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Families of Flight MH17 victims seek answers; parents believe daughter is still alive

WATCH: Jerzy Dyczynski and Angela Dyczynski travelled from Australia to the crash site to honour their daughter who was aboard Flight MH17

TORONTO – The parents of one of the passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 say they still believe their daughter could be alive and are reportedly threatening to sue anyone who may suggest otherwise without showing clear evidence.

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Jerzy Dyczynski and Angela Dyczynski visited the rebel-controlled crash site last week and said nothing diminished their hope that their 25-year-old daughter Fatima somehow survived.

READ MORE: Rebels lay mines near Flight MH17 crash site

“There is a small possibility that something still survived,” said Fatima’s father in an interview. “The people of Donetsk were first at the crash site and if somebody survived maybe they have taken them.”

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 went down on July 17 as it flew from Amsterdam toward Kuala Lumpur.  Officials say all 298 people aboard died.

According to the Australian Associated Press, the Dyczynskis said they would be willing to sue anyone who suggested their daughter was killed before indisputable evidence was brought to them.

The couple says they have given DNA samples to the team of investigators who are currently working to identify the bodies of the victims.

“People may say ‘how could she survive a fall of 30,000 feet?’ but it has happened in extremely rare cases that the seat has remained intact,” said Fatima’s father in an interview with The New Zealand Herald.

Fatima’s parents say their daughter, who was travelling to Australia aboard flight MH17, was scheduled to speak at the upcoming International Astronautical Congress in Toronto this September.

Despite government officials advising victims’ families against immediately travelling to Ukraine, the Dyczynskis arrived at the crash site last week and laid down flowers.

“She was full of life,” said Fatima’s mother about her only child.

“She was an aerospace engineer, she was a scientist, she was a young person with new ideas and new perspectives and new horizons,” said Jerzy, a cardiologist and acupuncturist.

Jerzy Dyczynski and Angela Rudhart-Dyczynski whose daughter, 25-year-old Fatima, was a passenger on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, sit on part of the wreckage of the crashed aircraft in Hrabove, Ukraine, Saturday, July 26, 2014.

AP Photo/Nicholas Garriga

The Dyczynskis say they want their daughter’s colleagues from the space science community to become involved in the crash investigation as they believe the scientists could prevent future incidents.

Fatima’s father said he and his wife also want investigators to pursue other angles as to what may have downed Flight MH17.

“Maybe, other perspectives are important to investigate. It’s not only maybe a missile [that downed MH17] but something more,” he said. “If it would have been a missile, and the rebels shot down this aeroplane, they would not have handed out the black boxes.”

Ukraine national security spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Monday the plane suffered “massive explosive decompression” after it was hit by fragments he said came from a missile.

READ MORE: Missile shrapnel hit Malaysia Airlines, says Ukraine

The data recorders were sent to experts in Britain for examination.

Flight 17 went down on July 17 as it flew from Amsterdam toward Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people aboard died. The U.S. and Ukrainian governments say it was shot down by a missile fired from territory held by armed pro-Russian separatists, probably by mistake.

The separatists deny shooting down the plane; Russia says the Ukrainian military may have shot it down.

Last week, the Dyczynskis travelled from their home in Perth, Australia to honour their daughter.

They crossed territory held by pro-Russian rebels to reach the wreckage-strewn fields outside the village of Hrabove, where they sat together on part of the debris, his arm around her shoulder.

“[Fatima] was for peace. She will be forever for peace,” her father said.

– with files from The Associated Press

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Driver charged after councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon hit by car – Toronto

TORONTO – Toronto city councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon is reinforcing the call for more separated bike lanes after she was struck by a vehicle while riding her bicycle on Sunday.

The Beaches-East York councillor told the Toronto Sun she was hit just before 11 a.m. on Woodbine Avenue near Gerrard Street and was left lying on the ground until help arrived.

McMahon told the newspaper she was taken to hospital and given a CAT scan after paramedics discovered her blood pressure was low.

The driver of the vehicle has since been charged with careless driving.

The Ward 32 councillor has always been a strong advocate for separated bike lanes and maintains more needs to be done to keep cyclists safe.

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Hospital: 33 dead after Guinea concert stampede – National

CONAKRY, Guinea – Hundreds of people leaving a late-night rap concert on a beach in Guinea rushed to leave through a single exit, creating a stampede that killed at least 33 people, officials said Wednesday.

The victims included children as young as 10, and most bodies brought to an overflowing morgue in the capital were still dressed in bathing suits and swim trunks. Some had bled from their mouths after their small bodies were trampled, causing internal bleeding.

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“We are not used to seeing such a large number of bodies at the same time. It’s such a tragedy, these young victims killed in the prime of their life,” said an employee at Donka Hospital where bodies awaited burial.

The hospital’s director, Dr. Fatou Sike Camara, announced the toll of 33 deaths.

President Alpha Conde went on national television to declare a week of national mourning and promised a full investigation. The capital’s beaches also were ordered closed until further notice.

“The president calls on authorities at all levels to take the necessary steps so that this same tragedy never happens again in our country,” his office later said in a statement.

More than 700 people had gathered on the beach in Conakry, the capital city, for a concert celebrating the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which featured the Guinean rap groups Instinct Killers and Banlieuzart.

Witnesses said the stampede happened after the show ended as the large crowd tried to exit through a small gate. Some people fell to the ground and were trampled.

©2014The Canadian Press

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Veteran shipbuilder: Province taking ownership of Bluenose II a ‘big mistake’ – Halifax

HALIFAX – The Bluenose II has been formally handed over to the Nova Scotia government in a move a veteran local shipbuilder calls the province’s “biggest mistake yet.”

Lou Boudreau, whose company builds tall ships, says he’s concerned about potential safety issues with the work being done on the schooner’s new steering system.

“The rudder is going to fail,” he said. “We just hope that it won’t fail at a very inopportune time and injury or kill someone.”

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READ MORE: 4 things you didn’t know are sending the Bluenose II project awry

Boudreau has been after the government to stop the restoration of the Bluenose II for months until they can have the project fully assessed.

The project has been marred by delays and cost overruns, and has also encountered problems, including issues with its rudder that will likely prevent it from sailing this summer.

“It’s just been a mad rush by the government to put a band-aid on it to get it sailing,” Boudreau said. “But that’s not how it works.”

The vessel, which has been berthed for the past two years at the Lunenburg Foundry dock, has been moved to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg.

The province says the schooner is undergoing finishing touches by the builder and the move will allow people to view the boat from the waterfront, take close-up photos and chat with the crew.

READ MORE: Darrow says safety ‘number one concern’ for Bluenose II project

David Darrow, the man whom the government put in charge of the project, says the cost of the new steering system is “between $10,000 and $1 million”.

Karla MacFarlane, the Progressive Conservative tourism critic, says she is shocked by the Liberal government’s decision to take possession of the Bluenose II without telling Nova Scotians how much it cost.

“This is a slap in the face to taxpayers,” she said. “We want to get it sailing as much as anyone, but after nearly a year of incompetent Liberal decision making, we are left wondering how much more taxpayers will have to withstand.”

Even though the ship isn’t moving, the province has confirmed a crew of between 12 and 18 people has been hired for the vessel.

Boudreau says it would be cheaper to build a new vessel rather than continuing to pour money into the Bluenose II.

Four years ago, his company offered to build a similar ship for less than $10 million.

“Certainly we could have had two of them out, racing two years ago with a lot of money left over for beer and pizza,” he said.

When the restoration was announced in 2009, the provincial government at the time estimated it would cost $14.4 million.

As of last month, costs have reached $19 million.

With files from The Canadian Press

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As US economy accelerates, Fed remains cautious – National

WASHINGTON – After a grim start to 2014, the U.S. economy has rebounded with vigour and should show renewed strength into next year.

That was the general view of analysts Wednesday after the government estimated that the economy grew at a fast 4 per cent annual rate in the April-June quarter. Consumers, businesses and governments combined to fuel the expansion. The government also said growth was more robust last year than previously estimated.

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Whether the healthier expansion will lead the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates sooner than expected is unclear. The Fed offered a mixed message on the economy Wednesday: Growth is strengthening, and the unemployment rate is steadily falling. Yet by some measures, it suggested, the job market remains subpar.

A statement the Fed issued after a two-day policy meeting signalled that it wants to see further improvement before it starts raising its key short-term interest rate. It offered no clearer hint of when it will raise that rate.

Instead, the Fed reiterated its plan to keep short-term rates low “for a considerable time” after ends its monthly bond purchases. The Fed said it will slow the pace of its purchases by another $10 billion to $25 billion a month. The purchases, which have been intended to keep long-term borrowing rates low, are set to end in October. Most economists think a rate increase is about a year away.

The economy sprang back to life last quarter after a dismal winter in which it shrank at a sharp 2.1 per cent annual rate. The government upgraded that decline from a previous estimate of a 2.9 per cent drop. But it was still the biggest contraction since early 2009 in the depths of the Great Recession.

Last quarter’s bounce-back reinforced analysts’ view that the economy’s momentum is extending into the second half of the year, when they forecast annual growth of around 3 per cent.

The government also updated its estimates of growth leading into this year. They show the economy expanded in the second half of 2013 at the fastest pace in a decade and more than previously estimated. The revised data also show that the economy grew faster in 2013 than previously estimated, though more slowly in 2011 and 2012 than earlier thought.

The second quarter’s growth in the gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services — was the fastest since a 4.5 per cent increase in July-September quarter of 2013.

Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said that given last quarter’s rebound, he’s boosting his estimate for growth this year to 2 per cent, up from a previous 1.7 per cent forecast. Ashworth said the economy’s growth also supported his view that the Fed will be inclined to start raising rates early next year.

Ashworth is among a group of economists who think growing strength in the job market and the economy will prod the Fed to move faster to raise rates to make sure inflation doesn’t get out of hand. Other economists have been predicting that the Fed would wait until mid-2015 to start raising rates.

The Fed revised the wording of its previous statement to note that while the unemployment rate has dropped steadily, the job market is still struggling in other ways. It didn’t specify what it meant. But Chair Janet Yellen expressed concern to Congress this month about stagnant wage growth, many part-time workers who can’t find full-time jobs and the proportion of the unemployed who have been out of work for more than six months.

The GDP report showed that one measure of inflation rose 2 per cent last quarter, up from a 1.3 per cent rise in the first quarter. The Fed’s inflation target is 2 per cent, and for two years the GDP measure of inflation has been running below that level. Low inflation has given the Fed leeway to focus on boosting growth to fight high unemployment.

In its statement, the Fed noted that inflation had risen closer to its 2 per cent target. The statement said concerns that inflation would run persistently below the Fed’s 2 per cent target had “diminished somewhat.” But it expressed no worries about the slight acceleration in prices.

The economy’s sudden contraction in the first quarter coincided with a severe winter that disrupted activity across industries and kept consumers away from shopping malls and auto dealerships. Consumer spending slowed to an annual growth rate of 1.2 per cent, the weakest in nearly three years.

Last quarter, consumer spending accelerated to a growth rate of 2.5 per cent. Spending on durable goods such as autos surged at a 14 per cent annual rate, the biggest quarterly gain since 2009. Analysts said that was an encouraging sign of consumers’ growing willingness to buy high-cost items like cars.

“Better job growth, a rising stock market, falling gasoline prices — all those things are starting to resonate on Main Street,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group.

Hoffman suggested that five straight months of job gains above 200,000 were buoying both consumer and business confidence. He predicted that the July jobs report, to be released Friday, would show job growth of around 225,000. Hoffman foresees growth of around 3 per cent over the next year.

The government’s revised estimates going back to 2011 show the economy expanded at an annual rate of 4.5 per cent in last year’s third quarter, up from a previous 4.1 per cent estimate. The growth rate was 3.5 per cent in the fourth quarter, up from an earlier 2.6 per cent estimate.

For 2013 as a whole, the government said the economy grew 2.2 per cent, up from its earlier 1.9 per cent estimate.

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Corning donates $1.8M in mirror components for private space telescope – National

ALBANY, N.Y. – Corning Inc. has donated $1.8 million in high-tech components for a telescope a private group wants to launch into space.

The not-for-profit BoldlyGo Institute wants to put its ASTRO-1 telescope in orbit by the mid-2020s. Obtaining the components for a roughly 1.8-metre telescope primary mirror will significantly contribute to the ambitious goal, the group said Tuesday in announcing the donation.

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The institute is beginning to raise cash and material for the project, which its CEO, Jon Morse, hopes will cost “well under” $1 billion.

READ MORE: Space telescope spies water plumes on dwarf planet Ceres

“This is a huge step forward that allows us to hit the ground running as we raise additional resources,” said Morse, a former director of astrophysics at NASA Headquarters.

The institute was formed last fall to increase the number and variety of space science mission through private funding. The ASTRO-1 space telescope would be used to study planets orbiting nearby stars, as well as the Milky Way and other galaxies. Morse said the telescope would have 10 times the field of view of the Hubble Space Telescope and could be used for exploration years from now when Hubble stops working well.

The group, whose board includes members with links to NASA, also wants to fund an unmanned trip to Mars.

READ MORE: In photos – Hubble begins its 25th year in space

“We all recognize, having worked in NASA, that there are not enough resources to pursue all the great ideas that are out there, so we’re hoping to help build out the portfolio through private funding,” Morse said.

The components donated by the Corning, New York-based specialty glass maker had been intended for a NASA program that was cancelled. Corning declined to specify the project, citing customer confidentiality.

Corning has produced window glass for NASA’s manned spacecraft missions and the International Space Station. It also produced the Hubble Space Telescope’s primary mirror.

Company officials said the donation is part of Corning’s continued support of space exploration.

“The work of the BoldlyGo Institute and the ASTRO-1 space telescope will continue this critical research for another generation, and we are proud to support it,” Curt Weinstein, a Corning vice-president and general manager, said in a statement.

©2014The Canadian Press

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U.S. skin cancer rates spike after generation of sunbathing, tanning beds – National

WASHINGTON – Stop sunbathing and using indoor tanning beds, the acting U.S. surgeon general warned in a report released Tuesday that cites an alarming 200 per cent jump in deadly melanoma cases since 1973.

The report blames a generation of sun worshipping for the $8 billion spent to treat all forms of skin cancer each year.

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Rear Adm. Boris Lushniak said state and local officials need to do more to help people cover up, such as providing more shade at parks and sporting events. Schools should encourage kids to wear hats and sunscreen and schedule outdoor activities when the sun is low in the sky. And colleges and universities should eliminate indoor tanning beds on campus much as they would prohibit tobacco use, he added.

“We need more states and institutions on board with these policies that discourage or restrict indoor tanning by our youth,” Lushniak said. “Tanned skin is damaged skin.”

READ MORE: Is aerosol sunscreen safe for you? Inhaling chemicals is a concern

The surgeon general’s “call to action” plan is part of a broader push this year by government officials and public health advocates to raise awareness on what they say has become a major public health problem. While other cancers such as lung cancer are decreasing, skin cancer is rising rapidly. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year. And the number of Americans with skin cancer in the past three decades eclipse the number of all other cancers combined.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer with 9,000 people dying each year from the mostly preventable disease.

Stacey Escalante of Las Vegas, Nevada, blames years of sunbathing with baby oil and using indoor tanning beds for her melanoma diagnosis in 2005. The mother of two was a 34-year-old television reporter training for a marathon when she found a small red growth the size of a pencil eraser on her lower back. By the time she saw a doctor, the cancer had travelled to her lymph node, requiring two surgeries that left an 8-inch scar. She then spent two years on an experimental drug.

Escalante said she realizes now that she was lucky to survive, and was foolish to think she was immune to skin cancer because her father was Hispanic and she tanned well. Now an advocate for early detection, Escalante is pushing for state legislation prohibiting minors from using indoor tanning beds.

READ MORE: Hooked on tanning? UV light may be addictive, study suggests

The Melanoma Research Foundation says exposure to tanning beds before age 30 increases a person’s risk of developing melanoma by 75 per cent.

“If only I had first gone to the doctor, when I first saw that spot, instead of ignoring it, I would have saved my family and myself … the emotional, physical and financial burden of skin cancer,” she said. “It was absolutely overwhelming.”

Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health for the Department of Health and Human Services, said skin cancer prevention needs to become a bigger part of daily American life.

READ MORE: Canadian skin cancer rates not a cancer success story

“We need to change the social norm with respect to tanning and shatter the myth that tanned skin is somehow a sign of health,” Koh said.

Doctors recommend doing regular skin checks for new moles and seeing a doctor if any change in size, shape or colour. Doctors also recommend applying at least 1 ounce of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more to exposed skin and reapplying every two hours, more if swimming or sweating. Children in particular should be protected because bad sunburns in childhood are thought to greatly increase risk later in life.

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Top 10 restaurants for outdoor dining in Calgary

CALGARY – The last thing anyone wants on a hot summer day is to be stuck inside their kitchen.

If you’re looking for a sunny patio where you can enjoy a good meal, there are plenty of local eateries you can visit.

Virtual reservation website OpenTable杭州夜网 has compiled a list of the top spots for outdoor dining in Calgary, based on feedback from their users.

Here are the restaurants that made the cut:

River Café

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Cuisine: Canadian
About: Located in the middle of Prince’s Island Park and accessed on foot via one of four bridges or causeways.
Address: 25 Prince’s Island Park SW Calgary, AB T2P 0R1

Cilantro
Cuisine: Southwest
About: A seventy seat upscale casual style restaurant, with an additional fifty seat enclosed patio and veranda.
Address: 338 17th Ave SW Calgary, AB T2S 0A8

Bonterra Trattoria
Cuisine: Italian
About: Vibrant cuisine reflects the passions, style, and gusto that is the hallmark of the Italian way of life.
Address: 1016 8 St SW Calgary, AB T2R 1K2

The Bavarian Inn Restaurant
Cuisine: Contemporary German
About: The restaurant is nestled in the hamlet of Bragg Creek, Alberta in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Address: 75 White Avenue Box 808 Bragg Creek, AB T0L 0K0

Cibo
Cuisine: Italian
About: Located in the heart of 17th Avenue SW, Cibo offers casual Italian food.
Address: 1012 17 Ave SW Calgary, AB T2T 0A5

Symons Roadhouse
Cuisine: Barbecue
About: Located at Symons Valley Ranch Farmers Market. Chef Kevin Turner serves farm to table, southern BBQ and stick to your ribs comfort food.
Address: 14555 Symons Valley Road NW Calgary, AB T3R 1J1

Redwater Rustic Grille – Aspen Estates
Cuisine: Californian
About: Redwater Rustic Grille’s market driven menu is an interpretation of contemporary West Coast Cuisine with signature dishes and innovative creations.
Address: 114 – 326 Aspen Glen Landing SW Calgary, AB T3H 0N5

Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant
Cuisine: Canadian
About: The Bow Valley Ranche has two restaurants where people come and go in Fish Creek Provincial Park.
Address: 15979 Bow Bottom Trail SE Calgary, AB T2J 7A7

Alloy
Cuisine: International
About: Inspired by their backgrounds and travels, Chef/Owners Uri Heilik and Rogelio Herrera invite you on an escape to a unique experience in fine dining.
Address: 220 42 Ave SE Calgary, AB T2G 1Y4

Raw Bar by Duncan Ly
Cuisine: Vietnamese
About: Raw Bar will service the poolside oasis at Hotel Arts.
Address: 119 – 12th Ave SW (Hotel Arts) Calgary, AB T2R 0G8

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Nintendo reports loss on shaky Wii U sales

TOKYO – Nintendo Co. sank to a worse-than-expected loss for the fiscal first quarter on lagging Wii U and 3DS video-game machine sales.

But the Japanese company behind Super Mario and Pokemon games stuck to its annual forecasts Wednesday for a 20 billion yen ($196 million) profit on 590 billion yen ($5.8 billion) sales.

Kyoto-based Nintendo reported a 9.92 billion yen ($97.3 million) April-June loss compared with an 8.62 billion yen profit a year earlier.

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Quarterly sales totalled 74.695 billion yen ($732.3 million), down 8 per cent from a year earlier.

Nintendo has been fighting to maintain profits amid competition from games and social media apps on smartphones and other mobile devices. The company also faces competition from rivals Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp., which are aggressively pushing their game machines with holiday shoppers.

READ MORE: Nintendo reveals ‘Skylanders’-like toy line at E3

Nintendo has also faced questions about the health of its president, Satoru Iwata, after he was a no-show at the E3 video-game event in Los Angeles last month.

Last month, in a letter online to shareholders, he said he would miss the annual shareholders’ meeting as well and said for the first time that he had surgery for a bile-duct “growth,” found during a routine health checkup.

“I have already resumed my business by email and by other means, but it is anticipated that a little more time is needed for me to return to my regular work schedule,” Iwata said in the letter.

The success of “Mario Kart 8” game software released in May is helping boost Wii U sales. Nintendo sold 510,000 of the machines for the April-June quarter, far better than 160,000 for the same period the previous year.

READ MORE: Nintendo profit falls on sluggish Wii U sales

But Wii U is not as popular as Nintendo had initially hoped for, and it has missed earlier sales targets.

Sales of the 3DS handheld have plunged, dropping to 820,000 for the latest quarter from 1.4 million units a year ago.

Nintendo stuck to its latest target of selling 3.6 million Wii U and 12 million 3DS machines for the fiscal year through March 2015.

Nintendo said it will start offering strong game software in the months ahead, such as “Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.”

The year-end and New Year’s seasons are important sales periods for the company, practically determining its fortunes for the whole year.

Nintendo is also launching “amiibo,” which are figures that connect and interact with games. How that might catch on is still unclear, but it holds potential for Nintendo.

©2014The Canadian Press

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Canadian producer of ‘Superstar’ tour faces legal action – Toronto

NEW YORK – The abrupt cancellation of this summer’s North American arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar is apparently not being forgiven.

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The Really Useful Group, the London-based production company of Superstar composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, said Tuesday that it was taking legal action against Canadian music and theatrical producer Michael Cohl for the “unilateral decision” to scuttle the tour, which was to star punk legend John “Johnny Rotten” Lydon and Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child.

In a statement, The Really Useful Group said it “has no option but to proceed with legal action to recover its costs associated with the project and in turn, satisfy outstanding payments to suppliers and contractors.”

Cohl’s S2BN Entertainment had no immediate comment Tuesday.

The tour was to start June 9 in New Orleans and include stops in Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, Phoenix, Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, New York City, Boston and Philadelphia.

It was to star Lydon as King Herod, Williams as Mary Magdalene, Brandon Boyd of Incubus as Judas and JC Chasez of ‘N Sync as Pontius Pilate. Ben Forster, the winner of the U.K.’s prime-time contest show Superstar, was to play the son of God.

The guitar- and keyboard-driven rock musical, which debuted on Broadway in 1971, includes such songs as “What’s the Buzz?” ”Superstar,” ”Everything’s Alright” and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.”

Toronto-born Cohl, who was also a lead producer on the ill-fated, aerial-effects laden Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, declined to talk too much about the tour’s financing when it was unveiled in April, but he said the new show’s total costs were in the “eight figures” and needed to pull in “several hundred thousand dollars” each night to keep it on the road.

©2014The Associated Press

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