NEW YORK – New York City officials are turning up the heat on Elmo, Cookie Monster and Statues of Liberty impersonators — Times Square costumed characters who often demand money for posing in photos with tourists.
The city wants to rein in a summertime spike in badly behaving characters, such as the Spider-Man accused of punching a police officer recently.
“This has gone too far,” a frustrated Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week. “It’s time to take some real steps to regulate this reality.”
But that could be easier said than done. Legal experts say proposals for a city law to possibly require licenses and background checks could violate free-speech rights.
At issue is whether the characters can be considered street performers protected by the First Amendment or are engaged in commercial activity subject to regulation. It comes down to whether the characters merely hope for tips or demand…
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WINDSOR, Ont. – Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and Michigan Gov Rick Snyder are expected to announce a U.S.-Canadian panel today to oversee plans for a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ont.
Sources tell The Canadian Press the panel is expected to try moving the project forward but the proposed New International Trade Crossing will still need funding from U.S. Homeland Security.
The Canadian government has already agreed to finance the construction of the $1-billion bridge, which would open in 2020.
The total cost of the project would be about $4 billion, including work on freeway interchanges, customs plazas in both countries and infrastructure work.
The final permit for the project was issued last month after a U.S. court rejected a request for an injunction filed by the private company that owns the existing Ambassador Bridge.
The next step involves securing funding for a U.S. customs facility, along with…
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KIEV, Ukraine – Officials in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine say 19 people have died in fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists.
The regional administration said Wednesday on its website that 31 people were brought to hospitals with injuries over the previous 24 hours.
Shells hit apartment buildings in Donetsk, the regional capital, on Tuesday as Ukrainian troops pressed their offensive against the rebels. The government has retaken control of several towns in the region in recent days.
Donetsk, a city of about 1 million, is one of the chief centres for the rebels who have fought a five-month uprising that has left more than 1,100 people dead.
NEW DELHI – A landslide hit a village in western India following torrential rains Wednesday, sweeping away scores of houses and burying more than 150 people, an official said.
Federal rescue workers were being hampered by continuing rains and poor roads leading to the village of Ambe in Pune district in Maharashtra state, where the landslide buried about 40 houses, said local commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh.
“There are constraints. It’s a hilly area and heavy rains are still continuing,” Deshmukh told CNN-IBN.
Residents began the work of clearing the debris, he added.
Landslides are common in the area during the monsoon season, which runs from June through September.
The Pune district about is 151 kilometres (94 miles) southeast of Mumbai, India’s commercial capital. The nearest medical centre is about 15 kilometres (9 miles) from the village.
ARNAUD, Man. – The federal government will spend $20 million to fund the International Food Policy Research Institute in supporting new ways to prevent childhood “undernutrition” in Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso.
International Development Minister Christian Paradis made the announcement Tuesday at a farm near Arnaud in southern Manitoba.
The decision was lauded by Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a Manitoba-based coalition of 15 Canadian churches and church-based agencies working to end world hunger.
Spokeswoman Pearl Braun-Dyck says helping mothers feed their children is the right way to go, since as caregivers, women make sure food gets to their children.
She says when children are fed they can learn, and “education empowers people.”
However, the CFB was less successful in persuading Paradis that more federal money should be spent to help prevent a famine in South Sudan.
Jim Cornelius, executive director of the CFB, said it would be a good investment because…
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