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morning update newsletter

Good morning,

This is what we know so far about the Toronto van attack:

Ten people are dead and 15 others injured after a van mowed down pedestrians across a busy stretch of Yonge Street in north Toronto

The attack: At about 1:30 p.m. Monday, a white rental van mounted the sidewalk at Yonge and Finch Avenue, before continuing southbound for several blocks, hitting people along the way. Witnesses described seeing people strewn across the pavement, covered in blood as emergency workers tried to keep up with the carnage. Police have described the attack as “deliberate.”

The arrest: After the van came to a stop, the driver exited and faced off with a police officer. In videos, the man is seen pointing an object at police while shouting “Kill me!” The officer tells him to get down, eventually arresting him with no shots fired.

The suspect: Police have identified the suspect as Alek Minassian, 25, from Richmond Hill, Ont. He was not previously known to police and so far there is no indication he was motivated by terrorist ideology. Former classmates said Minassian appeared to suffer from a social disability.

The victims: As of Monday night, police were still working to identify all of the victims and notify their relatives. Of the 15 injured, at least one is in critical condition.

The investigation: The 2.2-kilometre stretch of Yonge Street where the attack took place will be shut down for days as investigators conduct a massive investigation.

For the latest updates on the attack, go here.

Views from our columnists

John Ibbitson writes: “At certain times, we need to remind ourselves of truths that we tend to ignore when things are routine. This is one of those times. We are a peaceful, tolerant, free society. The horrific violence on Toronto’s Yonge Street will strengthen rather than undermine these truths.”

Marcus Gee says the lesson to take from the attack is “not that Toronto is vulnerable, but that Toronto is strong. The city motto is Diversity Our Strength. Every day, this city puts on a masterclass in co-existence. People from every corner of the world are streaming to live here because of it. Acts such as this won’t divide us. They will only remind us of what we have and how precious it is.”

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Patrick Brown filed a defamation lawsuit against CTV

The former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader alleges his political career and reputation were “demolished” by the reporting of sexual misconduct allegations. The suit, which is seeking $8-million in damages, says the reporting was “false, malicious, unfair and irresponsible.” CTV News said it “stands by its reporting and will vigorously defend it in court.”

Vancouver’s empty-homes tax will bring in $30-million in its first year

But that income will only come from a small proportion of homeowners: More than 5,000 of the 8,500 properties deemed vacant received exemptions. And nearly 1,000 of the 8,500 are disputing the classification. In the end, 1,200 properties are being hit with the tax, with some paying as much as $250,000.

NHL playoffs: Leafs force Game 7 against Bruins

The Toronto Maple Leafs won for a second straight game to keep their playoff dreams alive. The Leafs beat the Bruins 3-1 on home ice, with the series now shifting back to Boston on Wednesday for the pivotal Game 7. The winner of that game will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.

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It’s a boy for Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

The royal couple welcomed their third child yesterday in London. The boy is now the fifth in line to the British throne, following Prince Charles, Prince William and their two other children, George and Charlotte. The couple hasn’t announced his name yet, but bookmakers have Albert, Arthur, Jack and Fred as some of the favourites.


Stocks steady

Global stocks steadied on Tuesday after three sessions of losses thanks to strong earnings from the likes of Google and as a rise in U.S. bond yields towards the key 3 per cent level stalled, while Brent oil prices stretched to fresh highs above $75 a barrel. Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 0.9 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 1.3 per cent, and the Shanghai composite 2 per cent. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 and Germany’s DAX were up by between 0.3 and 0.4 per cent by about 6:25 a.m. ET, while the Paris CAC 40 was down 0.1 per cent. New York futures were also up. The loonie was up slightly, but remained below 78 US cents.


Another summer, another border crisis

“About 20,000 asylum-seekers entered Canada here last year – and this year’s influx has only just begun. In other parts of the world, desperate asylum seekers risk their lives on leaky boats, or entrust their fate to human smugglers. But Canada is easy. To get to Canada, all you have to do is take a cab to the border. Your greeting will be warm. The new arrivals at Roxham Road look more like tourists than endangered refugees. Their suitcases are neatly lined up as they wait for buses to take them to their temporary accommodations, where they will receive food, shelter, medical care, financial support, work permits, schooling for their kids – and, eventually, a refugee hearing. No wonder Canada is such a popular destination.” – Margaret Wente

Homeopathy leaves us deluded by diluted remedies

“Homeopathy was conceived by Samuel Hahnemann in the late 18th century. It is based on the belief that “like cures like“ and that the dilution and shaking of a substance – a process called “potentiation” – renders it not weaker but stronger. Homeopaths believe that the water molecules retain a “memory” of the original substance, allowing nano-doses to trigger a healing response in the body. This was no doubt a compelling theory in the 18th century, a time when conventional medicine consisted largely of bloodletting, leeches and enemas. Concepts like dilution and water memory have no basis in biology and physiology; they are not evidence-based. The best thing about homeopathy is that, when all is said and done, patients are essentially consuming sugar pills – deluded by dilution – which are unlikely to do any harm. The real harm comes from people forgoing legitimate treatments because they believe in magic.“ – André Picard

Facebook: A mass media micro-surveillance monopoly

“The biggest challenge to retaining the best that social media offers, while avoiding the increasingly evident pitfalls, is Facebook’s monopoly power. It can easily acquire threatening upstarts. Its pre-eminence and the lack of alternatives makes it hard for users to leave. Together, Facebook and Google earn more than half of all online advertising revenue, becoming effective gatekeepers for any newcomers elbowing their way onto the millions of screens needed for money-spinning internet ventures. Social media monopolists are prime targets for 21st century trust-busting. But Facebook’s social-networking surveillance model is booming and ballooning. Only 14 years old, the company claims more than two billion users and is worth nearly half a trillion dollars. Without concerted action to rein the company in, will the recent scandal be any setback to Facebook’s further growth?” – Andrew Clement (professor emeritus, University of Toronto) and David Lyon (professor, Queen’s University)


Why kids’ behaviour may be worse than ever − and how to fix it

Katherine Reynolds Lewis, the author of a new book about child behaviour, pinpoints three factors that explain why kids are acting worse these days: The decline in play, the proliferation of technology and the weaker links to our communities and ouramilies. Go here to read about her proposed solutions.


Rana Plaza building collapses in Bangladesh

April 24, 2013: It’s been five years since the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed near Dhaka, Bangladesh, leaving more than 1,100 people dead, 2,500 injured and marking one of the world’s worst industrial accidents. The day before the collapse, workers noticed cracks in the building, which produced clothing for companies ranging from Walmart to Loblaw’s Joe Fresh, leading to the building’s evacuation. The next morning, workers felt pressured to report to work despite their fears about the building’s structure, and, soon after, the multistorey edifice crumbled. Progress in improving working conditions at clothing factories in Bangladesh has been slow and subtle, but underscores how the disaster became a flashpoint in the debate over fashion production and the true cost of a cheap-chic T-shirt. Two coalitions were formed a year later to work for change: one with more than 200 members, many of whom are European companies such as Swedish retail chain H&M, and a lone Canadian company, Loblaw Cos. Ltd. Another group has 29 members, including Walmart Inc., Canadian Tire Corp. and Hudson’s Bay Co. Now these groups need to ensure investments continue to be made in improving garment employees’ working conditions, and consumers can’t become complacent about their $5 T-shirt. – Marina Strauss

Morning Update is written by Arik Ligeti.

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