24. 09. 2018
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A nurse’s view: Fighting Ebola one day at a time in Sierra Leone – National

A nurse’s view: Fighting Ebola one day at a time in Sierra Leone – National

It’s the children who distress me most.” — MSF nurse Anja Wolz

Today the Ebola story appears to be all about numbers – big numbers. The World Health Organization released a plan for bringing the seemingly unstoppable Ebola outbreak in West Africa to an end.

It estimates the work will cost US$490 million.It suggests by the time the outbreak is over, more than 20,000 people may have contracted the virus.  For context, the largest previous outbreak occurred in 2000 in Uganda, when 425 people were infected.It sets a goal of stopping the outbreak in six to nine months. It’s not a projection or a promise — the WHO is calling it a goal. It’s a telling word choice.It estimates 3,580 international and national personnel will be needed to make this all work.

These are numbers unlike anything the world has ever seen before in relation to Ebola, and frankly few in public health would have ever dreamed — nightmared  —  of a scenario like what the world faces now with the outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

(Fingers are still crossed that Nigeria has contained the spread there, sparked by an infected government official from Liberia who travelled to Nigeria. So far Nigeria has recorded 17 cases, including the Liberian man, and six deaths — all from that one importation.)

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The plan, which the WHO calls a roadmap, is critically important work. But it’s hard to take in and it tells a story in numbers.

Ultimately, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a story about people. The people whose families and communities are being wiped out and the hugely courageous people who are trying to save lives and stop the spread of this hellish virus.

Anja Wolz is in the latter group of people. A nurse with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), Wolz is working at Kailahun, Sierra Leone. She has written a first-person account of the gruelling and relentless work the national and international health-care workers fighting the outbreak face day after day after day.

She says the worst thing about the work is dealing with the children — orphaned, confused, sick and a heartbreak to caregivers whose instincts are to offer consoling hugs. The PPE — personal protective equipment, a.k.a. layers of head-to-toe coverings — the health workers must wear make hugging and even talking to the children difficult.

Wolz’s account can be read on the website of The New England Journal of Medicine, which was published Wednesday along with a slide show of photos that show the rudimentary facilities where these health-care heroes are trying to save lives. People who want to know the story behind the large numbers in the WHO’s containment plan can find it in Wolz’s words.

Today the WHO said to date at least 3,069 people in these West African countries have been infected with Ebola, and 1,552 have died.

©2014The Canadian Press

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24. 09. 2018
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Rob Ford apologizes for ‘embarrassing’ council – Toronto

Rob Ford apologizes for ‘embarrassing’ council – Toronto

TORONTO – Rob Ford is sorry.

The mayor began what could be his last council session with a speech thanking his fellow councillors and apologizing for “embarrassing” council.

“I know I put this council through some challenges, I know I embarrassed council and I want to thank sincerely the deputy mayor for taking on the reins and I can’t thank you enough for taking the job on,” the mayor told said during a five-minute speech in council chambers Thursday morning.

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The deputy mayor assumed many of the mayor’s responsibilities in November amid an ongoing police investigation into the mayor and Ford’s admission he smoked crack cocaine despite several months of denial. The police investigation is ongoing.

Thursday’s council meeting is the last before October’s election, which could end the Ford’s mayoral tenure (though a new Forum Research poll indicated he could be gaining popularity, placing him in second place behind John Tory). Ford remains popular with many city constituencies despite lying about everything from his substance use to city finances and policies.

The mayor mentioned several councillors by name and thanked some regular opponents like Gloria Lindsay-Luby, and Karen Stintz.

Councillor Peter Leon, who was selected for Ward 3 after councillor Doug Holyday was elected MPP for Etobicoke Lakeshore (a seat Holyday lost just months later), is “the nicest guy” Ford said he’s ever met.

The mayor sounded like he was choking back tears when in a trembling voice he thanked his brother, campaign manager and most strident advocate, Councillor Doug Ford.

“I did mislead you, I did coerce you, I had to do something to get you into the seat,” he said.  “I appreciate you having my back 24/7 and it’s been a challenge and I really want to thank you for being my best friend and all I can say is, Queen’s Park, you have no idea what’s coming up to you next.”

The mayor appeared to be alluding to his brother’s MPP ambitions – ambitions Doug Ford has recently downplayed even after announcing he won’t run again for council.

Torontonians go to the polls on October 27.

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24. 09. 2018
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Canada ranked one of top countries for scientific literacy – National

Canada ranked one of top countries for scientific literacy – National

TORONTO – Canada ranks higher than 10 other developed nations in scientific literacy, or the ability of citizens to read and fully comprehend a lengthy article about science in a newspaper, according to a report released Thursday by the Council of Canadian Academies.

The report said 42 per cent of Canadians “grasp basic concepts and understand general media coverage of scientific issues.”

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That is higher than Sweden at 35 per cent and the U.S. at just under 30 per cent. Japan was last at about five per cent, it said.

The findings are based on a 2013 survey of 2,000 Canadians and an assessment of relevant international data, according to the authors.

The data was not all conducted at the same time. The data on Japan was collected in 2001, the European data in 2005, and as science literacy has been increasing generally all over the world in the past decade, these rankings may not be perfect, said Arthur Carty, chair of an expert panel involved in the report and executive director of the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology.

The survey measured Canadians’ attitudes towards science and tested their knowledge with simple true-or-false questions, such as “electrons are smaller than atoms” (answer: true).

The report – Science Culture: Where Canada Stands – is the most comprehensive look at public scientific engagement, attitudes and knowledge since 1989, its authors said.

In the past 25 years, Canadians have become more knowledgeable and engaged on scientific issues, though fewer people believe science holds the key to radically solving social problems, the report said.

Ninety-three per cent of Canadians polled said they have an interest in “new scientific discoveries,” ranking first among 35 nations, it said.

A third of respondents reported visiting a science or technology museum in the past year, and almost a quarter said they had signed petitions or joined street demonstrations on scientific issues such as oil pipelines, nuclear power or biotechnology.

The survey also found interest in science was more prevalent among younger, wealthier and well-educated respondents, and higher among men than women.

Scientist and broadcaster Jay Ingram said that while he’s heartened that Canadians do relatively well on measures of scientific literacy, it’s also important to remember that 58 per cent of Canadians do not have basic scientific knowledge.

“While 87 per cent of survey respondents [know] that the . . . earth goes around the sun is pretty good, that still leaves 13 per cent of Canadians who haven’t absorbed the astronomical knowledge of several centuries ago,” said Ingram, who was among 14 experts who compiled the report.

The panellists also examined the results of standardized science test scores of 15-year-olds, administered worldwide by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Canada ranked 10th out of 265 countries in 2012.

These scores have declined since 2006, said Carty, the panel chair.

“That raises some concerns about future performance and particularly our competitiveness vis-a-vis the science and technology giants of Asia,” said Carty.

It is important that Canada create and maintain a “science culture,” defined by the panellists as a society that “embraces discovery and supports the use of scientific knowledge and methodology,” the report said.

Leadership and vision are important in supporting science in Canada, but Ingram said the ultimate goal should be the fostering of a science culture that endures regardless of political leadership or policy.

The report also suggests targeting inequalities in access to science resources, in order to make the discipline inclusive and accessible to all Canadians.

“It’s all about ensuring that individuals in all segments of society have the opportunity to share in the wonder and excitement of science,” said Marc LePage, panellist and president of Genome Quebec.

“Perhaps the hockey analogy is that now we’re in the quarter finals,” said LePage. “The next step for us is to shoot for the Stanley Cup.”

The Council of Canadian Academies describes itself as a non-profit organization that “supports evidence-based, expert assessments to inform public policy development in Canada.”

In the survey conducted for the group, EKOS Research polled 2,000 Canadians via landline, mobile or online response. EKOS says it has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points 19 times in 20.

©2014The Canadian Press

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21. 09. 2019
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CP train derails east of Swift Current

CP train derails east of Swift Current

REGINA – Canadian Pacific Railway says strong plow winds caused the derailment of a train in southern Saskatchewan on Thursday night.

Spokeswoman Salem Woodrow said it happened about 7:30 p.m. east of Waldeck, about 200 kilometres west of Regina.

She said 33 cars were off the tracks, and the majority were empty while one was carrying cedar.

There were no injuries, no leaks and no evacuations.

A plow wind moves along a narrow, straight path and is usually associated with a thunderstorm.

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Woodrow said the line was to reopen later on Friday.

Environment Canada meteorologist Ron Paola said there were storms in the area at the time.

Pat Shields of Moose Jaw was driving by the scene.

“There were containers scattered throughout the ditch, probably a good half mile of trains derailed,” Shields told Global News.

“It was kind of surreal, it was huge.”

Mounties said the tracks run alongside the Trans-Canada Highway, but no cars or debris from the derailment were on the road.

An officer said traffic would eventually be reduced to one lane so cleanup crews could get equipment to the site.

It’s the third time a CPR freight train has derailed in southern Saskatchewan in six weeks.

Updated with files from Global News.

©2014The Canadian Press

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21. 09. 2019
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WATCH: Expensive fire season expected to extend well into September – BC

WATCH: Expensive fire season expected to extend well into September – BC

Even though summer is almost over, the wildfire season in B.C. is still in full swing.

With 152 fires still active in the province, authorities are bringing in 85 more out-of-province firefighters to give B.C. crews some time off.

Eighty firefighters arrived in Prince George from Ontario today.

The Ontario personnel may remain in B.C. for up to two weeks.

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They will join more than 1,250 provincial staff, nearly 810 B.C. contractors, over 295 other out-of-province personnel, 74 personnel from Australia and two dispatchers from Alaska, who are on the front lines already.

This year’s fires continue to blow the budget. The Wildfire Management Branch has already spent four times its budget for the entire year.

Taxpayers have been paying three and a half million dollars a day to fight blazes throughout B.C.

The provincial government originally set aside $63 million to cover the cost of fighting wildfires.

To date, $242 million dollars have been spent, with hot, dry conditions still causing problems in some areas of the province.

That’s double what was spent last year, and the fire season isn’t over yet.

“To date, the ten-year average is about 1,600 fires, and we are at just over 1,300,” says Fire Information Officer George Maratos. “We are getting larger fires this year, which is pushing the hectare numbers up, but in terms of fire totals, we are actually below the season average.”

Although the fire danger rating in southeastern portions of the province has decreased in recent days, many areas of the province are still experiencing a “high” to “extreme” fire danger rating.

Half of the province’s fires are caused by human activity and with the long weekend approaching authorities are urging caution in the backcountry.

With files from Jas Johal

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21. 09. 2019
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Pedestrian was jaywalking when she was struck, killed in west Edmonton: Police – Edmonton

Pedestrian was jaywalking when she was struck, killed in west Edmonton: Police – Edmonton

EDMONTON – The Edmonton Police Service is investigating after a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle and killed in the city’s west end Thursday.

Officers were called to the area of 87 Avenue and 182 Street around 8 p.m.

Police say an elderly woman was crossing 87 Avenue when she was struck by a white car and killed. Officers have confirmed the woman was jaywalking when she was struck.

The woman was pronounced dead in hospital.

The victim has been identified as a woman in her early 70s, but her name has not been released.

87 Avenue between 182 and 189 Streets has been shut down to traffic in both directions as police investigate.

The EPS says it does not believe speed or alcohol were factors in the collision.

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21. 09. 2019
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44 Fijian soldiers held captive by rebels in Syria – National

44 Fijian soldiers held captive by rebels in Syria – National

ABOVE: United Nation forces monitored the Israel-Syria border on Friday, a day after Syria 44 UN peacekeepers, Fijian soldiers, were captured by a militant group in Syria.

SUVA, Fiji – Forty-four Fijian soldiers working as U.N. peacekeepers remained captive to a militant group in Syria on Friday while 75 Philippine soldiers were in tense standoff with the rebels, according to the two Pacific nations.

Both nations remained hopeful the impasse could be resolved without bloodshed.

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Fijian Commander Brig. Gen. Mosese Tikoitoga said he’s been informed his soldiers are unharmed, although he hasn’t been able to contact them directly. Philippines President Benigno Aquino III said that while the situation was tense, there was no reason to believe his troops faced immediate danger.

The events began Thursday morning on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, an area divided between Israel and Syria.

Tikoitoga said three vehicles filled with about 150 armed rebels converged on the Fijian camp at about 7:30 a.m.

He said the rebels demanded the Fijian soldiers leave within 10 minutes and insisted they board the rebel vehicles. The Fijians were then taken by the rebels to an unknown location. He said he’s been told they were later transported back to their original post.

“We are all doing our best to ensure the safety of (those) that are currently being held captive,” Tikoitoga said.

Aquino, who was travelling south of Manila, told a crowd that the situation involving the Filipino peacekeepers was “stable.”

Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan said the rebels surrounded two encampments about 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) apart occupied by Filipino peacekeepers and demanded that they give up their firearms, but the peacekeepers refused. “This resulted in a standoff,” he said, reading from a statement.

However, “the potential for de-escalation is still positive,” he said. The military leadership in the Philippines was in direct communication with the peacekeepers, he added.

“Our soldiers are prepared, trained and capable of dealing with this situation and will take risks to fulfil our commitment to international security and peace. The peacekeeping contingent has the right to defend its position and the units in line with United Nations protocols and rules of engagement,” he said.

Tutaan said an English-speaking Fijian peacekeeper was sent by the rebels to tell the Filipinos to give up their weapons.

Col. Roberto Ancan, commander of the Philippine military’s Peacekeeping Operations Center, said the soldiers were armed with assault rifles, light machine-guns and pistols and had enough ammunition to defend themselves.

“We have our rules of engagement wherein we can use deadly force in defence of United Nations facilities,” he said.

Meanwhile, Fiji’s commander asked people from his nation to pray for their soldiers. Fiji has one of the world’s smaller militaries, comprising just 3,500 troops, of which 434 had been sent to assist with peacekeeping efforts in the Golan Heights.

The United Nations said initially that 43 Fijian soldiers had been detained and 81 Philippine peacekeepers had been effectively trapped after being restricted to their positions in the vicinity of Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah.

Fiji later clarified that 44 of its soldiers had been captured, while the Philippines military said 75 of its troops were trapped.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the detention of the Fijians.

“I call for their immediate and unconditional release as well as action for the scores of peacekeepers from the Philippines who are also affected,” he said on Indonesia’s Bali island.

He said the U.N. will do everything possible to secure the release of the soldiers.

Fiji said it would not be pressured into withdrawing from its peacekeeping efforts in the Golan Heights.

“We will not shy away from that responsibility under these circumstances,” Tikoitoga said. “We will continue to work very hard for the release of our men and at the same time we will put all our men on alert to ensure that no further incidents of this sort happen to them.”

Ban’s statement did not specify which armed group is holding the peacekeepers. Various Syrian rebel groups, including the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, have been fighting the Syrian military near the Golan Heights.

__

AP writer Oliver Teves in Manila contributed to this report. Perry reported from Wellington, New Zealand.

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21. 09. 2019
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The miracle man: Why all hopes hinge on mediator Vince Ready? – BC

The miracle man: Why all hopes hinge on mediator Vince Ready? – BC

There is optimism among B.C. teachers for the first time this year.

Some were smiling behind picket lines today for the first time since the dispute began as mediator Vince Ready sat down with BC Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker and education minister Peter Fassbender behind closed doors in what are being described as “exploratory” talks. 

But why is Vince Ready the go-to guy for getting a deal?

Story continues below HangZhou Night Net

His methods are so effective, people who have dealt with him on both sides of the bargaining table still sing his praises.

Former Premier Glen Clark says he has incredible stamina: he wears you down and then comes up with a creative solution.

B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair says he knows when to push, and he gets a solution when no else can.

“I think he is the best in the country,” says former B.C. Premier Bill Vander Zalm. “He has been at it for a long time… I am surprised he is still doing it as well as he is, although not surprised because he is a master at it.”

A simple Prairie boy, Ready began his working career as a steelworker at Cominco in Trail, but when he left his union roots, he stopped picking a side.

A neutral observer at the table, he has been a tough, but fair mediator in over 5,000 negotiations and ended a lot of strikes.

He settled the nurses dispute, province-wide shutdowns by government workers, ferry workers and pulp and paper employees.

He also he settled a big truckers strike that threatened to cripple the country’s economy.

With files from Brian Coxford

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23. 08. 2019
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Thousands of triathletes receive warm welcome to Edmonton for international event – Edmonton

Thousands of triathletes receive warm welcome to Edmonton for international event – Edmonton

Watch above: Thousands of the world’s top triathletes are in the City of Champions for the TransCanada Corp. World Triathlon Grand Final. The opening ceremony kicked things off Thursday evening. Shallima Maharaj was there. 

EDMONTON — Thousands of athletes from nations around the world packed Churchill Square Thursday evening for the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Triathlon Grand Final.

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The athletes streamed into the square carrying the flags of their countries, as hundreds of spectators gathered to welcome them to the City of Champions.

More than 3,000 of the world’s top triathletes, representing 73 nations, will be competing in and around Hawrelak Park for the next five days.

“We have been preparing for more than 18 months and we’re ready to welcome the world,” said Don Lowry, board chair, 2014 Triathlon Edmonton Ltd.

“We set a standard in 2001 when we did the world championship and it was classified by the International Triathlon Union as the best ever. And we set the target of beating that and improving on it this time,” added board member Brian Hetherington.

WATCH: World Triathlon Grand Final organizers appear on the Morning News

Thursday morning, Edmonton Oilers’ Captain Andrew Ference presented four of the top athletes with personalized Oilers’ jerseys.

Four of the top ranking athletes in the 2014 World Triathlon Grand Final receive personalized Oilers’ jerseys from captain Andrew Ference.

Global News

Many of the athletes arrived in the city earlier this week and have been spending the past few days training on the course.

“It’s great to race in such a nice venue as here, in a great city like Edmonton,” said Spain’s Javier Gomez, the top-ranked male.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a great crowd supporting the athletes, it’s a very nice city. So I think we are all ready to race well and give it our best.”

Gomez has won three ITU Triathlon World Championships and won the silver medal for Spain at the 2012 Summer Olympics in men’s triathlon.

British athlete Jodie Stimpson, who ranks in the top three in the women’s race, says she’s really impressed with Edmonton’s course.

“It’s nice to have a final that’s not flat, to be honest,” she said Thursday morning. “This has got everything, it’s got a hill, it’s technical, it’s got a fast descent, so I’m really excited to race this course.

“I think Edmonton’s done a really good job of getting a hard course for the final.”

Canada’s Kyle Jones knows the course well; he placed second last year and first the year before.

“I really like the course, especially this year, they’ve made a few adjustments, but I think it suits me well. And obviously just having the home crowd behind you,” he said. “It’s really great for us Canadians.”

READ MORE: Elite triathletes take over the City of Champions

Athletes will compete in several categories, including U23, junior, mixed relay, aquathlon, corporate try-a-tri and paratriathlon. The women’s elite race goes Saturday, and the men’s will be held on Sunday.

There are still tickets available for the events. For more information, visit the World Triathlon Grand Final’s website.

Athletes from around the world packed Churchill Square Thursday, August 28, 2014 for the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Triathlon Grand Final.

Shallima Maharaj, Global News

Athletes from around the world packed Churchill Square Thursday, August 28, 2014 for the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Triathlon Grand Final.

Shallima Maharaj, Global News

Athletes from around the world packed Churchill Square Thursday, August 28, 2014 for the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Triathlon Grand Final.

Shallima Maharaj, Global News

Athletes from around the world packed Churchill Square Thursday, August 28, 2014 for the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Triathlon Grand Final.

Wes Rosa, Global News

Athletes from around the world packed Churchill Square Thursday, August 28, 2014 for the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Triathlon Grand Final.

Wes Rosa, Global News

Four of the top ranking athletes in the 2014 World Triathlon Grand Final receive personalized Oilers’ jerseys from captain Andrew Ference.

Global News

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23. 08. 2019
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Lawsuit claims police brutality, wrongful arrests at Ferguson shooting protests – National

Lawsuit claims police brutality, wrongful arrests at Ferguson shooting protests – National

ST. LOUIS – A federal lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that police in Ferguson and St. Louis County used excessive force and falsely arrested innocent bystanders amid attempts to quell widespread unrest after the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer.

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The five plaintiffs in the suit in St. Louis include a clinical social worker who said she and her 17-year-old son were roughed up and arrested after not evacuating a McDonald’s quickly enough. They also include a 23-year-old man who said he was shot multiple times with rubber bullets and called racial slurs by police while walking through the protest zone to his mother’s home, and a man who said he was arrested for filming the disturbances.

“The police were completely out of control,” said attorney Malik Shabazz of Black Lawyers for Justice, a group whose members sought to quell tensions at the nightly protests that stretched for more than week after Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, who is white, shot the unarmed Brown, who is black. “In those initial days, it was virtually a police riot.”

The lawsuit seeks $40 million in damages and names Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, Ferguson officer Justin Cosma, several unnamed officers identified collectively as John Doe, and the city and county governments.

Shabazz said the suit could be broadened to include additional plaintiffs. A St. Louis County police spokesman referred inquiries to County Counselor Patricia Redington, who said she had not seen the suit and declined comment. A public relations consultant working for the city of Ferguson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the immediate days after Michael Brown’s shooting, local police in riot gear fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who refused to disperse and, at times, broke into nearby stores. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon eventually placed the State Highway Patrol in charge of securing Ferguson with a more relaxed approach. Nixon later imposed a curfew that was lifted after several nights of clashes between police and protesters, and called in the National Guard, whose members have since departed Ferguson.

Plaintiff Tracey White said she and her son, a high school junior, were waiting for a ride from her husband at a West Florissant Avenue McDonald’s after attending an Aug. 13 “peace and love” rally at a Ferguson church when several rifle-carrying officers told her she was being arrested because she would not “shut up.” White said she and her son were detained for five hours at the county jail on charges of failing to disperse, but she said she was not provided with any records reflecting that charge or a future court date.

“It was so horrifying,” she said. “We did nothing wrong.”

Associated Press reporter Jim Salter in St. Ann, Missouri, contributed to this report.

©2014The Canadian Press

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23. 08. 2019
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Mediator talks in teachers’ dispute to resume tomorrow – BC

Mediator talks in teachers’ dispute to resume tomorrow – BC

WATCH: Both sides in the teachers’ dispute had a briefing with mediator Vince Ready today. But as Tanya Beja reports, there still isn’t a commitment to mediate.

RICHMOND, B.C. – A veteran labour mediator waded into a bitter dispute between the British Columbia government and its teachers Thursday, meeting with both sides in what could be the most significant development in a strike that is threatening to derail the start of the school year.

At the end of the meeting, mediator Vince Ready emerged to say the two sides still appeared very far apart. Still, he said he asked bargaining committees to reconvene with him on Friday.

READ MORE: Vince Ready to meet with Iker, Fassbender on Thursday

Earlier in the day, Ready described the meeting as “exploratory” as he assessed whether the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, which bargains on behalf of the government, are close enough to begin formal mediation.

Teachers have been on strike since mid-June, though negotiations were largely stalled over the summer break, making a delayed start to the school year increasingly likely.

Ready, who has helped bring an end to a number of high-profile labour disputes in the province, acknowledged he was walking into a very difficult situation.

“Last time I met them, they were a long ways apart,” Ready said as he arrived at a hotel in Richmond, south of Vancouver.

The gathering followed a proposal from the province’s education minister, who asked the teachers’ union and the employer a day earlier to enter into mediation, put aside one of the most contentious issues in the dispute, and agree not to stage strikes or lockouts for two weeks.

Peter Cameron, the employers’ lead negotiator, said the education minister’s proposal wasn’t a prerequisite for mediation.

Union president Jim Iker did not comment as he arrived for Thursday’s meeting or when he left for the day. Iker has yet to say whether the federation is prepared to put the strike on hold and allow teachers to return to the classroom next week, though he has said such a move would likely require a vote from union members.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender issued a statement earlier on Thursday asking the union to put the proposal to teachers.

“Today, I am asking Mr. Iker and the BCTF leadership to canvass teachers in advance of Sept. 2 on the idea of suspending their pickets if (labour mediator) Vince Ready is engaged in mediation,” Fassbender said in the statement.

“There are only a few days ahead for Mr. Iker to seek a mandate from teachers on this idea. I think parents, students and communities would like to know whether the BCTF is willing to let schools open and allow teachers to work while mediator Vince Ready helps the parties to negotiate an agreement.”

The main issues have been wages and working conditions, such as class size and class composition.

Class size and composition were also highlighted in a long-running court battle, which resulted in a B.C. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year in favour of the union.

The court ruled that the provincial government violated the union’s collective bargaining rights when it stripped provisions related to class size and composition from the teachers’ contract in 2002. The government is appealing the decision.

During negotiations, the union has proposed a fund worth $225 million a year to deal with contract grievances related to the court case. The province wants the potential impact of such grievances to be suspended until the case makes its way through the appeal process.

Fassbender’s proposal this week would see those grievances taken off the table, instead leaving the courts to sort them out. Negotiations would instead focus on wages, class size and class composition, he said.

The education minister has repeatedly said the government will not use legislation to order teachers back to work.

The union has resumed picketing this week and announced plans to air radio ads targeting the provincial government. It has promised rallies outside the offices of the premier and several cabinet ministers next week if there’s no deal by then.

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23. 08. 2019
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Pilot project to put bus drivers behind protective shields gets underway – BC

Pilot project to put bus drivers behind protective shields gets underway – BC

WATCH: A pilot project to better protect transit bus drivers from abusive passengers will begin soon in Metro Vancouver. Jill Bennett has details.

It is the latest step in helping make Metro Vancouver bus drivers feel safer on the job.

Later this year, Plexiglass shield prototypes will be installed as part of a pilot project on a handful of Metro Vancouver buses.

Two shield prototypes will be tested in Victoria and Vancouver for six months.

If approved, they could eventually be installed on up to 1,600 busses.

The shield is meant to serve as a barrier between the driver and potentially violent passengers.

A long history of drivers being punched, spit on and sexually assaulted has prompted the innovation.

In March, a female bus driver was violently assaulted in an unprovoked attack, in which she suffered trauma, bruises, had quantities of her hair pulled out and her glasses smashed in the struggle.

WATCH: A bus driver who was viciously attacked on her job is speaking out about her ordeal


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Later this year, a 42-year-old woman in a wheelchair punched a bus driver in the head in Vancouver. She was later arrested.

Another bus driver in Surrey had his nose broken when he was punched while his bus was still in motion. The driver was able to bring the bus to a stop and open the doors, allowing the suspect to leave. Aside from the broken nose, the driver suffered broken bones in his face, continuing vision impairment in one eye and loosened teeth.

Union officials say the operators will be consulted for input before any permanent shields are installed.

“It is an opportunity to review it, criticize it to make sure that all of the concerns are listened to, and then there is the trial process for six months to get a broader perspective,” says Unifor local 111 President Nathan Woods. “One of the biggest concerns would be the passenger-driver relationship.”

When similar shields were tested in 2010, many drivers didn’t like them because they felt too closed off from their passengers. The drivers Global News talked to today were also divided on the idea.

So far this year, there have been 65 assaults on drivers that have led to criminal charges.

Transit police say they are happy with the outcomes of some of the trials involving bus driver assaults.

“In the last week alone, we’ve had three convictions for assaults against bus drivers with sentences that range from four months in jail to one year probation,” says Anne Drennan with Transit Police.

But the goal is to stop the assaults before they happen.

“The average time loss for a transit employee recovering from an assault is 59 days,” says Woods. “That is a lot of cash that could be unnecessary to pay out if there is no assault.”

With files from Jill Bennett

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23. 08. 2019
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Shaw Charity Classic pro-am allows amateurs to walk in pro’s footsteps

Shaw Charity Classic pro-am allows amateurs to walk in pro’s footsteps

WATCH ABOVE: Kevin Smith and golf analyst Robert Thompson discuss the benefits of playing in one of the pro-ams at the Shaw Charity Classic.

They come dressed to the nines, outfitted in their finest golf apparel. They sport caddies and tip it up on the same course where the pros will battle for the Shaw Charity Classic this week.

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But once you see the shots, it is easy to distinguish the amateurs from the Champions Tour players at the pro-ams that kick off the tournament this week.

Take, for instance, one unfortunate player on the first tee during the Thursday pro-am, an even that pairs four amateurs with one Champions Tour golfer.

The amateur, clearly spooked by playing in front of a crowd near the clubhouse at Canyon Meadows, snap hooked a ball that went 50 yards forward and lurched left, narrowly missing spectators milling around before striking a food counter. It ricocheted off the building and hit two trees before coming to rest not more than a few yards from where it started.

READ MORE: 5 players to watch at Shaw Charity Classic

And that’s common at any pro-am, where amateurs hit balls into trees and spectators, while the pros find fairways and make birdies.

Despite their occasional struggles on the course, each team of four players pays $20,000 to hang out with a legend over four—or more likely five—hours.

That means players tee it up with golfers like Champions Tour stars like Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer or Rocco Mediate. On the PGA Tour pro-ams, the stars, who have to play in the pro-ams, often see the events as opportunities to practice, occasionally ignoring the amateurs who have paid to chip and putt with the game’s best.

WATCH: One of the highlights of the Shaw Charity Classic is the pro-am held at the Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club. It’s chance for local amateurs to tee it up with a legend of the game and raise money for charity. David Boushy reports.

Amateur golfers pick their playing partners at pro-am parties, though the top players are often assigned to key sponsors who support the tournament.

Unlike many of their PGA Tour counterparts, the Champions Tour players, who play two pro-ams each week leading into a tournament, are often outgoing and chatty with their playing partners, as if their personalities change when they hit the senior circuit. The players often sign autographs during their rounds.

READ MORE: 5 things to watch at the Shaw Charity Classic

During Steve Elkington’s pro-am today, for instance, the PGA Championship winner told stories about his caddie and his website, Secretinthedirt杭州夜网, while other Champions Tour pros read putts and gave swing tips.

Given the lofty price tag, it isn’t surprising to see many of Calgary’s biggest business names in the field, like oil and real estate entrepreneur Guy Turcotte, and Allan Markin, chair of Canadian Natural Resources, while Shaw Communications CEO Brad Shaw teed it up with Fred Couples and Packers Plus president CEO whacked it about with Scott Hoch.

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