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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

Douglas Hales back in court after recent ‘Mr. Big’ ruling

SASKATOON – Accused killer Douglas Hales will be back in a Saskatoon courtroom Monday to find out if a recent ruling on “Mr. Big” sting operations will affect his case.

Hales, who is charged with the first-degree murder of Daleen Bosse, was arrested after RCMP officers posed as members of a criminal organization trying to recruit him in a “Mr. Big” sting operation.

Final arguments have been made in the case and a verdict was expected on Aug. 29.

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Monday’s court appearance was ordered after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on July 31 that confessions extracted through sting operations must be presumed inadmissible in court.

Follow Meaghan Craig on 桑拿会所 for the latest from the hearing

The court said prosecutors must prove a “Mr. Big” confession is admissible by showing it’s reliable and that it won’t unfairly prejudice a crime suspect during court proceedings.

The Crown must also prove the confession was not obtained via police coercion or was facilitated due to a suspect’s mental health or addiction issues.

Bosse was last seen in May 2004 and her burned remains were found outside of Saskatoon in August 2008.

Hales was arrested on Aug. 10, 2008 and charged with first-degree murder and offering an indignity to a body.

During closing arguments, the Crown argued Hales killed the university student out of rage when she mocked his sexual impotence.

Hales lawyer contended Bosse died of alcohol poisoning and he then burned her body out of panic, believing he would be charged with murder since he provided her with alcohol.

With files from Meaghan Craig and The Canadian Press

Iraq president names deputy speaker new PM – National

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s new president on Monday snubbed the powerful incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and nominated the deputy parliament speaker to form the new government, raising fears of more infighting in the government as country faces the threat of Sunni militants in the north.

In a televised address Fouad Massoum gave Haider al-Ibadi, who was selected by a coalition of Shiite political parties, 30 days to form a new government and present it to parliament for approval.

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The ceremony came hours after the embattled al-Maliki delivered a surprise speech at midnight accusing the Massoum of blocking his reappointment as prime minister and carrying out “a coup against the constitution and the political process.”

READ MORE: As Iraq gets new president, car bomb kills 21

Al-Maliki’s Dawa party then issued a televised statement rejecting the new nominee, saying he did not have the support of the party.

“Al-Ibadi represents only himself,” said party spokesman Khalaf Abdul-Samad surrounded by stone-faced party members, including al-Maliki.

Al-Ibadi, who pledged to form a government to “protect the Iraqi people,” was nominated for the post by the Iraqi National Alliance, a coalition of Shiite parties that includes al-Maliki’s.

The powerful Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, whose movement controls dozens of seats in parliament, expressed his support for al-Ibadi’s nomination, describing it as the “first sign” the country was headed back to safety.

“I think that this nomination will be an important start in order to end the crisis that the people are undergoing such as security and service problems,” he said in a statement.

Al-Ibadi is a British-educated lawmaker with a background in electrical engineering and a member of al-Maliki’s Islamic Dawa party. He has been closely involved in previous governments.

Critics say al-Maliki, a Shiite, has contributed to the crisis facing the country by monopolizing power and pursuing a sectarian agenda that alienated the country’s Sunni and Kurdish minorities.

Al-Ibadi’s nomination came hours after al-Maliki deployed his elite security forces in the streets of Baghdad, partially closed two main streets – popular spots for pro and anti-government rallies – as hundreds of his supporters took to the streets, raising fears that he might use force to stay in power.

“We are with you, al-Maliki,” they shouted, waving posters of the incumbent premier, singing and dancing.

Hakim al-Zamili, a lawmaker with the Sadrist movement, cautioned the military, which includes units directly loyal to al-Maliki, not to intervene.

“The security forces and government bodies belong to the Iraqi people, and they should not interfere in politics,” he said when asked whether al-Maliki might use force to stay in power.

The new political crisis in Baghdad has raised concerns abroad.

Speaking to reporters in Sydney, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. stands “absolutely squarely behind President Massoum,” and called for restraint. “There should be no use force, no introduction of troops or militias into this moment of democracy for Iraq.”

Kerry said a new government “is critical in terms of sustaining the stability and calm in Iraq,” and that “our hope is that Mr. Maliki will not stir those waters.”

The U.N. special representative for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, said Iraq’s “special forces should refrain from actions that may be seen as interference in matters related to the democratic transfer of political authority.”

Britain, the U.S., the EU and neighbouring Turkey have all sent messages of support over al-Ibadi’s nomination.

Also Monday, senior U.S. officials said the Obama administration, which launched airdrops and airstrikes last week to support Kurdish and Iraqi forces battling militants from the Islamic State group, has begun directly providing weapons to the Kurdish peshmerga forces who have started to make gains against the al-Qaida breakaway group that controls much of the north.

U.S. airstrikes have reinvigorated Iraqi Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State and on Sunday, the Kurdish peshmerga fighters retook two towns – Makhmour and al-Gweir, some 28 miles (45 kilometres) from the Kurdish capital of Irbil – from the Sunni militants in what was one of their first victories after weeks of retreat.

The successes, however, were balanced out by news of a defeat in the far eastern Diyala province where Kurdish forces were driven out of the town of Jalula after fierce fighting against Sunni militants.

The militants blasted their way into the town at midnight using a truck bomb followed up with several suicide bombers on foot, said a police officer and a army official, adding that at least 14 Kurdish fighters were killed.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

The move to directly arm the Kurds underscores the level of U.S. concern about the Islamic State’s gains. The officials wouldn’t say which U.S. agency is providing the arms or what weapons are being sent, but one official said it isn’t the Pentagon. The CIA has historically done similar quiet arming operations. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the operation publicly.

The militant advances and the political turmoil has deepened Iraq’s humanitarian crisis, with some 200,000 Iraqis recently joining the 1.5 million people already displaced from violence this year.

The U.S. also announced the deployment of a disaster response team to Iraq help distribute humanitarian aid to those forced from their homes in the fresh wave of violence in the country’s north.

—-

Associated Press writers Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad and Matthew Lee in Sydney contributed to this report.

©2014The Canadian Press

Montreal Pride kicks off, inspired by the colour orange – Montreal

MONTREAL — One of Montreal’s more colourful festivals kicks of on Monday.

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The 8th edition of Montreal Pride runs until Sunday and features more than 80 scheduled events, including free shows at Place Émilie-Gamelin, Pride Day at La Ronde, movies under the stars, the infamous pink dot gathering, and a three-act American opera presented by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s Maestro Kent Nagano.

Montreal Pride is held every year to showcase the diversity and vitality of the LGBT community while raising awareness of inequalities that continue to exist in Quebec and around the world.

“In 77 countries, the mere fact of being an LGBT person is punishable by fines, corporal punishment, imprisonment or even death,” said the president of Montreal Pride, Eric Pineault, in a statement.

“As long as we do not all have legal and social equality, we will continue our mission to work for better future.”

Montreal’s Pride’s flagship events, presented by Viagra, are scheduled for Saturday, August 16, and Sunday, August 17.

The second colour of the rainbow flag is the theme colour for 2014 Montreal Pride.

File / AP Photo

Every year, the highlight of the festival, the 30th annual pride march, is inspired by a colour of the rainbow flag. This year, orange, the flag’s second colour, has inspired the theme of Montreal Pride 2014: “Our Flag, Our Fire.”

WHO seeks expert advice on the ethics of using experimental Ebola drugs – National

TORONTO – On Monday experts from around the world will converge, by telephone, to try to chart a path through a mine field of ethical issues related to the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The experts – ethicists and representatives of the affected countries and other players involved in the outbreak – are meeting at the request of the World Health Organization to debate whether it is ethical to use experimental Ebola therapies in this epidemic.

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Most of the treatment options, including the one given recently to two American aid workers, have never been tested in humans. Studies in Ebola-infected primates provide the strongest clues of whether these potential drugs and candidate vaccines might work on people and whether they are safe for people to use.

The ethical questions are thorny, especially given the number of available doses or treatment courses is vanishingly small – nowhere near enough to make a dent in an outbreak that has already claimed close to 1,000 lives. Nearly 40 per cent of all known Ebola deaths ever have occurred in this outbreak, which is far from over.

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

“You have experimental products which have never even been used in humans, in healthy volunteers. And in addition, there is very, very little of it. So what do you do with it?” Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, the WHO’s assistant director general for health systems and innovation, says in describing the dilemmas the ethics panel will be asked to help the WHO work through.

“Of course it should be used but for whom and how? I think you could make a case that if they are to be used, they should be used also in a condition where it is possible to learn as much as possible from their use.”

Researchers have been trying to develop Ebola drugs and vaccines for years. But even the most promising projects eventually run up against what has been an intractable problem: The only way to know if a vaccine prevents Ebola infection or a drug cures it is to use it in an outbreak. The idea of using in Africa drugs for which there is little or no human safety data makes many people shudder.

“You need to reassure the governments and the regulators in these countries that you are not just taking their citizens and using them to do research,” Kieny insists.

Dr. Ross Upshur, former director of the University of Toronto’s Joint Centre for Bioethics, says the idea of using experimental drugs needs sober reflection.

READ MORE: 5 things to know about the experimental Ebola drug

“Trust me, I am no friend of Ebola,” says Upshur, now a professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “But taking whatever might be out in however many labs around the world and starting to stick them into people without a good clear (study) protocol, without informed consent, without regulatory oversight would be foolish.”

“We need to … be really clearheaded about this, because it will also be precedent setting.”

Many of the questions the panel will debate will inform decisions that will need to be taken down the road. Right now there is almost nothing to distribute, people familiar with the various research projects say. Making experimental drugs or vaccines is expensive business, and the laboratories and biotech companies doing this type of early research only produce tiny batches.

Take for example the therapy used by Americans Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, a cocktail of three monoclonal antibodies that attack proteins on the surface of the Ebola virus.

Mapp Biopharmaceutical, the company behind the product, has “fewer than a handful” of treatment courses left of the drug, called ZMapp, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Another source is more specific, saying that after Brantly and Writebol were treated, there was only enough drug left for three people.

“So this idea about (opening) the cupboard: There’s no cupboard right now. That’s like a moot point about distributing it because there’s very, very little,” Fauci insists.

It is estimated that making another batch of ZMapp could take three to four months. “This is something so new and experimental it (production) has not been scaled up,” says Kieny.

Another potential option for compassionate use is a therapy called TKM-Ebola, made by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals of Burnaby, B.C.

The drug binds to the RNA of the Ebola virus, blocking its ability to make disease causing proteins. It has been given to some healthy human volunteers. But the study was suspended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because of concerns over what has been described as a safety signal when the drug was given at high doses.

Last week the FDA partially lifted that hold, potentially allowing the drug to be used in the outbreak. Tekmira President Dr. Mark Murray said the company would be willing to assist in any responsible use of the drug. But the company will not disclose how many doses of TKM-Ebola it has on hand, or how long it will take to make more.

Prior to the emergency use of ZMapp, most experts argued that experimental drugs could not be used safely in this outbreak. There is too much panic and hostility among people in affected communities, the argument went. Use of anything new, especially something injectable, would only fan the raging rumours that the response workers are spreading Ebola, not trying to treat it.

But since the Brantly-Writebol incident, opinion has shifted.

Three leading public health leaders – Dr. Jeremy Farrar, head of Britain’s Wellcome Trust, Dr. David Heymann, head of the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security in London, and Dr. Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – argued last week in the Wall Street Journal that it is time to fast-track safety testing of the therapies in healthy volunteers in unaffected countries, so that drugs can be tested in African in this outbreak. They note the epidemic is likely to continue for months.

And that is probably the most optimistic timeline for having any product to test in Africa. Fauci says his organization plans to begin a Phase I clinical trial of an Ebola vaccine in September. Phase I trials involve giving something to a small number of healthy volunteers to see if it is safe. With a vaccine, a Phase I trial could also show if recipients developed Ebola antibodies.

“If it’s successful and if it’s safe and if it works, then we would hopefully be able to sometime in late 2015 have some to be able to give to health-care workers who are going to put themselves on the line,” says Fauci.

While more than a year away, that is lightening speed for a vaccine that hasn’t yet been given to people. Still, everyone hopes this outbreak will be over by then.

In the meantime, Kieny says, the WHO is exploring the possibility of helping the affected countries develop convalescent serum – blood from survivors which would contain Ebola antibodies – and hyperimmune globulin, a more concentrated antibody serum. Both these therapies are used for a variety of illnesses; hyperimmune globulin, for instance, is used to treat people who have been exposed to rabies.

“Neither convalescent serum nor hyperimmune globulins are there yet,” Kieny says. “But this is something that could be worked on and be available in the coming few months.”

STF mum on stripping authority from its president

SASKATOON – The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation won’t comment publicly on the reasons why a non-confidence motion was passed against its president Colin Keess, saying it’s an internal matter.

The executive of the STF passed a non-confidence motion on June 19 and on Aug. 1 passed another motion stripping Keess of all his duties and responsibilities.

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The matter came to light after the STF sent an email on Aug. 8 to over 12,000 teachers informing them of the action against Keess.

Keess said he has no idea why he was stripped of his authority.

“I have no idea what the ‘conduct as president’ refers to in the release, and I suppose I won’t until a proper process is followed and I hear the allegations,” said Keess in a statement released Sunday.

The STF says Keess is aware of what is transpiring. In a release Sunday evening, the STF executive said “public statements from Mr. Keess that he has ‘not a clue’ why this action has been taken are inaccurate.”

“Mr. Keess has been made aware of the basis of the motion of non-confidence. A further in-camera meeting has been scheduled for Mr. Keess to meet with the executive members in relation to this matter.”

STF goes on to say its members are expected to abide by established principle of executive conduct and policies and has no further plans to speak about the issue publicly at this time.

Convicted terrorist tweets photo of son holding severed head – National

CANBERRA, Australia – An Australian newspaper on Monday published a photograph of a child it said was the son of an Australian convicted terrorist holding aloft the severed head of a Syrian soldier.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio that the photograph was further evidence of “just how barbaric” the Islamic State group is.

The Australian newspaper reported that the photograph of terrorist Khaled Sharrouf’s son, who was raised in Sydney, was posted on 桑拿会所 by his proud father.

“That’s my boy!” Sharrouf apparently posted beneath the image that was taken in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of what has been declared that an Islamic Caliphate by the Islamic State, the newspaper reported.

The child, who is not named, appears to be younger than 10 years old.

Sharrouf used his brother’s passport to leave Australia last year with his wife and three sons to fight in Syria and Iraq. The Australian government had banned him from leaving the country because of the terrorism threat he posed.

He was among nine Muslim men accused in 2007 of stockpiling bomb-making materials and plotting terrorist attacks in Australia’s largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne.

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He pleaded guilty to terrorism offences and was sentenced in 2009 to four years in prison.

Australian police announced last month that they had arrest warrants for Sharrouf and his companion Mohamed Elomar, another former Sydney resident, for “terrorism-related activity.”

They will be arrested if they return to Australia.

The warrants followed photographs being posted on Sharrouf’s 桑拿会所 account showing Elomar smiling and holding the severed heads of two Syrian soldiers.

In June, The Australian newspaper published a photograph of Sharrouf posing among the bodies of massacred Iraqis.

Abbott, who on Monday was in the Netherlands, said he expected Australian C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster military transport planes would join multinational humanitarian efforts this week on Iraq’s Sinjar Mountain.

British officials estimated Saturday that 50,000 to 150,000 people could be trapped on the mountain, where they fled to escape the Islamic extremists, only to become stranded there with few supplies.

“Australia will gladly join the humanitarian airlifts to the people stranded on Mount Sinjar,” Abbott told ABC. “This is a potential humanitarian catastrophe.”

He said Islam State’s quest for a terrorist nation posed “extraordinary problems” for the Middle East and the wider world.

“We see more and more evidence of just how barbaric this particular entity is,” Abbott said.

©2014The Canadian Press

1 in 6 Canadian Forces members reports mental health or alcohol issues: StatsCan – National

TORONTO – One in six Canadian Armed Forces members have reported suffering symptoms associated with selected mental health or alcohol-related disorders, according to a Statistic Canada study published Monday.

About 6,700 full-time regular members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and 1,500 reservists were interviewed from April to August 2013 to collect information about the mental health status and need for mental health services within the Forces.

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The results of the 2013 Canadian Armed Forces Mental Health Survey found that one in six members reported experiencing symptoms associated with at least one of  the following mental or alcohol disorders in the previous 12 months:  major depressive episode, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, alcohol misuse, and alcohol dependence.

IN-DEPTH: Invisible Wounds – Crisis in the Military

The survey was developed by StatsCan in collaboration with the Department of National Defence (DND).

A look at the most common disorders

According to the CAF website, approximately 15 per cent of regular personnel access mental health services each year. CAF said that although efforts have been made to reduce the time its members wait before seeking care, it remains a problem in the CAF and in the general population.

Depression, or a major depressive episode, was the most common disorder, with eight per cent of full-time regular Forces members meeting the criteria in the 12 months prior to the survey. The disorder is identified “as a period of two weeks or more with persistent depressed mood or loss of interest in normal activities, as well as other symptoms including: decreased energy, changes in sleep and appetite, impaired concentration, feelings of hopelessness, or suicidal thoughts.”

Other results of the survey found:

3 per cent of regular Forces members reported symptoms consistent with PTSD.7 per cent reported symptoms consistent with generalized anxiety disorder.4 per cent reported symptoms consistent with panic disorder.5 per cent admitted to alcohol misuse, while 2 per cent of CF members said they’re dependent on alcohol.

‘Need for mental health support’

In April, Global News spoke with five current and former members of the Canadian Forces, each with post-traumatic stress disorder. Read their stories.

READ MORE: Campaign urges soldiers to connect to fight mental illness stigma, suicide

Veteran advocates have previously spoken out about the urgent need for more mental health and transition support for members of the Canadian Armed Forces and a spate of suicides within the Forces the past year has prompted a lot of public attention on the care and services available to soldiers and their families.

The Canadian Forces Member Assistance Program has a confidential 24/7 toll-free telephone advisory and referral service for all military personnel and their families: 1-800-268-7708. If it is an emergency, call 911.

Earlier this year, more than 200 Canadian military personnel who have suffered a mental health issue and sought care have reportedly come forward to share their stories in a series of online videos for the DND.

  – with files from The Canadian Press

PC leadership candidates call for televised debate

EDMONTON – Progressive Conservative leadership candidates Thomas Lukaszuk and Ric McIver are both calling on their party to support a televised debate.

“We think Albertans deserve a public debate in order that they can be as informed as possible before they pick the next leader of this government,” said McIver.

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“We strongly believe that Albertans deserve to get to know us and see our difference policy alternatives, but most importantly, public debate eliminates the possibility of sending mixed messages to different crowds and different circumstances,” added Lukaszuk.

Read More: Lukaszuk promises new ways to build schools

The two candidates have sent a joint letter to the party, asking to have the debate organized.

Read More: Ric McIver promises balanced budget in 3 years

McIver and Lukaszuk said the issue is the third candidate, Jim Prentice, hasn’t signed the letter.

“Perhaps it’s not as important to him as it is to us that we have this full funded debate,” said McIver. “One of the things that Albertans need to know is what their potential leader is going to say to all Albertans, not a tailored message to a tailored audience.”

“I have been, in a cursory way, involved in the last three leadership prior to this one and every single one had at least one major televised debate,” explained Lukaszuk.

Read More: Alberta Tory candidate Jim Prentice says he would fast-track school construction

PC leadership candidates Thomas Lukaszuk and Ric McIver are calling on the party to hold a televised debate, Monday, August 11, 2014.

Morris Gamblin, Global News

Lukaszuk and McIver said two major television networks have offered to hold a PC leaders debate.

Card-carrying members of the PC party vote for a new leader in September.

Idris Elba battles bulge buzz on social media

TORONTO — Actor Idris Elba addressed the elephant in the room Saturday and put an end to speculation about the size of his…um…ego.

Late last week the British star was the subject of social media buzz after photos of him on the set of his new movie A Hundred Streets appeared online — and showed an impressive bulge in his pants.

On Saturday, Elba took to 桑拿会所 to insist the alleged trouser snake was, in fact, a microphone wire.

“The good news is i got a s*** load of followers,” he tweeted. “The bad news is, that is a mic wire.”

The actor used a hashtag to add that his ego went into “space ship mode.”

No wonder.

Elba, 41, showed he has a sense of humour about the headlines the purported hammer of Thor‘s Heimdall generated.

“Calvin Klein called my mobile, they want me in their next campaign,” he wrote. “Foot long john’s Coming Winter 2014.”

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Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort among winners at Teen Choice Awards

LOS ANGELES — Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort of The Fault in Our Stars rode a victorious wave at the Teen Choice Awards.

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  • PHOTOS: Stars come out for Teen Choice Awards

The actors were honoured with several prizes at Sunday’s fan-favorite extravaganza, including choice drama movie actor and breakout movie star for Elgort and choice drama and action movie actress for Divergent star Woodley. The pair was also awarded the surfboard-shaped trophy for choice movie lip-lock for their Fault in Our Stars smooch.

“I don’t surf or anything, so I guess I’m gonna put this on my wall,” said Elgort of the unique prize.

Demi Lovato kicked off the Teen Choice Awards with a performance and a win. After belting out her tune “Really Don’t Care,” the singer-actress surfed away with awards for choice summer song and choice female summer music star. Lovato used her acceptance speech to pump up the crowd of mostly roaring teenagers.

PHOTO GALLERY: Stars come out for Teen Choice Awards

“I want you guys to know that instead of just getting up here and saying a speech, every single one of you deserves to have a happy and incredible life, so be the best you can be in everything because your dreams can come true if you work hard for them,” beamed Lovato.

Teen Choice Awards co-hosts Tyler Posey of Teen Wolf and Sarah Hyland of Modern Family said 165 million votes were cast online for the 16th annual awards, which honour movies, television, music, comedy, sports, fashion and Web stars in such silly categories as choice hottie, smile and villain, which went to The Hunger Games heavy (and Canadian) Donald Sutherland.

“You named me the most villainous?” asked Sutherland, who showed up to the casual ceremony in a tuxedo. “My wife – I have been married for 42 years – my wife asked me to tell you that she agreed with you.”

Donald Sutherland, pictured at the Teen Choice Awards, tossed berries at the audience.

Getty Images

Other winners on hand to claim their trophies included Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale as choice drama TV show actress, The Hunger Games co-star Josh Hutcherson as choice sci-fi/fantasy movie actor and Bethany Mota and Tyler Oakley as choice female and male Web stars.

“You’re all amazing,” said Mota, echoing the motivational acceptance speeches from this year’s batch of winners. “You all have the potential to be what you wanna be.”

A recent water main break flooded the Teen Choice Awards’ original venue at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. The show was hastily moved across town to the Shrine Auditorium adjacent to the University of Southern California campus.

Zendaya, Ariana Grande and Kevin Hart were among the other stars who showed up to accept awards at the boisterous ceremony, which featured performances from Rixton and Canadian act Magic!.

“I wish there was a TelePrompTer for these (acceptance) speeches,” said The Giver actress Odeya Rush, who won the breakout star award.

Jason Derulo closed out the show with a performance of his song “Talk Dirty,” which featured the choice male summer music star winner dancing on top of a police car on stage.

with files by Global News

©2014The Associated Press

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