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Obama touts ‘unwavering’ U.S. commitment to NATO self-defence – National

TALLINN, Estonia – Lashing out at Russia, President Barack Obama on Wednesday cast Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine as a threat to peace in Europe. He vigorously vowed to come to the defence of NATO allies that fear they could be Vladimir Putin’s next target.

“You lost your independence once before,” Obama said following meetings with Baltic leaders in the Estonian capital of Tallinn. “With NATO, you’ll never lose it again.”

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Related

  • Ukrainian president says he and Putin agree on steps to cease-fire agreement

  • Ukraine says Russian forces sighted in major eastern cities

  • Rebels back off demands for full independence as Ukraine talks open

  • Canada prepared to take on Islamic State but on a budget: Harper

Obama, who faces criticism in the U.S. for being too cautious in confronting Russian President Putin, sharply condemned Moscow’s provocations. He declared in blunt terms that Russian forces that have moved into Ukraine in recent weeks are not on a humanitarian or peacekeeping mission, as the Kremlin has insisted.

READ MORE: Obama says U.S. won’t be intimidated after ‘horrific’ beheading video

“They are Russian combat forces with Russian weapons in Russian tanks,” he said during a speech at a packed concert hall.

Obama also took aim at one of Russia’s main rationales for its provocations in Ukraine: the protection of Russian speakers living outside its borders. Like Ukraine, Estonia and other Baltic nations have sizeable Russian-speaking populations, compounding their fears that Moscow could seek to intervene inside their borders.

“We reject the lie that people cannot live and thrive together just because they have different backgrounds or speak a different language,” Obama said.

Despite the president’s tough talk, the U.S. and Europe have been unable to shift Putin’s calculus in the months-long crisis in eastern Ukraine. While multiple rounds of Western sanctions have damaged Russia’s economy, the penalties have not pushed Putin to end what the White House says is unfettered support for pro-Moscow separatists who have stirred upheaval in key cities.

Obama offered no new options for penalizing Russia beyond more sanctions, and reiterated his opposition to getting involved in the conflict militarily.

Shortly after the president arrived in Estonia Wednesday morning, there was a brief flicker of hope for a resolution to the conflict. The Ukrainian president’s office announced that it had reached a cease-fire agreement with Putin. But the statement was ambiguous, and a top rebel figure quickly said no cease-fire was possible without Ukraine withdrawing its forces.

READ MORE: Ukraine revises statement on Russian ‘cease-fire agreement’

Estonia and other countries in the region that were once under Soviet control have been warily eying Putin’s aggression and fear he could set his sights on their nations next. Unlike Ukraine, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are NATO members, and have been seeking firm commitments that the U.S. and other alliance powers would come to their defence if Russia were to encroach on their territory.

Obama’s three-day trip to Europe is aimed at offering just those assurances. Following a meeting with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, he declared that the U.S. commitment to security of NATO’s newest members runs deep.

“We will defend our NATO allies – every ally,” he said. “In this alliance, there are no old members or new members, no senior partners or junior partners – there are just allies, pure and simple. And we will defend the territorial integrity of every single one.”

Obama’s comments were welcomed by Estonian President Toomas Hendrick Ilves, who said the U.S. commitment to his country has “helped set an example for other NATO allies.” Still, he continued to push for a more persistent NATO military presence in his country, something some allies have been loath to do because of a 1997 agreement with Russia in which the alliance agreed not to put permanent bases on Russia’s borders.

READ MORE: Canada talks tough on Ukraine, but cuts $2.7B from defence in 2015

“I would argue this is an unforeseen and new security environment,” Ilves said.

Obama was to depart Estonia Wednesday evening for Wales, where a high-stakes NATO summit will get underway Thursday. The alliance is expected to approve plans to station more troops and equipment in Eastern Europe, with the aim of building a rapid response force that could deploy within 48 hours.

Separately, Obama announced that he was sending more Air Force units and aircraft to the Baltics, and called Estonia’s Amari Air Base an ideal location to base those forces.

Obama is the second sitting American president to visit Estonia, following President George W. Bush, who travelled here in 2006. Upon his arrival, Obama wrote in a guest book that it was an honour to visit “a nation that shows what free people can achieve together.”

The Baltics were invaded by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany during World War II. After the Soviet Union crumbled, the Baltic countries turned to the West and joined the European Union and NATO in 2004, much to the chagrin of Russia.

Rob Ford to ‘bore’ his subway plan through ‘until the cows come home’ – Toronto

ABOVE: Subways, subways, subways! Mayor Rob Ford outlines what his transit plan for Toronto will be if he is re-elected. Mark McAllister reports. 

TORONTO – Toronto mayor Rob Ford is again making it clear subways are his preferred method of transit for commuters across the city by revealing an extensive underground expansion plan as a main campaign platform in his re-election bid.

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Ford told reporters during his announcement at his campaign headquarters Wednesday morning that his rapid transit vision would see 32 kilometres of new subways built across the city at a cost of $9 billion.

“The city is growing folks. People do not want St. Clair,” Ford said. “People don’t want L-R-T, they don’t want delays.”

Ford’s plan includes overhauling the above-ground portion of the Eglinton Light Rapid Transit (LRT) line between Laird and Kennedy station, to now be built underground for a cost of $1.4 billion.

READ MORE: Subways or LRT: Comparing the transit plans of Ford, Chow and Tory

Furthermore, a subway extension would be constructed between Finch West Station to Humber College for $2.6 billion, as well as completing the Sheppard subway line from Don Mills to McCowan for $1.8 billion, cancelling the planned surface LRT.

“You bore, bore, bore until the cows come home,” Ford said on how the city should use its boring machines to continue work along the proposed routes.

Ford’s estimate for the cost of subways falls far below what the city is spending to build the extension of the Bloor-Danforth line. Ford said Wednesday he could build 32 kilometres of subway for $9 billion (or $281 million per kilometre) but the Scarborough subway is being built at a cost of $3.56 billion for 7.6 kilometres (or $468 million per kilometre).

Metrolinx refused to comment on Ford’s transit plan.

Ford’s billion dollar plan also include Phase 1 of the Yonge Relief Line to be built from Queen to Pape at a cost of $3.2 billion.

“This is a bold and ambitious vision for years to come. For your kids. For you grand kids,” Ford explained.

Fellow mayoral candidate Olivia Chow quickly rebuked Ford’s expansion plan by calling it “irresponsible.”

“What Mr. Ford is doing is to stop the work that we’ve been doing on light rapid transit and we are ready to start building it,” Chow told reporters following a debate hosted by FilmOntario on Wednesday.

“If you look at the Scarborough subway, there’s no studies. There’s no environmental assessment,” explained Chow who supports light rail on the Scarborough extension.

“Even the application to the federal government hasn’t gone in and the contract with Bombardier for buying those light rail trains have to be cancelled and we’ll pay a hefty price if we cancel the contract.”

John Tory, who also took part in the FilmOntario debate, said the mayor will not get the support needed from the upper levels of government to push his plan through.

“This man has absolutely run out of gas,” Tory said.

“I’d like to ask when was the last time he talked to the premier of Ontario or talked to the prime minister of Canada who are people leading governments that have to be partners in every single thing he talked about.”

The mayor believes the Eglinton underground line can be finished during his next term in office while work can start on the Sheppard line and the Downtown Relief Line.

“You got to build these tunnels. The easy part are the stations, it’s the boring.”

Ford’s subway expansion plan would use a combined funding model which includes private and public partnerships, government money, as well as transferring funds allocated for planned LRT routes to pay for it.

READ MORE: John Tory clear front-runner among decided voters: Poll

The mayor also revealed his grand vision for phase two of a subway plan that would see the Eglinton line run to Pearson airport and the Downtown Relief Line loop from Eglinton in the north, to Union Station in the south and come back up to Dundas West Station.

Ford admitted he didn’t have a price tag for the second phase of the project.

“I can’t give you a price on that right now. But obviously a lot more than $9 billion.”

GALLERY: Rob Ford’s subway expansion plan

Review the LIVEBLOG of Ford’s announcement from Global News reporter Mark McAllister:

Toronto Morning: What you need to know today – Toronto

IN THE NEWS…

Toronto mayor Rob Ford is making it clear subways are his preferred method of transit for commuters across the city by revealing an extensive underground expansion plan as a main campaign platform for his re-election bid. A power point presentation leaked on Ford’s website late Tuesday night ahead of his planned announcement on Wednesday morning shows a rapid transit vision that would see 32 kilometres of new subways built across the city at a cost of $9 billion.Ottawa police are denying a report that National Hockey League superstar Sidney Crosby was arrested in the nation’s capital late Tuesday night. Ottawa police tell Global News they “do not have him” after a QMI Agency reportedthe Pittsburgh Penguins forward was taken into custody while driving a rented Porsche.John Tory’s campaign to be Toronto’s next mayor is gaining momentum according to a new poll that says he would capture the support of 42 per cent of decided voters if the election were called right now. The Nanos Research poll currently places Rob Ford at second with 28 per cent, Olivia Chow at 26 per cent, and David Soknacki at 3 per cent. Some of the investors in a failed North York condo deal will be getting their money back after a court ruling Tuesday. A total of $9-million that was held in a trust account will soon be expedited to those who made condo down payments in the failed deal.Sports-related concussions in children and youth constitute a significant public health issue which requires serious reform in public policy to address the harm associated with them, a new Canadian paper argues.

WEATHER

Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud this afternoon. High 27. UV index 7 or high.

More on current weather conditions and a 7-day forecast. 

To get real-time weather for your area, download the Global News Skytracker weather app.

TRAFFIC AND TRANSIT

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Mass Transit: Click for TTC and GO Transit Updates.

Roads: Click for the latest Toronto traffic.

Do you have any suggestions or additions for our Toronto morning roundup? Reach us via email at [email protected]杭州夜网, on 桑拿会所 or on Facebook.

John Tory clear front-runner among decided voters: Poll – Toronto

TORONTO – John Tory’s campaign to be Toronto’s next mayor is gaining momentum according to a new poll that says he would capture the support of 42 per cent of decided voters if the election were called right now.

The Nanos Research poll currently places Rob Ford at second with 28 per cent, Olivia Chow at 26 per cent, and David Soknacki at 3 per cent.

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The survey also reveals that Tory is strong across the City of Toronto except in Etobicoke where he is virtually tied with Ford.

Chow’s concentration of support remains in Old Toronto with 32 per cent and Ford in Etobicoke and Scarborough with 35 per cent respectively.

READ MORE: Ontario Liberals ‘enthusiastic’ about John Tory: MPP Brad Duguid

The poll also showed that the most important issue facing Toronto is transit and gridlock which resonated with almost half (49 per cent) of the respondents.

A poll released last week by Forum Research revealed Tory was ahead with 34 per cent of voter support, Ford has 31 per cent and Chow is trailing with just 23 per cent.

When asked who was the most trustworthy candidate, 42 per cent of respondents picked John Tory, followed by Chow with 29 per cent and Rob Ford at 19 per cent.

Tory remains also remains ahead when those surveyed were asked who was most likely to control spending at city hall.

READ MORE: Chow tax hike on multi-million home sales would fund breakfast, transit

The former provincial Progressive Conservative leader had 41 per cent support, Ford at 34 per cent and Chow at 15 per cent.

The Nanos Research telephone poll was conducted between Aug. 27 and 31 among 1,000 people with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Fox apologizes for ‘#HeadlessDay’ marketing campaign

TORONTO — The studio behind the hit TV series Sleepy Hollow apologized Tuesday for promoting “Headless Day” as news broke that another American journalist was beheaded by Islamic State militants.

“Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment recognizes and apologizes for today’s promotion for the Season One DVD release of Sleepy Hollow,” read a statement.

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“We regret the unfortunate timing of our announcement and our deepest sympathies go out to the families of all involved.”

The campaign included e-cards with Sleepy Hollow characters and messages like “Does this axe make my head look small?” and “I knew you’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached.”

The e-cards were sent to media outlets with a press release that read: “On this National Beheading Day, viewers everywhere can share in the fun as fans prepare for the release of Sleepy Hollow: Season One.”

It urged fans to use the hashtag “#HeadlessDay.”

ThinkJam, the creative agency behind the marketing campaign, also expressed regret for the bad timing.

“We apologize for the unfortunate timing of our Sleepy Hollow Headless Day announcement,” read an email from ThinkJam, which was behind the campaign.

“The tragic news of Steven Sotloff’s death hit the web as the email was being sent. Our deepest sympathies are with him and his family, and we don’t take the news lightly. Had we have known this information prior, we would have never released the alert and realize it’s in poor taste.”

Islamic State militants kill up to 770 Iraq soldiers: report – National

BAGHDAD – Militants from the Islamic State group carried out a mass killing of hundreds of Iraqi soldiers captured when the extremists overran a military base north of Baghdad in June, a leading international watchdog said Wednesday.

The incident at Camp Speicher, an air base that previously served as a U.S. military facility, was one of the worst atrocities perpetrated by the Islamic State group in its lightning offensive that seized large swaths of northern and western Iraq.

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According to Human Rights Watch, new evidence indicates the Islamic State fighters killed between 560 and 770 men captured at Camp Speicher, near the city of Tikrit – a figure several times higher than what was initially reported.

“These are horrific and massive abuses, atrocities by the Islamic State, and on a scale that clearly rises to the crimes against humanity,” Fred Abrahams, special HRW advisor, told media in Irbil on Wednesday.

The al-Qaida-breakaway claimed in mid-June that it had “executed” about 1,700 soldiers and military personnel from Camp Speicher. The group also posted graphic photos that appeared to show its gunmen massacring scores of Iraqi soldiers after loading the captives onto flatbed trucks and then forcing them to lie face-down in a shallow ditch, their arms tied behind their backs.

WATCH: Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the world must respond to the Islamic State

The grisly images, meant to sap the morale of Iraqi security forces, and the number of slain troops could not be confirmed at the time. Human Rights Watch said in late June that analysis of photos and satellite image showed that between 160 and 190 men were killed in at least two locations between June 11 and 14.

After the incident, the soldiers were listed as missing, prompting their families to stage demonstrations in Baghdad in an effort to pressure authorities for word on their sons’ fate. On Tuesday, dozens of their angry family members stormed into the parliament in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone after scuffling with security guards, causing commotion and arguing with lawmakers. They also forced the speaker to call a session for Wednesday on the missing soldiers.

The Human Rights Watch statement on Wednesday said the revised figure for the slain soldiers was based on analysis of new satellite imagery, militant videos and a survivor’s account that confirmed the existence of three more mass execution sites. The number of victims may well be even higher as more evidence emerges, the New York-based watchdog said.

READ MORE: Islamic State video reportedly shows beheading of Steven Sotloff

“Another piece of this gruesome puzzle has come into place, with many more executions now confirmed,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “The barbarity of the Islamic State violates the law and grossly offends the conscience.”

Also Wednesday, the U.N. envoy in Iraq called for a “public and independent” investigation by Iraqi authorities into the fate of the missing soldiers and the recovery of the remains of those killed.

“It is in the interest of their families and relatives, who remain unaware of the fate of their loved ones, as well as in the public interest, that the Iraqi authorities do all they can to uncover the truth of what has happened to these men,” said Nickolay Mladenov.

The investigation is needed “to locate and identify the remains of any who may have been killed, and to undertake all efforts to secure the release of any who may remain in captivity,” Mladenov said.

WATCH: Iraqi media broadcast footage on Wednesday showing plumes of smoke billowing from the Shiite Turkmen town of Amirli after Iraqi forces backed by Iran-allied Shiite militias and US airstrikes broke a two-month siege by Islamic State militants

Outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki claimed Wednesday during his weekly address to the nation that a number of “perpetrators” of Camp Speicher atrocities have been arrested or killed and that “security forces were pursuing” others. Al-Maliki did not elaborate.

The onslaught by the Islamic State group has stunned Iraqi security forces and the military, which melted away and withdrew as the extremists advanced, capturing key cities and towns. The militants also targeted Iraq’s indigenous religious minorities, including Christians and followers of the ancient Yazidi faith, forcing tens of thousands from their homes.

Since then, the Islamic State has carved out a self-styled caliphate in the large area straddling the Iraqi-Syrian border that it now controls.

In early August, the United States launched airstrikes on the militant group in Iraq, in an effort to help the Iraqi forces fight back against the growing militant threat.

Also this week, the United Nations’ top human rights body approved a request by Iraq to open an investigation into suspected crimes committed by the Islamic State group against civilians. Its aim would be to provide the Human Rights Council with evidence on atrocities committed in Iraq, which could be used as part of any international war crimes prosecution.

Associated Press writer Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad contributed to this report.

©2014The Associated Press

Obama says U.S. won’t be intimidated after ‘horrific’ beheading video – National

WATCH: US intelligence has confirmed the authenticity of the Sotloff video

JERUSALEM – Israel confirmed on Wednesday that slain American journalist Steven Sotloff was also an Israeli citizen, while President Barack Obama vowed to build a coalition to “degrade and destroy” the extremist group that carried out the videotaped beheading.

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    What can be done about Islamic State brutality?

Stoloff’s Jewish faith and Israeli citizenship were not widely known before his death – in part because Israel’s military censor kept a lid on the story – and his killers may not have known about his background either, since they made no mention of Jews or Israel in the footage released Tuesday.

Sotloff, a 31-year-old who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines before he was captured a year ago, became the second American newsman to be beheaded by Islamic State militants in two weeks, killed in retribution for U.S. airstrikes against the group.

READ MORE: Islamic State video reportedly shows beheading of Steven Sotloff

The video horrified Americans and journalists around the world and touched a nerve in Israel, where news that Sotloff had connections to the country dominated newscasts and brought condolences from Israelis who knew the Miami-area native.

The killing also put pressure on the Obama administration to act more forcefully against the extremist group that has conquered a swath of Syria and Iraq.

“Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL so that it's no longer a threat,” Obama said during a visit to Estonia, using an acronym for the group.

“We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists,” the president said.

“And those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”

WATCH: President Obama says the objective of the United States is ‘ to degrade and destroy ISIS so that it is no longer a threat’

During an appearance in Maine, Vice-President Joe Biden said the U.S. will pursue the militants to “the gates of hell.”

Obama also sought to clean up the political damage inflicted when he said last week that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with the Islamic State.

“It is very important from my perspective that when we send our pilots in to do a job, that we know that this is a mission that’s going to work, that we’re very clear on what our objectives are, what our targets are,” the president said.

WATCH: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the killing of Steven Sotloff as “a crime against humanity”

READ MORE: U.K. proposes seizing passports of suspected Islamist fighters

Paul Hirschson, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said on his personal 桑拿会所 account that Sotloff held Israeli citizenship. Israel’s censor cleared the information for publication Wednesday, suggesting the country had tried to conceal the news to protect Sotloff.

The Sotloff family could not be reached for comment on his citizenship.

Tech companies rushed to scrub the web of the gruesome footage after its release, deleting a YouTube video of the beheading and suppressing accounts and Tweets linking to it, according to a Silicon Valley insider.

WATCH: Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the world must respond to the Islamic State

Sotloff’s friends and colleagues remembered him as an adventurous man who was fascinated with the Middle East. Friends said he moved to Israel in 2005 as a student.

Michael Sapir, a former rugby teammate in Israel, said he last saw Sotloff in July 2013, shortly before he was kidnapped. The two watched a rugby match in Israel at the Maccabiah, the Jewish Olympics.

He said Sotloff shared stories from his adventures in the region. Sotloff, he said, was a true freelancer who reported what he saw because he was interested, and only later found places to publish the stories.

“He was fascinated with the Middle East,” Sapir said.

“He’s a remarkable man with a great amount of courage, and I don’t mean courage like that his life is in danger, but very courageous to take on the adventure that he embarked on.”

The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, a college north of Tel Aviv, said Sotloff graduated from its school of government, studying there between 2005 and 2008. He previously studied journalism at the University of Central Florida.

Ilene Prusher, former deputy editor of the Jerusalem Report magazine, said she edited Sotloff’s stories from around the Arab world during the revolutions that rocked the region in 2011-12. She said his writing was full of detail and colour that conveyed the day-to-day experiences of people in the region.

“He didn’t just sit in a hotel room but was out in the field, meeting lots of people,” she said.

Sotloff’s fate was reminiscent of the case of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was abducted in Pakistan in 2002 and later beheaded. His father was Israeli. Pearl’s last words were: “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.”

Pace reported from Tallinn, Estonia. Associated Press writer Aron Heller contributed to this report.

©2014The Canadian Press

Your Saskatchewan: September 2014 – Saskatoon

Every weeknight on News Hour Final and weekends on News Final, we feature a viewer submitted photo for Your Saskatchewan.

To submit a picture for Your Saskatchewan, email to [email protected]桑拿按摩.

Pictures should be at least 920 pixels wide and in jpeg format.

Sept. 1: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Lorna Mackie at Buffalo Pound Lake.

Lorna Mackie / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 2: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Mike Poth at Nemieben Lake.

Mike Poth / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 3: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Maheep Mihir of an early morning view from the Saskatoon Railway Bridge.

Maheep Mihir / Viewer Submitted

Sept . 4: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Raymond Scott at Murray Doell in Meadow Lake Provincial Park

Raymond Scott / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 5: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Heather Goddard at Jackfish Lake.

Heather Goddard / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 6: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Janet Flett in Yorkton.

Janet Flett / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 7: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Joanne Churchill at McClean Lake.

Joanne Churchill / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 8: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Morgan D. at Top Lake.

Morgan D. / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 9: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Dorothy Caisse of pelicans galore in Buffalo Narrows.

Dorothy Caisse / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 10: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Jennifer Eros of a carrot grown in Spiritwood.

Jennifer Eros / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 11: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Valerie Heart on the Meewasin Trail in Saskatoon.

Valerie Heart / Global News

Sept. 12: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Dan Cheveldayoff of harvest at Blaine Lake.

Dan Cheveldayoff / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 13: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Rhonda Galbraith this week in Cypress Hills.

Rhonda Galbraith / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 14: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Irma Sorge in Warman.

Irma Sorge / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 15: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Mike Poth in Saskatoon.

Mike Poth / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 16: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Alvin Slusar east of Carrot River.

Alvin Slusar / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 17: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Ryan Parker in Saskatoon.

Ryan Parker / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 18: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Lynda Peterson near Edam.

Lynda Peterson / Global News

Sept. 19: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Errol Sutherland in Saskatoon.

Errol Sutherland / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 20: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Pablo Benitez near Outlook.

Pablo Benitez / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 21: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Michael Morien in Saskatoon.

Michael Morien / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 22: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Christine Caron southwest of Codette.

Christine Caron / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 23: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Lola Poncelet in Saskatoon.

Lola Poncelet / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 24: Tonight’s Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Kandis Riese of an aurora borealis photo-bomb during La Ronge Mayor Thomas Sierzycki ‘s wedding over the weekend at Elk Ridge in Waskesiu.

Kandis Riese / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 25: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Cheryl Hare of harvesting a field of spring wheat on a farm northwest of Rosetown.

Cheryl Hare / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 26: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Pam Beaver while canoeing on Kingsmere Lake in Prince Albert National Park.

Pam Beaver / Viewer Submitted

Sept. 27: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Dwane Morvik west of Eastend.

Dwane Morvik / Viewer Supplied

Sept. 28: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Dave Brown at Echo Lake.

Dave Brown / Viewer Supplied

Sept. 29: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Stephanie Lynch at Jansen.

Stephanie Lynch / Viewer Supplied

Sept. 30: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Natalya Jaddock in Saskatoon.

Natalya Jaddock / Viewer Submitted


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  • Your Saskatchewan: August 2014

Calls for military help in West Africa for Ebola outbreak shows its severity – Toronto

ABOVE: The Ebola-infected American missionary doctor, who has yet to be publicly identified, is a male obstetrician – but didn’t work in an Ebola ward. He is said to be “doing well” and in “good spirits” while being treated in isolation. But it is too soon to tell if he’ll be evacuated from Liberia.

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TORONTO – Just two weeks ago the international president of Medecins Sans Frontieres insisted she didn’t want to be quoted saying military hospitals should be deployed to West Africa’s Ebola zone to bolster the woefully undermanned response efforts there – even though she herself raised the possibility.

Dr. Joanne Liu had just returned from touring treatment facilities MSF – also known as Doctors Without Borders – is operating in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, which are engulfed in the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, she proposed tapping into military assistance, then quickly backed away when asked to be more explicit.

“I don’t want you to quote me on that, because I’m going to get killed by MSF,” Liu said, her comment revealing the tension that often exists between Doctors Without Borders and the world’s armies.

So it is all the more indicative of how dire conditions are in West Africa that Liu called on governments to deploy this type of expertise Tuesday when she addressed a special Ebola briefing for the United Nation. Without this help, Liu said, this outbreak will not stop.

“To curb the epidemic, it is imperative that states immediately deploy civilian and military assets with expertise in biohazard containment,” she told the UN.

“I call upon you to dispatch your disaster response teams, backed by the full weight of your logistical capabilities…. Without this deployment, we will never get the epidemic under control.”

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

“This just tells you the extraordinary scale of this outbreak on the ground,” says Dr. Ross Upshur, an ethicist and global health expert who teaches at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

“If MSF is willing to countenance assistance from military sources with the provisos they’ve already put in place, that just tells you how serious the situation is on the ground.”

The caveats Liu laid out were that any military assets and personnel deployed to the Ebola zone should not be used for quarantine, containment, or crowd control measures.

Michael Osterholm, head of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, applauded the MSF call, saying the military expertise with logistics – supply chains, transportation of goods and personnel – are needed in this situation.

“MSF continues to provide the most honest, blunt and informed assessment of where we’re at. Not just in terms of how bad it is, but what do we actually really need to do to contain it?” Osterholm says.

Should Canada deploy DART, its Disaster Assistance Response Team, which is often sent in response to natural disasters abroad? As of late last week sources suggested a DART deployment was not being considered. And late Tuesday, the government suggested it hadn’t been asked for this type of help – at least not by countries battling Ebola.

“Canada has not received a request from affected countries to send in the Disaster Assistance Response Team,” department spokeswoman Beatrice Fenelon said via email.

Stephen Cornish, executive director of MSF Canada, says the organization had been in ongoing discussions with the Canadian government about assistance it could offer.

It and others must step up their efforts, he insists. And that means countries that have medically staffed field hospitals with isolation units should send them to West Africa.

The Ebola outbreak needs a stronger response than UN and non-governmental organizations are able to provide, Cornish says.

“It needs the response of states to have such independent capacities, and it needs their buy-in, their action, as well as the WHO’s overall vision in order to co-ordinate this across West Africa. And we’re really not seeing that,” he says.

MSF has been calling for assistance for some time. The treatment facilities it has opened have been overwhelmed, treating far more patients than they have beds. The organization has said it can’t staff more facilities and has asked others to step into the breach. So far it is still waiting.

Few countries have offered assistance, and those that have – like Canada – are providing support services such as running diagnostic labs. Useful, welcome, but not enough, Cornish says.

“We don’t only need diagnostics and we don’t only need education. We need increased bed capacity now.”

“We’re turning away patients who are sick because they’re not sick enough. Because the wards are overflowing with patients,” he says.

In some MSF treatment centres, medical personnel are no longer able to provide intravenous medication and can only offer palliative care.

“This is far from enough,” Cornish says. “It’s unjust to those who are sick, it’s unfair to the medical personal that we’re putting on the front line and it will be completely ineffective in getting ahead of this epidemic.”

The World Health Organization says there have been at least 3,070 cases of Ebola in this outbreak and 1,552 deaths. Those figures exceed all previous known Ebola cases and deaths combined.

How a Canadian man went from unemployment to YouTube stardom

TORONTO – If you’re counting YouTube subscribers, Matthew Santoro is now bigger than Drake.

And while the 29-year-old St. Catharines, Ont. native isn’t quite at Justin Bieber’s level yet, he will be very soon.

To say 2014 has been a good year for Santoro would be a massive understatement.

Santoro, who specializes in creating videos based on BuzzFeed-style lists, is one of the fastest-growing personalities on YouTube, steadily pulling in millions of views for creations such as 10 Creepy Urban Legends That Turned Out To Be True, The 10 Freakiest Coincidences in History, and 5 Lies School Taught You.

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But for a guy who has attracted more than 2.4 million YouTube followers and has created work that’s been viewed more than 168 million times, Santoro still lives a pretty anonymous life.

He can recall a Subway sandwich artist doing a double-take while assembling his sub and a custodian at a shopping mall stopping to stare while trying to place his face.

READ MORE: Ottawa man’s gift to mom makes him a YouTube star

But being chased down the street by a pack of screaming girls has yet to happen, Santoro admits with faux disappointment.

“I think I’m in a good place right now because I get noticed once in a while, but for the most part not, and I’m OK with that,” says Santoro.

“Right now I’m kind of like, ‘Will all this go away?’ You’re always questioning and that’s the thing — your popularity could go away at any moment, I’ve seen it happen many times to many different people.”

“I try not to worry too much and think too much about where I’m going to be in year, I try to live for the now.”

A couple of years ago, Santoro was toiling away at an accounting job, and if you polled his colleagues, few would’ve guessed their fellow cubicle worker was destined to become a YouTube star.

And neither did he. He was already a couple of years into creating videos for YouTube and, of course, hoped he was just one upload away from going viral and quitting his day job.

But his view counts typically stalled in the low thousands. So when he got laid off from his 9-to-5 job, he wasn’t exactly convinced that his newfound spare time would make him rich and famous.

“I would be lying if I said I never thought of quitting, I definitely did. It’s hard because I put so much effort into my videos for so long and to not really get any recognition or hardly any for so long is just — a lot of people quit,” says Santoro.

“I just tried to keep in mind when I got 2,000 views on a video that, to me, that’s (still) 2,000 people that have watched my videos and really, if you think about that, that’s a lot of people!”

Then sometime early this year, thousands of people started clicking on his videos. Then tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions. He hit a million subscribers in the spring, then doubled that milestone in about two months.

READ MORE: YouTube user gives himself superpowers with DIY ‘X-Men’ inventions

And now just about every video he posts cracks the million-view mark within a few days, generating more advertising revenue than he made at his office job.

“It took just under four years to get any sort of growth whatsoever but when it rains it pours,” says Santoro, who’s at a loss to explain how his spurt in popularity started.

“I wish I knew exactly, I wish I could point to one thing and say, ‘That! That’s what it was!’ but I can’t. I think it was a combination of patience and good luck and timing and hard work. I’ve never had a viral video — ever —and that’s a lot of people’s claim to fame. My growth has been — although explosive in a short time — gradual.”

Santoro is equally unsure how long he can ride the list trend, but is encouraged that online video stars are going mainstream.

In the U.S., a poll of teenagers this summer found that kids were more likely to pick YouTube personalities over traditional celebrities when asked who they found influential. And the Canadians behind the YouTube hit “Epic Meal Time” have taken their brand to TV with their new show “Epic Meal Empire” on the FYI network.

“It’s an incredible time and it’s amazing that people like myself are pulling in more views per month than some cable TV networks with a budget of millions of dollars. I have a budget of zero dollars and I pull in just as many views, if not more,” says Santoro.

“It’s weird and it’s bizarre but it’s really cool too because it’s the evolution of entertainment.”

©2014The Canadian Press