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.

HangZhou Night Net

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

HangZhou Night Net

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.

HangZhou Night Net

“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.

HangZhou Night Net

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.

HangZhou Night Net

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

Almost half of kitchens in this health study could give you a foodborne illness

Does your kitchen meet health standards?

Probably not, according to a study that looked at the kitchens in 100 homes in the Philadelphia area and found at least one “critical code violation” in every single one.

HangZhou Night Net

Jennifer Quinlan, lead author of the study that was published in Food Protection Trends, found that raw meat was improperly stored in 97 per cent of homes where it was present, and that nearly half of the kitchens had at least one foodborne disease-causing organism, like E-coli or Listeria.

READ MORE: Here’s why your bagged salad is a food poisoning risk

And since food-handling is the “the final defence against foodborne illness,” it’s extra important to make sure you’re not making these errors, the study said.

    Dirty sponges or dishcloths

People should clean their sponges or dishcloths just as they would their counters at the end of the day, or in the evening.

“It’s got moisture, it’s at room temperature, it’s probably got food particles… so it’s a perfect place for bacteria to multiply,” Quinlan said of a sponge.

Solution: Throw your sponge in the microwave or dishwasher each night to kill off bacteria. Or, as Quinlan put it: “Make sure you’re killing anything that might be on it from your food preparation.”

    Meat or poultry stored above other foods

Raw meat was found above ready-to-eat foods in 97 per cent of homes, the study showed. And that’s an issue because juices from the meat could leak down onto the food below before it’s consumed.

Solution: Keep your meat on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator.

RELATED: 5 things a Canadian food safety expert will never eat 

    High refrigerator temperatures

Your fridge temperature should be kept at 4 C (or 40 F in the U.S.). But Quinlan found that 43 per cent of homes had a fridge temperature higher than 41 F.

And that could cause bacteria like Listeria to grow.

“Every degree that your refrigerator is above that 40 degrees, the bacteria is going to grow faster,” Quinlan explains.

Along with a food safety issue, she said a colder temperature will also help your food last longer.

Solution: Get a fridge thermometer to measure the temperature.

    Pets allowed on food preparation surfaces

Having pets “in food preparation areas may increase the likelihood of fecal-oral contamination,” the study explained.

Yet in 44 per cent of homes, an animal was present in the kitchen at the time of inspection.

Solution: The bottom line is to “Keep your pets off food surfaces,” Quinlan stressed.

READ MORE: Norovirus outbreak linked to BC oysters: What you need to know

    No access to disinfectants or paper towels

Most homes had adequate dish soap, disinfectants and towels, but that wasn’t the case in a significant number of lower-income homes.

“If you don’t have money for food, things like paper towel, disinfectant seems like a luxury,” Quinlan said.

“But the reality is this population is not only at great risk for foodborne illnesses, but has a greater risk for any infectious disease because they don’t have the sanitation materials.”

Solution: This one’s harder to pin down. The obvious issue is to tell people to have disinfectant and towels handy, but as Quinlan writes in her study: “Outreach programs that provide financial assistance or increase access to items necessary for proper sanitation may be more beneficial than educational materials to these vulnerable populations.”

Recovering addict wants to convert Calgary home into addiction treatment centre

About 100 residents packed a southwest Calgary community centre on Wednesday night to voice their concerns about a proposed addiction rehab centre, which if created, would be located across the street from a school.

The controversy was stirred up when the owner of a Windsor Park infill launched a rezoning application to covert his home into a private treatment facility.

HangZhou Night Net

Vedran Cankovic is a recovering addict himself. He spent time in a facility like the one he would like to build, and believes that is one of the reasons he was able to get clean seven years ago.

He has put an application before the city to have his property re-zoned so he can turn his home into a drug and alcohol addiction treatment centre.

Cankovic spent time in a facility like the one he would like to build, and believes that is one of the reasons he was able to get clean seven years ago.

“People welcomed me with open arms. They didn’t shut me down because of a stigma.”

However, not all of Cankovic’s neighbours support his plan.

Earlier this week, an anonymous letter was distributed to Cankovic’s neighbours warning of potential negative impacts from an addiction facility. The letter, titled “PROTECT OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD!” said:

“We believe (this facility) will significantly DEVALUE PROPERTIES in our area as well as invite POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS INDIVIDUALS into our quiet, family-friendly neighbourhood.”

An anonymous letter was distributed to neighbours of a recovering addict after he applied to have his home converted to an addiction recovery centre.

Jill Croteau

It goes on to say the facility would be directly opposite the Windsor Park School and park.

One neighbor told Global News the biggest concerns for him are the vast number of unknowns.

“What we’re really concerned about – what the sign said: alcohol and drug treatment centre – it’s kind of a residential area as you can see. There’s kids playing behind me in the park and it’s right across the street,” Michael Hearn said.

He said they would like to learn more about the plans so they can make an informed decision as a neighbourhood.

WATCH: A recovering addict is hoping to turn his south Calgary home into an addiction recovery centre. However, not all his neighbours support his plan. Jill Croteau has the details.

Cankovic said he understands people are afraid, but believes we cannot ignore that addiction is all around us.

“We live among people who suffer in silence, that are scared to say: ‘I’m addicted.’

“It could be the soccer mom addicted to prescription drugs. Addiction doesn’t discriminate.”

With files from Jill Croteau

B.C. city now ranks among world’s top 2 luxury home markets, and it’s not Vancouver

With Vancouver feeling the effects of a tax on foreign buyers, international investors are turning to pricey real estate in B.C.’s quaint provincial capital.

So much so, in fact, that the city now ranks among the world’s top two luxury property markets.

Realtor predicts impact of 15% foreign buyer tax on B.C. real estate

05:04

Realtor predicts impact of 15% foreign buyer tax on B.C. real estate

01:28

Quebec immigrant investor program impacts B.C. real estate

02:50

B.C. real estate deals in jeopardy following foreign buyer tax announcement?

05:21

Presser: Christy Clark announces new B.C. real estate regulations

03:09

B.C. real estate agents under investigation for breaking rules



Victoria ranked second on a list of the world’s hottest luxury markets for 2016 in a report released by Christie’s International Real Estate and Chestnut Park Real Estate of Toronto on Wednesday.

The city’s ranking represented a climb from third place in the 2015 report; it didn’t rank among the hottest markets in 2014.

And it’s a ranking that came in a year that was its “best ever” for luxury home sales.

The legislature building in Victoria, B.C.

Danita Delimont / Getty Images

One of the biggest reasons that Victoria showed up in second place was that international buyers are being “deterred by nearby Vancouver’s new 15 per cent tax on overseas capital.”

But Victoria was just one of a number of Pacific Rim markets that showed up high on the rankings.

“Relatively strong local economies alongside national and overseas migration and capital inflows were key contributors to growth in these ‘hot’ luxury property markets,” the report said.

READ MORE: B.C. foreign buyers tax really did yank down Vancouver home prices: BMO

Luxury home sales in Victoria are just one sign that the B.C. foreign buyers tax is having impacts beyond Vancouver, it added.

Any shift in city-level policies “can have a ripple effect on the fortune and purchasing patterns of international buyers.”

And this is far from the first report to suggest an uptick in home sale activity (and prices) in Victoria following the tax’s introduction.

Earlier this year, BMO published a chart showing that prices dropped in Greater Vancouver but kept trending up in Victoria.

This chart shows that Vancouver home prices started dropping pretty clearly after July 2016, which was the last month before B.C. instituted a property transfer tax on foreign buyers.

BMO

HangZhou Night Net

As it happens, Toronto reclaimed its spot atop the list of the world’s hottest luxury home markets after falling to second place in 2015 and topping the list in 2014.

The rankings were determined by looking at factors such as the growth in sales for homes worth $1 million or more, as well as how many days such properties were spending on the market.

READ MORE: Soaring house prices in Toronto ‘deeply troubling’ for homebuyers: mayor

Home price trends like this often give rise to concerns about whether a city is in a housing bubble.

Indeed, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) recently said that Victoria is showing moderate signs of overheating; so is Toronto.

There are also plenty of questions about whether such price increases can be considered a good thing.

“Depends on if they own (and don’t care about their offspring’s ability to buy into their market too much, then it’s great news) or rent (then it’s not as great news),” UBC Prof. Tom Davidoff told Global News in an email.

But Toronto and Victoria weren’t the only cities that ranked among the world’s hottest luxury housing markets.

Here are the top 10 as listed by Christie’s and Chestnut Park Real Estate of Toronto:

10) San Diego

In this Nov. 25, 2009 file photo, The BMW Oracle trimaran sails past the San Diego skyline during testing in San Diego.

AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi, File

9) Sydney

People attend a yoga event in front of the Australia’s iconic landmark Opera House in Sydney on June 21, 2016.

Wendell Teodoro/AFP/Getty Images

8) Portland

The Portland skyline is visible through trees on the east bank of the Willamette River in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014.

(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

7) Paris

The Eiffel Tower is seen at sunset in Paris, France, Sunday, April 12, 2015.

THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Jeff McIntosh

6) Auckland

The Sky Tower lit up blue in Auckland, New Zealand.

David Rowland / Rex Features via

5) Charleston, S.C.

Charleston, S.C.

Wikimedia Commons user Melizabethi123

4) Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas.

Wikimedia Commons user Argash

3) San Francisco

In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, a jogger goes past the Warming Hut Cafe with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background in San Francisco.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

2) Victoria

The Fairmont Empress in Victoria.

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

1) Toronto

The CN Tower is barely visible amidst the looming grey clouds in these photos taken on June 30, 2015 in Toronto\’s downtown core.

File photo

Regina’s bat release a flying success

It’s the moment many people wait for every year: the annual bat release.

Nine big brown bats were released back into Wascana Park on Tuesday night at dusk. A small glow stick is temporarily glued to each critter’s belly, so the audience can watch the bats fly off into the wild.

HangZhou Night Net

“These animals tried to hibernate in buildings in Regina and picked bad places to hibernate,” Mark Brigham, a University of Regina biology professor said. “They came to our attention, and the Science Centre has a place they can look after them and feed them. And now it’s spring time and it’s nice, and we want to let them go because they’re still wild animals.”

The Saskatchewan Science Centre feeds the bats worms and crickets, Sheila Beaubien, Saskatchewan Science Centre’s public program co-ordinator said.

“They eat a lot,” she said.

Bats help pollinate flowers and are known as nature’s pesticide, Beaubien said.

“These animals will eat upwards of their entire weight in flying insects every single night in the summer,” Brigham said.

He said the bats probably won’t go beyond the city limits and will likely return to the building where they were born.

Brigham said he looks forward to teaching people more information about bats during the event.

“I never get tired of it. I never get tired of the cool questions. I never get tired of people saying oh, they’re cool, oh, they’re small or they’re neat, or I think they’re very, very loveable,” Brigham said.

Nearly 400 people showed up for the bat release, including young aspiring batmen and batwomen.

Brigham called the turnout fantastic.

“If that gets them to be a bit more interested in science and in particular the bits of science I do, then the next fabulous scientist might be in this park tonight,” he said.

Alberta cabinet minister cites limitations in child care death probe

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally indicated Serenity died while in kinship care. However, on Oct. 6, 2017, Alberta’s Ministry of Children’s Services clarified that although it was through the kinship care program that she was put in the care of the man and woman now facing charges, they were later given permanent guardianship, meaning Serenity was no longer in kinship care. It was at some point after this development that Serenity died. 

HangZhou Night Net

Related

  • ‘Serenity’ case off limits to Alberta child welfare panel: opposition

  • Alberta’s child advocate calls on province to do more to protect kids

  • ‘I could have been Serenity’: former Alberta foster child haunted by past in care

    Alberta’s children’s services minister, facing demands she break up a family under investigation in a child’s death, says the province does not have blanket power to take children away from their biological parents.

    Danielle Larivee said judges, not politicians, make that call and they won’t do so without direct evidence of threat or harm to a child.

    And she said they won’t do so simply because a criminal investigation is underway.

    “The law that we are all as Albertans bound by does not let government go in and apprehend children without evidence of abuse,” Larivee told the house Wednesday during question period.

    Larivee has been under fire from political opponents after it was revealed this week that caregivers at the centre of the horrific death of a four-year-old girl in kinship care still have custody of their natural children.

    READ MORE: Alberta faces renewed questions on safety of kids in government care

    Opposition members say those kids need to be removed from the home for their safety and that Larivee should be fired for allowing them to be there.

    But Larivee said the children are not being harmed and are being assessed by social workers, though she could not provide many few details because of privacy rules.

    “I can specifically say that there has been face-to-face contact and interviewing of these individual children in situations in which I’m confident they were able to have an open conversation with assessors,” Larivee said later at a news conference.

    She said assessors are also trained to look for abuse and neglect. She said the checks began in 2014 and the latest one was this week.

    She wouldn’t say how many checks have been done or how often the children are seen, except to say the checks have been “intermittent.”

    Larivee also said media reports saying there are six children in the house are incorrect. She wouldn’t give the actual number or give the ages of the children, again citing privacy rules.

    Wildrose member Jason Nixon said the children need to be removed.

    “Common sense dictates that no children — period — should be cared for by people who allow the child to be beaten, starved and sexually assaulted to the point of death under their watch,” Nixon told Larivee in the house Wednesday.

    Ric McIver, the leader of the Progressive Conservatives in the legislature, said Larivee is asking the public to be reassured based on very little information.

    “They’re not giving you a lot of words to rely on,” said McIver. “It feels like the minister is running and hiding from the facts because the facts are inconvenient.”

    The case revolves around a young girl named Serenity. Her plight and the lack of action to determine what happened to her and who is responsible have become a symbol of problems in Alberta’s child-care department.

    Serenity, born to First Nations parents, died in kinship care in 2014 despite previous concerns from her birth mother that the girl was being abused.

    Leaked reports to the media late last year revealed that Serenity, just before she died, was taken to hospital emaciated, hypothermic with signs of physical and sexual abuse. She died from massive brain trauma.

    In the two years following her death, there have been delays and secrecy over her autopsy as well as about police and government investigations.

    READ MORE: Mother of 4-year-old Alberta girl who died in kinship care speaks out: ‘They completely ignored me’

    No one has been charged.