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Montrealers demonstrate to show support for Palestine

Watch above: Rachel Lau was at Place Émilie-Gamelin on Sunday as demonstrators gathered to stand in solidarity with Palestine.

MONTREAL – Protesters from 60 organizations across Montreal gathered at Place Émilie-Gamelin Sunday to stand in solidarity with Palestine. The demonstration started with a moment of silence, and then the chanting of “save Palestine” filled the air.

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“We believe that Israel should obey international law,” said Scott Weinstein, a representative from Independent Jewish Voices. “Primarily, they have to stop the occupation.”

READ MORE: Montreal to hold memorial for murdered Israeli teens

They are speaking out against what they call aggressive Israeli military action in Gaza.

READ MORE: Protests held across Canada over Israeli military action in Gaza

“We’re not opposed to a religion,” said Raymond Legault, a spokesperson for the Collectif Échec à la Guerre

“We’re not opposed to a people. We’re opposed to the policies of their state.”

The goal is to send a message to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“This is not about a balanced position of Canada,” said Legault. “This is not about nuances. There’s an occupier, there’s people that are occupied and this is what has to end.”

Protesters marched alongside members of the Bloc Québécois, who came out to show their support.

“We have to stop the bloodbath, “said Mario Beaulieu, leader of the Bloc Québécois. “We are asking Israel to respect international law.”

READ MORE: Israel, Hamas resume fire after 3-day truce

Nevertheless, some in Montreal’s Jewish community say Israel is being unfairly treated by the international population.

“They should really be ashamed that they only seem to come together when it is to attack, to denounce the sole, legitimate democratic country in the Middle East, which is Israel,” said Luciano Del Negro, the Vice-President of The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs

Raw Video: Pro-Israel rally in Montreal

Del Negro doesn’t see the demonstration in the same light.

“It is scandalous to see people demonstrating under the garb of peace,” he said. “This is not peace. The only people who will find solace in this is Hamas.”

READ MORE: Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza, rockets fired toward Israel after truce ends

Yet, Weinstein points out many within the Jewish community are torn.

“It’s very much like George Orwell’s Animal Farm where the people who led the rebellion are now becoming the oppressors,” he said. “Jews are having a hard time with that.”

GALLERY: Montreal protest in support of Palestinians

He insists being Jewish doesn’t mean you automatically support everything Israel does.

“We’ve been taught that, pretty much since birth, that to be Jewish is to be pro-Israel,” he explained.

As the war between Israel and the Palestinians moves well into its second month, Montrealers insist they will continue protesting until the conflict ends in a permanent ceasefire.

25 years ago, Ebola outbreak in U.S. introduced us to unknown disease

RESTON, Va. – It had all the makings of a public-health horror story: an outbreak of a wildly deadly virus on the doorstep of the nation’s capital, with dozens of lab monkeys
dead, multiple people testing positive, and no precedent in the United States on how to contain it.

Americans’ introduction to the Ebola virus came 25 years ago in an office park near Washington Dulles International Airport, a covert crisis that captivated the public only years later when it formed the basis of a bestselling book.

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Initially thought to be the same hyper-deadly strain as the current Ebola outbreak that has killed hundreds in Africa, the previously unknown Reston variant turned out to be nonlethal to humans. But the story of what might have been illustrates how far U.S. scientists have come in their understanding of a virus whose very name strikes fear, even in a country where no one has fatally contracted it.

Gerald Jaax, one of the leaders of a team of Army scientists that responded to the 1989 outbreak in Reston, Virginia, closely watched the meticulously planned transfers this month of two American aid workers from Liberia to a specialized facility in Atlanta, the first Ebola patients ever brought to the U.S. Jaax recalled his days urgently trying to corral the country’s first known outbreak.

In the 1989 outbreak of Ebola in the U.S. the virus killed several macaque monkeys, similar to the onse seen here.

AP Photo/California National Primate Research Center, Kathy West

In the fall of 1989, dozens of macaques imported from the Philippines suddenly died at Hazelton Research Products’ primate quarantine unit in Reston, where animals were kept and later sold for lab testing. Company officials contacted the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland – Jaax’s unit – concerned they might be dealing with an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever among the monkeys.

READ MORE: Ebola: What the WHO’s international health emergency declaration means

Initial testing revealed something much worse: Ebola, specifically the Zaire strain, which had a 90 per cent fatality rate in humans. Four workers at the quarantine facility tested positive for exposure to the virus.

Amazingly, they never even got sick.

Researchers eventually realized they were dealing with a different strain, one now known as Ebola-Reston. Though its appearance under a microscope is similar to the Zaire strain, Ebola-Reston is the only one of the five forms of Ebola not harmful to humans.

But Jaax and his unit, including his wife Nancy , also a scientist, did not know that while at the monkey house. They just knew they had to clean it out, and do it while keeping a relatively low profile that wouldn’t scare the neighbours.

READ MORE: Why the CDC declared the highest response level to Ebola outbreak

“You could walk in and smell monkey everywhere,” said Dr. C.J. Peters, who oversaw the Army’s response to the outbreak. “There was a little shopping centre nearby….There was plenty of opportunity for trouble.”

While the Army scientists had strong protocols in place for studying viruses safely in a lab, they were not well prepared to stabilize and contain an outbreak in a private facility. At the time, Jaax said, nobody – including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control – had that kind of experience. In the Reston incident, the CDC took the lead in managing the human-health aspect of the response, while the Army dealt with the monkeys.

Back in 1989, there was concern that Ebola could spread through the air, said Peters, now a professor with University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Indeed, researchers concluded there must have been some sort of aerosol spread of the virus within the monkey house, Jaax said.

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The Reston animals had to be euthanized from a safe distance – “monkeys are aerosol-producing machines,” Jaax said. In his 1995 book “The Hot Zone,” Richard Preston described how Jaax modified a mop handle so it could be used to pin a monkey in its cage where it could safely be injected and eventually euthanized. Later, to disinfect the air, the team cooked formaldehyde crystals on electric frying pans.

Ebola is no longer thought to be an airborne virus; scientists say the disease can only be spread through direct contact with bodily fluids.

The Reston crisis also elevated Ebola into the public consciousness, albeit not immediately. In an era when the country was preoccupied with the AIDS epidemic, which hit 100,000 cases in the U.S. that year, the Army and CDC scientists carried out their tasks in relative obscurity .

It was only after The Hot Zone became a bestseller and focused attention on the public-health battle to confront emerging disease outbreaks that the Reston event became well known and Ebola became a household word.

“The big difference between now and 1989 is that nobody else knew what Ebola was,” said Jaax, now an associate vice-president at Kansas State University.

One of the most important legacies of Reston, Jaax said, was that none of the dozens who worked to contain the outbreak was exposed to the virus. The plans developed on the fly to keep the responders safe worked, he said, and provided a good blueprint for the protocols used to bring back the American aid workers earlier this month.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior associate at the UPMC Center for Health Security in Baltimore and an infectious disease physician, said the Reston responders’ incorrect belief that they were dealing with a virus that was deadly to humans provided the ideal trial run for handling such an outbreak.

“It’s like you’re performing with a net underneath you, but you don’t know it’s a drill,” Adalja said.

Director General of the World Health Organization, WHO, China\'s Margaret Chan and Assistant Director General for Health Security Keiji Fukuda of the US, right, share a word during a press conference after an emergency meeting at the headquarters of the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014.

AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi

Ebola-Reston returned to the U.S. in 1996 in monkeys in Texas that had been imported from the Philippines. The Philippines has seen three outbreaks since the strain was identified, affecting primates, pigs and nine people. The workers who handled the animals developed antibodies, but did not get sick.

READ MORE: Why the CDC declared the highest response level to Ebola outbreak

Hazelton abandoned the Reston facility in 1990, and the company was later swallowed up by a competitor. The monkey house was torn down a few years later. The new building there hosts several small offices and a day-care centre.

Some of the office park workers are aware of the site’s history; many are not.

Back in 1989, Vicky Wingert worked at the local homeowners’ association, in offices across the street from the monkey house. She said nobody had any idea there was a problem until people showed up in hazmat suits. Even then, very little information trickled out, she said.

“At the time, it wasn’t a big deal. Looking back, it probably should have been,” she said.

©2014The Canadian Press

U.S. lab tests show deceased Saudi man did not have Ebola

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – A Saudi man who died last week after returning from Sierra Leone did not have the Ebola virus according to initial international laboratory results, said Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry.

The ministry said late Saturday that samples submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came back negative for the Ebola virus, adding that samples were also sent for testing to a laboratory in Germany.

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The 40-year-old Saudi national died Wednesday in a hospital isolation ward in the Saudi coastal city of Jiddah after showing symptoms of the viral hemorrhagic fever. He was the only suspected Ebola case in the kingdom and had just returned from a trip to affected Sierra Leone.

Ebola, which has no proven vaccine or treatment, has killed more than 900 people this year in four countries in West Africa.

Saudi Arabia is not issuing visas this year to Muslim pilgrims from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea as a precaution to avoid the spread during the hajj pilgrimage, which sees massive crowds of people from around the world gather in Mecca. The decision affects a total of 7,400 pilgrims from those three countries.

©2014The Canadian Press

Quebec pilot dies after plane crashes in the Laurentians – Montreal

LA MINERVE, Que. – A 33-year-old man is dead after his plane went down in a wooded area in the Laurentian mountains north of Montreal.

Quebec provincial police say the man was the only person aboard the Cessna airplane when it crashed on Saturday near the village of
La Minerve.

A witness first alerted authorities shortly before 2 p.m. when he noticed a plane appeared to be having difficulty while still in the
air.

After police were able to locate the downed aircraft, the man was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An investigation will be conducted into the crash.

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©2014The Canadian Press

24 people rescued from stranded roller coaster at U.S. theme park – National

WATCH: A thrill ride turned into a nightmare for 24 people who were stuck for five hours on a rollercoaster at a Six Flags in Maryland. Jan Crawford reports

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. – Authorities say 24 people stranded on a roller coaster have been rescued from near the top of the ride at Six Flags America in Maryland.

Prince George’s County Fire officials say it took about five hours Sunday to rescue 17 adults and seven children from The Joker’s Jinx roller coaster.

READ MORE: 5 deadly roller coaster accidents

Assistant Fire Chief Paul Gomez says the riders were sitting upright. A few had cramps, back pain and dehydration, but there were no major injuries.

A Six Flags America spokesman said in a statement that it is not yet clear what caused the ride to stop but that it has a computerized safety system that “performed as it is designed to.”

Six Flags’ website says the ride goes 96.56 kph and upside down four times.

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©2014The Canadian Press

Quebec pension tensions on the rise – Montreal

MONTREAL – The funky pants and sticker-plastered city vehicles are just the beginning as workers and the province draw battle lines over a proposed reform of municipal pensions.

The Liberal government introduced its proposal to overhaul municipal pensions in mid-June, saying those plans carry a collective deficit of about $3.9 billion and aren’t sustainable in the long-term.

Underfunding and long-term sustainability of pension plans is a common concern across the country. In Quebec, the response from workers has been hard to ignore.

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City employees like police officers, firefighters, public transit and other blue- and white-collar workers have been dressing down for weeks.

Police in Montreal, for example, have donned bright red ball caps and shed their work-issue slacks for camouflage, fluorescent and multi-coloured pants to show their anger.

Meanwhile, city vehicles, public transit buses, police and fire trucks across the province have been plastered with slogan stickers.

Unions say they are being put on the hook for pension shortfalls that are not of their making and feel some municipalities are looking to save on labour costs by renegotiating retirement deals.

“We want to send a clear message to governments that if it continues on that path, it’s going to be war,” union spokesman Marc Ranger warned.

WATCH: Camille Ross speaks to union representative Marc Ranger 

                    

The government’s Bill 3 is calling for a 50-50 split between municipalities and unionized workers on contributions and future deficits.

Currently, the ratio varies in the 170 individual plans that are targeted under the legislation. The bill proposes freezing the automatic indexation of pensions for about 20,000 workers already retired and sets out a timeline for negotiating a settlement, including possible arbitration.

It isn’t going over well with the 122,000 workers and retirees affected, but Ranger says the government hasn’t shown willingness to budge.

Ranger acknowledges that gaining support from the public – many of whom don’t have any pension plan at all – is a delicate task. So
they’ve opted for some unorthodox tactics like the pants and stickers to get that support.

Other unsanctioned tactics haven’t gone over so well. Police in Laval were photographed as they drove through large puddles and muddied their squad cars at a construction site. In another incident, a Montreal police vehicle was entirely encased in union protest stickers.

Montreal’s police brotherhood also denied it had anything to do with about 100 police officers calling in sick one weekend morning, forcing overtime and a scramble to find replacements.

Ranger says the tactics suggest members are angry.

“We want to be very visible by all means,” Ranger said.

“We know that it’s a thin line with public opinion, but at the same time people are sensitive to the fact that when contracts were signed, they should be respected.”

READ MORE: Quebec Games targeted by anti-pension protest

Some mayors have said they’d rather negotiate directly with workers than have the provincial government stepping in with blanket legislation.

Others, including big cities like Montreal and Quebec City with big, unionized workforces, are firmly behind the Quebec government proposal.

The tension continues to mount as parliamentary hearings on Bill 3 begin Aug. 20.

An association representing municipal police officers says members would not hesitate to “radicalize” or intensify their pressure tactics, without providing any specifics.

Denis Cote said his organization would be taking to social and traditional media through an ad campaign to garner public support.

“The objective of the municipalities is very simple: it’s to go get salary retroactively, and it’s not allowed,” Cote said.

Ranger says the unions plan to show at the hearings that the situation is not as dire as the government makes it and that union
experts peg the deficit at about $2 billion.

“Right now, the government is prepared to tear down all signed contracts and to treat defined benefit pension funds as if they were all in trouble,” Ranger said.

“We have 170 pension funds in Quebec right now and about 10 of them are in trouble, not all of them.”

Ranger said unions have shown a willingness to negotiate. He cites a recent contract with Montreal blue-collar workers where contributions were increased, the retirement age was pushed back and a special fund to deal with future shortfalls was set up.

The blue-collars currently have as many retirees – 5,500 – as they do active employees.

“We are aware we live longer and it costs more,” Ranger said.

READ MORE: Quebec’s municipal employees ready to go to Supreme Court

The provincial government says it wants Bill 3 adopted by year’s end. That would trigger legal battles that could end up at the Supreme Court of Canada, Ranger said.

The current battle is a test for the Liberals, who warned that tough economic decisions would have to be made when it came to power last April.
Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau was not available for an interview but said when the bill was introduced that there was no question of off-loading the costs onto Quebecers.

“In the past, no one took care of those deficits, and that’s the reason why we have the situation we’re trying to solve today,” Moreau said.

©2014The Canadian Press

Australian parents deny abandoning child with Down syndrome in Thailand – National

SYDNEY, Australia – An Australian couple denied they had abandoned their son with his Thai surrogate after learning he had Down syndrome, saying in an interview broadcast on Sunday that the woman demanded she be allowed to keep the boy.

Baby Gammy’s surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua, a 21-year-old food vendor with two young children of her own, had accused the boy’s biological parents, Wendy and David Farnell, of leaving her with the infant while taking his healthy twin sister, Pipah, back with them to Australia.

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“We did not abandon our son,” an emotional David Farnell said in an interview with Australia’s 60 Minutes.

“(Pattaramon) said that if we tried to take our little boy, she’s going to get the police and she’s going to try and take our little girl and she’s going to keep both of the babies,” he said.

READ MORE: Could a Canadian family abandon their baby carried by surrogate mom?

Pattaramon denied that she’d ever threatened to keep both children, but agreed that she hadn’t wanted the Farnells to take Gammy home.

“I did not allow Gammy to go back with them – that’s the truth,” she told The Associated Press on Sunday, apparently backtracking from her earlier accusation that the couple had abandoned the baby boy. “It is because they would have taken Gammy back and put him in an institute.”

The case, which has focused global attention on the largely unregulated surrogacy industry in Thailand, became even murkier when it emerged that David Farnell had been convicted in the 1990s of multiple sex offences against young girls. Farnell insisted Sunday that his daughter is not at risk of harm from him.

The Farnells had been trying for eight years to conceive when they approached a Thai surrogacy agency for help.

David Farnell, who has three children from a previous relationship, said the problems began when they found out before the twins’ birth in December that the boy would have Down syndrome. The couple was angry that the surrogacy agency had not conducted tests earlier that could have detected the condition, because by the time they found out, it was too late in the pregnancy to abort the fetus. Had they known earlier, they probably would have terminated the pregnancy, David Farnell said.

“I don’t think any parent wants a son with a disability,” he said. “Parents want their children to be healthy and happy.”

They expected the surrogacy agency to give them a refund and find a solution. That’s when the still-pregnant Pattaramon offered to keep Gammy, Farnell said.

“So we were thinking, oh, maybe – maybe – this might be OK,” he said.

When the babies were born, however, the Farnells said they realized they wanted to keep both. But Pattaramon then insisted she be allowed to keep Gammy, and threatened to keep Pipah as well, David Farnell said. The couple believes Pattaramon wanted to keep Gammy because male children are prized in Asian cultures.

The Farnells said they never went to any officials or contacted the Australian Embassy in Bangkok about Pattaramon’s alleged threat. They left Gammy and returned home to Western Australia state only with Pipah, they said, because their visa was running out.

READ MORE: Down syndrome baby boy abandoned by Australian parents in Thailand

They didn’t apply for a visa extension because they wanted to get Pipah to Australia to keep her away from Pattaramon, David Farnell said. Their plan was to fight to get their son back by going through the Australian authorities, he said.

In the six months they have been back in Australia, however, they have never contacted the authorities about their son, because they say they still feel their daughter is at risk of being taken back by Pattaramon. They have never called to check on Gammy’s welfare, and have contacted a liaison between themselves and Pattaramon only once, David Farnell said.

“It has been very stressing,” he said. “We miss our little boy. I come home from work some days and Wendy has dressed our little girl all in blue because she wants still to remember the little boy.”

Asked about his history as a sex offender, Farnell said he no longer feels any urges to sexually assault young girls and insisted Pipah would be safe in his care.

“I will do everything in the world to protect my little girl,” he said. “I have no inclination of doing anything like this. I don’t have any thoughts about this at all. That is the 100 per cent truth. I cannot do this again.”

Farnell rejected the suggestion that his predilection for young girls had influenced his decision to bring home his daughter and not his son.

“I’m actually ashamed you would say something like that,” a tearful Farnell said. “Honestly, there is no reason to be concerned. I’m not going to harm my little girl.”

“Everybody hates sex offenders – they’re the lowest form of people, not even worthy of breathing,” he added. “I know that. That’s why I’ve tried so hard and wanted to be a good father for my children so that at least the people can see that I am a good person now.”

The executive producer of “60 Minutes,” Tom Malone, said the Farnells were not paid for the interview, but acknowledged that the program had made a donation to a charity raising money for Gammy’s care.

©2014The Canadian Press

Woman scales barbed-wire fence at Halifax airport, tries to stop plane from taking off

HALIFAX – The Halifax International Airport Authority said it will conduct a review of its security systems after a 37-year-old woman scaled the perimeter fence.

Airport spokesperson Peter Spurway said around 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, it became apparent a person had jumped the fence around the air field.

“It was down along the hangar line, away from the terminal building,” he said about the area that was breached.

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Spurway said the individual got into the air field and was spotted almost immediately by people in the air traffic control tower.

He then said airport employees in the area apprehended the person and held the individual until RCMP arrived.

RCMP spokesperson Al LeBlanc said a 37-year-old Fall River woman was arrested.

He said she sustained minor injuries from climbing the fence, did not resist police and was taken to hospital for a medical assessment.

“Her intent was to stop the plane. My understanding is she believed her partner was on an aircraft. We determined that was not the case,” he said.

“It’s an unusual incident to say the least. In all my years of policing, I’ve never heard of such an incident.”

Spurway said there are cameras in the area and there is a fence about three metres high with barb wire on the top. There are also infrared sensors and motion detectors.

“It is a bit of a feat to get over this thing,” he said. “That takes some doing.”

When asked whether the individual could have been spotted while climbing the fence, Spurway said it was possible the person, while climbing, was blocked by a building that was along the fence.

Spurway adds the incident is an extremely rare occurrence but the airport authority will be re-evaluating its security systems.

“We will take a look at details of the incident once we do our own investigation and see if there is something that needs to be done, whether the security around that area of the fence needs to be enhanced in any way. And if need be, we will do that.”

Spurway said there was a small aircraft in the vicinity during the incident but it was rerouted.

He said the woman was not in any danger, however he emphasizes the severity of the situation.

“It is not a safe place for people to be if they are not authorized to be there or do not understand the dangers of the place. Air fields are inherently hazardous with aircraft moving.”

Spurway defended the airport’s security systems.

“Do you need to be concerned? I don’t think so. The people who need to be concerned are people who go onto the air field unauthorized.”

“As for the security of the air field, it is secure. That’s why we’ll go back and look at this particular area and see if there were any issues.”

RCMP say the woman will not face any charges.

Saint John marathon honours fallen Mountie Cst. Doug Larche – New Brunswick

SAINT JOHN – A different kind of starting signal marked the start of the Marathon By The Sea on Sunday. Instead of a pistol, two police cars — a cruiser each from the RCMP and Saint John Police — sounded their sirens.

It was part of a special tribute to Codiac RCMP Constable Douglas James Larche, who was one of three officers murdered in Moncton in June.

A moment of silence was held before the race, and the first mile was dedicated to Cst. Larche, with red ribbons and a painted red line marking the “red mile.”

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“Doug loved to run,” his widow, Nadine, told Global News. “He spent a lot of his spare time running. He was very motivated in keeping in shape and going out running. Each one of our girls also likes to run too. They’ve all had their turn in a running stroller being pushed around by daddy.”

Cst. Larche grew up in Saint John and had run this marathon before. Nadine and her daughters always watched him as he raced and they were at the Saint John marathon on Sunday.

“It has a good feeling coming to Saint John,” Nadine said. “This was Doug’s hometown. He grew up here. He graduated from high school here […] and we came here relatively often because he liked to show the girls where he grew up, and show them where he went to high school and where his houses were.”

The last time Cst. Larche’s colleague, Cst. Christy Elliott, saw him, they were out on a run together.

“My daughter was in a stroller and she kept kicking the blanket off,” she said. “Doug, as the devoted dad he is to his three little girls, he would pick up her blanket and put it right back on her.”

Cst. Elliott had run in the race last year and was planning to run it again this year, but changed her plan after the June 4th shooting. Instead, she donned her red serge and participated in the ceremony – standing at the starting line before the race began.

“It was important for us to be here in this capacity as a supporter as opposed to a runner this year.”

In the tents in the runners area, a group of volunteers sold red bracelets for five dollars to raise money for the families of the three murdered officers. Many runners donated much more.

Some runners, like Chief Rod MacDonald of the East River Fire Department in PEI, chose to wear ribbons during the race.

“As a firefighter, we know we both fight different kinds of battles,” said MacDonald. “I’m in support of that and my three uncles — two of them were RCMP officers and one was an OPP officer. I’m in support of them too.”

RCMP officers from across the province and police officers from both the Saint John Police Force and the Kennebacasis Regional Police Force stood at the finish line of the race, putting medals around the necks of each runner who crossed the finish line. For a short time, Nadine and her daughters also stepped in.

“The last time he did this race was five years ago,” Nadine said. “I was pregnant with our youngest and the two older ones were here cheering daddy on. So this time around, all three of us are here and we wish daddy was here with us.”

Edmonton man with donated kidneys cycles across Canada to show the difference a kidney can make

EDMONTON – Every day this summer, Ron Hahn is cycling 90 kilometres to show Canadians the difference a kidney can make.

The Edmonton man, an organ recipient, is on a coast-to-coast, 8,600-kilometre trip to spread organ donation awareness.

Hahn, whose kidneys started failing in 2004, received a donation from his father two years later – a gift with a “miraculous” impact.

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“Renal failure is feeling like a hangover. You’ve got a headache, you’ve got no energy,” he said via phone in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., about halfway through his trip.

“But as I was waking up from the surgery, I could feel the difference… You feel amazing. You just want to get up out of the bed and start running around.”

On a typical day, Hahn gets up at 7 a.m. and rides with a bicycle and camping gear that weigh about 45 kilograms in total.

He breaks the day into two halves, usually stopping for lunch at a diner, telling his story to fellow patrons. Hahn said he talks to about 10 people daily in rural areas, and many more in large communities.

Planning to donate organs after death – where most transplants come from – is a difficult topic that many simply never broach because it deals with their own mortality, Hahn said.

“If people were more aware and sign up to be donors when they pass away, I think that waiting list (for organs) would be significantly reduced,” he said.

READ MORE: Time to change our thinking about organ donation

According to the latest report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 3,428 people were on the waiting list for kidneys in Canada in 2012, while only 1,358 transplants were performed that year.

And the same year, 84 people on the waiting list died before receiving their kidneys.

Dr. Julian Midgley, national president of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, said donor shortage often stems from lack of information – an opinion underscored by the high donation rates among people who work in the medical field.

WATCH: Understanding organ donation

A study published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows organ donation rates among Ontario doctors are about twice those of the general public.

Midgley said doctors, through their work, are often more privy to what those in need of organs are going through.

“They may also be more aware of the issues regarding organ donation,” he added. “Some people may not want to donate because they believe in myths: if you’re an organ donor, you’re more likely not be looked after properly – things like that.”

Midgley said the key to getting more donors would be activities that raise awareness such as Hahn’s journey – putting organ donation “on the minds of people.”

Hahn’s trip started June 5 in Tofino, B.C., and is expected to end in September in St. John’s, N.L. His journey can be tracked online.

©2014The Canadian Press

Poland’s Radwanska defeats Venus Williams to win women’s Rogers Cup

MONTREAL – Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Venus Williams 6-4, 6-2 to win the US$2.44 million women’s Rogers Cup on Sunday.

The third-seeded Radwanska, the first Rogers Cup champion from Poland, picked up her first tournament win of the year and the $441,000 winner’s prize. The 34-year-old Williams earned $220,000.

The 25-year-old Radwanska used her relentless baseline game to dominate a tired-looking Williams, who was coming off an emotional, three-set victory over her top-ranked sister Serena Williams in a semifinal on Saturday.

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READ MORE: Venus to meet Radwanska in Rogers Cup women’s final

The Krakow, Poland native shot off to a 4-1 lead, but Venus Williams answered with a break that had the centre court crowd on its feet as Radwanska hit a drop shot, Williams dropped back, Radwanska hit a lob and Williams got back in time to win the point with a cross-court smash.

Radwanska settled back in to finish the set and opened the second with a service break. After Williams broke to tie it at 2-2, she gave the break to Radwanska with a pair of double faults. Radwanska cruised the rest of the way, punctuating her victory with an ace on match point.

Radwanska, ranked fifth in the world to Williams’ 26th, posted her first Rogers Cup win after twice reaching the semifinals. It was her first tournament victory since 2013 at Seoul.

Venus Williams of the United States celebrates after beating her sister Serena 6-7, 6-2, 6-3 during semifinal play at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014 in Montreal.

Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press

Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam winner, had an excellent week that will put her back into the world top-20 starting Monday. It included wins over sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber and 14th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro.

She fell short in her bid to become the event’s oldest champion after Martina Navratilova, who won 52 days short of her 33rd birthday in 1989.

Organizers announced the tournament drew 181,996 spectators, topping the previous high of 175,000. Sales were boosted by the recent success of Eugenie Bouchard, but the Westmont, Que., native lost her first match on Tuesday to Shelby Rogers.

©2014The Canadian Press

Keystone climate impacts could be higher than U.S. estimate: study

An economic analysis of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline’s possible climate impacts has concluded they could be up to four times higher than previously estimated.

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In the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute write that widely quoted U.S. State Department findings that the oilsands pipeline wouldn’t make a significant difference missed a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

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“It didn’t appear that they looked at the market implications,” said co-author Peter Erickson. “If the Keystone pipeline were to enable a greater rate of extraction of the oilsands, would that not increase global fuel supplies, which might then decrease prices and therefore allow a little bit more global consumption?

“That’s the analysis that we did here and we found that it could be the greatest emissions impact of the pipeline.”

GALLERY: The Keystone debate

Washington Post runs strong editorial on Keystone XL decision delay

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Washington Post runs strong editorial on Keystone XL decision delay

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Canadian reaction grows over White House continued delay of keystone pipeline




Erickson and co-author Michael Lazarus used figures from previous research and international agencies that mathematically describe how oil prices affect consumption. They found that a slightly lower price created by every barrel of increased oilsands production enabled by Keystone XL would increase global oil consumption by slightly more than half a barrel.

READ MORE: Climate change denial is like saying moon ‘made of cheese,’ says Obama

The capacity of the pipeline proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) would be about 820,000 barrels a day. If every barrel of that came from new production, the annual carbon impact of Keystone XL could be up to 110 million tonnes – four times the maximum State Department estimate of up to 27 million tonnes.

The authors acknowledge their study doesn’t answer whether Keystone XL would encourage oilsands expansion or simply provide an outlet for growth that would have happened anyway.

Environmentalists maintain the former.

The Pembina Institute argues the pipeline would enable oilsands companies to get a better price at U.S. Gulf refineries, sending a market signal to increase production. The clean energy think-tank also points to statements by officials suggesting the project would allow their companies to mine more bitumen.

While other options to move oilsands crude exist, the institute says none would have Keystone’s size and none would be as advanced.

“It is likely that Keystone XL would, in fact, drive increased oilsands production in Alberta,” says an institute paper.

Industry officials say the relationship between pipelines and production isn’t that simple. Higher output and better transportation feed back into each other, said Terry Abel, director of oilsands for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

“Oilsands growth will at some point require additional capacity to transport the product,” he said. “That growth in production generates numerous proposals to do just that.

“Ultimately, it’s the demand for the product that encourages production growth.”

Still, Lazarus said the debate about the climate impacts of energy projects would benefit from a closer look at their market effects.

“Looking at the demand-supply interaction is something energy economists do and modellers do all the time, but usually at a global level. What is not done sufficiently is to look at the implications of individual actions, policies, programs and investments.”

Lazarus said even though the pipeline’s capacity would represent only about one per cent of global oil consumption, that would still be enough to incrementally move markets. The global energy market is so big that even one per cent is a significant chunk, he said.

“It’s important to look at the incremental impact of all sorts of actions No particular action is going to be individually that large.”

The pair’s research is being welcomed in the academic community.

“Its conclusions seem reasonable,” said Mark Jaccard of Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management.

“The paper suggests a flaw in the analysis of the U.S. State Department, because it did not consider this effect when addressing President Obama’s request to know the incremental effect of the pipeline on emissions.”

The Stockholm Environment Institute is a non-profit, international research group based in Sweden with seven offices on four continents. Its work is supported by the Swedish and other governments, the private sector and charitable foundations.

©2014The Canadian Press

In pictures: Heavy Montreal 2014 – Montreal

MONTREAL – This weekend, Parc Jean-Drapeau played host to the who’s who of rock in its sixth edition of Heavy Montreal.

The festival is the largest of its kind in Canada and features a mixture of hard rock, punk and metal.

Metallica, Slayer, Twisted Sister, Voivod, Anthrax and Bad Religion are just some of the bands headlining the festival.

Between headbanging acts, wrestlers are set to entertain the crowds with their own production, dubbed “Heavy Mania.”

Here’s a glimpse of the action straight from Parc Jean-Drapeau.

Heavy Montreal at Parc Jean-Drapeau, Sunday Aug. 10, 2014.

Jean-Michel Cormier / Global

Heavy Montreal at Parc Jean-Drapeau, Sunday Aug. 10, 2014.

Jean-Michel Cormier / Global

Heavy Montreal at Parc Jean-Drapeau, Sunday Aug. 10, 2014.

Jean-Michel Cormier / Global

Heavy Montreal at Parc Jean-Drapeau, Sunday Aug.10, 2014.

Jean-Michel Cormier / Global

Heavy Montreal at Parc Jean-Drapeau, Sunday Aug. 10, 2014.

Jean-Michel Cormier/Global News


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