Monthly Archives: August 2018

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Google tightens privacy controls

Google Inc. launched on Thursday a new privacy settings page so users can delete all the personal information the Internet giant is storing about them.

Millions of people who have signed up for any of Google’s consumer services, such as Gmail, alerts, YouTube and Picasa, are now able to use a new service called Google Dashboard, where they can log into a console and see all the personal data Google stores about them.

Consumers can simply peruse the information, or they can edit or delete it.

The move to tighten privacy controls comes amid concerns over the prevalence of behavioral marketing, which allows companies to target ads by tracking their online activities.

"Have you ever wondered what data is stored in your Google account? The Google Dashboard offers a simply view into the data associated with your account – easily and concisely in one location," according to a posting Thursday on Google’s official blog.

"Transparency, choice and control have become a key part of Google’s philosophy, and today, we’re happy to announce that we’re doing even more."

The kinds of data stored vary based on Google’s various products.

For example, in Gmail, sent and received emails and email drafts, attachments and chat messages can all be saved.

Google’s web history feature saves online search history if the user has it turned on, and helps provide more personalized search results.

"The Dashboard brings together this data in one, easy to manage format, giving you an unprecedented level of visibility and control over that data," according to the company.

Google Dashboard was developed by engineering teams in Munich and Zurich and is available in 17 languages.

Users can access it at google杭州龙凤/dashboard or in the settings page of their Google account.

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Victoria brushes up for date with royals

On the eve of a visit to Victoria by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, artisans are finishing stained-glass panels, Christ Church Cathedral is fine-tuning its remembrance service, Government House is getting an extra scrubbing and CFB Esquimalt is preparing for a royal inspection.

The royal couple is to arrive at Victoria airport at 3:25 p.m. tomorrow and will travel by motorcade to the legislature for a welcoming ceremony. On Saturday, they fly to Vancouver to view the Olympic and Paralympic village before attending separate engagements in the afternoon, returning to Victoria for a reception and dinner at Government House, where they’re staying.

On Sunday, they’ll attend a 10:30 a.m. remembrance service at Christ Church, then on Monday, they’ll visit CFB Esquimalt before flying to Ottawa in the afternoon.

Your best chance to glimpse Charles and Camilla – or even shake their hands – is likely tomorrow afternoon outside the legislature. You might have another opportunity at the Anglican cathedral on Sunday.

“I’m pretty sure there will be a crowd outside waiting for their arrival,” said Logan McMenamie, dean of Christ Church, who noted all 900 tickets for the hour-long service have been distributed to parishioners, military veterans and the public.

McMenamie and Bishop James Cowan will officiate.

The service won’t include communion, because members of the Royal Family don’t take communion in public, but will focus on remembrance of those who have served their countries. There will be prayers, a period of silence, bell ringing and hymns such as God Bless the Prince of Wales.

“It’s not going to be a normal Sunday morning but we’ll try to give them an appreciation of the hymns we’d be singing here and a remembrance service is what we’d normally do on this Sunday,” McMenamie said.

Meanwhile, Ed Schaefer and Tom Mercer are busy at their Rock Bay studio putting the last touches on a stained-glass window illustrating the Annunciation, when, according to Christian teachings, the angel Gabriel tells Mary she’s going to have a baby. That window will be dedicated by Charles and Camilla on Sunday.

The four panels have been in the works for months, but now it’s crunch time, Schaefer said. “We’re going full out.”

Government House is preparing for the royal couple and their entourage, which will number about 15, said Herb LeRoy, the lieutenant-governor’s private secretary.

“We try to be prepared at any time for his honour to be able to offer accommodation, so we’re pretty much set up,” LeRoy said.

Fresh flowers and plants are added to the rooms and extra cleaning is carried out, he said.

The menu for the dinner on Saturday isn’t being made public, but B.C. food and wines will be prominent. “The chef goes to great extent to feature B.C. foods. This is British Columbia’s house, so we sell B.C. to the world through this.”

The 110 to 120 guests have been invited by the lieutenant-governor and the premier.

At CFB Esquimalt, a short ceremony will include the raising of the Canadian navy centennial flag for the first time, marking the 2010 anniversary of the navy’s inception, said navy spokesman Lieut. Paul Pendergast.

The royal couple continued their tour of Newfoundland and Labrador yesterday, where John Crosbie, the lieutenant-governor, wore a full-length sealskin coat.

Crosbie told reporters he wore the coat “to make a statement” to the royals about the importance of the seal hunt to the province, despite the controversy it generates in parts of Europe.

“They took it in their stride. I don’t think they were upset by it,” he said.

Later in the day, Charles and Camilla travelled to Toronto. Charles met with business leaders to discuss the social responsibilities of corporations. Camilla toured the Royal Conservatory of Music.

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– With Canwest News Service

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Olympic rings light up Vancouver’s inner harbour

VANCOUVER – A set of 14-metre tall Olympic Rings floating in Coal Harbour that will shine throughout the Games were lit today by Premier Gordon Campbell to mark the start of the 100-day countdown to the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

"The Olympic Rings are one of the iconic symbols of these Games and this inner harbour showpiece will be a visual focal point for billions of people watching 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games worldwide and for visitors and residents to our province during the Games," Campbell said in a press release.

"When Canadian athletes win medals, these rings will put on a programmable light show that will spread the excitement of their success across the city, throughout British Columbia and across Canada. These rings were also designed and built by B.C. firms and showcase the kind of green-technology innovation taking place in our province."

The rings have thousands of individual LED lights that can be programmed for complex light show displays and will be visible from around the harbour, the premier’s office said. They measure 13.7 metres (45 feet) high by 29.3 metres (96 feet) wide. As part of B.C.’s commitment to a green games the lights in the display use energy efficient bulbs that consume approximately eight per cent of the electricity of equivalent incandescent bulbs.

"As we kick off the 100-day countdown to the 2010 Games and as we celebrate the first days of the Olympic Torch Relay, the excitement is building in every corner of the province," Campbell said.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our communities, our province and our nation, and we will all share in the pride when those Olympic Rings light up in celebration of Canada’s first medal of the 2010 Games."

There are now two sets of LED Olympic rings in the lower mainland. The other is near Vancouver International Airport.

The inner harbour rings are moored at Brockton Point and will be moved for lightshow events.

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Telus begins selling iPhones today

VANCOUVER – Telus became the third Canadian wireless carrier to sell Apple’s popular iPhone, launching the device today in conjunction with the rollout of its new network.

The network, which Telus is calling 3G+, is a joint initiative with Bell. It covers 1.1 million square kilometres of Canada and has data speeds of up to 21 megabits per second.

The Telus rollout comes the day after Bell announced its new network and pricing plans, in a move that marked an end to Rogers’ exclusive hold on the iPhone market in Canada.

The Telus smartphone plans, which include voicemail, call waiting and conference calling start at $50 a month for 100 local anytime minutes, plus 50 bonus minutes, unlimited calling and text messages for five number or 1,000 outgoing and unlimited incoming texts or double anytime minutes. It also includes unlimited night time local calls starting at 9 pm and 500 megabytes of data.

The $65 a month plan has 200 local anytime minutes, plus 50 bonus minutes, unlimited nationwide calling and text for five number or unlimited incoming text messages or double anytime minutes. It also has unlimited night time local calling that starts at 9 p.m. and it includes one gigabyte of data.

For $80 a month, smartphone customers get the same features as the $65 plan, with calling timed bumped up to 350 local minutes anytime with a 50-minute bonus and data increased to two gigabytes.

The $100 a month plan increases the local minutes to 450 plus 50 minutes bonus and it includes three gigabytes of data, with the rest of the features the same as the plans that start at $65 a month.

Tethering is included in the plans, which have an account set up charge of $35. Additional long distance minutes in Canada and from the Canada to the U.S. are 35 cents a minute and pay-per-use text messaging is 15 cents per message.

Telus mobile data plans start at $30 a month for 500 MB, $35 for one gig, $50 for two GB, $65 for three GB and $85 for five GB. Additional data is five cents per megabyte with U.S. data roaming $3 per megabyte and international roaming $25 per megabyte.

Telus also announced new plans for regular wireless phones with details on the Telus mobility web site.

The company recently dropped its controversial system access and carrier 911 fees for its wireless customers

Telus had earlier announced prices for the iPhone that start at $199 for the 16 GB 3GS and apply for three-year contracts of $50 a month a more. The 32 GB version is $299 with a three year contract.

According to Telus, customers can choose to keep their current plan or switch to a new one without penalty or without extending their contract.

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SFU, McGill grab top spots in Maclean’s rankings

Simon Fraser University was first in the comprehensive category and for the fifth-year running, McGill University has nabbed the top spot in this year’s Maclean’s magazine university rankings.

The Montreal school took the No. 1 spot in the medical doctoral category of the rankings, released Thursday, and the University of Toronto ranked second, its same rank as last year.

Queen’s University, however, fell from second place in 2008, when it tied with Toronto, to third place.

Institutions in the medical doctoral category have medical schools and a variety of PhD programs, and generally receive higher research grants than other schools.

The University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta maintained their 2008 rankings of fourth and fifth.

Simon Fraser University in Burnaby was ranked first in the comprehensive category for the second year in a row. The University of Victoria was ranked second.

Schools placed in the comprehensive category by Maclean’s offer professional degrees and a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs, and conduct a significant amount of research.

Waterloo retained its same rank at third, as did Guelph, at fourth.

The fifth spot went to Memorial University.

In the primarily undergraduate category, East Coasts schools dominated the rankings, with Mount Allison University in New Brunswick placing first and Acadia in Nova Scotia placing second. The University of Northern British Columbia placed third.

St. Francis Xavier and Wilfrid Laurier tied for fourth. Bishop’s University ranked 11th and made a major jump up from its 17th place finish last year.

A full list of the annual rankings are listed in a special issue of the magazine available Thursday.

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Prince Charles, Camilla visit Hamilton’s Dundurn Castle

HAMILTON, Ont. – A cheering crowd of more than 400 greeted Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, in Hamilton Thursday morning as the royal couple visited Dundurn Castle, the ancestral home of the Duchess of Cornwall.

Arriving by motorcade, Bowles and Prince Charles waved at the large crowd gathered outside the castle and shook hands with the mass of smiling supporters.

Dee Dee Larocque managed to have her picture taken with Prince Charles, and said the first thing he did was shake her hand.

"I was surprised at how cordial he was," she said grinning from ear to ear. "He was really, really charming."

"He said to me: `I hope you haven’t been waiting too long,"’ she said.

After about five minutes, the royal couple joined Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger and began their tour of Dundurn Castle.

Built between 1832 and 1835, the distinctive Regency-style chateau was constructed for Sir Allan Napier MacNab, Bowles’ great-great-great grandfather.

Sir Allan became prime minister of the United Province of Canada in 1854. He would be buried on the castle grounds in 1862.

This is Bowles’ first visit to Canada, and Prince Charles’ first since remarrying in 2005.

The 72-room Dundurn Castle was restored by the City of Hamilton in the 1960s, and now acts as a military museum, with guided tours, as well as a popular wedding location.

Thursday afternoon, the royal couple will tour HMCS Haida and unveil a plaque to commemorate their visit.

Prince Charles will later tour the Niagara College Teaching Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

They will return to Toronto in the evening, when Prince Charles will present new colours to the Royal Regiment of Canada and the Toronto Scottish Regiment.

The presentation of colours is a British tradition where a member of the Royal family will present a new flag to a military unit. Historically, that flag would be carried into battle.

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Dead Ontario baby likely had H1N1 flu: health authorities

LONDON, Ont. – A two-month old baby who died Wednesday likely had the H1N1 flu, according to health officials in this southwestern Ontario city.

This is believed to be the first death of an infant, possibly related to H1N1 flu, in the province.

The baby boy died early Wednesday morning after being admitted to the London Health Sciences Centre on Monday.

An elderly couple in their 70s, also died from flu-like symptoms in London Wednesday, according to the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

The elderly man and woman both had multiple underlying medical conditions but the baby did not, said Dr. Graham Pollett, the unit’s chief medical officer late Wednesday.

"It’s our understanding that the baby was healthy prior to being admitted to hospital," he said.

All three were ill with influenza A, but further testing will be completed to determine if they were also sick with H1N1. Results were expected in the next few days from the lab in Toronto.

"Although the exact virus subtype is not yet known, all three cases are likely to be the novel H1N1 strain, as it is the only influenza A strain currently circulating in the community," according to the news release.

The couple and the baby shared no relationship.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends who have lost their loved ones," he said in a release.

The identities of the three have not been released but all lived in the London area.

So far, the province has had 37 confirmed H1N1 flu-related deaths since April.

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Accused murderer tells trial of how he stalked his estranged wife

Christopher Little was calm and cool, amiable even, as he laid bare for a Superior Court jury the myriad ways in which he quietly stalked his estranged wife in the months before her 2007 murder.

He installed a listening device in her car, repeatedly tested her clothes for semen, even followed her to a Toronto hotel room after tracing her movements via GPS.

Julie Crocker had certain tells, Mr. Little testified, behaviours that showed when she was having an affair — something that happened at least thrice in the course of their relationship.

In the weeks before their 1997 wedding (pictured above), he said, she chalked her infidelity up to “cold feet,” and the couple moved on. Seven years later, Mr. Little became convinced it was happening again.

“˜”˜She started going out later, coming home later every night, secret phone calls,” he told the jury in a packed Newmarket courtroom today, during his first day of testimony as the defence’s main witness.

Ms. Crocker was found slain in the early morning hours of Feb. 12, 2007, her throat slashed as she lay in the couple’s marital bed in Markham. In the garage, Mr. Little told police he found another woman’s body hanging from the rafters. That woman was Paula Menendez, the estranged wife of Toronto sportscaster Rick Ralph, who had recently started dating Ms. Crocker.

Etched into the top of Mr. Ralph’s car, parked at the Crocker/Little residence, was the word “suffer.”

Mr. Little is charged with first-degree murder in both deaths.

In late 2004 or early 2005, Mr. Little said, he confronted his wife with his suspicions of an affair – a charge she denied.

“˜”˜Did you believe her?” Defence lawyer John Rosen asked.

“˜”˜No,” Mr. Little replied.

And so, he testified, he bought a digital recorder, covertly stashed it in Ms. Crocker’s Volvo, and eventually recorded evidence that she was having an affair.

“˜”˜I had met this person a few times,” Mr. Little said. “˜”˜I confronted her one evening with the tape and empty suitcases … for her to pack up.”

Instead, the couple decided to try to reconcile. Ms. Crocker started spending more time with her family, Mr. Little said, ditching the late client dinners for lunches, and showing a “recommitment” to their marriage.

Then, in spring of 2006, it started happening all over again, said Mr. Little, 38, clad in a dark suit and tie. The late evenings out. Inconsistent stories.

And so he began to keep a journal, tracking her every move, even noting when she showered — an indicator, he said, of when she planned to go out.

An entry from August, 2006, reads: “Insisted on going out. Clothes in laundry. Check positive.”

That check, Mr. Little explained, was a kit he used to determine whether semen was present on his wife’s shirt. It was. He brought the shirt to a lab for DNA testing. The semen was not his.

He kept records of all this “for a divorce lawyer,” he said, but did not confront his wife directly until October, when he used a GPS device he secretly installed in her car to track her to a hotel in the Bloor and Jarvis area, where he found her in a room with Mr. Ralph.

Mr. Little says his marriage dissolved soon afterward.

“˜”˜We had some very big trust issues, both of us,” he said.

But he still loved Ms. Crocker, drafting letters and songs and sending flowers in the hopes of reigniting a spark. It still fizzled out.

Their separation became official and took on an air of permanency in January, 2007, he testified, when the couple began to discuss how to divide assets such as their marital home.

The only time Mr. Little showed emotion today was when he discussed the effects of his failed marriage on his eldest daughter, Madison, now 7.

“˜”˜She just seemed to be taking it a little harder,” he said, choking up and pausing to wipe his eyes with a tissue.

Asked point blank whether he killed Ms. Crocker or Ms. Menendez, Mr. Little categorically denied the charges.

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Toronto needs to levy its own sales tax, city budget chief says

Shelley Carroll, the city budget chief who is considering a bid for the mayoralty, suggested Wednesday that Toronto should levy a municipal sales tax.

“We will soon be the only city of its size in North America that doesn’t have a sales tax,” Councillor Carroll (Don Valley East) told a breakfast discussion at the National Club. “We are missing an opportunity to build it into the HST.”

“There is one thing that stopped New York City from going broke in the early 1960s, and that was the sales tax,” Ms. Carroll said, adding that Chicago, too, uses proceeds from its sales tax to fund its transit system. “If it’s not a part of the discussion then you’re just fooling yourself.”

This idea goes even further than Mayor David Miller’s famous “One Cent Now” campaign, which he splashed all over bus shelters two years ago, asking Ottawa to fork over to cities 1¢ of the GST. Mr. Miller wanted the money, not the power to collect the tax on hamburgers and haircuts. His idea did not fly in Ottawa.

Ms. Carroll calls a city sales tax a prerequisite for Toronto’s success, and even suggested that Mr. Miller was willing to carry the ball for a local sales tax — as part of the HST rollout next year — before his abrupt decision to not seek a third term as mayor.

“Every global city has two things we don’t,” she said. “A stable formula for sharing operating costs of public transit with the federal government, and revenue sources that grow with the economy.”

Ms. Carroll has some fans with her tax plan. Glen Murray, the former mayor of Winnipeg who now heads the Canadian Urban Institute in Toronto, has long been a fan of city sales taxes. Mr. Murray, considering his own bid for the Toronto mayoralty, notes that major U.S. cities benefit when tourists visit, for example, by collecting sales taxes on the tourists’ purchases, whereas Canadian cities end up subsidizing tourists’ transit rides without realizing any benefits. He did not return calls on Wednesday.

The Toronto Board of Trade, whose director of policy Brian Zeiler-Kligman also joined the panel — organized by Global Public Affairs — dodged a question about a city sales tax, saying he’d wait and see whether any politician had the guts to actually ask for that tax authority. Toronto right now has power in the City of Toronto Act to levy a hotel tax and a liquor tax, but has not done so.

What is the right level of taxation? Toronto did last year impose a vehicle registration tax and a land transfer tax. Wednesday, a city council committee discussed a new tax on billboards. We also pay separately for water and garbage.

“Holy mackerel,” said Councillor Doug Holyday (Etobicoke Centre), when told of Ms. Carroll’s tax idea. “Those other taxes that were supposed to save our a – are only paying half of the subsidy for the TTC.”

He noted that the city subsidy to the TTC operating budget has leapt from 14% to 29% over the past few years, and suggested Toronto should spend less rather than tax more.

Right now, the city budget is a messy document, with money coursing in from Ottawa and Ontario — from the gas tax and elsewhere — and flowing out the other end; a city sales tax, if it’s not a new tax grab, has the potential to clarify the role of each level of government. Toronto, however, always seems to spend every penny it gets — and then look for more.

“We are now getting $600-million a year more from the federal and provincial government,” Mr. Zeiler-Kligman told the panel. “The problem is that the city budget has grown by $1-billion in that period.”

—— –

Many American cities have sales taxes, including these four:

“¢ New York City

4.5% sales tax on many goods and services, including hotel rooms, food and beverages at restaurants, and admission charges.

“¢ Chicago, Illinois

1.25% sales tax.

Five-cent bottled water tax.

9% fountain soft drink syrup tax.

3.5% hotel tax.

0.25% restaurant tax.

“¢ Denver, Colorado

3.62% sales tax, which includes entertainment and telephone services.

10.75% lodger’s tax.

4% food and drink tax.

“¢ Phoenix, Arizona

2% sales tax.

5% hotel tax (2% for non-transients).

2% restaurant and bar tax.

2% rental tax.

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Mom’s ex-boyfriend confesses on stand: I killed toddler

The former live-in boyfriend of a woman accused of killing her two-year-old daughter confessed in court Wednesday that he was the person who actually inflicted the fatal injuries.

"I want to come clean and make this right," said Johnny Bermudez. "It is not fair that someone be punished for something they did not do. I can’t go on like this," he added in a day of emotional testimony.

The dramatic confession came out during the second-degree-murder trial of Erika Mendieta, 33, accused of causing the injuries that led to the death of her daughter Emmily Lucas in November 2003.

Mr. Bermudez was living with Ms. Mendieta at the time in their North York home.

The Ontario Superior Court jury has heard that he is the father of one of her five surviving children.

Emmily died from severe head trauma more than a week later. Her body was covered with bruises and marks, which were not present on Ms. Mendieta’s other children.

She admitted to disciplining Emmily by spanking the child and using a slipper, but denied causing the fatal injuries, when she testified in her defence earlier this week.

It was only this summer that Mr. Bermudez admitted to her that he lost his temper and struck Emmily, testified Ms. Mendieta.

Mr. Bermudez confirmed Wednesday that he hit Emmily and his child while Ms. Mendieta was out of the home on the afternoon of Nov. 13, 2003.

While he insisted that he caused the death, Mr. Bermudez also began his testimony by invoking protections under the Canada Evidence Act, since he was compelled to testify by the defence.

The testimony in court may only be used to prosecute Mr. Bermudez for perjury, if he is alleged to have lied under oath.

Defence lawyer Bob Richardson asked Mr. Bermudez why he did not admit to his actions earlier. "I was scared like s—," he replied.

Crown attorney Allison MacPherson began her cross-examination of Mr. Bermudez by going over numerous inconsistencies in previous statements to police about what happened.

"Everything I said prior to today was a lie," insisted Mr. Bermudez, who had trouble focusing on the questions. "Isn’t the point of this to say what I have done," he asked.

"The point of this is to answer the questions," Justice Todd Ducharme instructed the witness.

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