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September, 2018

Fishing boat catches fire in Steveston; one person hurt – BC

WATCH: Police warn boaters to be careful after two separate accidents occurred on the water this weekend.

Three people escaped relatively unharmed after a fishing vessel exploded and caught on fire in Steveston last night.

It happened around 6 o’clock, just off Shady Island in the South Arm of the Fraser River.

The three jumped into the water as soon as the boat caught on fire.

Lorne Smith was fishing for sockeye, not far from the boat when he witnessed the explosion.

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“We heard a loud pop and within seconds the people were in the water and the boat was fully engulfed in flames,” says Smith.

Two people escaped unharmed, but one person received minor burns.

Smith and his friend rescued two of the people. Another person was rescued by a different boat.

He says one of the victims told him the fire may have been caused by a battery that exploded on board.

He says the occupants were not wearing life jackets at the time.

“They are lucky there were people around,” says Smith. “This is in the middle of the Fraser River. It is pretty murky right now, and they are lucky that people around grabbed them, especially with no life jackets.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Boat rescue (Courtesy Lorne Smith)

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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READ MORE: Patient in Ontario hospital isolation unit tests negative for Ebola

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.

WATCH: Concerns over Ebola mount

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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

Iranian plane crashes after takeoff, killing 39 – National

WATCH ABOVE: A passenger plane crashed on the outskirts of Iran’s capital Tehran on Sunday morning, killing 39 people and injuring nine others, state IRINN TV reported.

TEHRAN, Iran – A locally built Iranian passenger plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Tehran on Sunday, killing 39 people and reviving questions about the safety of a cash-strapped aviation sector left hobbled by international sanctions.

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President Hassan Rouhani offered his condolences to victims’ families and quickly ordered an investigation into the crash. Similar planes operated by Iranian carriers will be grounded until the probe is complete, he directed.

READ MORE: MH17: More human remains uncovered by dogs on Ukraine disaster site

The plane was based on a relatively obscure Ukrainian design that has been involved in previous Iranian air disasters.

The Sepahan Air regional airliner, bound for the eastern town of Tabas, went down in a residential area shortly after takeoff at 9:20 a.m. from Tehran’s Mehrabad airport.

State TV said the plane’s tail struck the cables of an electricity tower before it hit the ground and burst into flames. The official IRNA news agency said the plane suffered an engine failure. Whatever the ultimate cause, quick thinking by the pilot may have saved some lives.

“We should be thankful to God that the pilot did all he could to steer the plane away from residential buildings and fortunately did not crash into them. Otherwise, we would have been dealing with a much worse crisis,” said Jalal Maleki, spokesman of Tehran’s Fire Department.

Known as an IrAn-140 or Iran-140, the twin-engine turboprop is a version of the Antonov An-140 regional plane and is assembled under license in Iran. It can carry up to 52 passengers.

A member of Iranian Revolutionary Guard talks on his mobile phone as he looks at the bodies of victims of a passenger plane crash near the capital Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014.

AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

A Ukranian-made An-140 crashed near the central Iranian city of Isfahan in 2002, killing 46 mostly Ukranian and Russian experts travelling to witness the maiden flight of the Iranian-built version of the plane.

A similar Iranian-made version crashed during a training flight in Isfahan in February 2009, killing five onboard, according to a report by state-run Press TV at the time.

READ MORE: Infographic: Is 2014 the year of airline accidents?

Iranian airlines, including those run by the state, are chronically strapped for cash, rely on aging planes and have a spotty maintenance record.

While some operate Boeing and Airbus models, spare parts for Western-made planes are often hard to come by – largely because of sanctions aimed at Iran’s nuclear program.

Those difficulties have left Iranian airlines increasingly reliant on planes developed by the Soviet Union and its successor states, though parts for aging Soviet-era planes can also be tough to get.

READ MORE: Infographic – Airline accidents in the past 50 years

At the crash site, members of the elite Revolutionary Guard worked to secure the scene from onlookers while security and rescue personnel combed the wreckage. The plane’s mangled but largely intact tail section was torn from the fuselage and came to rest on a nearby road.

State TV said the bodies of some of the victims were so badly burned that they could not be identified. They will be handed over to relatives after DNA tests are carried out to determine their identities, it said.

Eyewitness Hassan Molla said he heard a roaring sound as the plane came in low overhead, one wing tilting.

“There was no smoke or anything. It was absolutely sound and in good condition” before the crash and what appeared to be multiple explosions, he said.

An official for Sepahan Air told The Associated Press from the central city of Isfahan that the carrier is affiliated with the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company, also known as HESA. The airline was set up in 2010 and has not had any previous crashes, said the official, who refused to provide his name.

HESA has ties to Iran’s Ministry of Defence and is the company that assembles the IrAn-140.

Lawmaker Mehrdad Lahouti suggested Sunday that the earlier accident should have been a wake-up call.

Iranian security and rescue personnel work the site of a passenger plane crash near the capital Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014.

AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

“Lawmakers visited the production site of the plane and expressed concern about its (safety),” IRNA quoted him as saying. “This company should have not been allowed to operate the plane to avoid such a bitter incident.”

President Hassan Rouhani ordered that airlines stop using this type of plane until a full investigation is carried out.

Rouhani also expressed condolences to the family of the victims and ordered Health Minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi to take all the necessary measures to treat and provide adequate care to those injured in the incident, his website, president.ir, reported.

Mehrabad, located in western Tehran, is the busier of two main airports serving the capital, and primarily handles domestic flights. Most international flights use the newer Imam Khomeini International Airport.

READ MORE: Plane crashes while landing in Taiwan, killing 48

The country’s creaking airline industry has been hit by a series of deadly crashes.

In March of this year, a small plane belonging to the State Aviation Organization crashed while on a test flight near the tourist resort of Kish Island, killing all four crew members.

The last major airliner crash in Iran happened in January 2011, when an Iran Air Boeing 727 broke to pieces on impact while trying an emergency landing in a snowstorm in northwestern Iran, killing at least 77 people.

In July 2009, a Russian-made jetliner crashed in northwest Iran shortly after taking off from the capital, killing all 168 on board. A Russian-made Ilyushin 76 carrying members of the Revolutionary Guard crashed in the mountains of southeastern Iran in February 2003, killing 302 people aboard.

–Schreck reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writer Amir Vahdat contributed reporting from Tehran.

©2014The Canadian Press

Israel and Hamas accept Egyptian ceasefire proposal – National

CAIRO, Egypt – Israel and the Hamas militant group accepted an Egyptian cease-fire proposal Sunday, clearing the way for the resumption of talks on a long-term truce to end a month of heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip that has taken nearly 2,000 lives.

The announcement marked the second time in less than a week that the bitter enemies had agreed to Egyptian mediation. A similar three-day truce last week collapsed in renewed violence over the weekend.

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In Cairo, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said the truce scheduled to take effect at midnight (2101 GMT) would allow humanitarian aid into battered Gaza neighbourhoods and the reopening of indirect talks on a more lasting and comprehensive deal.

Hamas is seeking an end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade against Gaza, while Israel wants Hamas to dismantle its formidable arsenal of rockets and other weapons.

Palestinian negotiators accepted the proposal early Sunday after meeting with Egyptian officials throughout the weekend. Israeli officials concurred later. Both delegations are back in Cairo.

WATCH: Explosions were seen on Gaza’s skyline on Sunday as Israel accepted an Egyptian proposal for a new 72-hour cease-fire with Gaza militants.

Qais Abdelkarim, a member of the Palestinian delegation, said indirect talks with the Israelis would begin Monday “with the hope of reaching a lasting cease-fire.” The goal, he added, was to end the blockade, which he called “the reason for the war.”

The recent fighting has been the heaviest between Israel and Hamas since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007. More than 1,900 Palestinians have been killed, including hundreds of civilians. On the Israeli side, 67 people have been killed, including three civilians. Nearly 10,000 people have been wounded and thousands of homes destroyed.

The fighting ended in a three-day cease-fire last Tuesday. Egypt had hoped to use that truce to mediate a long-term deal. But when it expired, militants resumed their rocket fire, sparking Israeli reprisals. The violence continued throughout the weekend, including a burst of fighting late Sunday ahead of the expected cease-fire.

The Israeli military reported some 30 rocket attacks from Gaza on Sunday. Palestinian medical officials said seven people were killed in Israeli airstrikes, including the bodyguard of a Hamas leader, the medical officials said.

Israel had walked away from cease-fire talks over the weekend. “Israel will not negotiate under fire,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier Sunday, warning that his country’s military campaign “will take time.”

Last week’s talks failed in part because Israel rejected Hamas’ demand for a complete end to the blockade. Israel says the closure is necessary to prevent arms smuggling, and officials do not want to make any concessions that would allow Hamas to declare victory.

A senior Palestinian negotiator acknowledged that the Palestinians would make more modest demands this time around. He said they will seek an end to the bloodshed in Gaza and an easing – but not an end – to the blockade.

“We might not get everything we want, particularly on freedom of movement. But we believe the Israelis and the world have gotten the point that Gazans should live normally and things should be much better than today,” the negotiator said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing internal Palestinian deliberations.

Israel says Hamas must disarm. Hamas has said handing over its arsenal, which is believed to include several thousand remaining rockets, is out of the question.

The blockade has greatly limited the movement of Palestinians in and out of the impoverished territory of 1.8 million people for jobs and schooling. It has also limited the flow of goods into Gaza and blocked virtually all exports.

An Egyptian crackdown on smuggling tunnels along Gaza’s southern border has made things even tougher by robbing Hamas of its key economic pipeline and weapons conduit. Gaza’s unemployment rate surpasses 50 per cent, and Hamas is unable to pay the salaries of tens of thousands of workers.

An easing of the blockade would mean an increased role for Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose forces were ousted by Hamas seven years ago. Officials said the rival Palestinian factions were already exploring options that would give Abbas, who now governs in the West Bank, a foothold in Gaza, including the likely control of its border crossing with Egypt.

At a minimum, Israel will want guarantees that the rocket fire will stop. A 2012 cease-fire promised an easing of the blockade but was never implemented – in part because of sporadic rocket attacks by various armed factions in Gaza.

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Hamas could get the blockade lifted by accepting longstanding international demands to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

“They want to get legitimacy as a terrorist organization without accepting the requirements of the international community,” she told a news conference.

In the West Bank, Palestinian health officials said an 11-year-old boy was shot and killed Sunday by Israeli forces in a refugee camp near the city of Hebron.

Witnesses and relatives of the boy said Israeli security forces opened fire at Palestinian stone-throwers. They said the boy was standing on the road in front of his home at the time.

The military said its forces encountered a “violent riot” and opened fire. It acknowledged that the boy was killed in the violence and said it was investigating.

The current Gaza war escalated from the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June. Israel blamed the killings on Hamas and launched a massive arrest campaign, rounding up hundreds of its members in the West Bank. Hamas and other militants unleashed rocket fire from Gaza.

Associated Press writers Josef Federman in Jerusalem, Sarah El Deeb in Cairo, Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, and Daniel Estrin and Yousur Alhlou in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

©2014The Canadian Press

Venus to meet Radwanska in Rogers Cup women’s final – Montreal

MONTREAL – After beating her formidable sister, Venus Williams now faces a very different opponent in Agnieszka Radwanska in the
final of the US$2.44 million women’s Rogers Cup.

The third-seeded Radwanska used her baseline game of ever-changing speeds and spins to outlast Ekaterina Makarova 7-6
(1), 7-6 (3) in the semifinals of the hardcourt event on Saturday night to reach the final after being eliminated in the semis in two
of the past three years.

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The five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams downed Serena Williams, the world’s top-ranked player, 6-7 (2), 6-2, 6-3 in a
faster-paced match.

READ MORE: Venus Williams tops sister Serena to reach women’s Rogers Cup final

Venus Williams said her match with her sister may have felt like final, but she has one more tough match to win.

“I definitely don’t want to have a letdown and get out there (Sunday) and not play at least half as well,” said Venus Williams.

“I don’t want to put any pressure on myself, but I want to go out there and perform just as well.”

“It would mean a lot to me because I’ve been dreaming of winning a tournament at this level since I got back on tour. You try and you try. There are disappointments. One day you get a little closer. So this is my ‘little closer’ right now.”

Even if Venus Williams is unseeded and still trying to regain her past status as a top player, Agnieszka Radwanska, who is seeking her first tournament win this year, knows what she’s up against.

Williams has a 5-3 edge in head-to-head match-ups between them, but Radwanska has won their last two meetings, both in 2012.

“Well, she’s definitely on fire,” said 25-year-old Radwanska.

“I was actually playing a few times after her, so I was watching a little bit of her matches. Definitely she’s playing amazing tennis this week. She beat a lot of good players on the way to the final, especially Serena. It’s not going to be the easy one.”

The 34-year-old Venus Williams’ posted her first win over her 32-year-old sister in more than five years, and will move her back into the world’s top 20 after three seasons of injuries and illness.

Venus Williams, who uses medication and extra rest to control Sjogren’s Syndrome – an auto-immune disease she was first diagnosed with in 2011 – has had to grind out wins this week.

She went to three sets for the fourth time in five matches. Along the way, she knocked off sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber, 14th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro and her top-seeded sister, the defending Rogers Cup champion and a winner last week at Stanford.

The win made Venus Williams the third woman to pass the US$30-million mark in career earnings after Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.

READ MORE: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Roger Federer to meet in Rogers Cup men’s final

She ended her sister’s 14-match Rogers Cup winning run that dated back to wins at the 2011 and 2013 tournaments in Toronto. Serena
Williams skipped the 2012 event.

Serena Williams hadn’t lost to her older sister in five matches since 2009 in Dubai and still holds a 15-11 edge all-time.

“I think for both of us, what’s so unique about the situation is that we’re both very good players,” said Venus Williams.

“I think typically you may have some siblings, one is quite good, one is not as good so you kind of know what the result is. I think we both know when we walk out there, it’s not like you’re guaranteed a win. I think that’s what makes it challenging for both of us.”

Venus Williams started with a hot serve and took a 3-1 lead but the key game of the set came with Serena Williams serving at 3-3. Serena Williams hit six aces and two double faults before prevailing in an extended, back and forth battle.

The second set was all Venus Williams, who had two service breaks while her sister struggled with unforced errors. Serena Williams made two errors to lose her serve and give her sister a 4-2 lead before serving out the third set. Serena Williams had 19 aces and nine double faults, while the more consistent Venus Williams had six aces and two doubles faults.

“I don’t think I played a great game today,” said Serena Williams.

“Let’s just face it, I served well in the first set, but that was that. So I definitely need to go back and analyse it, figure out how to be more consistent.”

In the evening semifinal, cracks began to show in Makarova’s game late in an otherwise evenly played first set as she had to fight off two set points while trailing 4-5 and another at 5-6.

The tiebreak was a mess of unforced errors by Makarova.

The Russian, who beat Radwanska in the fourth round at Wimbledon this year, played with her right thigh taped.

Makarova did well to fight back from down a break in the second, but Radwanska’s relentless returning of balls from the baseline eventually wore her down. The two traded service breaks before going to another tiebreaker.

“I want to say that maybe she was just a little bit lucky because I missed so many lines,” said Makarova.

“Maybe my concentration also. The last two days I played matches pretty late, so maybe my concentration wasn’t that good. In important moments, I missed just a little bit too many times.”

That brought a smile from Radwanska.

“A couple of points, yes, I got lucky. Maybe two, three,” she said.

Serena Williams, who has 17 grand slam titles, has struggled in the majors this year. She was beaten in the fourth round at the Australian Open, second round at the French Open and third round at Wimbledon.

So she raised eyebrows when she said: “I haven’t even been able to get to the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam this year. At this point, I’m really just looking forward to next year, to be honest.”

She was quick to point out that didn’t mean she’s giving up on the U.S. Open at the end of August, where she is the two-time defending champion.

“I’m just saying I’ve had a really disappointing year, for me, especially in the Grand Slams,” she said.

“So I’m not going to put any pressure on myself. I almost feel like the pressure is lifted because I haven’t performed the way I’ve wanted to. In a way, I don’t feel a ton of pressure going into the Open. I almost feel like it’s lifted. I look forward to next year because I don’t have any points to defend at any of the slams.”

©2014The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation president stripped of authority

SASKATOON – The president of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) has been stripped of his authority.

Colin Keess, who was elected to a third term as president in May, said he was notified of the decision a few days ago and said a matter from almost 20 years ago may be behind the reason.

“I just can’t believe an old disciplinary case should be subject matter of the non-confidence motion nearly 20 years later,” Keess said in the statement.

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“I am even more concerned that some people are trying to make a live issue over something that happened in the 1990s in the midst of contract negotiations today, it’s not like it was a secret then.”

According to an email obtained by Global News that was sent to STF members on Friday, the non-confidence motion was passed for “circumstances related to Mr. Keess’s conduct as president of the federation.”

The email, reproduced below, goes on to state Keess shall not perform any of his duties as president “including but not limited to acting as a signing authority for the federation.”

Keess alleges someone at the STF received a phone call in late June referring to a foreign website which had posted an appeal from a disciplinary decision involving him that reached the Court of Appeal and asking for 19 Euros to have it removed.

“The disciplinary hearing is already well known in the teaching community and extensively covered in the media at the time,” reads the statement from his lawyer, Robert Dobrohoczki, which appears in full at the end of this article.

“It was the first public disciplinary hearing for a teacher, a public process Mr. Keess has always endorsed as president in moving toward greater accountability and transparency.”

Keess also accused STF executive director Gwen Dueck of prohibiting him from communicating with the executive and for calling multiple executive meetings without notice to him.

“I find it most appalling the executive director is trying to stop the elected president selected by 13,000 teachers of Saskatchewan from actually talking to the teachers,” said Keess.

He also claims he has been denied minutes and motions of meetings.

“I have no idea what the ‘conduct as president’ refers to in the (STF) release (to teachers), and I suppose I won’t until a proper process is followed and I hear the allegations.

Attempts to contact the STF for comments on the accusations and decision have been unsuccessful. Keess’ profile on the STF website states he is “on leave.”

LATEST: STF mum on stripping authority from its president

In June, 63 per cent of teachers who voted on a tentative contract rejected the deal reached between the STF, the Saskatchewan government and school trustees.

At the time, Keess stated he was “concerned that the agreement, which in our judgement was the best that could be reached at the bargaining table, was not acceptable to teachers.”

Teachers in the province have been without a contract since the end of August 2013.

Email sent to STF members on August 8, 2014

Aug. 9, 2014 email to STF members on the passing of a non-confidence motion against its president Colin Keess.


Statement from Colin Keess and his lawyer Robert Dobrohoczki

For immediate release:

August 10, 2014

STF President Keess concerned teachers are not being heard

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation President Colin Keess would like to respond to the release purported to be from the STF Friday afternoon.

The biggest concern for Mr. Keess since his involvement with the STF is the disconnect between the Federation and the teachers. He has always advocated bringing the teachers’ voice back to the Federation. This is true from the good standing policy about teacher regulation he tried to introduce to the many miles he has travelled throughout the province to hear the voice of teachers and bring it back to the office.

Mr. Keess has not been given a chance to speak to the executive about the non-confidence motion and has been systemically denied due process since late June. The STF executive director has prohibited Mr. Keess from communication with the executive and has called multiple executive meetings without notice to the President. Calling executive meetings is normally the purview of the President under the federation bylaws. His e-mails to the executive have also been denied, and he has been denied minutes and motions of meetings. Under the federation bylaws the President is elected to a one-year term and speaks on behalf of teachers. Mr. Keess is only the 3rd STF President to be elected to three consecutive terms. Mr. Keess is weighing his legal options.

A matter nearly 20 years ago resurfaced in late June at the same time. A mysterious phone call was purported to have been received in the dead of night to someone at the STF referring to a foreign website posting the appeal of a disciplinary decision involving Mr. Keess from the mid 1990s that reached the Court of Appeal, and carried erroneous information. The website asked 19 euros for its removal of personal information. “I didn’t pay it.” Mr. Keess states.

The disciplinary hearing is already well known in the teaching community and extensively covered in the media at the time. It was the first public disciplinary hearing for a teacher, a public process Mr. Keess has always endorsed as President in moving toward greater accountability and transparency. The case is mentioned in Harry Dahlem’s book From Classroom to the Courtroom: A Legal History of the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation and is actually distributed among STF executives for the legal issues involved.

Mr. Keess has always been open about his past during a time he had faced discipline relating to medical issues he was battling, and successfully recovered from, leading to a stellar additional 18 year career in the teaching world, rising to the top of the organization in now his third term as elected President. “The support from my peers to see me through my troubles then made me the tireless advocate for teachers that I am today,” Mr. Keess says.

Mr. Keess admitted that back in the 1990s he plead guilty to a technical breach of a Court order, and also had a drink in a local bar, for which he neglected pay.  Both matters were deemed by the Court to be so trivial as to be discharged without any conviction, and were not reflective of the serious allegations made against him at the time. He has never had a criminal record. Independent legal counsel for Mr. Keess maintains it is unfortunate that based on a review of the original pleadings in the case the judgment appears to be in error on facts that were alleged over the facts admitted. Errors of fact are not appealable to the Court of Appeal, only errors of law, and the facts were not germane to the legal issue appealed.

“I just can’t believe an old disciplinary case should be subject matter of the non-confidence motion nearly 20 years later.  It was from that experience that I knew that it was absolutely paramount that we needed greater regulation, like doctors, nurses, and lawyers, which is why I was pushing for a Good Standing Policy for teachers, which is unfinished, and has yet to get to Council.”

“I am even more concerned that some people are trying to make a live issue over something that happened in the 1990s in the midst of contract negotiations today, its not like it was a secret then,” Mr. Keess says. The current Executive Director, and her predecessor, both knew about the discipline case back in the 90’s, and both had assured Mr. Keess that there were no liability issues. “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.”

Mr. Keess concludes: “I find it most appalling the Executive Director, is trying to stop the elected President selected by the 13,000 teachers of Saskatchewan from actually talking to the teachers. Teachers need to have their voices heard by the Federation.”

Won’t be the last time patient tested for Ebola, hospital official

TORONTO – The director of infection control at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital says it’s probably not the last time a patient will be tested for Ebola.

Allison McGeer says the occasional patient returning from West Africa with flu-like symptoms will need to be managed safely, as these symptoms are present in cases of Ebola.

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins announced this morning that a patient who was placed in the isolation unit of a Toronto-area hospital has tested negative for the Ebola virus.

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The person was admitted to Brampton Civic Hospital with flu-like symptoms after returning from Nigeria, one of the West African nations currently battling an Ebola outbreak that has killed nearly one-thousand people.

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

McGeer says although the amount of traffic between West Africa and Canada is limited, influenza is very common and these kinds of precautionary measures may need to be taken.

She says Canadians at large do not need to worry about their safety, as the risk to the general population is “as close to zero as you can get.”

Transmission of Ebola from person to person is largely through direct contact with blood and body fluids.

©2014The Canadian Press

Kickstarter campaign allows California family to tour ‘Corner Gas’

ROULEAU, Sask. – The temperature hovered around 25 C as the Garvie family from Sacramento, Calif., soaked up the sun on their family vacation – but this wasn’t their planned trip to Hawaii.

Ben and Angela, along with sons Ian and Aidan, went to Rouleau, Sask., better known as the fictional town of Dog River in Corner Gas.

Stars from the hit Canadian TV series were on location filming a movie and the Garvies paid $3,000 through what is known as a Kickstarter campaign to get a VIP set tour.

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“We chose Saskatchewan over Hawaii. This is my trip to Hawaii,” Angela Garvie said with a laugh.

“It’s fabulous! Look, it’s a sea of canola. It’s beautiful. We’re so happy we did this. It’s a great experience.”

Ben Garvie was the one who got his family hooked on Corner Gas after discovering the series online. Garvie says he was drawn into “this wonderful escapist comedy” by the writing.

He says the set visit was a unique opportunity for the family.

“They’ve laid out incredible stuff for us with just structured tours and behind-the-scenes things,” said Garvie.

“But when we’re sitting, the cast comes up, they’re the nicest people, someone you’ve watched hundreds and thousands of times on the TV, and there they are, right there, coming up and introducing themselves.

“You can’t put a price on that.”

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding website that allows people to donate to projects, often in exchange for rewards. Its stated purpose is to be a new way to fund creative projects, big and small. But it is often used by independent or first-time creators who do not have access to traditional financing.

The Kickstarter campaign for Corner Gas: The Movie raised a whopping $285,840 – nearly three times its $100,000 goal.

Executive producer Virginia Thompson says the money came from more than 2,500 fans around the world, including the United States, Europe, Australia, and as far away as Saudi Arabia and Japan.

Thompson says she wanted to make sure the resources were in place to let people know Corner Gas would be in theatres in December. Kickstarter was a way to engage fans while also boosting financing.

“When you finance a feature film, you get just enough money to make the film – that’s it. You don’t get extra money to do extra things,” said Thompson.

“So we thought, well, if we’re going to open up our sets to fans, we need financing.

“The second reason is because we really wanted to market the film well, and in Canada we were worried that marketing the theatrical release would be a challenge.

“I love Canadian features, but I’m personally frustrated that Canadian features don’t get that much promotion generally. There are some winners out there, but the average Canadian feature film doesn’t get a lot of promotion.”

Thompson says smaller, lower-budget films have used Kickstarter campaigns as a method of financing. But she knew there would be a lot of questions about why a popular brand like “Corner Gas” would do it.

There was some explaining to do, she said.

“I think what was interesting is the public got it immediately. The fans got it immediately. But I think the industry was going, ‘Wow, this has never happened before,’ and so it was more clarifying it from an industry perspective instead of from a public perspective,” said Thompson.

We got our confidence because you see this kind of stuff going on in the United States and you can see that it’s working.

“But there was a lot of research to do it right and there was a lot of nerves. We really wanted the campaign to give more than we in fact get from our fans. That was a very important piece of it, so there was a lot of work to make sure that there was real, tangible value for people who actually backed us.”

One man in Saskatoon paid $8,000 to host the private, world-debut screening of Corner Gas: The Movie. He plans to make it a charity event for the Saskatoon City Hospital Foundation and for local children’s charities.

Ian Garvie, 15, first heard about the Kickstarter campaign on Instagram where he follows Corner Gas creator and star Brent Butt. Ian says he ran to his dad and showed him the details.

It didn’t take any arm twisting to convince Ben Garvie to buy the set visit experience.

“I’d say he was more over the top about it than I was or any of us were,” Ian said, laughing.

©2014The Canadian Press

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