GATINEAU, Que. – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada will release its report on the deadly Lac-Megantic train derailment later this month.
The TSB says it will hold a news conference in the Quebec town on Aug. 19.
BY THE NUMBERS: Lac-Megantic rail disaster
A train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic on July 6, 2013, wiping out dozens of buildings and killing 47 people.
Three employees of the now-insolvent Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, the company at the centre of the disaster, have each been charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death, one for each victim of the crash.
The MMA itself is also facing the same charges.
Lac-Megantic’s ‘train from hell’ goes on the auction block
3 people, rail company face charges in Lac-Megantic railway disaster
With BBQ season in full swing, here’s hoping your summer so far has been filled with more good food and few food borne illnesses. It’s a fact that approximately one in eight people will get sick every year in Canada from poor food handling and preparation techniques. At 6:45 we’ll chat with Darren Leyte of Health Canada about tips for storing, cleaning, and grilling raw meat in order to prevent illness.
At 7:15 gardening expert Niki Jabbour will give us a tour of her own personal garden and provide us with some tips on how to keep plants growing throughout the summer months.
It’s a collection that will make sports fans rush to Costco and buy in bulk! Ontario based @PHGsports has set up shop at Costco in Dartmouth Crossing with hundreds of signed jerseys, helmets, and other items from some of the biggest names in sports past and present for sale for the next couple weeks. At 7:45 we’ll meet the man behind the memorabilia, Todd Rewakowski, who promises to bring along a replica of The Stanley Cup for us to check out.
At 8:15 we’ll get an update from Tim Rissesco from the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission who will tell us all about free fitness classes and other highlights planned for the rest of the summer.
Dylan Guthro is in it to win it! The musician just released a hot summertime single with Halifax rapper Quake and will be hosting a secret series of shows over the next eight weeks. Catch up with him while you can- Wednesday at 8:45!
TORONTO – Baby Gammy and his surrogate mom are garnering worldwide attention: an Australian couple allegedly abandoned the months-old baby with Down syndrome and a congenital heart condition, separating him from his healthy twin sister who they took back to Australia.
Now, Gammy’s in the care of his 21-year-old surrogate mom in Thailand.
“That could happen pretty much anywhere,” according to Sara Cohen, a fertility lawyer with Toronto’s Fertility Law Canada.
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“It’s a tragedy but it isn’t a widespread phenomenon – at least not in Canada,” Cohen told Global News.
READ MORE: Down syndrome baby boy abandoned by Australian parents in Thailand
Surrogacy involves a woman carrying an implanted embryo in order to give birth. It’s also expensive. There are medical fees, lawyer fees and other expenses you’re on the hook for when you look after a surrogate mom, fertility lawyer Sherry Levitan said.
Paying a woman to carry your child is illegal in Canada, but it is legal if rather than paying her directly, you cover any expenses related to the pregnancy: maternity clothes, multivitamins, health care services, child care, and time off work. Even small details are looked after – if the surrogate needs to drive across town to get to the doctor’s office, her gas mileage is covered too, for example.
“The only reason people go abroad is to save money,” Levitan said.
“It takes a lot of time and effort and there are protocols in place in Canada. If people want to short circuit the system, they’ll go abroad,” she explained.
READ MORE: Thai surrogate mom would be ‘happy’ to get twin back
In Pattaramon Chanbua’s case, reports say she was paid 300,000 Thai baht or $9,300. The entire process could cost couples at least $60,000 if they’re in Canada, Levitan said in comparison.
In the meantime, the 21-year-old food vendor says she didn’t receive the full payment she was promised. She told the Associated Press that she would be happy to have the boy’s healthy sibling returned to her.
“I want her back because she is my baby. She was in my womb,” Chanbua said.
“If she is happy, then I, as a mother, am also happy. I don’t want to bring her back to suffer or anything. A mother would never want her child in trouble,” she said.
Surrogacy involves placing some trust on both ends of the relationship, the experts say.
“I deal with the intended parents all the time and they’re always worried about the surrogate keeping the baby. Statistically, the worry is the other way around – she should worry,” Levitan said.
Under most provincial laws, the surrogate is presumed to be the child’s mother until the intended parents take custody of the baby. It’s a process they must initiate.
In Ontario, and depending on the case, the court can determine that a child was born through surrogacy, isn’t genetically related to the surrogate parent and has intended parents.
“The surrogate has to trust that no one is going to abandon her and they’ll take care of her. And the intended parents have to trust that she won’t want to keep the baby and will be making good choices all day, every day,” Cohen explained.
But the experts, both with decades of experience in their field, say that intended parents walking out on their child and surrogate mom is an anomaly.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the cases are happy,” Levitan said.
Watch above: Jackson Proskow explains why Bill Blair will get an extra year of pay.
TORONTO – Police Chief Bill Blair will be receiving a full year’s salary after his term expires in April of next year.
According to the Toronto Sun, the police chief will receive $367,719, plus $3,006 in benefits.
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Chief Bill Blair’s contract won’t be renewed in 2015
Police board urged to delay choosing new chief until after election
Police chief threatens legal action against Doug Ford
A request for a contract extension was recently denied by the Toronto Police Services Board but a clause states he can get a payout if he had asked to stay on as police chief, which he did and was then refused.
Board Chairman Alok Mukherjee confirmed to the Toronto Sun that the extra year’s salary is legitimate and that he would not have been paid if he decided to retire in the first place.
Blair will also be compensated for the vacation he did not use up.
Councillor Doug Ford, a frequent critic of Blair’s, didn’t criticize the board or the chief when asked about the contract Wednesday. Instead, he said if the clause was in Blair’s contract, then he should be paid.
But he admitted a contract with a similar clause likely wouldn’t be signed in the private sector.
“It all depends on what the contract says, but in reality, no,” Ford said. “Once you have a contract and in the chief’s case it was five years, you wouldn’t get a year’s severance.”
WATCH: Rob Ford calls Bill Blair’s severance “a little too rich for my liking”
WATCH ABOVE: Former premier Alison Redford has announced she is resigning from her position as MLA for Calgary-Elbow. As Tom Vernon reports, Premier Dave Hancock is now calling on the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General to refer this matter to the RCMP.
EDMONTON – A day after former premier Alison Redford resigned her seat in the Alberta legislature, the province’s auditor general is to publicly release his much-anticipated report into government travel.
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Did sexism play a role in Alison Redford’s downfall?
UPDATE: Government asks RCMP to decide whether investigation into Redford’s flights is warranted
Rise and fall of Alison Redford
Albertans awoke Wednesday morning to discover Redford had quit as MLA for Calgary-Elbow.
In an opinion article published in the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald newspapers, Redford said she is stepping down immediately to start the next chapter of her life, which she said will entail “teaching and resuming work in international development and public policy.”
READ MORE: Timeline: A look at recent troubles that prompted Alberta Premier Alison Redford to resign
“I recognize that mistakes were made along the way. In hindsight, there were many things I would have done differently. That said, I accept responsibility for all the decisions I have made,” stated Redford.
In a statement on Wednesday, Premier Dave Hancock responded to Alison Redford’s resignation. He also commented on the Auditor General report on Redford’s travel expenses and use of government aircraft, which will be released tomorrow.
“Based on what I have read in the report, and after seeking legal advice, as soon as the report is publicly available tomorrow I will be directing the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General to refer this matter to the RCMP for their review and any investigations that they consider appropriate.” said Hancock.
According to sources, Minister of Justice Jonathan Denis last week asked that all relevant documents be forwarded to the RCMP.
WATCH BELOW: Former RCMP superintendent weighs in on Redford’s resignation
“While this is a difficult decision for me, I am extremely disappointed to learn of Ms. Redford’s actions while Premier,” added Hancock.
“I had great respect for her and great hope for the promise she showed early in her tenure,” he said.
In Wednesday’s resignation letter, Redford said she’s spent the past few months working in her constituency, but felt this was the right time to move forward.
She goes on to say Alberta is her home, and she will continue to live in the province with her family.
Redford added she will not be accepting the transition allowance offered to outgoing Alberta politicians.
“My decision was made a long time ago, when I said I did not agree with it and that I would not be accepting it,” said Redford.
“I made a commitment, and I will keep it.”
READ MORE: No shortage of reaction across the province to Redford’s resignation
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Redford resigned as the premier of Alberta on March 23 amid caucus complaints about her lavish spending.
She continued to sit in the legislature as the representative for Calgary-Elbow until Wednesday.
A CBC report last week said a leaked review from Alberta auditor general Merwan Saher found that passenger lists on government aircraft were altered so Redford could fly alone.
Global News confirmed the practice took place on government flights.
Redford denied any personal wrong-doing.
It’s expected that Saher’s full report will be released to members of the legislature and the public on Thursday.
READ BELOW: Alison Redford’s op-ed announcing her resignation.
Statement by Mayor Fennell about Brampton City Council Forensic Audit
The following is a statement by Brampton Mayor Fennell following the release of a forensic audit report, by Deloitte, reviewing the expenditures of all members of Brampton City Council:
“I have not read all of the report. I accept much of what it has to say, but not all of what it has to say.
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“I have the privilege and the honour of being the Mayor of this great city, and the buck stops here – with me. I accept responsibility for all that I do as Mayor of Brampton, positive and less positive.
“If there are changes that need to be made, I will make them. And I will work with my colleagues on Council to ensure that they, too, accept responsibility for their shortcomings. That is what we all must do, to better serve Brampton.
“I will have more to say tomorrow. But I wish to speak directly to the Toronto Star, whose reporter has for many months published material that is unfair, unwarranted and inaccurate.
“I challenge the Star to publish the following instances where I – or my staff – have been exonerated. I look forward to seeing the Star publishing the good – and not just the bad.”
Below is a comprehensive list – detailed by Deloitte in their audit report – of Mayor’s Office expenditures which followed existing City of Brampton policies, guidelines and procedures:
• Allegations that the Mayor’s office and other city employees were being used to support the activities of the Mayor’s Gala, Golf Classic and Community Spirit Team are unfounded (page 9)
• An allegation a “Beatles Tribute Band” that performed at the 2013 Gala was paid for by the City of Brampton is false (page 9)
• An allegation expenses related to the 2013 Mayor’s Open House were waived is False (page 9)
• An allegation a storage unit for personal/campaign items was paid for by City of Brampton is false (page 9)
• An allegation the Rose Theatre provided equipment, tents and delivery for a Firefighter Burn Victim Picnic in June 2012 are false (page 9)
• The cost for a Brampton hospitality Suite for the 2013 FCM annual conference that was sponsored was not contrary to policies, guidelines and procedures (page 39)
• Business Class Airfare booked for trade missions was in fact in compliance with the 2011 Expense Policy (page 39)
• Car rental expenses incurred by me in 2008 while in Florida on vacation were in fact business related as I was invited to Cape Canaveral by NASA to attend a space shuttle launch that included the newest generation Canadarm. The Canadarm was manufactured in Brampton (page 45)
• Expenses incurred by the Mayor’s Office for a business event in Miami Dade in 2009 was in compliance with the existing policies and procedures (page 45)
• An allegation “Employee 4” purchased an airfare ticket for Robert Raines (Brampton Symphony Orchestra Conductor / CEO) is false (page 47)
Watch above: Laura Zilke explains why city council asked the police to investigate the audit of the mayor’s expenses.
TORONTO – Brampton city council has voted to ask for a police investigation after a four-month forensic audit looking into Mayor Susan Fennell’s expenses reveals she breached city rules hundreds of times on high-cost airfare, hotel rooms, corporate expenses and dozens of cellphone IQ quizzes during her term in office.
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Statement by Mayor Fennell about Brampton City Council Forensic Audit
Brampton Mayor under fire after expenses revealed
The audit, conducted by Deloitte Canada and released Tuesday evening, was ordered last year after media reports showed Fennell exceeded city spending rules. It also included an examination of city councillor expenses.
In total, the audit showed Fennell racked up $172,608 in expenses, which breached the city’s policies. However, $41,027 of that was repaid.
The report also made mention of how the mayor purchased “Latitude” flight passes from Air Canada instead of buying the economy rate, which totaled $70,615 from 2007 to 2011.
READ MORE: Full Deloitte Canada forensic audit
“According to Mayor Fennell, flight passes were purchases as they represented the best fare available for their travel requirements and provided the required flexibility,” the report stated.
“We found the cost of flight passes used by the Mayor and the Mayor’s staff to exceed the economy airfare rate contrary to the 2007 and 2011 Travel Policy and the 2011 Expense policy.”
The report also noted there was a further $156,000 in spending, but didn’t have enough information to determine whether the spending broke any rules. Some of the questionable spending included $45,000 for an on-call limousine service.
Other items that were mentioned include personal expenses such as monthly bills of up to $1,156 for international telephone calls. There was an additional $220 in cellphone charges for 44 IQ quizzes, though Fennell told the auditors the wireless company would credit her for the quizzes.
However, the audit cleared Fennell on using staff for private fundraising events during business hours since 2010.
The Brampton mayor released a statement on the report Tuesday evening saying she accepts much of the report – but not all of it.
“I accept responsibility for all that I do as mayor of Brampton, positive and less positive,” she wrote in a statement Tuesday.
“If there are changes that need to be made, I will make them. And I will work with my colleagues on council to ensure that they, too, accept responsibility for their shortcomings.”
READ MORE: Full Statement by Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell
Fennell pledged to make the necessary changes to correct her actions. She is running for re-election in the October 27 municipal election.
HONG KONG – A court has ruled that a Hong Kong tycoon can sue Google over its autocomplete results suggesting he has links to organized crime.
In a judgment released Wednesday, the court dismissed the Internet search giant’s objections to tycoon Albert Yeung’s defamation lawsuit.
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Yeung filed the lawsuit after Google refused to remove autocomplete suggestions such as “triad,” as organized crime gangs are known in China, which popped up with searches on his name.
The billionaire’s business empire includes an entertainment company that produces films and manages some of the city’s biggest celebrities. He argues that his reputation has been “gravely injured” and wants compensation.
Judge Marlene Ng disagreed with Google’s lawyers, who argued Yeung was better off asking the websites where the defamatory information was published to remove it. She said Google had the ability to censor material.
“Any risk of misinformation can spread easily as users forage in the web. The art is to find the comfortable equilibrium in between,” she said in her ruling.
It’s the latest legal headache for Google over its search service. Earlier this year, the European Union’s top court ruled that Google and other search engines must respond to requests seeking removal of links to personal information.
READ MORE: How the ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling affects Google and web users
Last year, a German court ruled in favour of a nutritional supplements company and its owner who sued Google to remove autocomplete terms suggesting links to Scientology and fraud.
Justin Davidson, a partner at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, said that while the Hong Kong defamation case has yet to go to trial, “the principle at stake here could have important ramifications for how Google may need to adapt more pro-actively its search engine in future.”
He said that would be akin to changes happening in Europe with fast growth in “right to forget” requests that Google and other search engines are now receiving.
MADRID, Spain – Spain’s Defence Ministry says a medically-equipped Airbus 310 is ready to fly to Liberia to repatriate a Spanish missionary priest who has tested positive for the Ebola virus.
The ministry said Wednesday preparations for the flight are being finalized but it is not yet known at what time the plane would take off.
The priest, Miguel Pajares, is one of three missionaries being kept in isolation at the San Jose de Monrovia Hospital in Liberia who has tested positive for the virus, Spain’s San Juan de Dios hospital order, a Catholic humanitarian group that runs hospitals around the world, said Tuesday.
READ MORE: 2nd American with Ebola is weak but improving, her husband says
The other two infected aid workers were identified as Chantal Pascaline Mutwamene of Congo and Paciencia Melgar from Equatorial Guinea.
Three other missionaries tested negative.
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KABUL, Afghanistan – U.S. officials prepared Wednesday to fly the body of a two-star general slain in an Afghan “insider attack” back home, as a similar attack saw an Afghan police officer drug and shoot dead seven of his colleagues, authorities said.
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The investigation into the killing of Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, the highest-ranked U.S. officer to be slain in combat since 1970 in the Vietnam War, continued Wednesday without any clear answers into why a man dressed in an Afghan army uniform opened fire. The shooting wounded about 15 people, including a German general and two Afghan generals.
In a statement, NATO said Greene’s body was being prepared to be flown to the U.S. via Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
READ MORE: Afghan attack kills US major general, wounds 15
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Maj. Gen. Greene’s family, and the families of our soldiers who were injured yesterday in the tragic events that took place in Kabul,” NATO said. “These soldiers were professionals, committed to the mission.”
Greene, a 34-year U.S. Army veteran, was the highest-ranked American officer killed in combat in the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq. About half of the wounded in Tuesday’s attack at Marshal Fahim National Defence University were Americans, several of them reported to be in serious condition.
Early indications suggested the Afghan gunman who killed the American general was inside a building and fired indiscriminately from a window at the people gathered outside, a U.S. official said. There was no indication that Greene was specifically targeted, the U.S. official said. The official was not authorized to speak publicly by name about the incident and provided the information only on condition of anonymity.
The site of the attack is part of a military compound known as Camp Qargha, sometimes called “Sandhurst in the Sand”- referring to the famed British military academy – because British forces oversaw building the officer school and its training program.
The attack at underscored the tensions that persist as the U.S. and NATO troops’ combat role winds down in Afghanistan – and it wasn’t the only assault by an Afghan ally on coalition forces on Tuesday. In eastern Paktia province, an Afghan police guard exchanged fire with NATO troops near the governor’s office, provincial police said. The guard was killed in the gunfight.
A third “insider attack” happened late Tuesday in the Uruzgan provincial capital of Tirin Kot, where an Afghan police officer killed seven of his colleagues at a checkpoint, then stole their weapons and fled in a police car, provincial spokesman Doost Mohammad Nayab said.
A doctor at a local hospital told The Associated Press it appeared the police officer drugged his colleagues before the shooting. The doctor spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to release the information. Nayab later denied that the police officers had been drugged and said the officer involved had Taliban connections, without elaborating.
Asked if the shooting was linked to the attack that killed the U.S. general, authorities in Uruzgan said they had no information about it.
So-called “insider attacks” in Afghanistan rose sharply in 2012, with more than 60 coalition troops – mostly Americans – killed in 40-plus attacks that threatened to shatter all trust between Afghan and allied forces. U.S. commanders imposed a series of precautionary tactics and the number of such attacks declined sharply last year. In 2013, there were 16 deaths in 10 separate attacks.
Such “insider attacks” are sometimes claimed by the Taliban insurgency as proof of their infiltration. Others are attributed to personal disputes or resentment by Afghans who have soured on the continued international presence in their country more than a dozen years after the fall of the Taliban’s ultra-conservative Islamic regime.
Foreign aid workers, contractors, journalists and other civilians in Afghanistan are increasingly becoming targets of violence as the U.S.-led military coalition continues a withdrawal to be complete by the end of the year.
On Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid praised in a statement the “Afghan soldier” who killed Greene. He did not claim his group carried out the attack, although in the past the Taliban have encouraged such actions.
Watch above: SickKids doctors first in North American to perform a special non-invasive surgery. Crystal Goomansingh reports.
TORONTO – Doctors at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto have removed a benign tumour from a 16-year-old boy’s leg bone using a cutting-edge heat procedure that does away with any form of invasive surgery.
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Jack Campanile of Brampton, Ont., is believed to be the first pediatric patient in North America to be treated using high-intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU, to destroy the tumour, called an osteoid osteoma.
The procedure uses magnetic resonance imaging to precisely pinpoint the tumour, which is then zapped with heat-destroying ultrasound beams
“What’s unique about MRI-guided ultrasound is it’s completely non-invasive, so there’s no incisions,” said Dr. James Drake, who leads Sick Kids’ Centre for Image Guided Innovation and Therapeutic Intervention.
“We can actually see what’s happening to the tissue adjacent to the bone, so we know we’re on target, and we can also tell the temperature we’re achieving is sufficient to destroy the lesion, but also not damage anything that’s nearby.”
READ MORE: How Canadian doctors are using an incisionless surgery to remove tumours
For almost a year, Jack had been suffering with severe pain in his upper leg, which woke him up in the night and often made it difficult to play some of the sports he loves: hockey, wakeboarding and snowboarding.
“It was like somebody Charlie-horsing me over and over again or somebody having my femur bone over top of their knee and trying to shape it into a hockey blade,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “I couldn’t sit still and on a scale of one to 10, it was definitely an eight or a nine.”
Prior to his July 17 ultrasound procedure, the Grade 11 student said he had been taking three or four ibuprofen tablets a day, and estimated he downed about 700 of the painkillers over the course of the year.
“It was like a painkiller schedule that I didn’t ask for.”
When he was presented with the idea of being treated with HIFU, he and his dad, Tony Campanile, embraced the idea because it was non-invasive. Jack’s mom, Robin Shupe, was initially unsure about the procedure, but said the team of specialists provided all the information she needed to quiet her concerns.
Treatment for the non-cancerous bone tumour used to involve open surgery to remove the tumour; that gave way to a less invasive treatment that uses radio frequency waves or laser energy delivered through a needle inserted though the skin and into the bone. But that widely used technique carries the risk of side-effects, including infection, burning of surrounding tissue and bone fracture.
HIFU has been employed for some time in Europe to treat osteoid osteoma, but in North America it is mostly used to remove uterine fibroids and malignant tumours that have spread to the bone.
Dr. Michael Temple, an interventional radiologist who led the team that performed Jack’s procedure, believes MRI-guided focused ultrasound represents a key step in the evolution of treatment for osteoid osteoma.
“The fact that we’ve moved from an open surgical procedure to a minimally invasive procedure to a completely non-invasive procedure is really why I think this treatment is important,” Temple said.
“We can now treat these tumours without making an incision. It’s actually our hope that we’ll be able to advance this technology to use it in different types of both benign and malignant diseases in children.”
Waking up at home the day after his procedure, Jack discovered his pain was gone – and it hasn’t come back.
“And that was it,” he said. “It felt like somebody flipped a switch, and it was gone.”
Shupe said after a year of seeing Jack in pain, the procedure restored her son to his old self almost immediately.
WATCH: The 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza is holding so far. The Egyptian-brokered truce, now into its second day, has remained intact, unlike several others before.
Israel’s PM blames Hamas for heavy civilian death toll in GazaTemporary cease-fire lasts through second dayEgyptian mediators shuttling between Israeli, Palestinian delegations in Cairo for talksGaza residents return to survey damage to their homes1,900 Palestinians reportedly dead; UN and Gaza human rights groups say over 75 per cent civilians, but Israeli military spokesperson suggests 900 Palestinian militants killed67 Israelis reportedly dead, all but 3 were soldiers
CAIRO, Egypt – Indirect Israeli-Palestinian negotiations over extending a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and ending a blockade of the battered territory got underway in Cairo on Wednesday, with both sides taking hard-line positions and much jockeying expected ahead.
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Israel wants the Islamic militant Hamas to disarm, or at least ensure it cannot re-arm, before considering the group’s demand that the territory’s borders be opened. Israel and Egypt imposed a closure after the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, although Egypt allows individuals to cross intermittently.
“The two sides have reviewed what they consider as issues of concern,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said at a news conference, describing the matter as “complicated and not easy.”
Hazem Abu Shanab, a member of Fatah, one of the main factions involved in the talks, said disarmament would require Israel to pull out from occupied Palestinian territory.
“As long as there is occupation, there will be resistance and there will be weapons,” he said.
“The armament is linked to the occupation.”
Egyptian mediators have been shuttling between the delegations. An Egyptian airport official said the Israelis were back in Cairo Wednesday evening after flying out earlier in the day. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.
READ MORE: Israel, Hamas to negotiate Gaza border deal after truce
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri (R) meets with Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair (L) at the Foreign Ministry in Cairo on August 6, 2014. Blair, who represents the European Union, Russia, United Nations and United States, will hold talks with Egyptian officials to press for an end to the conflict.
KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Israeli leader blames Hamas for heavy civilan death toll
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israel’s intense bombardment of Gaza, saying that despite the high civilian death toll it was a “justified” and “proportionate” response to Hamas attacks.
Speaking to international journalists, Netanyahu presented video footage he said showed militants firing rockets from areas near schools and Hamas deploying civilians as human shields.
“Our enemy is Hamas, our enemies are the other terrorist organizations trying to kill our people and we have taken extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties,” he said.
WATCH: Netanyahu blames high civilian death toll on Hamas
Conflicting death toll
The cease-fire is the longest lull in a war that has killed nearly 1,900 Palestinians. Israel has lost 67 people, including three civilians.
The UN and Gaza human rights groups monitoring the death toll have said more than 75 per cent of those killed in Gaza were civilians.
But an Israeli military spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, said Tuesday that about 900 Palestinian militants had been killed by Israeli forces during the war.
Another military official had earlier told the AP that at least 300 militants were killed. Asked about the sharp jump in figures over just two days, Lerner said the figure of 900 militants killed was an approximation, based on reporting from individual Israeli units.
Hopes for extension of cease-fire
The Palestinian delegation in Cairo is composed of negotiators from all major factions, including Hamas, and is meeting with Egypt’s intelligence chief for briefings on Israel’s demands.
“The most important thing to us is removing the blockade and starting to reconstruct Gaza,” said Bassam Salhi, a Palestinian delegate. “There can be no deal without that.”
Shukri said he hoped the cease-fire, set to expire at 8 a.m. Friday (0500 GMT), would be extended, and an Egyptian security official said Cairo was pressing Israel for an extension.
There has been no official Israeli response, though an official at Netanyahu’s office said Israel has “no problem” with “unconditional extensions of the cease-fire.” He, like the Egyptian security official, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Izzat al-Rishq, a senior Hamas member, told the Palestinian news agency that the delegation has yet to receive an answer to their demands and would condition any acceptance of an extended cease-fire on how the talks progress. “Our finger is on the trigger,” he said.
WATCH: Israeli troops continued to pull out of Gaza on Wednesday as a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that ended a month of fighting was holding for a second day
Possible solution emerges
While negotiations are still in the early stages, the outlines of a possible solution have emerged, including an internationally funded reconstruction of Gaza overseen by a Palestinian unity government led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The Western-backed Abbas lost control of Gaza in the Hamas takeover of 2007.
In a step toward reconstruction, Norway is organizing a donor conference, tentatively set for the beginning of September.
Regarding an easing of the blockade, a statement by the Egyptian intelligence agency indicated Egypt would not agree to major changes at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, and the onus of lifting the border closure would fall on Israel.
“Israel is the one that sealed all the crossings from the Israeli side and it doesn’t allow commodities and goods or individuals to cross, aiming at besieging the strip and throw the whole responsibility on Egypt,” the statement said.
Cairo also refuses to open its border fully as long as Hamas, not the Palestinian authority led by Abbas, controls the Gaza side of the terminal.
The statement took aim at Hamas, saying it was not permitting its own wounded population to cross into Egypt. Hamas “continues to put obstacles in front of the families, allowing only its foreign members to cross while barring its Palestinian members under the pretext that Egypt is barring them,” it said.
Rafah is closed to commercial traffic and only individuals are permitted to cross, but Egypt has sharply restricted travel of Gaza residents over the past year and waiting lists have grown.
Shukri, the Egyptian foreign minister, said the talks were giving priority to the Israeli-controlled crossings and how to operate them to “meet the demands of the Palestinian people.”
Returning to damaged homes in Gaza
In Gaza, people took advantage on Wednesday of the calm to return to their devastated homes and inspect the damage.
People made their way over buckled roads, through dangling power lines and overturned trees to inspect their neighbourhoods. Along the way, rows of flattened buildings alternated with moderately damaged structures – and the rare unscathed building.
Utility crews were working frantically to repair downed electricity and telephone lines. Gaza’s only power plant was shut down after it was badly damaged by an Israeli attack and repairs are expected to take months, leaving the densely populated strip with only two to three hours of electricity a day, via Egypt and Israel.
Palestinian electricity company workers inspect power lines destroyed following an earlier Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 6, 2014, while Israeli and Palestinian delegations prepared for crunch talks in Cairo to try to extend the 72-hour truce.
SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images
How the most recent conflict started
The current round of confrontations began with the June 12 abduction-killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank, which Israel blamed on Hamas before launching a round-up of hundreds of its activists, a move followed by barrages of Gaza rocket fire on Israel.
Israel launched airstrikes on July 8 it said were aimed at stopping the rocket fire before expanding the operation on July 17 by sending in ground forces to destroy a network of tunnels used to stage attacks.
On Wednesday, Israel’s Justice Ministry said it had arrested Hussam al-Qawasmi, the suspected mastermind behind the killing of the Israeli teens, in July. He allegedly led a three-man cell, all of whom were affiliated with Hamas. The militant group has not claimed any connection to the teens’ abduction and killings.
TORONTO – If you want to improve your odds of getting a high-paying job after finishing your education, forget that English degree.
A new report by Workopolis suggests that nursing and pharmacy students are most likely to land employment in their field after graduation.
The study, which analyzed more than seven million resumes on the job search website, found that 97 per cent of those who studied nursing, whether it was at the bachelor, masters or PhD level, are working in jobs related to their education.
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Other degrees that showed the highest return included pharmacy (94 per cent); computer science (91 per cent); engineering (90 per cent) and human resources (88 per cent).
Although health care jobs may be the most plentiful, the study also looked at data from Statistics Canada and found that engineering jobs were the highest-paying.
Engineering graduates, on average, earned $76,000 as a starting salary, followed by healthcare graduates with $69,600; computer science graduates with $68,000 and law and math graduates with $67,600.
Tara Talbot, vice-president of human resources at Workopolis, says students need to follow their passions but should also be aware that their choice of study could affect how easy or difficult it will be to get a job.
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“It’s an awareness,” Talbot says. “You want people to follow their passion, dig into something that energizes them. But I think they need to have a good sense of where that could lead.”
She says that it’s no wonder the jobs in highest demand are skilled positions in the health industry, given the age of the baby boom generation.
“With engineering, math and the financial field, those degrees tend to have a much more direct link to a career path.”
But Talbot adds that it’s also important to keep in mind that along with hard skills – like a specific degree or ability to operate certain programs and equipment – employers also value graduates with “soft skills” such as communication, teamwork and problem solving abilities.
“What I believe is that employers may not look just for someone with a degree in engineering,” said Talbot. “They look for people who have critical thinking skills, communicate well, and can problem solve. Often you get those through an education system… but also through experience.”
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Meanwhile, the study also suggests that Canadians are more educated now than they were in 2000, even though the majority say their degrees are not relevant to their current jobs.
Workopolis found that 16 per cent more people list a bachelor’s degree as their top level of education on their resumes in 2014, compared with resumes in 2000. Forty-three per cent more Canadians have master’s degrees listed on their resumes versus those in 2000, while 25 per cent have listed a PhD than 14 years ago.
Despite spending longer in school, 73 per cent of those who recently answered a poll on the job site say their degrees are not related to their jobs. While more than half (56 per cent) believe they’re overeducated for their position.
More than 3,600 people participated in the poll, which was up on the job site from May 15 to June 2.
The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.”