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Families of Flight MH17 victims seek answers; parents believe daughter is still alive

WATCH: Jerzy Dyczynski and Angela Dyczynski travelled from Australia to the crash site to honour their daughter who was aboard Flight MH17

TORONTO – The parents of one of the passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 say they still believe their daughter could be alive and are reportedly threatening to sue anyone who may suggest otherwise without showing clear evidence.

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Jerzy Dyczynski and Angela Dyczynski visited the rebel-controlled crash site last week and said nothing diminished their hope that their 25-year-old daughter Fatima somehow survived.

READ MORE: Rebels lay mines near Flight MH17 crash site

“There is a small possibility that something still survived,” said Fatima’s father in an interview. “The people of Donetsk were first at the crash site and if somebody survived maybe they have taken them.”

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 went down on July 17 as it flew from Amsterdam toward Kuala Lumpur.  Officials say all 298 people aboard died.

According to the Australian Associated Press, the Dyczynskis said they would be willing to sue anyone who suggested their daughter was killed before indisputable evidence was brought to them.

The couple says they have given DNA samples to the team of investigators who are currently working to identify the bodies of the victims.

“People may say ‘how could she survive a fall of 30,000 feet?’ but it has happened in extremely rare cases that the seat has remained intact,” said Fatima’s father in an interview with The New Zealand Herald.

Fatima’s parents say their daughter, who was travelling to Australia aboard flight MH17, was scheduled to speak at the upcoming International Astronautical Congress in Toronto this September.

Despite government officials advising victims’ families against immediately travelling to Ukraine, the Dyczynskis arrived at the crash site last week and laid down flowers.

“She was full of life,” said Fatima’s mother about her only child.

“She was an aerospace engineer, she was a scientist, she was a young person with new ideas and new perspectives and new horizons,” said Jerzy, a cardiologist and acupuncturist.

Jerzy Dyczynski and Angela Rudhart-Dyczynski whose daughter, 25-year-old Fatima, was a passenger on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, sit on part of the wreckage of the crashed aircraft in Hrabove, Ukraine, Saturday, July 26, 2014.

AP Photo/Nicholas Garriga

The Dyczynskis say they want their daughter’s colleagues from the space science community to become involved in the crash investigation as they believe the scientists could prevent future incidents.

Fatima’s father said he and his wife also want investigators to pursue other angles as to what may have downed Flight MH17.

“Maybe, other perspectives are important to investigate. It’s not only maybe a missile [that downed MH17] but something more,” he said. “If it would have been a missile, and the rebels shot down this aeroplane, they would not have handed out the black boxes.”

Ukraine national security spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Monday the plane suffered “massive explosive decompression” after it was hit by fragments he said came from a missile.

READ MORE: Missile shrapnel hit Malaysia Airlines, says Ukraine

The data recorders were sent to experts in Britain for examination.

Flight 17 went down on July 17 as it flew from Amsterdam toward Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people aboard died. The U.S. and Ukrainian governments say it was shot down by a missile fired from territory held by armed pro-Russian separatists, probably by mistake.

The separatists deny shooting down the plane; Russia says the Ukrainian military may have shot it down.

Last week, the Dyczynskis travelled from their home in Perth, Australia to honour their daughter.

They crossed territory held by pro-Russian rebels to reach the wreckage-strewn fields outside the village of Hrabove, where they sat together on part of the debris, his arm around her shoulder.

“[Fatima] was for peace. She will be forever for peace,” her father said.

– with files from The Associated Press

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Driver charged after councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon hit by car – Toronto

TORONTO – Toronto city councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon is reinforcing the call for more separated bike lanes after she was struck by a vehicle while riding her bicycle on Sunday.

The Beaches-East York councillor told the Toronto Sun she was hit just before 11 a.m. on Woodbine Avenue near Gerrard Street and was left lying on the ground until help arrived.

McMahon told the newspaper she was taken to hospital and given a CAT scan after paramedics discovered her blood pressure was low.

The driver of the vehicle has since been charged with careless driving.

The Ward 32 councillor has always been a strong advocate for separated bike lanes and maintains more needs to be done to keep cyclists safe.

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Hospital: 33 dead after Guinea concert stampede – National

CONAKRY, Guinea – Hundreds of people leaving a late-night rap concert on a beach in Guinea rushed to leave through a single exit, creating a stampede that killed at least 33 people, officials said Wednesday.

The victims included children as young as 10, and most bodies brought to an overflowing morgue in the capital were still dressed in bathing suits and swim trunks. Some had bled from their mouths after their small bodies were trampled, causing internal bleeding.

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“We are not used to seeing such a large number of bodies at the same time. It’s such a tragedy, these young victims killed in the prime of their life,” said an employee at Donka Hospital where bodies awaited burial.

The hospital’s director, Dr. Fatou Sike Camara, announced the toll of 33 deaths.

President Alpha Conde went on national television to declare a week of national mourning and promised a full investigation. The capital’s beaches also were ordered closed until further notice.

“The president calls on authorities at all levels to take the necessary steps so that this same tragedy never happens again in our country,” his office later said in a statement.

More than 700 people had gathered on the beach in Conakry, the capital city, for a concert celebrating the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which featured the Guinean rap groups Instinct Killers and Banlieuzart.

Witnesses said the stampede happened after the show ended as the large crowd tried to exit through a small gate. Some people fell to the ground and were trampled.

©2014The Canadian Press

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Albertans asked to power down as electric system nears capacity – Calgary

CALGARY- As temperatures continue to soar, Albertans are being asked to power down devices so the electrical system doesn’t overload.

The Alberta Electrical System Operator says the system is operating at near full capacity due to hot weather, low wind and generators being offline.

Enmax suggests the following measures for conserving power during hot weather:

Close blinds and curtains on south and west facing windows to help limit the sun’s ability to heat up your house.Wash your clothes in cold water when possible – as much as 30 per cent of a washing machine’s energy usage goes towards heating the water.Hot, dry days are perfect for hanging clothes to dry outside. Set up a clothesline or a drying rack and you’ll almost eliminate the need to use the dryer.If you do need to use the dryer, throw a large dry towel in with your wet clothes. The towel will absorb some of the moisture and help cut drying time.Barbecue more. Maybe the best tip of all, but stoves and ovens are major sources of heat, so here’s another excuse to fire up the grill this summer.

READ MORE: It’s a scorcher! How Calgarians are coping with the hot weather

When asked if there was any concern of rolling brownouts, a spokesperson for the AESO said “the system is experiencing very high demand, wind is low and two coal plants are out,” but added that there was still a healthy reserve. “At this point we are good but our system controllers are monitoring the system very closely.”

The AESO will be posting updates on 桑拿会所 @theaeso and on its website.

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Gaza analysis: Israel exit scenarios begin to take shape – National

TEL AVIV, Israel – The savage fighting between Israel and Hamas is escalating in Gaza, cease-fire efforts take on elements of farce, and bravado rules the public discourse. But even through the fog of war, a few endgame scenarios can nonetheless be glimpsed.

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  • Israel-Gaza: When real rockets lead to verbal missiles

For the moment, the deadlock is well-entrenched: As long as the crippling blockade of Gaza remains in place, Hamas says it will continue firing rockets at Israel – terrifying but mostly ineffectual, thanks to the “Iron Dome” defence system. Israel says the blockade must stay to stop a terrorist government from importing yet more weapons.

There is not much pressure yet on either side to stop – even in Gaza, where more than 1,300 people, mainly civilians, have been killed, amid widespread devastation.

An Egyptian-led cease-fire plan more than two weeks ago, which Israel accepted and was a straight return to the status quo before this current round – was rejected by Hamas, and there was little criticism of that decision in Gaza.

Such is the hatred of the air, land and sea blockade in the strip – in addition, perhaps, to the fear of Hamas.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon makes a statement regarding the violence in Gaza during their meeting in Cairo, Thursday, July 24, 2014.

AP Photo/Pool

Last week’s mediation effort led by John Kerry fizzled amid a most undiplomatic frenzy of criticism in Israel of the U.S. secretary of state. He had dared suggest Hamas’ blockade-ending demands be on the table. He also had ignored Israel’s new demands – probably long-term at best – that the militant group be disarmed.

There is a chance the casualties will pile up so high that the world may start applying enormous pressure on Israel to stop even if that leaves Hamas with a victory of sorts. Things like that have happened before, especially during a Lebanon bombing campaign in 1996 against Hezbollah militants that ended after Israel hit a UN compound housing refugees, claiming error. But it hasn’t happened yet – despite an increasingly harrowing and somewhat murky reality on the ground.

While it is too early to say how all this will end, quiet diplomacy continues. There also is a growing sense that it can’t go on much longer – but then again, it might.

Here are some ways it could play out:

Israel declares victory and leaves

If you listen carefully, Israeli leaders generally describe the ground operation in Gaza as intended to destroy the Hamas-built tunnels leading into Israel, almost certainly for purposes of attack. The military says it has found and is destroying more than 20 tunnels and believes there are a few more. Once that job is done, Israel could well pull out and try to declare victory or even a unilateral cease-fire. The hope would be that the respite from the devastation visited on Gaza would compel Hamas to think again and quietly accept a return to the way it was: no rocket fire on Israel; no airstrikes and shelling of Gaza. This probably wouldn’t work. Hamas has put Gazans through so much that they certainly feel they must have something to show for their efforts in the form of an easing of the blockade. Rocket fire would continue and the hostilities would swiftly resume.

A Palestinian man burns a tire during clashes with Israeli soldiers following a protest against the Israeli offensive in Gaza, outside Ofer, an Israeli military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, July 18, 2014. Israeli troops pushed deeper into Gaza on Friday to destroy rocket launching sites and tunnels.

(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Despite huge reservations, Israel may just end up reoccupying the strip, even at the cost of hundreds of soldiers and then being saddled with nearly 2 million Gazans to rule. If the situation becomes bad enough, more fantastical scenarios suggest themselves: perhaps even a NATO force to pacify and rebuild the traumatized strip. It probably won’t be necessary. Hamas will run out of rockets eventually. But for now, it’s believed to have thousands more, Israel will continue to strike back, and the destruction will be harrowing for weeks.

The Palestinian Authority takes over the border with Egypt

Hamas wants an end to the blockade that was imposed by Israel after the militants won the 2006 Palestinian parliament election, were sidelined by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and then seized Gaza in 2007. Some minor things are conceivable, like a small extension of the rights of fishermen to venture out to sea. But Israel will not allow true sea access or an airport as long as Hamas controls the strip. The concern is that even bigger rockets and weapons would stream in. Israel also won’t soon open its borders to Gazans, remembering too well the suicide bombings of a decade ago.

There is one plausible way to greatly ease the siege: Open the southern border near the town of Rafah leading to Egypt, and put the Gaza side not under the control of Hamas but under the Palestinian Authority. Cairo has been extremely cool to the idea of opening the frontier but not to the PA taking it over, in line with the tough Egypt-first policy of new President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Egypt seems little inclined to help Hamas against Israel, views Gaza as someone else’s problem, and fears Gaza’s militants trickling in and compounding its own jihadi problems in Sinai. But the PA on the border could be spun as a win for everyone: Hamas broke the siege; the PA is back in business in the strip; Israel didn’t give up much under fire; the Gazans feel relief; and Egypt is the hero. When the dust finally settles, don’t be surprised if this is the face-saving way out.

The Palestinian Authority takes over Gaza

Somehow forgotten in the current discourse is that the blockade was imposed after the Hamas takeover. It was probably intended both to be punitive – an incentive to the people to rebel, which has proven impractical under the militants – and to prevent Hamas from arming further. At this point, it is mainly about this latter goal of reining in Hamas. Alternatively, Hamas could call the world’s bluff by accepting the conditions presented to it by the world community: recognize Israel, adhere to previous agreements, renounce violence. Acquiescence here would also probably eliminate the blockade. But no one expects Hamas to do this; it would cease to be Hamas. Either way, the principle’s the same: No Hamas – no blockade.

West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

AP Photo/Amr Nabil

West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas signed a “unity government” deal two months ago that would have actually achieved this on paper – but few seriously expected Hamas to give up its control of Gaza. Israel fought vehemently against the deal, lobbying the world to shun even Abbas – part of a series of events that culminated in the current fight. Essentially the “unity government” was stillborn – but the war could give the arrangement new and genuine life, especially if this comes with serious relief on the blockade. Hamas would find it especially hard to oppose this if major financial incentives were added, like billions in aid from the Gulf and the West, conditioned on the PA being in charge. After all, the support it finds among ordinary Gazans is about improving life for the people, not fighting Israel to the death. Last week, both the German and French foreign ministers said re-involving the PA in the administration of Gaza was the only way to guarantee a long-term cease-fire. Given Hamas’ relative unpopularity in the region at the moment, and its money crunch, it’s not inconceivable.

A challenge for Israel, therefore: It will have to go along with such a game-changing ambitions to a degree. But what if militants from an Abbas-run Gaza still find a way to fire rockets? It may actually rue the day Hamas melted away, removing with it Israel’s near-impunity to hit back as hard as the past month has seen.

Dan Perry has covered the Middle East since the 1990s and currently leads Associated Press’ text coverage in the region. 

©2014The Canadian Press

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Alberta’s NDP wants PCs’ ‘immediate commitment’ for new hospital in southwest Edmonton – Edmonton

Watch above: The NDP is ramping up efforts to convince the province to build a new Misericordia Hospital. As Fletcher Kent reports, others are adding their voices to the call.

EDMONTON – The NDP is calling on the Alberta government to make replacing Edmonton’s aging Misericordia hospital more of a priority.

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“The PCs’ diversion tactics and band-aid solutions to dealing with infrastructure problems have gone on long enough,” NDP health critic, David Eggen said. “The Misericordia is beyond reasonable repair. It’s time the government listened to Albertans and committed to a new hospital.”

“There comes a point in time where band-aids are no longer going to ebb the flow of blood,” said Daphne Wallace on behalf of the United Nurses of Alberta.

She says she realizes that repairs on the hospital need to be done in the short-term, but points out that it takes a long time to build a hospital and a date should be set.

“When you have staff in tears over the working conditions in a hospital, it’s clear that the Misericordia is no longer a safe working environment for staff, let alone as an environment that promotes healing for patients,” added Marle Roberts with the Alberta branch of CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees).

The NDP claims that between January 2013 and February 2014, overcapacity protocol in the hospital was triggered 576 times. The facility has also repeatedly faced problems during heavy rainfalls.

READ MORE: Surgeries, procedures delayed at Misericordia Hospital due to flooding

The groups now say enough is enough. They are pushing the government to commit to a new southwest Edmonton hospital.

The PCs have been under fire for some time over the state of the 45-year-old building. Health Minister Fred Horne has admitted that more needs to be done.

“With respect to the Misericordia hospital, government has acknowledged for some time that this facility is nearing the end of its useable life and needs to be replaced,” Horne said.

“In the short term, over $20 million has been invested in critical infrastructure repairs and renovations, and the ministry continues to work with Covenant Health so that it can continue its operations until a new hospital is built.”

The NDP is encouraging Albertans to join its fight for a new southwest Edmonton hospital by signing an online petition.

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Meet the Yukoner reuniting Haitian ‘orphans’ with their families

Morgan Wienberg recalls the scene that changed her life: Children sitting on concrete floors in their own vomit, emaciated and dehydrated, desperately in need of medical attention.

It was a series of small coincidences that brought the then-18-year-old to the orphanage in Titanyen, Haiti in the wake of a January 2010 earthquake that laid waste to an already fragile country.

After seeing the devastation, Wienberg had to go.

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And her mom, Karen Wienberg, wasn’t about to stand in her way, “My role as a parent is to support her passion in living her life. It’s what she wants to do … it’s her purpose there.”

Wienberg originally intended to work with animals in Haiti. But having just graduated from high school she didn’t have the qualifications. So she signed up with Mission of Hope to teach English and help in a prosthetics lab.

Two weeks after her graduation, in July 2010, Wienberg set out.

She started her placement in Titanyen, an area north of Port au Prince. Standing in front of 60 people, most of whom were her own age or older, Wienberg overcame her natural shyness to teach English.

‘I couldn’t see that and not do something about it’

Mission of Hope would take teams of missionaries to go visit a local orphanage to play with and bring candy to the children. Morgan decided to go along.

But the conditions shocked her.

“I couldn’t see that and not do something about it,” Wienberg says.

Wienberg started getting to know the children, making a list of their names after realizing no one else would notice if one of them went missing because their caretakers didn’t call them by name.

After two months of living and working with Mission of Hope, Wienberg returned home to Whitehorse, intent on going back. She deferred beginning her undergraduate studies at McGill and worked at a bakery and local animal shelter to finance her return.

In February 2011, Wienberg went back to live in the orphanage with the children to whom she’d grown attached. As she began to learn the language she got to know the children and it was then she realized that most of the children weren’t orphans at all.

Many came from poor families in the Haitian countryside or single-parent homes and had been given up in hopes that it would give them a better life.

“[The families] are seeing an influx of aid coming to Haiti but it’s funnelling into orphanages and institutions,” Wienberg said.

“Those parents feel that they will never have a chance of getting that aid or that support for their child.”

A country of ersatz orphans

Haiti has no shortage of orphanages: In 2012 there were an estimated 30,000 children living in  722 orphanages, according to UNICEF. And a flood of international aid can make things worse if it’s irresponsibly disbursed or poorly overseen. And if Haitian social services wants to shut an orphanage down, Wienberg says, there’s often nowhere for children to go in the meantime.

In 2011, Wienberg and Sarah Wilson, a paramedic and nurse from Waterloo, co-founded Little Footprints, Big Steps after meeting in Haiti. Their goal: reuniting children with their families, enrolling the children in school and putting a social safety net is put in place to make that reunion sustainable.

“If a child is sick, or if there is some kind of emergency they don’t have to panic and abandon their child,” Wienberg said.

The organization now has eight staff, all Haitians. Four are dedicated to visiting the 86 families involved in the program, which also offers the families support for agriculture, livestock or small businesses such as buying and reselling goods. The organization has also helped community members make food or coffee to sell and help purchase sewing machines to increase productivity.

“Strong families not only will strengthen the community but will foster better development for each child and prevent the exploitation of those children,” Wienberg said.

It doesn’t always work out: Three families who left their children at the orphanage have been left without answers, unable to find them.

There are children left at the orphanage who can’t return to their families for various reasons – they may not have families to return to or have been on their own for so long they need time to adjust before returning home. Wienberg set up a transitional “safe house” in Les Cayes where these children can live.

Job was among them.

He was 12 years old and living on the street when he came across Morgan two years ago , almost by accident. She was watching performances in the streets of Les Cayes when he happened to pass by.

“Job came up and sat beside me and just kind of leaned over in my lap and fell asleep,” she recalls.

She took him to the safe house and enrolled him in school. He is now at the top of his class and thriving, she says.

Job wasn’t comfortable returning to his parents’ home, in a dangerous area just outside of Les Cayes. In partnership with One Small House, Little Footsteps, Big Steps moved them to a safer area.

Wienberg moved to Haiti full-time at the end of 2011. She supports herself with her savings and her mom’s help.

Little Footprints, Big Steps has an operating budget of $180 000 which is spent on staff salaries and programs. The organization relies on individual donors, its sponsorship program, and the support of local businesses, in addition to partnerships with other NGOs.

‘I would never choose to be anywhere else’

In the past four years post-quake, Wienberg says, some things in Haiti have improved.

Tent communities have evolved into permanent homes, people are noticeably healthier and Wienberg believes the general attitude to be more positive.

Now 22, she hopes to take a step back from the charity she founded to go to university, perhaps to study social work, psychology or international relations.

For now, however, Wienberg is in Miami taking care of Ysaac, a 14-year-old boy who just had surgery to remove a benign tumor growing on the right side of his face. She became his legal guardian a year and a half ago after finding out his father was 75 years old and couldn’t take on an active parental role. Being Ysaac’s guardian allows Morgan to travel with him and make medical decisions. Her role in Miami is essential: She’s the only one there who can communicate with him in Creole.

“As stressful as it can be or as ridiculous as some situations are, I would never choose to be anywhere else.”

PHOTOS: A glimpse inside the life of a child in Haiti

 

Children living in the orphanage (2010).

Morgan Wienberg

Morgan and Nicollege, one of Morgan’s English class students on her first trip to Haiti. LFBS now sends Nicollege’s daughter to school (2010).

Morgan Wienberg

Giguermaie, 8-years-old, cares for a baby at the orphanage (2010).

Morgan Wienberg

Mika, one of 75 orphans living in the orphanage in Haiti (2010).

Morgan Wienberg

Morgan and one of the young children at the orphanage (2010).

Morgan Wienberg

Morgan and children at the Les Cayes transitional safe house. (2013)

Morgan Wienberg

Morgan and some children at the transitional safe house. (2013)

Morgan Wienberg

The outside of Little Footprints, Big Steps’ transitional safe house in Les Cayes, Haiti. (2013)

Morgan Wienberg

Some of the children who live at the transitional safe house.

Morgan Wienberg

Staff member Nicolas Joseph teaching English classes at the transitional safe house. (2013)

Morgan Wienberg

Children living in Little Footprints, Big Steps’ safe house are guaranteed three meals a day. (2013)

Morgan Wienberg

Morgan and some of the children at Little Footprints, Big Steps’ transitional safe house (2012).

Morgan Wienberg

Job, Morgan, and Ysaac, 2013

Morgan Wienberg

Job is now back with his family after living in the streets of Haiti.

Morgan Wienberg

Job at his new house just outside of Les Cayes, Haiti. (2014)

Morgan Wienberg

Job and his family.

Morgan Wienberg

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Driving safety tips to prevent a deadly long weekend

SASKATOON – Summer is in full bloom and families are setting their sights on the August long weekend, meaning traffic safety is key on Saskatchewan highways.

For those looking to get out to vacation destinations after work on Friday and back home on Monday, CAA Saskatchewan is reminding travellers to keep safety in mind.

According to Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), August and September long weekends tend to be the deadliest based on 2011 and 2012 statistics.

Numbers only account for fatal crashes in the province and 2013 numbers are preliminary*.

“Summer also means road construction so let’s also remember to slow down to 60 km/h when passing highway construction zones and also emergency vehicles,” said Christine Niemczyk, director of communications for CAA Saskatchewan.

Check out the province’s Highway Hotline for the latest road updates and construction zones.

Above all – Do not drink and drive.

READ MORE: What you need to know about new Saskatchewan traffic laws

Here are few more safe driving tips for travellers:

Drivers:

Get plenty of sleep before a long drive.Plan routes to allow more attention on travel safely.Remember all Canadian provinces have banned the use of hand-held communications devices behind the wheel.Keep a safe following distance between vehicles.

Towing trailers:

Make sure the weight of the trailer does not exceed the vehicle’s towing capacity because this could pose a safety risk. This information can be found in the owner’s manuals.Take into account the extra size and weight of trailers. Be extra cautious when changing lanes, making turns and especially when slowing down since the load could significantly increase the distance required to stop.Motorists should also ensure that the trailer is securely attached to the vehicle and check this throughout the trip.

Inspect vehicles, trailers and motorhomes to ensure reliable performance prior to any trips.

Pack an emergency kit that includes flashlight, booster cables, tire puncture sealant, first-aid kit, flares, drinking water and a charged cellphone.

CAA roadside assistance is available to members 24-hours day in Canada and the United States.

Want your weather on the go? Download Global News’ Skytracker weather apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.

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

WATCH ABOVE: The colleague of an American doctor receiving intensive medical treatment in Liberia after he was infected with the deadly Ebola virus said on Sunday he remained “optimistic that he will survive.” Dr. Kent Brantly contracted the disease while treating patients in the West African nation for the charity Samaritan’s Purse.

Two American aid workers are now fighting Ebola, the disease they were treating in West African patients. In Liberia, a well-known doctor died this week while treating it as well.

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A Canadian doctor who just returned from a seven-week stint in Guinea says the virus rattling Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia is the globe’s largest Ebola outbreak in history.

In his 12 years with Médecins Sans Frontières, Dr. Marc Forget has been to South Sudan, Haiti, Sri Lanka, and Congo. He’s come across cholera, malaria and typhoid fever.

But this was the Quebec physician’s first encounter with Ebola.

“The magnitude in terms of numbers of patients is already the biggest ever. It’s already the largest in terms of dispersion, too – it touches three countries with so many hot spots,” Forget told Global News.

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

It’s the first time in 20 years that the virus has been reported in West Africa. It’s already killed more than 670 people.

Doctors without Borders, Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse, among other organizations, are still facing an uphill climb in convincing local villages that they’re there for the right reasons.

Some villages threw rocks at aid workers’ vehicles, others shut them out completely. Forget has been told that it’s these NGOs that are bringing in the vicious disease.

“Before you guys came, we didn’t have it so you created this problem,” Forget says he was told.

“It’s hostile…when that happens, it means people don’t want us to be there, they don’t understand what we’re doing and they care for their own family members and they’ll get contaminated in doing that,” he said.

“It’s a war that’s very difficult to win and it’s a war that needs to be won in terms of diplomacy. We need a huge push for health promotion,” Forget explained.

READ MORE: 2 Americans contract Ebola while fighting deadly disease in Liberia

The trouble is, most villages are without television, Internet or phones. Getting the message out takes time, patience and perseverance. When health officials bring in a native speaker, locals are still skeptical.

Earlier this month, Dr. Tim Jagatic – also with the MSF mission – said his team of doctors and nurses had been chased out of villages. Their advice to stay away from deceased victims’ bodies is brushed aside and the survivors they’re curing are stigmatized by their community.

They’re convinced that witchcraft or government conspiracy is at play.

“These types of ideas come forth before basic public health ideas,” Jagatic told Global News.

Ebola haemorrhagic fever (EHF) is marked by the sudden onset of intense weakness, fever, muscle pain, sore throat and headaches.

Victims’ symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, multi-system organ failure, and internal and external bleeding. In its final stages, some patients bleed from their eyes, nose, ears, mouth or rectum.

READ MORE: What you need to know about Ebola

Ebola isn’t easily transmissible. It spreads from person to person by direct contact with blood, bodily fluids or the corpse of an infected person.

With rigorous safety measures in place, Forget is unsure of what may have happened to the two U.S. health workers who tested positive for the disease.

For starters, the doctors are dressed in heavy, protective gear: scrubs and rubber boots are worn under a full body Tyvek suit (waterproof and used by industrial workers who handle hazardous materials). Two layers of gloves cover the hands, and a Tyvek helmet, hat and goggles worn with a mask to filter air and protect the face. Finally, the doctors wear plastic aprons in case blood or other bodily fluids are splashed on them.

The MSF doctors work in a buddy system at all times. They check to make sure no part of the skin is exposed before heading into clinic.

Clinics are also organized so that suspected, highly probable and confirmed cases are in three different regions. The doctors make their rounds on a route and they can’t backtrack – if they want to get to a certain section, they have to walk the entire circuit.

READ MORE: Calls for testing experimental Ebola vaccine in West Africa intensifies

Because the protective gear is so heavy and they’re working in extreme conditions – think, 35 C – the aid workers can only stay in the clinic for about 1.5 hours at a time. Thermometers worn inside their suits record temperatures as high as 48 to 50 C.

“It’s like wearing your own sauna,” Forget said. But these past few weeks are a distinct reminder to aid workers in West Africa that precautions are necessary.

“It’s a constant concern. We’re always thinking about possible contamination. I was very cautious and vigilance was very high,” Forget said.

He’s pretty sure the fight against the outbreak will continue for months. When asked what MSF and other organizations need to turn the situation around, Forget said it’s more people on the ground.

The aid workers are trying to cover ground with community outreach, education and training local doctors. In one case, his colleague persuaded a village to show the doctors where sick locals were. There might have been 200 people in the village – slowly, the doctors brought patients to treatment. About 50 patients were helped and 26 died.

READ MORE: Doctors Without Borders says Ebola ‘out of control’

Forget isn’t worried about the disease spreading in the same way in Canada.

“Our public health system here, and the type of surveillance we do is so good that I wouldn’t see an epidemic of that magnitude,” Forget said.

“We could have a case but the contact would be traced quickly, people would be isolated and that’s the end of the story,” he said.

“There’s very little likelihood someone will come into contact with a sick person and jettison off somewhere because the people who do come into contact with those infected are family members and health care workers,” Canadian microbiologist and author Jason Tetro told Global News last month. Sick patients, right now, also tend to be in rural areas of Africa where locals aren’t typically hopping onto planes for travel.

Even if a case made its way overseas, Canadian health officials have the safeguards in place to protect the public. Post-SARS, protocol for nurses, doctors and paramedics changed dramatically and surveillance is now in place brokering intelligence on rising diseases that could pose a threat.

READ MORE: SARS 10 years later – how has the health care system changed?

Patients are now screened for a fever, cough or trouble breathing. They’re asked a critical, telling question: have they recently returned from another country? Frontline health care workers assessing them don masks, gowns, gloves and any other equipment that acts as a safeguard.

Hospitals have better ventilation, single rooms, and plexiglass walls act as a barrier between emergency room front desks and sick patients.

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How parents can help save for their child’s post-secondary education – National

TORONTO – So you just had a baby. Hey, congratulations. While you bask in the glow of parenthood, here’s a scary thought: By the time your baby heads off to college or university, they could be forced to shell out upwards of $100,000 for an education.

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  • Parents pinching pennies to pay for children’s education

In 2013 and 2014, the average price tag for a year’s tuition at a Canadian university was $5,772.

And those costs are expected to rise, according to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. Last year, for example, the average tuition was 3.3 per cent more than the year before.

Factoring in books, course materials and living expenses, it’s enough to make any parent break into a cold sweat.

According to the Canadian Federation of Students, students in Ontario and the Maritimes (the provinces with the highest debt loads) hold more than $28,000 in debt on average.

But all these numbers aren’t meant to scare you and your kids away from higher education – still widely considered to be a sound investment in your child’s future.

Data from Statistics Canada shows that the higher level of education achieved, typically the higher the rate of employment.

In 2009, for example, 82 per cent of Canadians ages 25 to 64 with post-secondary education were employed. Compare that to just 55 per cent employed for those with less than high school education. In 2008, university grads earned 70 per cent more on average than high school graduates.

So with all that in mind, here are some tips for parents and students saving for post-secondary education.

Decide where to put your money

Parents, grandparents, relatives and friends are all able to open a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for a future student. There are different RESPs to choose from, but to get started all you need is a Social Insurance Number for the child – meaning you can start saving when the child is very young.

Individuals then make regular contributions to the RESP, and once the child is ready to attend a qualifying post-secondary education program money is withdrawn from the RESP to help cover the costs of school.

RESPs have a few significant advantages, namely that the federal government will match contributions made through the Canada Educations Savings Grant, contributing an extra 20 per cent up to a maximum of $500 per year.

The grant is available until the child is 17 years old.

If you’ve opened an RESP, you may also be eligible for the Canada Learning Bond, which could add up to $2,000 in government funds to your child’s RESP.

The bond is available to children born after Dec. 31, 2003 whose family receives the National Child Benefit Supplement (find out if you’re eligible here).

There are also non-registered options for education savings, including high-interest savings accounts, bonds and GICs.

Non-registered savings plans are preferred by some since they don’t have a contribution limit and don’t come with the same education-specific restrictions.

Money can be withdrawn at any time for any reason – but holders of non-registered accounts must resist the temptation to use the education funds for something else.

Tax-free savings accounts (TFSA) are also an option. Savings grow tax-free and money can easily be withdrawn to help pay for a child’s education down the road.

The earlier you start saving, the better

It goes without saying that the earlier you start saving, the more funds you’ll have by the time your child enrolls in a post-secondary program.

If, for example, you began saving $100 per month in an RESP (earning three per cent annually) from the time your child is born, you will have saved more than $30,000 by the time they turn 18. Start saving once your child is 10, and the same monthly contribution only gets you around $12,000.

Use online tools to figure out how much you’ll need to save

You can get an idea of how much you’ll need to save in an RESP using online calculators like this one.

The calculator allows you to choose the province of study (there ‘s a big difference in tuition fees across the country), how many years you think your kid will be in school for, if they’ll live at home or not and so on.

Other online calculators give you an idea of how much money it will cost to attend specific schools and programs.

Start the conversation early

Not only is it better to start saving early, starting the conversation with your child about the cost of education is also recommended.

“You really want to be proactive and involve them at an early age,” said Scott Hannah, CEO of the Credit Counselling Society.

Hannah recommends that as early as six years old, start talking to your kids about going to school and how it is going to cost money.

Explain to kids that when they come into extra money (like gifts from grandparents) they could put it into their RESP to give it a boost, said Hannah.

As they near the end of their high school career, start talking to them about potential student loans, grants and scholarships that may be available.

If your child is taking out a student loan, make sure you talk to them about debt.

“Kids don’t understand debt,” said Hannah. “They think of student loans as money,” using it for things such as going on spring vacations.

Make sure your kid has a McJob

“It can’t just be up to the parents to cover the whole cost [of post-secondary education],” said Hannah.

Ideally, once a child turns 15 or 16, they are working in a part-time job. Money earned can be put toward education savings. Beyond that, having a job teaches kids about money management and how to balance priorities – important life skills as they head out to college.

“Kids need to have skin in the game when they go to school,” said Hannah, adding that because they have paid for the courses, they’ll be more likely to show up to class and put more effort into their studies.

One tip from Hannah is that, when financially possible, parents have their children pay for school courses themselves. Money saved in their RESP can then be transferred to a high-interest savings account, so they’ll have savings when they come out of school.

He doesn’t, however, recommend doing this if it means the student will have to take out a loan or incur debt – in those cases, use the funds saved in the RESP to cover the costs.

“Student debt really puts you behind the eight-ball,” said Hannah.

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$400,000 worth of drugs seized in Langley – BC

$400,000 worth of drugs are off the street as the result of an investigation into gang-related activities in Langley.

In early July, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of BC launched an investigation into the alleged drug trafficking activities of the Langley-based “856” gang.

On July 22, investigators arrested a man outside of an apartment building in the 4600 block 236th St in Langley.

He was searched, and significant quantities of both cocaine and methamphetamine were seized.

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While officers were on scene, two other men arrived in a vehicle. Both were arrested.

The next day investigators executed a search warrant on an apartment inside the building on 236th St.

Inside, officers found large quantities of drugs and drug-related items, including a 20-ton press used for re-pressing kilogram bricks of cocaine after it is “cut” with “buff” (a cutting substance).

It is believed no one lived in the apartment, but the suite was being used as a drug processing and repackaging facility.

The total drugs seized include:

• Cocaine: 2.514 kg ($150,000)
• Methamphetamine: 3.846 kg ($100,000)
• Heroin: 522 g ($55,000)
• Oxycontin: 123 tablets/pills ($3,700)
• Cocaine cutting agent/buff: 44.062 kg ($80,000)

Sergeant Lindsey Houghton with CFSEU-BC says the drugs were destined for outside the Lower Mainland.

“What we found with the 856 gang, they have looked to other communities where there might be gaps in the drug market. There might be supply and demand that they think they might be able to fill,” says Houghton.

WATCH: Sergeant Lindsey Houghton talks about the bust 

The three men arrested, aged 23, 25, and 47, have all been released from custody pending charges. No charges have been laid yet.

All three are from Langley.

The men are believed to be high-ranking members of the “856” gang.

The “856” gang is named for the phone prefix in the Aldergrove area.

They are know for violent acts across B.C. and beyond, says  Houghton.

The group reaches out as far away as Fort St John, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Alberta and Ontario.

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Harper announces $2.5M to train northern Saskatchewan miners

Watch above: Prime Minister Harper announces funding for mining school in northern Saskatchewan

AIR RONGE, Sask. – The federal government is committing $2.5 million to help train miners in northern Saskatchewan.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement at a training college in Air Ronge, a four hour drive northwest of Saskatoon.

“The rapidly expanding mining industry in Northern Saskatchewan is creating increased demand for local skilled workers,” said Harper.

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“Our Government’s investment for Northlands College will help students gain the training they need to access the jobs and prosperity being generated by the industry.”

The money will be used to purchase heavy equipment simulators and help create the Northlands College Mine School.

The school will include lab facilities which will allow the college to contribute to mining research together with the University of Saskatchewan and SIAST.

The college plans to recruit northern Saskatchewan residents and aboriginals for the training.

It is estimated that almost one in 16 jobs in Saskatchewan is supplied directly or indirectly by mining and will rise to one in five jobs by 2028.

“The support being provided today gives Northlands College the ability to increase and improve its program offerings so that more Northerners can secure good jobs in the rapidly growing mines sector and play an integral part in the development of the northern, provincial and national economy,” said Harper.

“The mining industry provides some of the highest paying jobs in the province, in fact, almost twice the weekly average wage and this investment will make sure that the people of northern Saskatchewan have access to the training they need to fill those jobs.”

Across the street from Harper’s announcement, 20 protesters held up signs urging him to do more to fight native poverty and environmental degradation.

Protesters gather in Air Ronge, Sask. on July 30, 2014 to urge Prime Minister Stephen Harper to do more to fight native poverty and environmental degradation.

Wendy Winiewski / Global News

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Instagram launches Snapchat rival ‘Bolt’ – National

TORONTO – Instagram has officially unveiled a disappearing photo messaging app called “Bolt,” meant to take on rival Snapchat, just one week after the app was leaked.

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The app allows users to send self-destructing photo and video messages to friends and include additions like text captions. Users can only send messages to one person at a time and are only able to have 20 friends on their “favourites” list.

Speculation surrounding the app began last week after some Instagram users reported receiving a notification about a new messaging app on their profiles. However, the link included in the notification was dead.

Bolt draws on features from competitor Snapchat and Facebook’s Slingshot app, which was released last month to compete with Snapchat.

READ MORE: Facebook launches ‘Slingshot’ app, for real this time

But Instagram is owned by Facebook – which means this is the company’s second shot at Snapchat.

Slingshot allows users to send photos or videos up to 15 seconds long – but, just like instant messaging competitor Snapchat’s app, the images disappear once viewed by the recipient.

Oddly enough Facebook also prematurely leaked the Snapchat app to the App Store before its official release.

Snapchat has seen massive success in the mobile messaging category. Users send over 400 million “snaps” per day, which makes it a fierce competitor for Facebook’s Messenger app.

And Facebook has a competitive past with the app.

In December 2012, Facebook released an app called “Poke” that mimicked Snapchat’s self-destructing photo feature. But the app tanked and was pulled from the App Store a year later.

In 2013, it was reported that Snapchat turned down a US$3-billion takeover bid from Facebook.

Then in February, Facebook purchased WhatsApp, another popular messaging app, for US$19 billion.

Instagram is initially launching Bolt in New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. It’s not yet clear when the app will launch in other countries.

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