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Syrian refugees face off against Calgary Police in soccer tournament

Written on March 24, 2019 at 17:47, by

For many Syrian refugees displaced from home – just the thought of playing a game of soccer was a dream.

But that dream came true Monday for some recent newcomers to Calgary as they faced off against an unlikely opponent.

The Syrian Soccer Sons team played soccer alongside members of the Calgary Police Service in a friendly match Monday – an idea that simply wasn’t an option back home.

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    “This is breaking so many barriers and breaking walls of fears, sending them the message in Canada anything is possible,”  said Sam Nammoura of the Calgary Syrian Refugee Support Group. “Just to be close to the police, is considered an achievement.”

    Many players participating in Monday’s game were sitting in a refugee camp up until a few months ago, merely dreaming of a moment like this.

    “This is not a field of soccer,”  Nammoura said. “This is a field of dreams.”

    Now the refugee are making the most of their opportunities on Canadian soil.

    “They’ve played in pouring rain, and terrible summer weather and they show up determined and happy to be there,” volunteer Kerri Workman said.

    The officers, meanwhile, are happy to welcome the group and hoping to change any misconceptions they might have about police.

    “Where they’re from, the trust of police is completely different,” acting Staff Sgt. Graeme Smiley said. “We are not unlike them. We have our families here, and we love soccer.”

    Monday’s soccer game is a launch event before Wednesday’s North American Police Soccer Tournament, being held at the Calgary Rugby Union at 11 a.m.

    -With files from Bindu Suri

Boy who didn’t want to learn CPR during summer break ends up saving sister’s life

Written on March 24, 2019 at 17:47, by

A 12-year-old Missouri boy who told his mom he didn’t want to learn CPR during the summer break is crediting the same class for helping to save his sister’s life.

Kyle Prater, 12, from Cottleville was enjoying time off school during the summer when his friend’s mother suggested the kids should take CPR classes as a local library.

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“I called my mom and said, ‘I really don’t want to do this’ [but] she made me do it anyway,” said Prater to NBC affiliate KSDK News.

“It was not something I really even thought about,” said Prater’s mother, Kimberly, to KSDK. “It’s definitely going to be beneficial.”

Little did the family know that a few weeks later that 20-minute free class would end up saving Kyle’s nine-year-old sister, Camdon’s, life.

Kimberly said they had all gone out for ice cream when she looked in her rear view mirror and saw Camdon begin to choke on her cone.

“I hurried up and pulled over, I flew out of the car and pulled open the back door,” she told KSDK.

But Prater had everything under control.

I pulled my sister out of the seat and gave her the Heimlich maneuver,” said Prater.

He even told his mom “I got this.”

Kimberly said that Camdon was crying really hard and hugging her brother.

“I don’t know what I would’ve done. It just makes me realize how important it is,” Kimberly told KSDK. “It makes me emotional.”

According to David Lewis, assistant chief of the St. Charles ambulance district in Missouri, it doesn’t take a long time for permanent damage to occur when someone who is lacking oxygen.

“Brain death or hypoxy can occur from lack of oxygen in just four minutes,” Lewis told KSDK.

KSDK reported that it could take an ambulance in the area on average five minutes to make it to a scene.

All-in-all it was a scary realization of the importance it is to know CPR – and for one young boy the ability to save his sister’s life.

KSDK also wrote Prater will be given a commendation for his quick-thinking and has been asked to serve as an honorary Heimlich instructor.

Follow @alleywilson_

Decades after Vietnam War, Laos grapples with unexploded bombs

Written on March 24, 2019 at 17:47, by

Almost half a century later, scars from the U.S. Air Force’s bombings are still visible in Laos’ Xieng Khouang Province, the area in the impoverished country most heavily bombed during the Vietnam War.

From 1964 to 1973, U.S. warplanes dropped more than 270 million cluster munitions on Laos, one-third of which did not explode, according to the Lao National Regulatory Authority for unexploded ordnance (UXO).

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The bombings were part of a CIA-run, secret operation aimed at destroying the NorthVietnamese supply routes along the Ho Chi Minh trail and wiping out its communist allies. They left a trail of destruction in Laos, with U.S. planes also using the country as a dumping ground for bombs when their original target was unavailable and planes couldn’t land with explosives.

READ MORE: President Obama presents Congressional Medal of Honor to 86-year-old Vietnam veteran

U.S. bombs are still killing in Laos  – over 20,000 people have been killed or injured since the bombing stopped.

Kek, 28, is one of many U.S. bomb legacy victims, after losing both his hands when accidentally detonating a bomb while searching for scrap metal. Many of the homes in his area are held up by U.S. bomb shells serving as pillars.

Fifty-eight percent of those killed or injured by unexploded bombs in Laos from 2013 to 2015 were under the age of 14, according to UK-based Mines Advisory Group (MAG), which has been helping to find and destroy UXO in Phaxay district since June.

International organizations like MAG have been working with local villagers, training them to uncover bombs and educating them on what to do when they encounter suspicious objects.

Toui Bounmy Sidavong, 43, holds a bomb dropped by the U.S. Air Force planes during the Vietnam War, in the village of Ban Napia in Xieng Khouang province, Laos September 3, 2016.

REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Yianyang Bounxieng, 28, is a villager working as a support officer for MAG, and says the arduous task of clearing the explosives will help local families live better lives.

Using beeping metal detectors, a team of local technicians survey a hillside for unexplodedbombs. They find a BLU-26 cluster bomb, the size of a tennis ball, and mark it for demolition. As many as 106 other BLU-26 bombs have been found on the site over the past two months.

READ MORE: Obama lifts decades-old arms embargo against Vietnam

It is still unclear how long removing the threat of unexploded bombs will actually take, though a few estimates exist.

Neil Arnold, MAG’s technical operations manager, says a technical survey providing a clearer picture of the scale of the problem is expected in five years time. He also estimates it will take another 20 years to get to the stage of having just “residual risk” in the country.

Without a promising timeframe to finally remove all unexploded bombs, some locals in Napia Village have decided to work with it – a home factory in the area turns the scraps of metal from bomb shells into spoons.

Addressing the legacy of war in Laos will be a focus of U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip toLaos this week, during which he will participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and East Asia Summit.

Obama, the first U.S. president to visit Laos, is expected to announce more funding to help clear the leftover bombs and conduct Laos’ first national survey on unexploded ordnance.

“If America feels guilty,” says local village Vanvissa Vandee, “I want them to come and help completely dispose the remaining explosives from Laos.”

Land-locked Laos remains largely agricultural with around 80 percent of the population reliant on agriculture. Some land is simply too dangerous to farm.

Phyllis Schlafly, outspoken conservative activist, dies at 92

Written on March 24, 2019 at 17:47, by

ST. LOUIS – Phyllis Schlafly, the outspoken conservative activist who helped defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and founded the Eagle Forum political group, has died. She was 92.

Schlafly died Monday afternoon of cancer at her home in St. Louis, her son John Schlafly said.

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Schlafly rose to national attention in 1964 with her self-published book, “A Choice Not an Echo,” that became a manifesto for the far right. The book, which sold three million copies, chronicled the history of the Republican National Convention and is credited for helping conservative Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona earn the 1964 GOP nomination.

She later helped lead efforts to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment that would have outlawed gender discrimination, galvanizing the party’s right. She’d graduated from college while working overnight at a factory during World War II, her newspaper column appeared in dozens of newspapers and she was politically active into her 90s — including attending every convention since her first in 1952.

Yet she told The Associated Press in 2007 that perhaps her greatest legacy was the Eagle Forum, which she founded in 1972 in suburban St. Louis, where she lived. The ultraconservative group has chapters in several states and claims 80,000 members.

“I’ve taught literally millions of people how to participate in self-government,” Schlafly said. “I think I’ve built a wonderful organization of volunteers, mostly women but some men, willing to spend their time to get good laws and good politicians.”

In this Aug. 10, 1976, file photo, women opposed to the Equal Rights Amendment sit with Phyllis Schlafly, left, national chairman of Stop ERA, at hearing of Republican platform subcommittee on human rights and responsibilities in a free society in Kansas City, Mo.

AP Photo

The Eagle Forum pushes for low taxes, a strong military and English-only education. The group is against efforts it says are pushed by radical feminists or encroach on U.S. sovereignty, such as guest-worker visas, according to its website, which describes the Equal Rights Amendment as having had a “hidden agenda of tax-funded abortions and same-sex marriages.”

As momentum grew in the 1970s for the amendment, Schlafly became its most outspoken critic — and was vilified by its supporters. She had a pie smashed into her face and pig’s blood thrown on her, and feminist Betty Friedan once told Schlafly: “I’d like to burn you at the stake.” She was chastised in a 1970s “Doonesbury” — a framed copy of which hung on her office wall.

“What I am defending is the real rights of women,” Schlafly said at the time. “A woman should have the right to be in the home as a wife and mother.”

Thirty-five states ratified the amendment, three short of the necessary 38. Schlafly said amendment supporters couldn’t prove it was needed.

“They were never able to show women would get any benefit out of it,” she told the AP in 2007. “It (the U.S. Constitution) is already sex-neutral. Women already have all the rights that men have.”

Saint Louis University history professor Donald Critchlow, who profiled Schlafly in his 2005 book, “Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism: A Woman’s Crusade,” said the defeat of the amendment helped revive conservatism and helped pave the way for Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980.

“What the ERA (defeat) did was show the right, and especially Reagan strategists, that a new constituency could be tapped to revitalize the right. It allowed the right to take over the party,” Critchlow told the AP shortly after his book was written.

Schlafly was born Aug. 15, 1924, and grew up in Depression-era St. Louis. Her parents were Republican but not politically involved.

Her own activism was born partly out of convenience. With the country involved in World War II during her college years, Schlafly worked the graveyard shift at the St. Louis Ordnance Plant. Her job included testing ammunition by firing machine-guns. She would get off work at 8 a.m., attend morning classes, then sleep in the middle of the day before doing it all over again.

The schedule limited her options for a major. “In order to pick classes to fit my schedule I picked political science,” Schlafly recalled in the 2007 interview.

She graduated from Washington University in 1944, when she was 19. Her first taste of real politics came at age 22, when she guided the 1946 campaign of Republican congressional candidate Claude Bakewell, helping him to a major upset win.

In 1952, with her young family living in nearby Alton, Illinois, Schlafly’s husband, attorney John Schlafly Jr., was approached about running for Congress. He declined, but she ran and narrowly lost in a predominantly Democratic district. She also ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1970.

Schlafly earned a master’s degree in government from Harvard in 1945. She enrolled in Washington University School of Law in 1976, and at age 51, graduated 27th in a class of 204.

Schlafly received an honorary degree at Washington University’s commencement in 2008. Though some students and faculty silently protested by getting up from their seats and turning their backs to the stage, Schlafly called it “a happy day. I’m just sorry for those who tried to rain on a happy day.”

Citing Schlafly’s views about homosexuals, women and immigrants — she was an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, abortion rights and loosening U.S. border restrictions — protesters said she went against the most fundamental principles for which the university stood.

Schlafly remained active in conservative politics well into her 80s, when she was still writing a column that appeared in 100 newspapers, doing radio commentaries on more than 460 stations and publishing a monthly newsletter.

Schlafly’s husband died in 1993.


Associated Press writer Sarah Rankin in Chicago contributed to this report.


Mont-Saint-Bruno park visitors on edge after jogger violently attacked

Written on March 24, 2019 at 17:47, by

The trails in Mount Saint Bruno park are not only beautiful they are also known as a peaceful haven away from the city’s hustle and bustle.

But the serenity was broken last Friday afternoon when at around 12:30 p.m., a man allegedly violently attacked a 50-year-old woman.

She is now recovering, but the attack has some visitors wondering if they are actually safe at the park.

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“Well, usually I come alone, so I do jog… but for now I won’t jog alone, that’s why we come together,” said Chloé Blais who was with her friend, Virginie Allard-Poliquin.

“It’s scary to know something like that can happen here,” Allard-Poliquin said.

“I won’t stop coming here but I’ll be coming with someone.”

“I thought it was just terrible because it’s such a lovely, peaceful mountain,” Janet Hosier, who has been coming to the park for 42 years, said.

“An attack can happen anywhere but here, it’s so strange and rare and bizarre,” Hosier said.

She explained she had never heard of such an incident in the time she’s been visiting the park and added she is not afraid to come back.

READ MORE: Police release composite sketch of suspect in Mont-Saint-Bruno attack

The woman was jogging alone in an area near Lac des Bouleaux when, as she told police, the man suddenly attacked her.

Police say she managed to fight the man off but no further details were released as the investigation is still ongoing.

Police are also asking for the public’s help to try and locate the man.

Police say releasing a computer sketch of what the man could look like has led to many tips.

“We’ve received a lot of information, good information,”  Marie Beauvais-Lavoie, a spokesperson for Longueuil Police said.

“We analyzed this information. And we also continue to ask the population to contact us if they have information,” Beauvais-Lavoie added.

Meanwhile police are taking extra precautions: they say they have bikes patrolling the area until new orders are given.

They are also urging the public to be careful, to never walk alone or always carry a cellphone.

Anyone that was at the park on Friday, Sept. 2, and saw anything suspicious or has any information regarding the suspect is asked to call Longueuil Police at 450-463-7211.

More parking could be on the way for Terwillegar Park

Written on February 24, 2019 at 16:04, by

The parking spaces at a southwest Edmonton park could double if city council approval is given.

A report on the Terwillegar Park parking lot expansion will be in front of city council on Tuesday. The Urban Planning Committee is recommending approval.

It seeks to expand the number of parking spaces from 122 stalls to 225 stalls.

READ MORE: City wants feedback on plan to expand Terwillegar Park parking lot

The parking lot was expanded in 2011 from 80 stalls to 122 stalls but that did not seem to meet demand. The report states that park users were illegally using Rabbit Hill Road for overflow parking.

“By 2015, this first phase of expansion was proving insufficient to meet user demand, and the city was receiving complaints that the parking lot was no longer adequate,” the report reads.

The Terwillegar Park parking lot extension concept.

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The project will expand parking capacity west of the existing lot and falls within the Terwillegar Park Concept Plan study. The 27-point plan calls for several upgrades, including more paved parking and overflow parking, pedestrian bridges like the foot bridge currently being built, a program building and washroom, a designated on-leash area, a picnic area, a natural playground, a dock for canoe and kayak launches, and a 2.0 hectare paddling lake.

The report states the idea of the parking lot expansion generated some opposition from those who think the city should be encouraging park users bus, walk or bike to the park rather than drive. There was also concern about the park becoming busier as well as less of a natural space as a result of increased parking.

READ MORE: $90 million going towards improving Capital Region’s river valley

But one city councillor said the benefits outweigh those concerns.

“Generally there is significant support for increased parking. The park is so big that the loss of green space is insignificant,” said Ward 9 Councillor Bryan Anderson.

The total cost of the project is expected to be $488,000.

-with files from Karen Bartko

Giant Panda is no longer an endangered species

Written on February 24, 2019 at 16:04, by

BEIJING – A leading international group has taken the giant panda off its endangered list thanks to decades of conservation efforts, but China’s government discounted the move on Monday, saying it did not view the status of the country’s beloved symbol as any less serious.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature said in a report released Sunday that the panda is now classified as a “vulnerable” instead of “endangered” species, reflecting its growing numbers in the wild in southern China. It said the wild panda population jumped to 1,864 in 2014 from 1,596 in 2004, the result of work by Chinese agencies to enforce poaching bans and expand forest reserves.

WATCH: US National Zoo hosts sweet birthday bash for Bei Bei 

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The report warned, however, that although better forest protection has helped increase panda numbers, climate change is predicted to eliminate more than 35 per cent of its natural bamboo habitat in the next 80 years, potentially leading to another decline.

In a statement to The Associated Press, China’s State Forestry Administration said Monday that it disputed the classification change because pandas’ natural habitats have been splintered by natural and human causes. The animals live in small, isolated groups of as few as 10 pandas that struggle to reproduce and face the risk of disappearing altogether, the agency said.

“If we downgrade their conservation status, or neglect or relax our conservation work, the populations and habitats of giant pandas could still suffer irreversible loss and our achievements would be quickly lost,” the forestry administration said. “Therefore, we’re not being alarmist by continuing to emphasize the panda species’ endangered status.”

READ MORE: African elephant populations down 30 per cent according to new census

Still, animal groups hailed the recovery of the bamboo-gobbling, black-and-white bear that has long been a symbol of China and the global conservation movement.

The panda population reached an estimated low of less than 1,000 in the 1980s due to poaching and deforestation until Beijing threw its full weight behind preserving the animal, which has been sent to zoos around the world as a gesture of Chinese diplomatic goodwill.

READ MORE: Tiny panda cubs’ birth a huge PR production, Toronto Zoo documents show

The Chinese government and the World Wildlife Fund first established the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan province in 1980. Wild panda numbers have slowly rebounded as China cracked down on the skin trade and gradually expanded its protected forest areas to now cover 1.4 million hectares (5,400 square miles).

International groups and the Chinese government have worked to save wild pandas and breed them at enormous cost, attracting criticism that the money could be better spent saving other animals facing extinction. The IUCN drew attention on Sunday to the 70 per cent decline in the eastern gorilla population over the past 20 years.

But the WWF, whose logo has been a panda since 1961, celebrated the panda’s re-classification, saying it proved that aggressive investment does pay off “when science, political will and engagement of local communities come together.”

WATCH: Toronto Zoo panda cubs turn 7 months old


AP researcher Henry Hou contributed to this report.

Labour Day barbecue recognizes contributions of unions and workers to society

Written on February 24, 2019 at 16:04, by

The Saskatoon and District Labour Council hosted its annual Labour Day barbecue in Victoria Park on Monday and while more than a thousand people came out to enjoy the free food, for the Labour Council it’s a day to remember what unions have done to shape our workforce.

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    “The history of Labour Day goes back to some long fought labour battles for things like unemployment insurance back in the post-war era when people came back from the war and didn’t have jobs and had to march in Ottawa,” explained Kelly Harrington, president of the Saskatoon and District Labour Council.

    READ MORE: How the CPP changes will affect your future

    Employment insurance, maternity leave and paid vacation are examples of improvements to labour regulations, but this year Harrington is celebrating the first major expansion of the Canadian pension plan benefits.

    “That’s something we’ve been fighting for for over eight years and it’s been a lead campaign of the Canadian Labour Congress,” Harrington said.

    But in her eyes there’s still more that needs to be done, including creating more full-time jobs and ending precarious online work.

    “A lot of young people coming into the workforce are forced to grapple together two or three part-time jobs to pay one rent.”

    “Now employers are choosing to use digital and online services …they don’t have a union to fight for them. They’re paid either by a quota or by a job and there’s no security,” Harrington said.

    READ MORE: Oshawa, Ont., ground zero for latest talks between Detroit Three, unions

    A few members from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Saskatchewan road motorcycles from Regina to the Saskatoon barbecue to promote respect for worker rights.

    “With the provincial government we have right now it’s much more geared toward big business and privatization than the actual workers who are working in this province,” said Ride for Respect organizer Omar Murray.

    READ MORE: Over 150 pink slips handed out to SLGA workers due to Sask. Party liquor privatization

    In Saskatoon, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) has been without a collective agreement for almost four years and local president Jim Yakubowski is determined for change.

    “Our members do not deserve that treatment and we’re going to be taking steps to get a collective agreement for our members,” said Yakubowski.

    ATU will be holding a rally next Saturday at City Hall and the public is welcome to join.

Kal Tire Place fouled by sewer backup

Written on February 24, 2019 at 16:04, by

VERNON, B.C. – Brown water and debris filled Kal Tire Place Saturday morning following a sewer pump station failure.

Restoration crews continued work on cleaning up the smelly mess through the Labour Day long weekend.

“We walked in the room and it was definitely a smell that I don’t want to remember,” said Vernon Vipers assistant coach Kevin Kraus.

The Vipers first exhibition game of the B.C. Hockey League season was canceled Saturday night due to the sewer backup.

As about two inches of brown water covered floors, most of the equipment in the way of the foul mess was moved to higher ground.

The city of Vernon is blaming the flooding on a pump station failure following a water main break at 35A Street and 40 Avenue.

“Kal Tire Place, because the bowl of the arena is cut down into the ground and it is below ground level, we were affected by that because all of our drains are below ground level,” said Doug Ross, Vernon’s director of recreation services.

Ross said damage to the city owned arena is significant.

“It’s throughout the whole lower concourse,” he said. “Anywhere where there was a drain there was water and sewer coming up.”

Ross said, “all of our flooring down here has been affected. Luckily there was very little drywall mostly cinderblock and concrete, so that is lucky for us.”

Restoration crews are working to have the arena ready for use again Saturday, September 10.

Other teams affected by the flood have had to move to other facilities until Kal Tire Place is clean.

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First-year students at University of Regina transitioning to life on residence

Written on February 24, 2019 at 15:40, by

Many students at the University of Regina (U of R) spent the long weekend unpacking as they prepare for the beginning of a new semester.

For Greenwater Lake, Sask., resident Sydney Stadnek, it’s the first time she will be living away from home. She, like many other first-years, will be moving into residence at Paskwaw Towers at the U of R.

“It’d be nice to get everything organized,” Stadnek said.

“I’m kind of nervous.”

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    Stadnek’s story is a common theme during this time of year. In fact, her new mate hails from Sydney, Australia. It’s the first time Olivia Brunton has ever even been to Canada.

    She said the transition has been tough.

    “It’s been quite hard. I have had quite a few homesick moments,” Brunton explained.

    She said moving proved difficult because of transportation and weight restrictions.

    “Packing was quite interesting because you can’t bring a lot of stuff with you… I was making do with what I have,” she said.

    READ MORE: University of Regina U-Pass encourages students to take the bus

    U of R president Vianne Timmons said it was a much different scene compared to last year.

    “Last year we had lots of snags. We had challenges with the alarms and the elevators, not this year,” Timmons explained.

    “We had had no issues this year whatsoever.”

    It’s a plus students no doubt appreciate, making for a smoother transition for some students so they can focus on other things, like meeting new people and experiencing many new firsts.

    “I’m excited to start. I’m a bit nervous for classes, but pretty excited to live in a new city and stuff,” Stadnek cheerily said.

    For others like Brunton from down under, she’s preparing herself for a winter she said is the opposite of anything she’s ever experienced before.

    “I found out that it can get down to minus forty with the wind chill so this will be a very interesting experience,” she laughed.

    The first day of classes is Tuesday, Sept 6.

    Follow @ChristaDao