cost $48,564
Free Press Parliamentary Bureau
2004-08-17 02:39:28

OTTAWA -- Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson used a government Challenger jet to go on 10 trips to New York for a mix of business and pleasure over the past two years at a cost of $48,564, Sun Media Newspapers has learned. National Defence Challenger jet logs obtained under access to information requests show Clarkson and husband John Ralston Saul made four trips in each of 2002 and 2003, and have made two trips there so far this year.
Most of the trips were overnight visits.
A search of all Rideau Hall news releases from January 2002 to present turned up nothing that refers to official business in New York. But Clarkson spokesperson France Langlois said there are several events she does as part of her duties that don't warrant a news release.
Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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Council ponders 'dangerous' dogs

Council awaiting study on options
Free Press staff
2004-08-17 02:39:29

City council could know by November what options it has in dealing with the threat of so-called "dangerous dogs." The environment and transportation committee received council approval last month to study what other similar cities -- specifically Kitchener and Windsor -- have done to curb dog attacks, said Jay Stanford, London's manager of environmental programs.
"Pit bulls and rottweilers, when they bite, it is a very significant bite," Stanford said. "Council is quite concerned about this."
While Kitchener council has passed a bylaw banning certain breeds, critics say such a solution is difficult to enforce. But that possibility is one committee members will consider.
"It's going to be a debate about the breed of an animal and pet owner responsibility," Stanford said. "You could have a great owner and a dog that is deemed dangerous. You could also have the opposite.
"Our stats aren't showing (an increase in bites). The very nature of a pit bull, a rottweiler, they draw attention."
It will be "the November time frame" before the committee has completed the report, Stanford said.
Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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