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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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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

Canadians spend nearly $1000 a year on online shopping – National

VANCOUVER – A new study says more than eight in 10 Canadian Internet users have made an online purchase in the past year with cosmetics, furniture and pet products among popular items.

The Ipsos Reid survey says 82 per cent of Canadians were buying online, with consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 making the most digital purchases.

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It says 92 per cent of these younger consumers have purchased online this year, while 82 per cent of those aged 35 to 54 have bought online, and 74 per cent among those 55 years and older.

The survey also found that the average amount of reported spending for online purchases was $954 annually.

READ MORE: Will technology take the stress out of back-to-school prep by 2024?

When looking at the most common items purchased online, cosmetic and beauty products were up six percentage points to 29 per cent from last year; pet products were up six points to 17 per cent; furniture and housewares were up five points to 23 per cent; groceries were up five points to 15 per cent; and glasses and contact lenses were up four points to 15 per cent.

Despite the popularity of smartphones and tablets, desktops and laptops continue to be used the most for online purchases, with nine in 10 online purchases made with personal computers in the past 12 months.

The online study surveyed 800 adults and was done between July 2-7.

©2014The Canadian Press

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

WATCH: This morning, President Obama announced he’ll send US airmen to help the Baltic states with security. This comes as Ukraine announces a truce with Russia – but will it hold?

KYIV, Ukraine – A day ahead of a NATO summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued his own peace plan for eastern Ukraine, calling on the Russian-backed insurgents there to “stop advancing” and urging Ukraine to withdraw its troops from the region.

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Hours earlier, Ukraine had issued a vague statement about agreeing with Putin on cease-fire steps. The separatists rejected the move, saying no cease-fire was possible without a pullback by Ukraine, while Putin’s spokesman claimed that Moscow could not agree to a cease-fire because it was not a party to the conflict.

The back-and-forth came as President Barack Obama arrived in Estonia in a show of solidarity with NATO allies who fear they could be the next target of Russia’s aggression. NATO is holding a summit in Wales on Thursday, with plans to approve a rapid-response team to counter the Russian threat.

READ MORE: Obama touts ‘unwavering’ US commitment to NATO self-defence

Putin, for his part, is eager to avoid further international sanctions that could hurt his resource-based economy.

Amid the diplomatic chess match, a Ukrainian official said the bodies of 87 soldiers had been retrieved from southeastern Ukraine. Mykhailo Logvinov, a military official in Zaporizhye, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the soldiers were killed near the eastern city of Ilovaysk, the scene of a horrific government defeat over the weekend. He said the remains were being identified by local forensic experts.

Putin, speaking in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, said he came up with a 7-point peace plan on the plane trip there – one in which Kyiv must withdraw its troops and stop its artillery strikes.

“The warring parties should immediately co-ordinate and do the following things together,” Putin said in televised comments. “The first thing is for the armed forces and insurgents of the south-east of Ukraine to stop active advancing in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

“Second is for the Ukrainian military to withdraw their troops at a safe distance that will make artillery and other strikes on populated areas impossible,” he added.

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Putin also urged an unconditional exchange of prisoners and said he expected a final agreement between Kyiv and the rebels to be reached Friday at peace talks in Minsk, Belarus.

The Interfax news agency later carried positive remarks from top rebel commander Miroslav Rudenko, who said “there’ll be no sense in a military solution to the conflict” if Kyiv was to withdraw its troops.

Stock markets jumped on first reports of a possible cease-fire deal, but later eased back slightly. By early afternoon in Europe, Russia’s MICEX benchmark was up 2.7 per cent, while the ruble rose 1.4 per cent against the U.S. dollar.

Germany’s DAX index, which has been particularly sensitive to news regarding the Ukrainian crisis because of the country’s economic ties with Russia, was up 1.2 per cent.

Rebel leader said earlier this week that they would respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for autonomy – a shift from earlier calls for full independence or possible absorption into Russia. Putin has ignored their calls for annexation – unlike in March, when Russia annexed Crimea.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has spoken in favour of devolving some of the central government’s powers to the regions, but that is far short of autonomy for the rebellious east.

READ MORE: Obama touts ‘unwavering’ U.S. commitment to NATO self-defence

Obama said it was too early to tell what the announcements Wednesday from Ukraine and Russia meant. He noted previous unsuccessful cease-fire attempts and questioned whether the separatists would abide by a new cease-fire.

“We haven’t seen a lot of follow-up on so-called announced cease-fires,” Obama said. “Having said that, if in fact Russia is prepared to stop financing, arming, training, in many cases joining with Russian troops activities in Ukraine and is serious about a political settlement, that is something we all hope for.”

Ukraine, NATO and the West have accused Russia of sending its troops and weapons to support the insurgents. Moscow has denied the charge. AP reporters on the ground have run into numerous Russian fighters among the rebels and have seen large convoys of heavy military equipment driving in eastern Ukraine from the direction of Russia.

Over the weekend, the European Union leaders agreed to prepare a new round of sanctions that could be enacted in a week, after NATO accused Russia of sending tanks and troops into southeastern Ukraine.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine has killed nearly 2,600 people and forced over 340,000 to flee their homes, according to the U.N.

Vancouver Park Board doubling day camps offered during strike

WATCH ABOVE: Finding ways to occupy and educate children during the teachers’ dispute is tough and as Randene Neill explains, it’s easy to forget about safety.

More and more places are stepping up to help the hundreds of thousands of parents looking for childcare during the BC Teachers’ strike.

The Vancouver Park Board, which operates 24 community centres around the city, says they’ve almost doubled the number of day camps and special programs available.

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READ MORE: Daycare and camp options during the teacher’s strike

“This is just sort of day one. There’s no way we can handle 580 children, and that’s sort of what we’re bracing for. How many children are we going to get?” said Ron Suzuki, the Director of the Strathcona Community Recreation Centre.

They aren’t turning anyone away, asking parents to pay what they can afford.

“Most of the programs are full with waiting lists, but as time goes on and we see a bigger need, than the community centers will be looking for ways to accommodate kids in their neighborhoods,” said Park Board Commissioner Sarah Blyth.

WATCH: Parents race to find childcare

The provincial government says parents registering for a $40 a day subsidy during the strike will begin receiving the money in late September or early October.

MSF call for military help with Ebola response shows outbreak’s severity – National

WATCH ABOVE: After 17 years volunteering for Médecins sans frontières (MSF), Montrealer and McGill-trained doctor Joanne Liu has been elected as president of the international board of MSF.

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.

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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.

READ MORE: What you need to know about Canada’s contribution to Ebola vaccines

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.

READ MORE: Why health officials say the Ebola epidemic won’t spread into Canada

“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.

READ MORE: How Canadian docs are fighting Ebola during the world’s worst outbreak

“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.

Celebrity hacking scandal shows digital vulnerability – National

ABOVE: Apple is defending its iCloud service, saying hackers gained access to nude photos of celebrities including Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton the old fashioned way… by stealing passwords. 

LOS ANGELES – To keep private pictures private, never upload them online.

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That’s the advice experts offer after hackers broke into female celebrities’ personal accounts, stole nude photos and posted them on the web. Jennifer Lawrence and Mary Elizabeth Winstead have said they were victims of the hack attack.

Federal investigators are looking into the theft, and Apple confirmed Tuesday that while individual accounts were breached, its iCloud and Find My iPhone services remained secure.

This latest hacking scandal is another reminder that locking down digital data is a must for public figures.

READ MORE: Apple denies iCloud security flaw to blame for celebrity photo hack

“It shows that celebrities, like the rest of us, are not as attuned to Internet security as they should be,” said marketing expert Dorie Clark. “Like many regular couples, celebrities probably enjoy taking racy photographs, but they have to recognize there are people out there who are inherently interested in what they’re doing, and want to either make money or make a name for themselves by getting at those photos.”

It could be embarrassing for anyone to have their nude image shown online, but most people aren’t at risk of being targeted by hackers in this way, said Gary Zembow, who helps celebrities secure their data as founder of Hollywood Tech Consulting.

“If you accept that some celebrities need bodyguards,” he said, “then their personal, private data needs a version of that, as well.”

WATCH: An anonymous hacker has posted hundreds of private images of female celebrities online. Mike Drolet reports.

Individuals and companies increasingly use Internet-based “cloud” storage for images and other data. But such data can become more vulnerable once uploaded online, said professor Lance Larson, an instructor at San Diego State University’s Graduate Program in Homeland Security.

“The cloud is like a storage locker,” he said. “Are you the only person with the key? Or does the storage-unit owner also have a key?”

In short: “Don’t put a document or photo online or in the cloud if you don’t want it to get out at some point,” he said.

It is unclear when and in what context the targeted actresses created the nude images. Winstead tweeted Sunday that the intimate pictures she took with her husband “in the privacy of our home” had long been deleted. “I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this,” she wrote.

Even though such hacking is illegal — the man who stole nude photos of Scarlett Johansson was convicted of federal wiretapping and unauthorized access to a computer — ensuring that all the illicit images are removed from all the sites that posted them is a never-ending challenge that one expert likened to a game of “whack-a-mole.”

So how can celebrities — and others — protect their privacy in the Internet era?

Remember that all digital media, even with privacy controls, can become public, said professor Karen North, director of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities at the University of Southern California.

“What you think is private is public, and what you think is temporary is permanent,” she said. “Once you share it with somebody, you no longer control the intellectual property.”

To really keep something private, don’t upload it and don’t share it.

Also, log off the Internet and turn off the computer when you’re done using it, Larson suggested.

“If you don’t take that device offline,” he said, “you’re providing 24 hours a day, seven days a week of a potentially unmonitored computer on the Internet.”

Be mindful of wireless networks as well — especially celebrities whose homes can often be located on “star maps” or shown during Hollywood tours. Zembow notes that anyone could pull up in front of the house and break into its Wi-Fi system.

“The simplest two words are strong passwords,” he said.

Finally, those insistent upon taking sexy photos ought to consider using an offline device not connected to the Internet, and keep it locked in a safe. Or go retro and use a Polaroid.