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What does Toronto think of Trump’s war on ‘evidence’?

The United States government, under the direction of President Donald Trump, has banned the use of certain words in official documents submitted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These words, or phrases, include “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

Other words banned from use include “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender” and “fetus.”

Analysts are currently preparing reports for the 2019 budget process. According to media reports, staff were told to say the “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”

The CDC has made it clear that regardless of the words they are or are not permitted to use, their recommendations will always be based in science and fact.

This attack on freedom of speech is not surprising considering Trump’s determination to push scientists out of the White House. He has also said that transgender people should not be in the military and abortion should be illegal. It seems like the President of the United States has decided that since the road towards making these statements into legislation will take too long — until then, he will simply omit them from speech in Washington.

When something is evidence-based or science-based, it means there are facts to back up a statement. It is not based on “community wishes”. There analysts work with numbers, statistics, quantitative and qualitative data. To disallow someone to use these words to describe their work is ludicrous and incredibly dangerous.

Lack of data on these important topics is already an issue. Since Trump took office, a number of federal agencies have downscaled data collection, especially on topics like climate change and the LGBTQ community. Information has even been removed from government websites as if it never existed in the first place.

As a journalist, and as a citizen, this is disheartening. Access to information is pivotal to an informed citizenry. It is how people make informed decisions. To remove information you don’t personally agree with is an affront to this critical foundation of democracy. They do that in countries with dictatorships, when the government wants the people to only adhere to certain ideals. Is this the beginning of that slippery slope?

I was really hoping that 2018 would be better than 2017 — but every time I hear something like this, I know deep down it is going to be much worse.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Toronto deputy manager John Livey retires

Toronto deputy manager John Livey will be retiring from public service on April 4, 2018.

Livey was responsible for corporate oversight and administrative governance. He has overseen collaborative city-wide initiatives and projects including city planning, transportation, engineering, and construction.

“John is known as a principled leader with a commitment to innovation and excellence,” said City Manager Peter Wallace in a statement. “He has always faced obstacles and challenges head on, with a drive to deliver the best possible results for the residents of Toronto. His determination and hard work will certainly be missed.”

Some of Livey’s notable achievements, according to the City of Toronto, is his role in the Port Lands development and implementation plan, the transit file including Smart Track, Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension, Relief Line, and Scarborough Transit Network. Livey was also responsible for the city’s emergency response during the 2013 ice storm.

He was also a strong supporter of the new motherlode transit network and Rail Deck Park, two initiatives that strived to connect neighbourhoods and regions to the downtown core.

“It has been an honour to work for the City of Toronto,” said Livey. “I would like to thank my many staff teams, senior management colleagues, Mayor Tory and the Members of Council with whom I have had the privilege to work. I know that City staff will continue to advance city-building initiatives through innovation and a commitment to continuous improvement.”

Livey joined the City of Toronto in 2011 after serving as Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Markham. He also worked with the Region of York.

The city will begin the hiring process in early 2018.

Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension opens this weekend

It’s finally here! The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE) will open on Sunday, connecting the City of Toronto to Vaughan.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne attended the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday for the $3.18 billion, 8.6 kilometre, subway extension.

“This opening is another example of all levels of government working together cooperatively to deliver billions of dollars in transit infrastructure and our ongoing commitment to getting Toronto moving,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said.

The TYSSE will be the first Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) route that crosses municipal boundaries, connecting Toronto and the Region of York. Each station has been specifically designed to integrate into each different neighbourhood. Pioneer Village’s station includes high columns with a green roof and a number of environmentally-friendly additions. Highway 407’s station has a beautiful stain-glass and the York University Campus station is sleek, modern, and pedestrian-friendly.

It is also the first subway route to be completed under the new “motherlode” transit network. The line has been highly anticipated by students who attend York University, as well as those who work near Vaughan Metropolitan Centre and Highway 407. Torontonians will also now be able to access more affordable housing options, as well as Canada’s Wonderland, without having to take a specialized VIA bus.

“The opening of the Toronto-York subway extension is the single greatest transit achievement for this region in my lifetime,” said Ontario Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca, in a statement. “Thousands of Vaughan residents and York University students now have a world-class rapid transit option to get them where they need to go faster and more efficiently. Today’s celebration clearly indicates what we can achieve when all levels of government work towards one common goal — building more transit.”

It will be interesting to see how this extension will impact Line 1 without a relief line in place. With the completion of the TYSSE, and the hopeful completion of SmartTrack by 2024, the Yonge Line (Line 1) will be at capacity by 2031, unable to carry new riders. The relief line must be in place by the time SmartTrack is completed in order to accommodate the increase in commuters who are all connecting to Line 1 in order to get downtown.

Most subway cars should have updated their maps already, including the lights indicating when the car arrives at a station. Check them out the next time you jump on transit!

Will you be taking the TYSSE this weekend? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

French pastry week with the Canadian Baking Show

Bonjour — that’s about all host Dan Levy could say in French, but that didn’t stop French pastry week on the Great Canadian Baking Show. (Don’t worry Dan. It’s better not to speak the language if you truly can’t.)

This week marked the semi-finals of the competition, which put a lot of extra stress on the four remaining bakers.

The first challenge was a dozen Mille-Feuilles, or a Napoleon as North American’s may know them. These treats are made of layers of light, flaky puff pastry with a flavoured filling (typically a kind of custard), and decadent toppings. The key for this challenge, as is the key with most French pastry, was elegance.

Unfortunately, none of the bakers nailed the pastry itself. Most were undercooked, while one was overcooked. Most of them had wonderful presentation, but I found the layers weren’t tight enough. When I bite into a Napoleon, I like to be able to get all the layers at once. The bakers had thick, dollops of icing, which looked beautiful, but if a regular person were eating that Mille-Feuille they may have a challenge getting a taste of every layer. The judges, in their typical style, peeled apart each layer with a fork. That may be how the French eat a Mille-Feuille, but it’s not how we Canadians eat a Napoleon.

The technical challenge was an Opera cake, made with layers of almond sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup, layered with ganache and coffee buttercream and covered in a chocolate glaze. On the top is the word Opera written in thin, cursive, chocolate writing. Most of the cakes were not soaked in enough coffee for the judges’ taste.

Sabrina did very well with her cake and the writing on top, but unfortunately chocolate glaze is unforgiving. There was a giant fingerprint in the centre of the cake! Sadly, there was absolutely nothing she could do about it. Both Linda and Vandana had issues with their cursive writing, with the chocolate icing too thick to create an elegant look. James succeeded in creating a nearly perfect Opera cake.

The show stopper challenge was a tower of cream puffs, or a croquembouche — round pieces of choux pastry filled with cream, stuck together with sugar or caramel. This task was all about time management. Each baker needed at least 100 cream puffs in order to make a structure that was tall enough. James, unfortunately, was unable to plan well enough to make the number of cream puffs needed for a tower. He also ran out of sugar to bind the puffs together; Vandana was kind enough to allow him to use some of her leftover caramel so that he could at least put together something for the judges.

Both Sabrina and Vandana produced beautiful looking croquembouche. Sabrina’s tower was gorgeous and consisted of a number of attachable elements, including sugar strings. However, it wasn’t baked enough. Vandana’s creamy filling was delicious, but the judges said she also could a bit better with her pastry.

This was the semi-finals, so the final three contestants will compete next week for the title of Great Canadian Baker! James, unfortunately, will not be competing next week. Despite the fact that every dessert tasted delicious according to the judges, his presentation hurt him. The judges (and myself) have such a soft spot for James, who can make something delicious even if it looks really ugly. But, unfortunately, as the competition winds down, presentation must be judged in equal measure to taste. Linda was named star baker after producing a gorgeous white chocolate holiday themed cream puff tower.

Who do you think will win next week? Let us know in the comments below!

‘Feminism’ is the word of 2017

Merriam-Webster has announced their Word of the Year for 2017: feminism!

While the term may not have been included in Google’s most searched words this year, it was the centre of many discussions, arguments, and protests over the last 12 months. Here at Women’s Post, the term is used weekly.

Webster’s said the word “feminism” was a word looked up constantly throughout the year, “with several spikes that correspond to various news reports and events.” Events that sparked an increase in searches included the Women’s March in Washington, when U.S. President Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway claimed she wasn’t a feminist, and the #MeToo movement that has rocked the entertainment industry. And of course, there were television shows like The Handmaiden’s Tale that explored a number of women’s issues and inspired women to become more active in politics.

According to Webster’s definition of the word, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”

On average, the term was looked up 70 per cent more often than in 2016.

Some of the words searched in Webster’s include:

  • Complicit: “helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way.” Remember when Ivanka Trump was accused of being complicit to her father’s actions int he White House and she claimed not to know what the word meant? I’m sure she does now!
  • Dotard: a person in his or her dotage” (dotage is “a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness”). The term was used in a news release in North Korea to describe U.S. President Donald Trump.
  • Syzygy: “the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system.” The term was searched during the December super moon, which was partially caused by this phenomenon.
  • Gaffe: “a noticeable mistake.” Anyone else remember the 2017 Academy Awards?
  • Empathy: “the ability to share another person’s feelings.” This term as searched in response or in relation to political decisions this year, as well as the #MeToo social media campaign. I don’t know about you, but I think more people should be looking up the definition of empathy.

Here are the most Googled terms for 2017

So what’s the most Googled term for 2017? It seems like this year went by quickly, but at the same time it was a never ending year of controversy and natural disasters with a few light moments thrown in just to make sure humanity didn’t go insane. Since we spend most of our time on the Internet, it’s only natural that Google, one of the world’s most popular search engines, has released some of the most Googled search terms for 2017.

Here were the top 10:

  1. Hurricane Irma
  2. Matt Lauer
  3. Tom Petty
  4. Super Bowl
  5. Las Vegas Shooting
  6. Mayweather vs Mcgregor fight
  7. Solar Eclipse
  8. Hurricane Harvey
  9. Aaron Hernandez
  10. Fidget Spinner

This was not the only list released by Google. The popular search engine was able to compile a list of different popular categories including most Googled songs, season finales and people.

 Top three people include:

Matt Lauer

Maghan Markle

Harvey Weinstein

Top three television season finales include:

The Bachelor

This is Us

Game of Thrones

Top three movies include:

It

Beauty and the Beast

Wonder Woman

 Top three songs include:

Despacito

Humble

Bad and Boujee

and my personal favourite…

 Top three ‘how to’:

How to make slime?

How to make solar eclipse glasses?

How to watch the solar eclipse?

The ‘how to’ section remains to be the most popular according to Google data. ‘How to’ questions ranged from natural disasters to politics. ‘How to make slime?’ was the most popular question asked in the United Kingdom and the United States. Strangely, the iPhone 8 was searched for more times than the iPhone X. In terms of the most searched woman, Meghan Markle — no surprise since she stole the heart of one of the most eligible bachelors in the world. There was also an increase in the question of ‘How to buy bitcoin?’

In a statement released by Google, they said the most googled terms say a lot about the last year. “These questions show our shared desires to understand our experiences, to come to each other’s aid, and ultimately, to move our world forward.”
For the full recap, click here.

What do you think of the most googled terms for 2017? Comment below

Early data shows King St. pilot a success

The first month of the King Street Pilot program was a success — the transit corridor has seen improved service during rush hours and drivers were only affected by a few minutes.

The first set of transit and traffic data was released Tuesday by the city. Over the next year, the City of Toronto will be analyzing the impact on transit service, flow of traffic on parallel streets, and the effects on cyclists, pedestrians, and local businesses. The statistics provided Tuesday only represent the first two weeks of the study.

The data found that transit service during the afternoon rush hour has already significantly improved. Travel time has reduced from 25 minutes to 22 minutes eastbound, and 24 minutes to 19.7 minutes westbound.

Drivers have seen variations of a plus or minus one minute, which is impressive considering the first two weeks resulted in a big learning curve for drivers, who were no longer allowed to drive straight through an intersection along the stretch of the pilot. The data also looked at streets parallel to King St., as drivers are forced to turn right  at each respective intersection. So far, those corridors are not being clogged with cars.

“Measurement is vital to the King Street pilot, and will ensure we can make any necessary adjustments so the street and surrounding area works for transit customers, cyclists, pedestrians, drivers and business owners as well as local residents,” said Mayor John Tory in a statement. “We also appreciate the feedback of local businesses, transit users, and the taxi industry and will continue to address any concerns as quickly as possible.”

The King Street pilot runs from Jarvis to Bathurst. The corridor funnels drivers to parallel east-west routes like Queen St., Richmond, Adelaide, Wellington, or Front, while still allowing local drivers to access the street for short periods of time. It began on Nov. 12.

Data will be released every month on that same date.

26 African girls were found floating in the Mediterranean

The bodies of 26 teenage African girls were found floating in the Mediterranean sea on Nov. 7. It’s been more than a month since and very few details have been released about their deaths. Who were these girls? How did they get there? And why isn’t this story in the headlines? It is believed the victims were part of a sex trafficking trade from African to Europe and that the girls met their untimely death along the perilous refugee sea path to Italy that has already claimed many lives. The victims were between 14 and 18 years old.

Over the years, we have seen many headlines that flash briefly about the bodies of refugees found at sea, mostly those from Yemen and Syria, as they try to make their way to Europe. So far only two men in Italy have been arrested and charged in the deaths of the girls. Many of the girls as young of 14 suffered visible abuse. It is alleged the girls were picked up in southern Nigeria, held in Libya and then sent to Italy.

These girls were only a few of the many that may have been trafficked over the years — girls who have been tortured and raped. And we know very little about them.

These girls are nameless. They are forgotten victims. Their bodies, which were fished from the sea and placed in body bags, have not been identified or claimed. Since the early 1990s, girls have been taken from Nigeria and sent to Italy where they are forced into prostitution. According to the United Nations, there has been an increase in the amount of potential victims arriving in Italy by sea.  The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that in 2016, nearly 11,000 girls made the trip.

The IOM conducted a study that found since 2014. over 22,000 migrants disappeared globally while attempting to cross the Mediterranean. These are, of course, simply statistics. There is barely any background information on most of the refugees or those being forced into prostitution. Libya is serving as a modern day port for slavery and sex trafficking.  It’s a topic that is being ignored by mainstream media, as many sub-Saharan migrants face bigotry in Libya. The darker your skin, the fiercer the abuse. Men are being forced into construction jobs with almost no pay and migrants are even auctioned off.

For the girls that do survive migration trips, they are greeted with intense racism and degradation of the body once forced into prostitution.

Situations like this are heartbreaking and are spinning out of control.  That 26 African girls can disappear and nobody will notice is a debilitating thought. I can only imagine what their family and friends are feeling back home. These girls deserved much more — they deserve the headlines, to be remembered instead of being left floating in the sea.

Top 10 charities to donate to this holiday season

The holiday season can bring out the best in all of us — but there is always more people can do. Sure, you can give your friend another pair of socks or a book they probably won’t read. But, this year why not make a real difference in someone else’s life?

Women’s Post spoke with Greg Thomson, director of research for Charity Intelligence, an organization that analyzes charitable investments and provides donors with information about their return. This essentially means they do the work for you — they review each charity and find out which one makes the most positive change for their clients. “There are over 86,000 registered charities in Canada. Some of them are doing an excellent job at helping people, helping society, and changing lives.  However, some charities are not,” Thomson says. “Some charities provide programs that are costly and accomplish very little in terms of making change occur in the lives of the people they work with. If donors do not want to have their donations wasted, they should do a little research to understand just how the charities they are working with are changing lives.”

Thomson also wanted to remind holiday shoppers that gift giving is a very personal experience. If you donate in someone else’s name, make sure it is a charity or social organization that does work they care about.

“It can certainly be a good thing to give a small gift in the name of a child and provide some background information to the child to get them to think about charity. But if you’re giving to an adult, I would recommend a CanadaHelps gift card so that the person can choose their own charity and make it more personal,” he said.

If you are looking for some options, here are the top 10 charities in Canada, according to Charity Intelligence, to give to this holiday season.

Aunt Leah’s Place: This BC-based organizations helps children in foster care and mother’s at risk of losing custody. Over 700 young people in British Columbia “age out” of the foster care system when they turn 19. These people don’t get any social or financial support from the government and often are forced to live on the street. Aunt Leah’s offers support housing as well as programs for mothers and people who have been left behind by the foster care system.

Calgary Urban Project Society: This charity helps people overcome poverty through a variety of education, health, and housing services. The educational services are especially important for children, who enter the program about 1.5 grade levels behind their peers.

Doctors without Borders: This charity is probably the most well known disaster response organization specializing in medical care It is a “first in” and “first out” response team that provides medical assistance to those injured in war or natural disasters.

Eva’s Initiative: Eva’s provides shelter and programs for at-risk youth. They have three shelters that can each host 123 young people a night. They also host training and education programs that help youth complete high school credits and gain access to post-secondary institutions. They also offer mental health services.

Food for Life: This organization, based out of Burlington, is distributing fresh and nutritional foods to to local agencies. Staff collect extra perishable goods from grocery stores and food agencies to donate to those in need. Food for Life helps over 4,000 people in Toronto, most of whom live on $4 a day.

Fresh Start Recovery Program: This agency helps treat men with alcohol and drug addictions. Fresh Start offers temporary housing during the 12-week abstinence-based program as well as counselling and financial support.

Indspire: Indspire helps Indigenous students across Canada complete their post-secondary education by providing financial support and education mentorship programs. Only 10 per cent of Indigenous students complete university degrees. Indspire is hoping to change that.

Jump Math: This organization runs math programs for children and elementary school students (up until grade 8) with the goal of encouraging more young people to love science and math. It also provides coaching and professional development programs for teachers and educators.

Moisson Montreal: Moisson Montreal is the largest food bank in Canada. It collects food donations and distributes it to local charities throughout the city. It also runs a food recovery program in which excess food supplies is collected from supermarkets.

At the end of the day, remember that giving is not restricted to the holiday season. Often charities experience a lull in donations in the New Year, making it difficult to maintain service quality year-round. If you are able, instead of making a one-time donation, make a smaller, but monthly donation.

Wildfire Thomas fifth largest in history of California

California’s wildfire, named Thomas, is still raging, becoming the worst of the five fires currently destroying the countryside. After spreading to more than 50,000 acres on Sunday, Thomas has set the record as the fifth largest wildfire in the history of the state. The fire is much more severe than those seen in Boston and New York in recent years.

To date, more than 230,000 acres have been destroyed by the fire and almost 5000 homes were issued evacuation orders after being placed in the latest danger zones. Due to unpredictable and shifting winds, combined with low humidity, this has caused the fire to burn uncontrollably for more than a week.

After a week not much has changed. The Governor of California, Rick Brown, issued a sombre statement, telling residents of Southern California this is the new normal. Close to 800 structures have been destroyed by the fire.

“With climate change, some scientists are saying that Southern California is literally burning up,” Brown said in a statement. ” So we have to have the resources to combat the fires and we also have to invest in managing the vegetation and forests, in a place thats getting hotter.” Brown also told reporters that he sees extreme fire activity happening on a regular basis for decades to come.

More than 5700 firefighters, from 100 different crews, have been putting in their efforts to help contain and control the wildfires, But heavy winds are making the task extremely difficult. In the past week, firefighters were only able to contain 15 per cent of the vast fire and this number is expected to drop over the next week.

The fire started in Ventura County last Monday. Only one person has died so far — Virginia Pesola, 70, passed away at the scene of a car crash along the evacuation route. There is still a red flag warning in effect for most of Los Angeles.

So far, the state has spent more than $34 million in relief efforts in order to try and contain Thomas. Thousands of residential areas are without electricity and over 200,000  people have had to evacuate their home since last Monday.

The White House has approved additional funding  to combat Thomas and California will receive direct federal assistance. New evacuation orders have also been issued, as the fire threatens another 25,000 homes in the Santa Barbara county. The evacuation orders are for the area spanning Buena Vista Drive to Toro Canyon Road.

Back in October, fires destroyed parts of Northern Calofirnina, killing almost 40 people and destroying close to 9000 homes.