New York taxi companies fined for overcharging refugees fleeing to Canada

Three Plattsburgh, New York, taxi cab companies will pay financial penalties for taking advantage of illegal immigrants fleeing the United States for Canada through practices including price gouging, the New York Attorney General’s office said on Wednesday.

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It said in a statement the fines came as part of a settlement after the three companies, Northern Taxi, Town Taxi and C & L Taxi, “admitted to not posting rates as required by law.”

READ MORE: Tougher airport screening could be why refugees are crossing the border on foot

Illegal crossings from the United States into Canada have become increasingly common in the months since U.S. President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a pledge to crack down on undocumented immigrants, took office in January.

The regular fare for the distance ranges from US$65-75, but at least one driver from a Plattsburgh cab company charged passengers as much as $300 for a trip to the border, prosecutors said.

“It’s no secret that we’ve seen intense fear in immigrant communities across New York in recent months. To take advantage of that fear for financial gain is simply unconscionable,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in the statement.

“My office won’t hesitate to crack down on those seeking to take advantage of this climate of fear.”

As part of the settlement, the Plattsburgh companies will pay penalties ranging from $350 to $2,500.

WATCH: Province to open shelter for asylum seekers near U.S. border

Northern Taxi did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment. The owner of C&L Taxi said she was not aware of the allegations. The operator of Town Taxi told Reuters they had not publicized fares.

On Wednesday, Reuters published a report about asylum seekers traveling to the Canadian border, based in part on an interview with C&L Taxi driver Curtis Seymour.

Seymour voted for Trump partly because of his immigration policies, but said he had grown increasingly sympathetic to his immigrant passengers.

Alaska politician censured for saying women get pregnant for ‘free trip to city’ for abortions

The Alaska House voted Wednesday to censure a Republican member over comments he made suggesting there are women in Alaska who try to get pregnant to get a “free trip to the city” for abortions.

During a floor speech before the vote, Rep. David Eastman of Wasilla asked for forgiveness from anyone he had hurt.

READ MORE: Alberta pro-life group defends school presentation comparing abortion to Holocaust

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Eastman, a first-term, conservative lawmaker who has developed a reputation for being outspoken in his beliefs, set off the firestorm last week in discussing his concerns about the use of state funds and Medicaid for abortions.

In an interview with The Associated Press on May 2, Eastman said there are not many places “where you have the kinds of incentives for abortion that we have in this state.”

“We have folks who try to get pregnant in this state so that they can get a free trip to the city, and we have folks who want to carry their baby past the point of being able to have an abortion in this state so that they can have a free trip to Seattle,” he said.

Eastman made similar comments later to a public radio reporter.

House members in both parties demanded he apologize, and his comments were widely condemned.

On Tuesday, leaders of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska called for Eastman’s censure in a release that referred to his comments as “racially-charged and misogynistic.” Many Alaska Natives live in rural communities, where health services are limited and travel often is needed to access care in larger communities.

During floor debate Wednesday, legislators expressed disgust with Eastman’s comments. Some said they had hoped to hear a sincere apology from Eastman but did not feel they had.

But there were concerns that the House might be setting precedent in formally rebuking someone for something they said.

Liberals sweep all seven Okanagan ridings

While the jury is still out on who will form government in British Columbia, the BC Liberal Party maintained its stronghold in the Okanagan by sweeping all seven ridings by large margins.

BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark was re-elected in Kelowna West after winning a 2013 by-election.

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick won a third term in Kelowna-Lake Country by more than 9,000 votes.

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“It is starting to sink in, so it is great, I feel wonderful and so proud to work with such a great team,” Letnick said at Okanagan Liberal headquarters on Tuesday night.

Fellow cabinet minister Steve Thomson was also re-elected for a third time in the riding of Kelowna-Mission with almost 60 per cent of the vote.

In the north Okanagan, Eric Foster clinched his third term in the riding of Vernon-Monashee.

“For anybody who has never done this, this is the longest day of your life, so we are really pleased,” Foster said.

Greg Kyllo will return to office in the Shuswap.

The closest race in the Okanagan was in Boundary-Similkameen where Liberal incumbent Linda Larson won a second term despite strong efforts by the NDP to unseat her.

“I think people were concerned about what the cost would be associated with an NDP government,” she said.

A difficult defeat for NDP challenger Colleen Ross who was visibly emotional during her concession speech.

“Here in the Boundary-Similkameen maybe they are just not ready yet for the kind of love we wanted to pour into their lives,” she said.

Also in the south Okanagan Dan Ashton clinched a second term in Penticton.

There was a crushing defeat for the Greens and the NDP in the Okanagan.

“It is tough being Green right,” said Alison Shaw, Green candidate in Kelowna-Lake Country.

“I’m disappointed of course,” said Shelley Cook, NDP candidate in Kelowna-West.

Now all eyes shift to the province-wide results as B.C. could see its first minority government in 65 years.

Donald Trump firing James Comey compared to Nixon’s ‘Saturday Night Massacre’

U.S. President Donald Trump‘s surprise firing of FBI Director James Comey drew swift comparisons to the Richard Nixon-era “Saturday Night Massacre.”

Both cases involve a president getting rid of an official leading an investigation that could ensnare the White House.

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On that Saturday night in 1973, Nixon ordered the firing of the independent special prosecutor overseeing the Watergate investigation, prompting the resignations of the top two officials at the Justice Department.

This week, Trump fired the FBI director in the midst of an investigation into whether Trump’s campaign had ties to Russian meddling in the election that may have helped send him to the White House.

READ MORE: Donald Trump fires FBI director James Comey: Here’s what happens next

Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University, said the comparison was “apt.”

“Obviously there are different circumstances. But it’s about a president that’s seeming to lurch into abuse of power,” he said.

Nixon ordered Archibald Cox fired for his continued efforts to obtain tape recordings made at the White House. Cox had said he would not bow to “exaggerated claims of executive privilege” and drop his pursuit of the tapes.

WATCH: After Comey’s firing, where does the Russia investigation go from here?

Attorney General Elliot Richardson refused to carry out Nixon’s order and resigned in protest. Richardson’s deputy, William Ruckelshaus, also refused and resigned as well. Finally, Solicitor General Robert Bork, the third-ranking official at Justice, fired the prosecutor.

In this case, Trump had the power to fire the FBI director himself. The White House cited a Justice Department official’s concerns about the director’s handling of last year’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices.

READ MORE: James Comey fired as FBI boss days after seeking more resources for Russia probe, officials say

But Democrats criticizing Trump’s stunning move say the two cases are similar because Comey was overseeing an FBI investigation into both Russia’s hacking of Democratic groups last year and whether Trump campaign associates had ties to Moscow’s election interference.

Three U.S. officials say Comey told lawmakers that he had recently asked the Justice Department for more money for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling.

“This is Nixonian,” Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., declared on 杭州桑拿会所 on Tuesday, calling for a “special prosecutor to continue the Trump/Russia investigation.”

The White House has said there is no evidence of any ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. In his letter to Comey, Trump stressed that the FBI director had told him “on three occasions, that I am not under investigation.”

There are some differences. Brinkley noted that the Watergate investigation was further along, while the Russia probe is just beginning. And after Nixon’s firings, Brinkley said a number of Republicans “started going after the leader of their own party” and that has not happened yet in Trump’s case.

The Richard Nixon Library pushed back on the comparison on its official 杭州桑拿会所 account Tuesday, writing: “FUN FACT: President Nixon never fired the Director of the FBI.”

GTA service contractor accepts money, doesn’t do work: clients

A Mississauga maintenance contractor took money but didn’t do the job, according to former clients and Global News viewers who say consumers should beware.

“He preys on the weak, senior citizens who have no ability to shovel their own snow,” one viewer said, after paying Jerry DiCesare, the owner of Jerry’s All Season Landscaping, $450 to clear snow for his elderly mother in Mississauga.

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The customer, who asked not to be identified because he says his mother is concerned about her safety, said DiCesare accepted money but showed up only twice and insisted on full payment.

READ MORE: Contractor doesn’t clear snow as promised for Mississauga senior

“He should be brought down,” the man said.

Miro Lacka, who also hired DiCesare, said the contractor also didn’t show up for work. Lacka said DiCesare damaged his garage door with his truck on one of two occasions when he did come to clear snow. It will cost more than $1600 to replace the door.

“He’s been scamming people. He’s dishonest. I don’t know how he’s in business,” Lacka said, adding he went to Peel Regional Police last winter to complain about DiCesare.

READ MORE: Snow shovelling no-shows a problem after major Toronto storm

DiCesare, whose business card reads, “Jerry’s All Season Landscaping your total lawn care solution, serving Mississauga for over 27 years,” recently put an advertisement seeking summer lawn care customers in the Mississauga News.

Global News confronted DiCesare at a home in Mississauga Tuesday and asked him to explain why there are persistent complaints. DiCesare offered no defence or explanation.

Consumers are urged to check references before hiring contractors of any kind. In the case of snow clearing or landscape maintenance, it’s advisable to use a contractor on a pay-per-use basis, at least initially.

With files from Lucas Di Rocco