By Norihiko Shirouzu BEIJING (Reuters) - Big may be beautiful, but Toyota Motor Corp's global design chief is betting that edgy is the way to go for the Japanese automaker's premium Lexus brand, specifically its signature 'spindle grille' design. Â Â Â Tokuo Fukuichi, who is also Lexus' global chief, says the design shock-therapy gives the brand - and conservative Toyota more broadly - the stand-out face it previously lacked. Â Â Â While some industry rivals and design experts say the jagged-edged, trapezoid grille is downright ugly, 63-year-old Fukuichi stands by the drastic makeover, saying it will give Lexus a "unique" edge over German rivals BMW , Audi and Mercedes-Benz particularly in competitive emerging markets such as China, where buyers will pay more for a car that stands out from the crowd. Fukuichi, who was brought back to Toyota from a subsidiary in 2011 and as he was recovering from cancer, says Toyota for too long designed cars by committee â€“ often of several dozen people.
A shroud of secrecy thrown over part of an extraordinary case involving allegations of harassment within the RCMP should be lifted as much as possible, an Ontario justice heard Friday. The court-imposed secrecy, which ostensibly involves the identity of a confidential informant but may also be linked to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's family life, is so extreme that even the reasons for the order are unknown. "This is an extraordinary situation," media lawyer Brian MacLeod Rogers told Superior Court Justice Mary Vallee. Rogers, who represents several media outlets, said reporters have been unable to raise concerns since last December, when they were abruptly excluded from the courtroom in a civil case involving RCMP Sgt. Peter Merrifield.
The provincial government announced billions in new funding for GO Transit service on FridayÂ and said some $16 billion is now ready to spend on transportation infrastructure in the GTA and Hamilton. In a news release, the province said its total commitment to the Moving Ontario Forward plan â€” which aims to modernize the province's transit infrastructure â€” is now $31.5 billion. "There's such an appetite for increased service,"Â said Premier Kathleen Wynne, speaking to reporters in front of a GO train in Barrie. Barrie's population is set to grow by 79 per cent by 2041, according to statistics cited by the Moving Ontario Forward plan.
A large gas pipeline exploded into a tower of fire Friday in Central California, closing both directions of a major highway in the region and injuring at least 15 people, four of them critically, authorities said. It was not clear what caused the explosion at the Fresno County Sheriff's gun range that brought traffic in the area to a halt. Four patients were being treated at Community Regional Medical Center's burn and trauma unit, spokeswoman Mary Lisa Russell said. Three of them are in critical condition and one is in serious condition, she said.
The grey wolves of Isle Royale National Park, which scientists have studied closely for more than half a century along with the moose on which they feed, are on the verge of disappearing as the most recent census showed that only three remain, scientists said Friday. Inbreeding and illness appear to have caused a sharp drop-off in wolf numbers on the Lake Superior island wilderness, where visitors thrill at hearing their quavering howls. The count stood at 24 in 2009 but has fallen every year since, according to Michigan Technological University researchers who lead what they describe as the world's longest-running study of a predator-prey relationship in a closed ecosystem. They have urged the National Park Service to bring more wolves to the island to reinvigorate the gene pool.
Authorities removed five bodies from a Phoenix home Friday where they say a man shot and killed his mother, two brothers and one of their wives before taking his own life. Police identified the shooter as 50-year-old Driss Diaeddinn, and investigators said he had been arguing with his brothers before the attack Thursday. "He had made some off-the-wall comments, at the time saying goodbye to people," police Sgt. Trent Crump said. The brothers â€” including victims Dodi Fayed, 56, and Reda Diaeddinn, 38 â€” ran a company that offered cars for hire and a restaurant, Crump said.
An Ottawa mother doubts she will send her two children back to school on Monday after the administration failed to notify parents that the building's cockroach infestation led to unapproved outdoor pesticides being used indoors. Mellissa Rutledge said she didn't find out that Charles H. Hulse Public School in Alta Vista had been sprayed over the weekend until Wednesday night â€” a day after her six-year-old son David fell ill. The Andrew Fleck daycare, which moved into the school in February, was not notified that the school had been fighting a cockroach infestation for a year and a half, said executive director Kim Hiscott.
It was only after she found the glue and was headed to the checkout that she noticed a police officer in the storeÂ â€” then two more. Dollarama told CBC News that its customer service departmentÂ has not received a formal complaint about the matter.
"In truth their platform has made no accounting of how they'll meet new spending promises," said Stephen Mandel, a PC candidate in Edmonton-Whitemud who was appointed as Alberta's health minister last fall. The Tories claimÂ the Wildrose plan has a funding gap of $29 billion. "TheÂ Wildrose is cut, cut, cut and the NDs are gonna spend, spend, spend," said Robin Campbell, who released the budget on March 26 as Alberta'sÂ finance minister. WildroseÂ Party leader Brian Jean was quick to swing back.
An RCMP officer was trying to arrest a man in the living room of an Alberta farm house when the Mountie saw the muzzle of a gun pointing out of a doorway. Sheldon Shah jumped between the gun and his partner, who was a new father, and took numerous bullets along his left side. "I just live with pain everyday, pretty much," said Shah, who listed several surgeries he has had and 11 scars that mark his body from his neck to his knee. Sidney Gaudette were shot and wounded while trying to execute a search warrant at the farm near Killam, southeast of Edmonton, on Feb. 7, 2012.