Former cemetery worker sentenced to life in prison for brutal murder

A judge sentenced a 25-year-old man to life in prison Wednesday for the brutal murder of Anthony “Koko” Chang last year.

Chang, a peaceful Buddhist father of two, was stabbed to death in broad daylight outside his North York home last September. He was stabbed 31 times, hit in the head with a brick and strangled.

Kimnarine Maharaj pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last week.

“An innocent 62-year-old hard working family man lost his life at the hands of Mr. Maharaj over a senseless dispute,” said Justice John McMahon when delivering his sentence. “He was a small older gentleman who was completely innocent and unarmed when he was brutally attacked.”

The murder came two days after a minor collision between Maharaj’s truck and Chang’s scooter. Chang agreed to let Maharaj, a Mount Pleasant Cemetery worker, pay him out of pocket for around $1,000 for damages, allowing him avoid going through insurance.

When Maharaj came to Chang’s home the morning of Sept. 12, the court was told neighbours heard a loud argument payday loans lenders.

Maharaj then violently attacked Chang, stabbing him 31 times, and then fled. It was Chang’s adult son who found his father in a pool of blood.

“Not only is this murder senseless, it has destroyed the Chang family,” said McMahon.

Chang was married with two adult children. He worked as an interpreter for Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board and volunteered at a temple in his spare time.

Maharaj was arrested two days after the murder. He had no prior criminal record and was employed as a small-engine mechanic at Mount Pleasant cemetery. Maharaj’s wife was pregnant at the time.

She gave birth one week after his arrest.

McMahon called the violence “explosive,” albeit out of character, and sentenced Maharaj to life in prison and with no parole for 12 years.

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Economy 101: 5 things to know about US growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — Is the U.S. economy accelerating — finally? If it is, which sorts of Americans stand to benefit most? And why is it doing better than other major economies?

Such are the questions surrounding a report coming Thursday on economic expansion in the July-September quarter. It’s likely to be the fourth quarter in the past five in which annual growth reached at least 3 percent — a level that would be the envy of most other big economies.

Some questions and answers to consider:

— IS THE U.S. STRENGTH FOR REAL?

Probably so. Thanks to robust job gains, most analysts think the economy is finally emerging from five-plus years of stop-and-start expansion. They foresee growth at a healthy 3 percent annual rate from now through 2015. If so, next year would be the first full year of 3 percent growth since 2005 — two years before the Great Recession began.

Keep in mind, though: Nothing is certain. Economists made similar predictions for 2014, only to see a brutal winter and a plunge in exports cause the economy to shrink at a 2.1 percent annual pace from January through March. Growth did roar back in the April-June quarter. Still, for the first half of 2014, it was just 1.2 percent.

— WHY IS THE U.S. OUTPACING OTHERS?

Europe is on the brink of its third recession in seven years. Japan is faltering. Persistent weakness is slowing China, Brazil and other major economies.

Even as the United States enjoyed a second-quarter burst of growth — a vigorous 4.6 percent annual rate — the 18 nations that use the euro didn’t grow at all. And Japan’s economy, squeezed by a sharp sales tax increase, shrank 7.1 percent.

In China, the world’s second-largest economy, year-over-year growth slowed from 7.5 percent in the second quarter to 7.3 percent in the third. That’s still robust. But to keep things in perspective, growth in China had topped 10 percent for three decades.

Brazil’s economy has been gasping after years of solid growth, partly because of slumping commodity prices.

The U.S. economy is benefiting from a range of factors. The Federal Reserve acted more aggressively to stimulate growth than central banks in other countries did. The nation has significantly strengthened its financial system. The economy is relatively insulated from weakness overseas because it depends much less on exports than most other countries do.

— IS U.S. GROWTH HISTORICALLY IMPRESSIVE?

The U cheap pay day loans.S. economy may look sizzling next to many other countries. But compared with its own history? Not so much. Though the recovery has proved durable into its sixth year, expansion has been the weakest of any post-World War II rebound of similar length.

Growth has averaged just 2.2 percent annually since the recession ended in 2009. Compare that with an average 3 percent annual growth rate in the five years after the 2000-01 recession, 5 percent after the steep 1981-82 downturn and 6.3 percent after the 1961 recession.

— WHO’S REALLY BENEFITING?

Healthy growth doesn’t necessarily serve everyone. For a typical U.S. household, income has fallen 2.9 percent to $54,045 in the five years since the recession ended in June 2009, according to Sentier Research.

That’s partly because little of the economy’s output is actually going to workers. Pay equaled just 42 percent of GDP in 2011, a record low. It’s recovered only slightly since then.

Much of the economy’s growth is instead being captured as corporate profits, which reached an all-time high of 12.6 percent in 2011. Profits have barely dipped since then. As those profits have strengthened, so has the stock market, which disproportionately benefits affluent Americans.

— SO WHAT’S DRIVING GROWTH?

An unusual aspect of this recovery is that there’s been no consistent driver of growth. At times, consumer spending has jumped. At other times, businesses have briefly ramped up spending on machinery, computers and software. In other cases, healthy exports or a burst of home building spurred growth.

That’s different from most recoveries, which are usually driven by housing, says John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo. When the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates to spur growth, the resulting drop in mortgage rates usually boosts home sales and construction. Yet the Great Recession resulted from a housing bubble that peaked in 2006.

So once the recession ended, there was little pent-up demand for homes. And since job gains and wage growth have been historically weak, it’s been harder for potential buyers to afford a home.

“Housing never really kicked in,” Silvia said. “It’s a very different ball game.”

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ECB Says 1.7 Billion Euros of Covered Bonds Bought Last Week - Bloomberg

The European Central Bank said it settled 1.704 billion euros ($2.2 billion) of covered-bond purchases last week as it started its latest effort to revive the euro-area economy.

The Frankfurt-based institution began purchases on Oct. 20, returning to the market for a third time in six years as part of a renewed attempt to stave off deflation and pump life into a moribund recovery.

Investors have been closely watching the ECB

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OPP to lead independent probe into Parliament shootings

OTTAWA—The RCMP has asked the Ontario Provincial Police to lead an independent probe into Wednesday’s attack on Parliament, during which police and parliamentary security staff shot and killed a gunman who stormed the government buildings, The Star has learned.

According to sources with knowledge of the request, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which gathered evidence immediately after the attack, is seeking an independent third-party investigation of events inside and outside Parliament in which several of its officers were involved in the massive show of force that killed the gunman.

Mounties joined parliamentary security staff in the dramatic chase through Centre Block before Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who minutes earlier fatally shot Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the nearby National War Memorial, was himself brought down in a hail of bullets.

The independent probe comes on top of a sweeping security review already ordered by Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer. Sources say it will be led by a credible, respected individual independent of the agencies and institutions involved.

The Star has also learned that Wednesday’s attack, which unfolded while Prime Minister Stephen Harper was meeting with his MPs in a nearby room, has sparked an immediate — and significant — overhaul in security operations on Parliament Hill.

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Starting Monday, new procedures will take effect as Commons and Senate security officers work together in ways never before seen: a co-operation forced upon them by the unprecedented attack.

Several sources say security operations — traditionally delegated between four agencies with overlapping jurisdictions — will shift to an integrated model with Commons and Senate forces sharing duties and holding joint management meetings.

The two forces responsible for security inside the buildings will remain separate — they will continue to answer to the speakers of the Commons and the Senate respectively — but the personnel will be more integrated than before. Armed plainclothes officers on the Commons side, for example, will help staff the Senate side, where guards are unarmed. And Senate security guards will join the blue-uniformed, unarmed Commons guards on the floor on that side of Centre Block.

While these changes will not amount to the creation of a unified agency, the various personnel on security duty will start looking and acting like one.

As well, armed RCMP officers will remain at the entrances of all buildings in the parliamentary precinct, Scheer said in a statement Friday night.

Armed RCMP bodyguards, who normally only have jurisdiction to guard the prime minister when he is outside the building, will now accompany him wherever he goes, inside and out, as announced Thursday by RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson.

Besides claiming Cpl. Cirillo’s life, Zehaf-Bibeau’s brief assault left Commons security guard Samearn Son wounded and ended only when Zehaf-Bibeau died in a volley of shots led by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, joined by armed Commons and RCMP officers, who had chased Zehaf-Bibeau down the Hall of Honour.

The changes to take effect Monday are a shift in posture and ability: the Senate side has never had armed guards. But Wednesday’s tragic attack has highlighted the difficult balance between what some say are greater risks and vulnerabilities for the public and politicians on Parliament Hill and the desire to keep access to Canada’s national legislature open to the public.

CBC News / THE CANADIAN PRESS

An armed Kevin Vickers, left, the sergeant-at-arms for the House of Commons, is seen shortly after he and other security staff shot a lone gunman Wednesday. Since then, there have been sweeping changes to security procedures in Parliament.

After protesters scaled the exterior of the Parliament buildings in December, 2009, the security services agreed on new procedures meant to streamline their response to incidents on Parliament Hill.

But a report by the auditor general in 2012 warned that the “jurisdictional issue has not been resolved.”

The report noted how responsibility for security on the Hill is divided between Senate security staff (which oversees the east portions of Centre Block and East Block), House of Commons security (which handles the western portion of Centre Block and other buildings in the parliamentary precinct) and the RCMP (which handles policing on the grounds).

“A next step could be to unify the security forces for Parliament Hill under a single point of command, making it possible to respond to situations more efficiently and effectively,” the report noted.

A unified force could provide “consistent capacity and response across the precinct,” the report said.

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Consumer Comfort Rises on Increased Optimism About U.S. Economy - Bloomberg

Consumer sentiment improved last week as Americans were more optimistic about the economy than at any time in almost seven years.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index climbed to 37.7 in the period ended Oct. 19, matching the second-highest level since August 2013, from 36.2. A gauge of attitudes about the world

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Second hospital admits breach of Mayor Rob Ford

A spokesperson for Humber River Hospital has confirmed individuals gained “inappropriate access” to Mayor Rob Ford (open Rob Ford’s policard)’s medical records.

Gerard Power, director of public and corporate communications for the Toronto hospital, said in an emailed statement to the Star Wednesday night that “an investigation had shown that inappropriate access of his medical record was obtained by certain individuals”.

It is unclear when this breach of privacy took place.

Power said the hospital’s president and CEO, Rueben Devlin, let the mayor know earlier in the day Wednesday that his health records had been wrongly accessed.

“Mr. Devlin extended the hospital’s sincerest apologies for this breach of his privacy, indicating that these actions were not consistent with the hospital’s values,” Power said pay day loan lenders.

He said Devlin assured Ford that the individuals who obtained his health records were facing disciplinary action.

This is the second reported case of inappropriate access to the mayor’s medical information since he was admitted to Humber River Hospital with an abdominal tumour on Sept. 10.

Ford was later transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital, where doctors discovered he had cancer, and where his records were also inappropriately accessed by hospital staff.

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McDonald’s profit, sales decline in 3Q

OAK BROOK, Ill. • McDonald’s says its profit and sales declined as the world’s biggest hamburger chain saw customer traffic fall around the world.

The company said sales fell 3.3 percent globally and in the U.S. during the third quarter. In the region encompassing Asia, where a major McDonald’s supplier was shown on TV repackaging expired beef, the figure fell 9.9 percent.

“By all measures our performance fell short of our expectations,” CEO Don Thompson said.

In the U.S., McDonald’s Corp. is fighting to hold onto customers amid intensifying competition and shifting tastes toward food people consider more wholesome. In hopes of improving its image, McDonald’s last week launched a social media campaign inviting customers to ask questions about its food. It began with frank questions like, “Why doesn’t your food rot?” and “Is the McRib made from real pork?”, showing just how bad some of the perceptions about McDonald’s food can be.

Affordability is another issue, with CEO Don Thompson noting that the people who tend to go to McDonald’s are struggling more financially than customers who might go to other chains.

In August, the company said it was bringing back longtime McDonald’s executive Mike Andres as president of the U.S. division, marking the second change in less than two years.

Over in China, an undercover TV report this summer showed one of its major suppliers repackaging expired meat. The plant stopped operations and many of McDonald’s restaurants in the country were left unable to sell burgers, chicken nuggets and other items. The chain’s reputation took a hit as well.

For the quarter, revenue declined to $6.99 billion, short of the $7.23 billion Wall Street expected. Net income declined to $1.07 billion, or $1.09 per share. Adjusted for one-time costs, earnings were $1.52 per share. Analysts expected $1.37 per share.

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Pilots at Lufthansa to start 35-hour strike Monday

BERLIN (AP) — A union representing Lufthansa’s pilots has announced a new 35-hour strike against the airline’s short-haul fleet starting Monday, the latest in a string of walkouts over retirement benefits.

The Vereinigung Cockpit union said the strike targeting Lufthansa’s Airbus A320, Boeing 737 and Embraer fleet will start mid-Monday and end at midnight local time Tuesday.

The two sides are fighting over the pilots’ demand that Lufthansa keep paying a transition payment for those wanting to retire early. The airline, facing tough competition from budget airlines and major Gulf carriers, wants to cut those payments.

The Lufthansa strike will start hours after train drivers at Germany’s national railway end a two-day walkout in an unrelated pay dispute. Their union says it won’t strike again for the next week.

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Recalls this week: toy toasters, folding tables

A line of toy toaster sets sold at Toys R Us are being recalled because part of the toy can pose a laceration or choking hazard to children. Other products being recalled this week include faulty folding tables and television wall mounts.

Here’s a more detailed look:

TOY TOASTER SETS

DETAILS: Just Like Home brand toy toaster sets sold at Toys R Us stores nationwide and online at www.toysrus.com from July 2013 through August 2014. The set was sold with two plastic toast slices and two plastic half bagel slice accessories. Model number 5F60589 is printed on a white label on the bottom of the toaster and above the UPC bar code in the lower right hand corner of the product packaging.

WHY: The plastic toast, under pressure, can crack and break into small pieces creating sharp edges and posing a choking hazard.

INCIDENTS: None reported.

HOW MANY: About 30,000 in the U.S. and about 6,000 in Canada.

FOR MORE: Call Toys R Us at 800-869-7787 anytime or visit www.toysrus.com and click on “News/Press Room” under the About Us tab at the bottom of the page, then click on the Safety tab and Product Recalls for more information.

FOLDING TABLES

DETAILS: The Ashland Summer Living Vintage Wood Folding Table. SKU 309950 and UPC 886946388804 are printed on a hangtag on the tables. Phase MDF and 01276 are printed on a black and white label under the table. They were sold at Michaels Stores nationwide from April 2014 to May 2014.

WHY: The folding tables can collapse under excessive weight, posing an impact or falling hazard.

INCIDENTS: Four reports of consumers sitting on the tabletop and falling when the tables collapsed, resulting in injuries to the back, leg or hip.

HOW MANY: About 8,400.

FOR MORE: Call Michaels at 800-642-4235 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT Saturday, or visit www.michaels.com and click on “Contact Us.”

TELEVISION WALL MOUNTS

DETAILS: Sanus Simplicity SLF5 flat screen television wall mounts. The words “Sanus Simplicity” are located on the top left corner of the box the product is sold in and on the instructions manual. The words are not found directly on the product. The model number SLF5 can be found on the product label sticker located on the metal wall plate, under the plastic cover that covers the top horizontal bar. They were sold at Costco from July 2013 to September 2014.

WHY: The nut securing the television to the main arm assembly can loosen, causing the attached television to become detached from the arm assembly, posing an impact hazard.

INCIDENTS: Two reports of the television becoming detached from the arm assembly. One injury to a shoulder has been reported.

HOW MANY: About 207,000.

FOR MORE: Call Milestone at 877-277-3707 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. CT Monday through Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. CT Saturday and Sunday or visit www.milestone.com and click on “Recall Information” at the lower right corner for more information.

OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLES

DETAILS: All models of the 2014 Honda Pioneer 700 recreational off-highway vehicle faxless cash advance. The recalled vehicles came in two-seat and four-seat models and were black with camouflage, olive or red hood and trim pieces. “HONDA” is on the front grill and rear tail gate. “Pioneer 700″ appears on a tab on the sides of the vehicle just behind the driver’s and front passenger’s seats. They were sold at authorized Honda powersports dealers nationwide from August 2013 through September 2014.The model and serial numbers are on a certification label affixed to the top rear of the driver’s side front wheel well. The following model numbers and serial number ranges are being recalled: Model number SXS 700M2 2AC with the serial number range VE0225E4000006 to VE022XE4006304; model number SXS 700M2 4AC with the serial number range VE0284E4000003 to VE0284E4001202; model number SXS 700M4 AC with the serial number range VE0204E4000013 to VE020XE4006849; model number SXS 700M4 3AC with the serial number range VE0268E4000004 to VE0269E4001503.

WHY: Vegetation and debris can accumulate on the middle skid plate and make contact with the vehicle’s exhaust system. Dried debris can ignite, resulting in smoke or fire.

INCIDENTS: 10 incidents involving fires resulting from vegetation and debris accumulating on the middle skid plate and making contact with the vehicle’s exhaust system. No injuries were reported.

HOW MANY: About 15,400.

FOR MORE: Call American Honda at 888-888-3139 from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit www.powersports.honda.com and click on “Product Recall Information” at the bottom of the page for more information.

RIDING MOWERS

DETAILS: Brigg & Stratton Snapper Rear Engine Riding Mower. The name Snapper is printed on both sides of the mower. The model and serial numbers are on a label on the engine platform under the right side of the seat. They were sold from April 2013 through May 2014. The following models and serial number ranges are included: Model number 7800918 with the serial number range 2016447188 - 2016485206; model number 7800920 with the serial number range 2016443919 - 2016568930; model number 7800932 with the serial number range 2016462619 - 2016481454; model number 7800950 with the serial number range 2016611952 - 2016766052; model number 7800951 with the serial number range 2016624456 - 2016765000; model number 7800954 with the serial number range 2016603229 - 2016775752.

WHY: Weld on drive axle can fail resulting in loss of brake control, posing an injury hazard.

INCIDENTS: Two reports of brake failure, related to failed weld. No injuries have been reported.

HOW MANY: About 8,500.

FOR MORE: Call Briggs & Stratton Corp. at 800-935-2967 from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or visit www.Briggsandstratton.com and click on “Recall Alert Notice” for more information.

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U.S. stocks open lower; sell-off continues in Europe

U.S. stocks are opening lower while European markets suffer even steeper declines.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 124 points, or 0.8 percent, to 16,019 as of 9:35 a.m. Eastern time Thursday.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 19 points, or 1 percent, to 1,844. The Nasdaq composite fell 48 points, or 1.1 percent, to 4,167.

European stocks fell more sharply. France’s CAC-40 dropped 2 percent and Germany’s DAX declined 1.5 percent.

In the U.S., Netflix plunged 26 percent after the company’s subscriber growth fell short of the company’s forecasts after a rate increase.

The price of oil continued to fall. U.S. crude declines $1.43 to $80.34 a barrel in New York.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.08 percent.

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