Ongoing History Daily: That time when Shaq almost sued 311

Back in the early 2000s, Omaha’s 311 was on a real roll, selling lots of records, playing plenty of gigs, and making their share of big-budget music videos.

In 2001, they managed to get Shaquille O’Neal for a cameo in the video for their song You Wouldn’t Believe. At the time, O’Neal was playing for the LA Lakers and the team was in the middle of a playoff run. The team stipulated that O’Neal was not to play any basketball outside of official games and practices for fear that he might get hurt.

But 311 convinced him to play a little hoops in this video, completely in contravention of orders from the Lakers. There was an added complication.

For some reason, O’Neal showed up with two left shoes. Where was anyone going to get a pair of size 22 basketball shoes at short notice? Nowhere. Shaq still agreed to appear in the video—but if anyone filmed his feet, he promised that he’d sue.

© 2023 Corus Radio, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Leading mayoral hopefuls to push for votes in CBC Toronto debate as byelection nears

The six leading candidates in Toronto’s mayoral race are set to have another debate this morning, before advance voting opens on Thursday.

The hour-and-a-half event hosted by CBC will air live at 11:30 a.m. on a number of the broadcaster’s platforms, including its radio, YouTube and streaming channels.

CBC says the debate will feature former NDP parliamentarian Olivia Chow, city councillor Josh Matlow, ex-police chief Mark Saunders, former deputy mayor Ana Bailão, councillor Brad Bradford and former Liberal provincial education minister Mitzie Hunter.

The broadcaster says it determined which of the 102 candidates would be included based on available polling data and criteria such as whether they have a robust platform addressing key issues and community involvement.

Previous debates in the election cycle have seen most leading candidates take aim at Olivia Chow, who has continued to grow her significant lead in recent weeks, according to polling data.

The byelection to replace John Tory, who resigned in February after admitting to an affair with a staffer, is set for June 26, with advance voting running from June 8 to 13.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Ongoing History Daily: The time Nirvana set their tour van on fire

Being on tour as Nirvana must have been a pretty intense thing. There were all those nights where Kurt (and sometimes the rest of the band) smashed all their gear onstage. The label had granted the band a $750 equipment allowance when the band went on tour, but given the amount of gear that was trashed, that didn’t go very far.

Hotel rooms and dressing rooms also suffered, often using fire extinguishers in ways they were not intended.

Then there was the time one of their tour vans almost went up in flames. Kurt, who was often keen on using destruction to alleviate his boredom, was giving an interview with a journalist and apparently got bored. So he set the van’s curtains on fire.

The flames were put out before there was some real damage, but the label was not impressed.

© 2023 Corus Radio, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

French protesters prepare last-ditch bid to stop pension overhaul

WATCH - France pension reform: Macron cleared to raise retirement age amid mass protests

French unions are staging on Tuesday a 14th day of protests against government plans to raise the retirement age to 64, in what could be a final attempt to pressure lawmakers into scrapping a law that is already on the statute books.

President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to force the reform through with special constitutional powers prompted angry protests this spring, but the issue has slowly moved down the media agenda, making it harder for unions to mobilise.

“Protests have been going on for six months, it’s unprecedented,” Sophie Binet, the new leader of the hardline CGT union said on BFM TV. “There’s a lot of anger but also fatigue,” she said, adding that strikers were feeling the pinch on paychecks.

Binet nevertheless banked on an “extremely high” level of mobilization on Tuesday and said the CGT union was prepared to keep up the fight against the reform in the coming weeks.

Macron is now enjoying a timid rebound in opinion polls, having launched a PR blitz after the reform passed that saw him crisscross the country to confront public anger but also to announce big investments in new technologies.

Between 400,000 and 600,000 people are expected to turn out at protests across France, authorities said, which would be down from more than a million who took part in marches at the height of the pension protests earlier this year.

Inter-city trains are likely to be only “slightly disrupted”, the SNCF railway company said, while the metro network in Paris will run a normal service. One-third of flights out of Paris-Orly airport have been cancelled, however.

“This is likely to be one of the last days of protests against the reform,” Laurent Berger, the leader of the more moderate CFDT union told Europe 1 radio.

The CFDT must now turn anger against the reform into a “show of strength” in future talks with the government on issues such as improving work conditions to purchasing power, he said.

The unions, which have kept a rare united front during the whole pension episode, are holding the nationwide strike just two days before an opposition-sponsored bill aimed at cancelling the minimum pension age increase is reviewed by parliament.

The provision is expected to be rejected by the lower house’s speaker, a member of Macron’s party, because under the French constitution, lawmakers can’t pass legislation that weighs on public finances without measures to offset those costs.

But unions hope a big protest turnout could pressure lawmakers into reviewing the bill anyway and holding a vote. Opposition lawmakers, meanwhile, say the bill being rejected would revive public anger, branding any such move “antidemocratic.”

Macron, who says the reform is essential to plug a massive deficit, will be hoping that the approaching summer holidays and improving inflation numbers will help the public move on.

The president’s popularity has gained four points in a monthly Elabe poll in June and eight points in a YouGov poll, although it is still languishing around 30 per cent.

© 2023 Reuters

Ukraine, Russia trade blame as dam blast threatens drinking water supply

WATCH: Russia claims it thwarted major Ukrainian attack

The wall of a major dam in a part of southern Ukraine that Moscow controls collapsed Tuesday, triggering floods, endangering Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and threatening drinking water supplies as both sides in the war rushed to evacuate residents and blamed each other for the emergency.

Ukraine accused Russian forces of blowing up the Kakhovka dam and hydroelectric power station on the Dnieper River, while Russian officials blamed Ukrainian military strikes in the contested area. It was not possible to verify the claims.

The potentially far-reaching environmental and social consequences of the disaster quickly became clear as homes, streets and businesses flooded downstream and emergency crews began evacuations; officials raced to check cooling systems at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant; and authorities expressed concern about supplies of drinking water to the south in Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.

The dam break added a stunning new dimension to Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, now in its 16th month. Ukrainian forces were widely seen to be moving forward with a long-anticipated counteroffensive in patches along more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of frontline in the east and south of Ukraine.

It was not immediately clear whether either side benefits from the damage to the dam, since both Russian-controlled and Ukrainian-held lands are at risk of flooding. The damage could also hinder Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the south and distract its government, while at the same time Russia depends on the dam to supply water to Crimea.

Patricia Lewis, director of the International Security Program at Chatham House think tank in London, said apportioning blame is difficult but “there are all sorts of reasons why Russia would do this.”

“There were reports (last fall) of Russians having mined the reservoir. The question we should pose is why the Ukrainians would do this to themselves, given this is Ukrainian territory,” she said.

Experts have previously said the dam structure was suffering from disrepair. David Helms, a retired American scientist who has monitored the reservoir since the start of the war, wrote in an e-mail that it wasn’t clear if the damage was deliberate or simple neglect from Russian forces occupying the facility.

But Helms reserved judgement, noting as well a Russian history of attacking dams.

Amid official outrage, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he convened an urgent meeting of the National Security Council. He alleged that Russian forces set off a blast inside the dam structure at 2.50 a.m. (2350 GMT) and said some 80 settlements were in danger.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it “a deliberate act of sabotage by the Ukrainian side ? aimed at cutting water supplies to Crimea.”

Both sides warned of a looming environmental disaster. Ukraine’s Presidential Office said some 150 metric tons of oil escaped from the dam machinery and that another 300 metric tons could still leak out.

Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s President’s Office, posted a video showing swans swimming near an administrative building in the flooded streets of Russian-occupied Nova Kakhovka, a city in the Kherson region where some 45,000 people lived before the war. Other footage he posted showed flood waters reaching the second floor of the building.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry called for residents of 10 villages on the Dnieper’s right bank and parts of the city of Kherson downriver to gather essential documents and pets, turn off appliances, and leave, while cautioning against possible disinformation.

The Russian-installed mayor of occupied Nova Kakhovka, Vladimir Leontyev, said it was being evacuated as water poured into the city.

Ukraine’s nuclear operator Energoatom said in a Telegram statement that the damage to the dam “could have negative consequences” for the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which is Europe’s biggest, but wrote that for now the situation is “controllable.”

The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement there was “no immediate risk to the safety of the plant,” which requires water for its cooling system.

It said that IAEA staff on site have been told the dam level is falling by 5 centimeters (2 inches) an hour. At that rate, the supply from the reservoir should last a few days, it said.

The plant also has alternative sources of water, including a large cooling pond than can provide water “for some months,” the statement said.

Ukrainian authorities have previously warned that the dam’s failure could unleash 18 million cubic meters (4.8 billion gallons) of water and flood Kherson and dozens of other areas where hundreds of thousands of people live.

The World Data Center for Geoinformatics and Sustainable Development, a Ukrainian nongovernmental organization, estimated that nearly 100 villages and towns would be flooded. It also reckoned that the water level would start dropping only after five-seven days.

A total collapse in the dam would wash away much of the broad river’s left bank, according to the Ukraine War Environmental Consequences Working Group, an organization of environmental activists and experts documenting the war’s environmental effects.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said that “a global ecological disaster is playing out now, online, and thousands of animals and ecosystems will be destroyed in the next few hours.”

Videos posted online began testifying to the spillover. One showed floodwaters inundating a long roadway; another showed a beaver scurrying for high ground from rising waters.

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine on Monday, June 5, 2023.

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine on Monday, June 5, 2023.

Maxar Technologies via AP

The incident also drew international outrage, including from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who said the “outrageous act ? demonstrates once again the brutality of Russia’s war in Ukraine.”

Ukraine controls five of the six dams along the Dnieper, which runs from its northern border with Belarus down to the Black Sea and is crucial for the entire country’s drinking water and power supply.

Ukraine’s state hydro power generating company wrote in a statement that “The station cannot be restored.” Ukrhydroenergo also claimed that Russia blew up the station from inside the engine room.

Leontyev, the Russian-appointed mayor, said numerous Ukrainian strikes on the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant destroyed its valves, and “water from the Kakhovka reservoir began to uncontrollably flow downstream.” Leontyev added that damage to the station was beyond repair, and it would have to be rebuilt.

Ukraine and Russia have previously accused each other of targeting the dam with attacks, and last October Zelenskyy predicted that Russia would destroy the dam in order to cause a flood.

Authorities, experts and residents have for months expressed concerns about water flows through _ and over _ the Kakhovka dam.

In February, water levels were so low that many feared a meltdown at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, whose cooling systems are supplied with water from the Kakhovka reservoir held up by the dam.

By mid-May, after heavy rains and snow melt, water levels rose beyond normal levels, flooding nearby villages. Satellite images showed water washing over damaged sluice gates.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Air quality statements in effect for large part of Ontario as forest fires rage in Quebec

Special air quality statements are in effect for a large part of Ontario on Tuesday as forest fires rage in Quebec.

Environment Canada has placed much of southern Ontario under a special air quality statement, excluding some southwestern areas from London to Windsor.

The weather agency said high levels of air pollution are possible due to smoke plumes from forest fires in Quebec, which may result in deteriorated air quality for most of the week.

“Air quality and visibility due to wildfire smoke can fluctuate over short distances and can vary considerably from hour to hour,” Environment Canada said.

In eastern and parts of northern Ontario, Environment Canada said high levels of air pollution are confirmed to have developed.

“Wildfire smoke can be harmful to everyone’s health even at low concentrations,” the weather agency said.

“Continue to take actions to protect your health and reduce exposure to smoke. People with lung disease (such as asthma) or heart disease, older adults, children, pregnant people, and people who work outdoors are at higher risk of experiencing health effects caused by wildfire smoke.”

The weather agency advised the public to stop outdoor activities and contact their health-care provider if symptoms develop, stay inside if feeling unwell, use a HEPA air purifier inside homes, and use a well-fitted respirator mask if spending time outside.

In Quebec on Monday, the premier announced that the province will receive help from abroad in the coming days as about 10,000 people have been forced to leave their homes due to the raging wildfires.

François Legault’s update on the situation came as the tally rose to 164 wildfires burning across the province, including at least 114 that are out of control.

Environment Canada has issued smog warnings for large portions of Quebec due to the blazes, including for Montreal and Quebec City.

— with files from Kalina Laframboise

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Normandy reflects on D-Day, 79 years since 'pivotal' 2nd World War battle

WATCH - 'If he saved my dad, he saved me': Canadian WWII pilot's unsung sacrifice on D-Day

An overwhelming sound of gunfire and men’s screams. That’s how Second World War veteran Marie Scott described D-Day, as Tuesday’s ceremonies got underway in honor of those who fought for freedom in the largest naval, air and land operation in history.

This year’s tribute to the young soldiers who died in Normandy also reminds veterans, officials and visitors what Ukraine faces today.

On Tuesday, the whistling sound of the wind accompanied many reenactors who came to Omaha Beach at dawn to mark the 79th anniversary of the assault that led to the liberation of France and Western Europe from Nazi control. Some brought bunches of flowers; others waved American flags.

Scott lived it all through her ears. She was just 17 when she was posted as communication operator in Portsmouth, Britain. Her job was to pass on messages between men on the ground and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and senior officers who were supervising the operation.

“I was in the war. I could hear gunfire, machine guns, bombing aircraft, men screaming, shouting, men giving orders,” she recalled.

“After a few moments of horror, I realized what was happening … and I thought, well, you know, there’s no time for horror. You’ve got a job to do. So get on with it. Which is what I did.”

Now about to turn 97, Scott said D-Day was a “pivotal point” in her life.

“As a noncombatant, I was still in the war and I realized the enormity of war. People were dying in that moment.”

Scott said she was “disgusted” that another war was now raging on the European continent following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“For me, war should only be undertaken if it’s absolutely, if there’s no other way of solving the problem. It’s an atrocity. That’s how I feel,” she said.

British veteran Mervyn Kersh, who landed on D-Day on Gold Beach, said Western allies should send maximum military aid to Ukraine: “The only way to stay free is to be strong.”

Kersh, 98, added with a sense of humor: “I’m still in the reserve, I’m waiting to go to Ukraine now. Next job.”

On Tuesday, a ceremony took place at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, overlooking Omaha Beach, which is home to the graves of 9,386 United States soldiers, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations. On the Walls of the Missing are inscribed 1,557 names. Some of those named have since been recovered and identified.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley took part in the commemoration alongside WWII veterans.

The Normandy celebrations were also a chance for Gen. Milley to linger with troops who consider him one of their own, as he winds down his own four-decade military career. The chairman held commands in both the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division, and the Normandy fields, towns and causeways are these divisions’ hallowed ground.

Hundreds of current soldiers from both units were there, some on leave with beers in hand, some jumping out of aircraft as their predecessors did 79 years before.

This was Milley’s last Normandy visit as their top commander – and as he walked through Sainte-Mere-Eglise, known as the first town to be liberated from Nazi occupation, attended commemorative football games or spoke at ceremonies, it felt like the general stopped to talk to and give a commemorative coin to every last one of them.

An international ceremony was later scheduled at the nearby British Normandy Memorial in the presence of officials from Germany and the nine principal Allied nations: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Poland, Norway and the U.S. French Minister of Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu and British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace were expected to attend.

Many visitors came to the American Cemetery ahead of Tuesday’s ceremonies to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives.

Jean-Philippe Bertrand, a visitor from the southern French city of Marseille, walked through the countless lines of white crosses Monday. “It’s unimaginable to make such a sacrifice for my freedom, for my son’s freedom,” he said.

“You hear about it on the news and you see the pictures. But once you’re here and you see the reality and the sacrifice that has been made for our beautiful country — I wanted to make the trip once in my life to thank all these people to whom we owe so much,” he added.

German professor Andreas Fuchs, who is teaching French in Berlin, brought students ages 10 to 12 to Normandy via an exchange program.

“It’s very important for children to have a moment in their lives to understand the liberation of Europe. And to know what peace has been for 80 years,” he said.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Iran claims to have created its 1st hypersonic missile. How fast is it?

WATCH: Ballistic missiles hit Iraq's Kurdish capital, no casualties: officials

Iran claimed on Tuesday that it had created a hypersonic missile capable of traveling at 15 times the speed of sound, adding a new weapon to its arsenal as tensions remain high with the United States over Tehran’s nuclear program.

The new missile – called Fattah, or “Conqueror” in Farsi – was unveiled even as Iran said it would reopen its diplomatic posts on Tuesday in Saudi Arabia after reaching a detente with Riyadh following years of conflict.

The tightly choreographed segment on Iranian state television apparently sought to show that Tehran’s hard-line government can still deploy arms against its enemies across much of the Middle East.

“Today we feel that the deterrent power has been formed,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said at the event. “This power is an anchor of lasting security and peace for the regional countries.”

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace program, unveiled what appeared to be a model of the missile. Hajizadeh claimed the missile had a range of up to 1,400 kilometers (870 miles).

Iran hypersonic missile

Fattah missile is unveiled in a ceremony in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, June 6, 2023. Iran is claiming that it's created a hypersonic missile capable of traveling at 15 times the speed of sound.

(Hossein Zohrevand/Tasnim News Agency via AP)

That’s about mid-range for Iran’s expansive ballistic missile arsenal, which the Guard has built up over the years as Western sanctions largely prevent it from accessing advanced weaponry.

“There exists no system that can rival or counter this missile,” Hajizadeh claimed.

That claim, however, depends on how maneuverable the missile is. Ballistic missiles fly on a trajectory in which anti-missile systems like the Patriot can anticipate their path and intercept them. Tuesday’s event showed what appeared to be a moveable nozzle for the Fattah, which could allow it to change trajectories in flight. The more irregular the missile’s flight path, the more difficult it becomes to intercept.

Iranian officials did not release footage of a Fattah successfully launching and then striking a target. Hajizadeh later said that there had been a ground test of the missile’s engine.

A ground test involves a rocket motor being put on a stand and fired to check its abilities while launching a missile with that rocket motor is much more complex.

Hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, could pose crucial challenges to missile defense systems because of their speed and maneuverability. Iran described the Fattah as being able to reach Mach 15 _ which is 15 times the speed of sound.

China is believed to be pursuing the weapons, as is America. Russia claims to already be fielding the weapons and has said it used them on the battlefield in Ukraine. However, speed and maneuverability isn’t a guarantee the missile will successfully strike a target. Ukraine’s air force in May said it shot down a Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missile with a Patriot battery.

Gulf Arab countries allied with the U.S. widely use the Patriot missile system in the region. Israel, Iran’s main rival in the Mideast, also has its own robust air defenses.

In November, Hajizadeh initially claimed that Iran had created a hypersonic missile, without offering evidence to support it. That claim came during the nationwide protests that followed the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her arrest by the country’s morality police.

Tuesday’s announcement came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is to begin a visit to Saudi Arabia.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Cathédrale Street building severely damaged in arson attack: Montreal police

A downtown building was severely damaged by an arson attack early Tuesday.

Around 1 a.m., a 911 call reported someone throwing a Molotov cocktail toward a building on Cathédrale Street, near Saint-Antoine Street West. According to police, the suspect fled on foot in an unknown direction.

Firefighters quickly contained the blaze. There were no reported injuries, and no arrests have been made.

The criminal arson squad has taken over the investigation.

The building is located in a busy area, near Place du Canada, an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada office, and a bus terminal.

Cathédrale Street was closed south of Saint-Antoine Street to assist in the investigation.

— with files from Global’s Matilda Cerone

© 2023 The Canadian Press

New mortgage originations in Canada dipped in first quarter: report

WACH: Canada’s housing crisis nears boiling point

Equifax Canada says credit demand was high in the first quarter of the year while the mortgage market saw a significant slowdown.

The agency says in its latest consumer credit report that on average, consumers are spending 21.5 per cent more each month on their credit cards compared with pre-pandemic levels.

Equifax Canada’s vice-president of advanced analytics Rebecca Oakes says in a statement that the first quarter normally brings a drop in non-mortgage debt as consumer spending slows after the holidays.

But this year, Oakes says credit card balances continued to increase for the first quarter.

Missed payments on non-mortgage debts also rose, with 175,000 more consumers missing payments on at least one product, up 18.8 per cent from a year earlier.

Oakes says the higher cost of living and the influx of new credit customers have driven credit card balances to rise by 14.5 per cent year-over-year.

Equifax says non-mortgage delinquency rates rose by the most in British Columbia and Ontario. And while at the end of 2022 delinquencies were more pronounced among non-mortgage holders, the first quarter of 2023 saw an increasing number of mortgage holders missing payments on non-mortgage debt.

“While interest rates and cost of living remain high, we expect to see more groups of consumers experiencing financial difficulties over the coming months,” says Oakes.

The agency says new mortgage originations dropped 42 per cent in the first quarter compared with a year ago, the lowest volume since 2014. The average loan amount was down 13.9 per cent year-over-year but only 2.9 per cent from the previous quarter, which Equifax says suggests a potential end to the pricing correction in the housing market.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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