West Africa Ebola deaths near 900 as Nigeria confirms 2nd case – National

ABUJA, Nigeria – Authorities in Nigeria on Monday announced a second case of Ebola in Africa’s most populous country, an alarming setback as the total death toll from the disease in several West Africa countries shot up by more than 150 to 887.

Most of the newly reported deaths occurred in Liberia, where on Monday night a special plane to evacuate a second American missionary who fell ill with Ebola landed in the capital. Nancy Writebol is expected to arrive in Atlanta on Tuesday, where she will be treated at a special isolation ward.

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READ MORE: 2nd American missionary sick with Ebola to land in US Tuesday morning

Health authorities in Liberia ordered that all those who die from Ebola be cremated after communities resisted having the bodies buried nearby. Over the weekend, military police were called in after people tried to block health authorities in the West African nation from burying 22 bodies on the outskirts of the capital, Monrovia.

The World Health Organization announced Monday that the death toll has increased from 729 to 887 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

Nigerian Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said the confirmed second case in his country is a doctor who had helped treat Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American man who died July 25 days after arriving in Nigeria from Liberia.

READ MORE: 5 things to know about the Ebola outbreak amid fears of global spread

Test samples are pending for three other people who also treated Sawyer and now have shown symptoms of Ebola, he said. Authorities are trying to trace and quarantine others.

“Hopefully by the end of today we should have the results of their own tests,” Chukwu said.

The emergence of a second case raises serious concerns about the infection control practices in Nigeria, and also raises the spectre that more cases could emerge. It can take up to 21 days after exposure to the virus for symptoms to appear. They include fever, sore throat, muscle pains and headaches. Often nausea, vomiting and diarrhea follow, along with severe internal and external bleeding in advanced stages of the disease.

“This fits exactly with the pattern that we’ve seen in the past. Either someone gets sick and infects their relatives, or goes to a hospital and health workers get sick,” said Gregory Hartl, World Health Organization spokesman in Geneva. “It’s extremely unfortunate but it’s not unexpected. This was a sick man getting off a plane and unfortunately, no one knew he had Ebola.”

Doctors and other health workers on the front lines of the Ebola crisis have been among the most vulnerable to infection as they are in direct physical contact with patients. The disease is not airborne, and only transmitted through contact with bodily fluids such as saliva, blood, vomit, sweat or feces.

Sawyer, who was travelling to Nigeria on business, became ill while aboard a flight and Nigerian authorities immediately took him into isolation upon arrival in Lagos. They did not quarantine his fellow passengers, and have insisted that the risk of additional cases was minimal.

Nigerian authorities said a total of 70 people are under surveillance and that they hoped to have eight people in quarantine by the end of Monday in an isolation ward in Lagos. The emergence there is particularly worrisome because Lagos is the largest city in Africa with some 21 million people.

Health officials rely on “contact tracing” – locating anyone who may have been exposed, and then anyone who may have come into contact with that person.

Ben Neuman, a virologist and Ebola expert at Britain’s University of Reading, said that could prove difficult at this stage.

“Contact tracing is essential but it’s very hard to get enough people to do that,” he said. “For the average case, you want to look back and catch the 20-30 people they had closest contact with and that takes a lot of effort and legwork … The most important thing now is to do the contact tracing and quarantine any contacts who may be symptomatic.”

Paye-Layleh reported from Monrovia, Liberia. Associated Press Medical Writer Maria Cheng reported from London. Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal and Maram Mazen in Lagos, Nigeria contributed to this report.

©2014The Associated Press

Israel resumes Gaza airstrikes as its 7-hour ceasefire ends – National

WATCH ABOVE: The war in Gaza has now become the deadliest conflict since Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005. There were more attacks today despite a seven-hour ceasefire. 

Israel resumed attacks on Gaza after a seven-hour “humanitarian window”Israel withdraws most of its ground troops from the Gaza Strip on SundayIsrael’s military declares dead a soldier believed captured by HamasHamas and Israel are accusing each other of violating Friday’s truceGlobal News cannot independently confirm either death tollScroll down to follow the latest updates in our live blog

GAZA, Gaza Strip – The Israeli military says it has resumed its attacks on the Gaza Strip, ending a self-declared, seven-hour ceasefire that was in effect for much of the day.

The Israeli military announced it resumed its attacks Monday night.

Israel said it declared the ceasefire to allow humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza. The seaside territory has been battered by a nearly monthlong war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

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  • Israel pulls most of its ground troops from Gaza

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Late Monday, Palestinian officials said an Israeli airstrike hit a target next to a desalination plant in Gaza, killing two people and wounding 16.

Palestinian officials say more than 1,880 people have been killed, most of them civilians. Israeli officials say 67 people, all but three civilians, have been killed on the Israeli side.

READ MORE: Israel pulls most of its ground troops from Gaza

Earlier Monday, the seven-hour lull was broken by an assault in Jerusalem, which saw a man ram the front end of a construction excavator into an Israeli bus. Police described the incident as a “terrorist attack,” indicating Palestinian involvement.

The attack occurred on a main thoroughfare near Jerusalem’s light-rail line. The area is located near the unofficial line between Jewish West Jerusalem and east Jerusalem, the section of the city captured by Israel in 1967 and which is home to most of the city’s Arab population. Israeli media said the attacker came from an Arab area of the city.

Israel’s Channel 10 TV showed cellphone video of what it said was the attack, with the yellow excavator slamming its large shovel into the bus. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a police officer in the area opened fire and killed the attacker. A pedestrian also was killed, said Jerusalem district police chief Yossi Piranti.

In the past, Palestinian attackers have gone on deadly rampages with bulldozers in Jerusalem traffic.

“Because of the quick reaction of the police an even graver incident was avoided,” Piranti said.

Follow our live blog for updates:

Shortly after the excavator attack, Israeli media reported that a gunman on a motorcycle shot and seriously wounded an Israeli soldier. Police searched for the shooter in east Jerusalem.

“We believe there is a great likelihood this was a terrorist attack,” Piranti said.

Before the attacks, a seven-hour Israeli ceasefire in Gaza went into effect. And while Israel continued hitting at selected Palestinian targets, the level of the fighting was much lower than in previous days.

However, the Israeli military said the ceasefire would not apply to areas where troops were still operating and where they would respond to any attack. The southern strip town of Rafah, which saw heavy fighting Sunday, was excluded from the truce, the military said.

Shortly after the ceasefire started at 10 a.m. (0700 GMT), an Israeli strike hit a house at the Shati refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, killing three people and wounding at least 30, Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said. The Israeli military said it targeted an “operative threat” and rocket fire in the strike “around 10 a.m.”

A separate Israeli strike killed Daniel Mansour, a commander in the Islamic Jihad group – a close ally of Gaza’s militant Palestinian Hamas rulers, the group said.

READ MORE: Israel declares dead a soldier believed captured by Hamas militants

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said his group remained skeptical about the announced Israeli truce.

“We do not trust such a calm and call on our people to take caution,” Zuhri said.

Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office said it was “urgently investigating” claims that a British aid worker had been killed in the Gaza town of Rafah. It declined to comment further.

Israel launched the military operation in Gaza on July 8 in response to weeks of heavy rocket fire. It has since carried out more than 4,600 airstrikes across the crowded seaside area. On July 17, it sent in ground forces in what it said was a mission to destroy the tunnels used by Hamas to carry out attacks inside Israel.

Hamas has fired more than 3,200 rockets into Israel during the war, with some intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system and many of the crude missiles landing in open areas away from cities.

Since the war began, Palestinian health officials say at least 1,888 Palestinians have been killed. Most of the Palestinian casualties have been civilians, while all but three of the 64 Israelis killed have been in the military. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under increasing international pressure to halt the fighting because of the heavy civilian death toll in Gaza.

Israel airstrike hits U.N. school, 10 dead


Israel airstrike hits U.N. school, 10 dead


10 killed in UN school shelter attack, Israeli troops redeploying


No end in sight for Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza


Israeli PM Netanyahu doesn’t want U.S. to force truce with Hamas


Raw video: Gaza residents seek food and water after Israeli troops pull out


Video footage of Israeli troops destroying Hamas tunnel


Israel-Gaza: Three-day ceasefire lasts 90 minutes


Israel fears soldier captured as Gaza truce unravels

Overnight, Israeli forces carried out new airstrikes while Israeli tanks and navy gunboats fired dozens of artillery shells, targeting houses, agricultural plots and open areas, Gaza police said. They said Israeli jet fighters destroyed three mosques, nine houses, five seaside chalets and a warehouse for construction material.

The Gaza police said Israeli navy boats also approached the northern coast of the strip and soldiers tried to land in the area. On the ground, there were clashes in the southern town of Rafah and southeast of Gaza City, they said. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

Sunday, an apparent Israeli strike killed 10 people at a UN school that had been converted into a shelter in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.

The United States said it was “appalled” by the “disgraceful” shelling and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called on Israel to do “more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the attack on the school a “moral outrage and a criminal act” and demanded a quick investigation.

The Israeli military said it had targeted three wanted militants on a motorcycle in the vicinity and was “reviewing the consequences of this strike.” Israel said that it attacked 63 sites on Sunday and that nearly 100 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel.

UN shelters in Gaza have been struck by fire seven times in the latest Israeli-Hamas round of fighting. UNRWA, the UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees, says Israel has been the source of fire in all instances. But it also has said it found caches of rockets in vacant UNRWA schools three times.

Israel accuses Hamas of using civilian areas for cover and says the Islamic militant group is responsible for the heavy death toll because it has been using civilians as “human shields.”

Enav reported from Jerusalem.

Associated Press writer Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.

Sunni militants try to capture Iraq’s two biggest dams – National

BAGHDAD – The militants who have overrun large parts of Iraq are now battling ferociously to capture one of the country’s vital resources — water.

Fighters with the Islamic State group launched a three-pronged attack over the weekend in a drive to capture Haditha Dam, in western Iraq, a complex with six power generators located alongside Iraq’s second-largest reservoir. At the same time, they are fighting to capture Iraq’s largest dam, Mosul Dam, in the north of the country.

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Seizing the dams and the large reservoirs they hold would give the militants control over water and electricity that they could use to help build support in the territory they now rule by providing the scarce resources to residents. Or they could sell the resources as a lucrative source of revenue.

READ MORE: Iraq PM condemns targeting of Christians by Islamic militants

They could also use the dams as a weapon of war by flooding terrain downstream to slow Iraq’s military or disrupt life. They have done that with a smaller dam they hold closer to Baghdad. But with the larger dams, there are limits on this tactic since it would also flood areas that the insurgents hold.

On Friday, the fighters unleashed a powerful attack from three sides on the town of Haditha in western Anbar province. Suicide attackers tried but failed to detonate an oil tanker and several trucks packed with explosives. The aim was to obliterate the final line of defence between the militants and Haditha Dam on the Euphrates River, Lt. Gen. Rasheed Fleih, the commander of Anbar Operations Command, told The Associated Press.

For a brief moment, it seemed all was lost. The Sunni militants seized the army command headquarters in town, with very little stopping them from reaching the dam. But some local Sunni tribes who oppose the militants and feared for their livelihoods if the dam were captured sent fighters to reinforce the 2,000 soldiers guarding the town, allowing for a narrow victory. At least 35 militants and 10 soldiers were killed in clashes on Friday, Fleih said.

But the militants have been fighting every day since trying to take the town, according to four senior military sources in Anbar province. They spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak with the media.

Only 10 kilometres remain between the militants and the dam.

READ MORE: Series of bombings in Iraq kill 27

The jihadis are also closing in on the Mosul Dam – or Saddam Dam as it was once known – located north of Iraq’s second-largest city Mosul, which fell to the militants on June 10. Fighting intensified in the region Sunday after the nearby towns of Zumar and Sinjar fell to the militants.

Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, have managed to hold the fighters off for now, but the growing strength and savvy of these Islamic militants is raising grave concerns.

The peshmerga are “under a great deal of pressure now” as they defend a 150-kilometre frontline against the Islamic State group along the edges of the Kurdish autonomous zone in the north,” Maj. Gen. Jabar Yawer, the official spokesman of the Kurdistan Region Guard Forces, told The Associated Press.

He said late Sunday there were fierce battles ongoing in towns and villages near the dam on the Tigris River. Fearing the worst, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki commanded his air force to reinforce the peshmerga Monday in a rare show of co-operation despite deep political divisions between al-Maliki and the Kurds.

“God forbid, if something happens that results in the destruction of the dam, it will be very, very dangerous,” Yawer said.

Earlier this year, the group’s fighters captured the smaller Fallujah Dam on the Euphrates when they seized the nearby city of Fallujah. Repeatedly, the militants have used it as a weapon, opening it to flood downriver when government forces move in on the city.

‘Water war’ intensifies

Worst hit has been the area of Abu Ghraib on the outskirts of Baghdad. In May, some 12,000 families lost crops and many fled their homes, worsening Iraq’s growing crisis of internal displacement. The Special Representative for the U.N. Secretary General in Iraq called the incident a “water war,” and called on Iraqi forces and local tribes to team up and take back Iraqi waterways.

Doing that with Hadith and Mosul Dams is more problematic, since militant-controlled lie downstream. But damage to either could be disastrous, particularly in the case of the Mosul Dam. It has millions of cubic meters of water pent up behind it on the Tigris River, which – some 370 kilometres downstream – runs through the heart of Baghdad.

“Everything under it will be under five to 10 metres of water… including Baghdad itself,” said Ali Khedery, head of the Dubai-based consultancy Dragoman Partners and a longtime adviser to the U.S. military, government and companies in Iraq. “It would be catastrophic.”

Dams are critical in Iraq for generating electricity, regulating river flow and providing irrigation. Water is a precious commodity in this largely desert country of 32.5 million people. The decline of water levels in the Euphrates over recent years has led to electricity shortages in towns south of Baghdad, where steam-powered generators depend entirely on water levels.

Water has been used as a weapon in the past. After Shiite Muslims rose up against then-President Saddam Hussein after the 1991 Gulf War, he retaliated by drying out parts of wetlands in the south of the country that had once generated farming revenues for its Shiite inhabitants.

Water is not the first resource the Islamic State group has narrowed in on as it swept over much of northern and western Iraq and parts of neighbouring Syria the past months. The group has captured oilfields and pipelines in Syria and has sold off crude oil, helping fund its drive across both countries.

If it captures the dams, the militants are likely to try to use its electricity and water resources to build up support in nearby areas it controls, where residents often complain of shortages. Or it could try to snarl electricity service elsewhere.

Any disruption to the Mosul Dam “would destabilize the electricity system of northern Iraq,” added Paul Sullivan, an economist and Middle East expert at National Defence University in Washington. “This station is an integral part of the entire electricity grid of Iraq.”

Associated Press reporters Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad and Bram Janssen in Irbil contributed to this report.

©2014The Associated Press

Troops, volunteers dig through China earthquake debris – National

LUDIAN, China – About 10,000 troops used pickaxes and backhoes to clear roads and dig residents from collapsed homes Tuesday after an earthquake in southwest China that killed 410 people. Groups of volunteers, meanwhile, used their bare hands.

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Jackson Zeng joined about two dozen classmates who headed to Yunnan province’s Ludian county, where Sunday’s 6.1-magnitude earthquake collapsed thousands of homes in an impoverished region of mountainous farmland.

“I grew up around here and these are my people. I’m not sure what I can do, but I will help any way that I can,” said Zeng, a third-year student at Kunming University of Science and Technology.

READ MORE: Death toll from strong earthquake in southern China rises to 398

Zeng’s black T-shirt contrasted with the scores of green fatigue-clad troops along the main road into the quake zone. Paramilitary personnel with a backhoe and other heavy equipment pushed earth from a stretch of road affected by a landslide, while Zeng and other students used their hands to push rocks over a cliff.

Rescue workers search for survivors amongst the remains of collapsed buildings in the epicenter of an earthquake that struck the town of Longtoushan in Ludian county in southwest China\’s Yunnan province Monday, Aug. 4, 2014.

AP Photo

Many hundreds of volunteers have converged on the nearby city of Zhaotong en route to the quake-hit areas – a typical phenomenon during disasters in China. Many came empty-handed, but some were formed into company-sponsored units complete with uniforms and their own relief aid to distribute.

The government also has sent thousands of tents, quilts, sleeping bags and cotton coats to the region, as well as folding beds, chairs and tables, and mobile toilets.

The quake struck an area of steep hills and narrow roads not suited to all the traffic of the massive relief effort, and heavy rain Tuesday added to the complications. Much of the damage was due to landslides.

Ambulances, bulldozers and trucks filled with water and noodles and the squads of volunteers clogged the main road heading to the hardest-hit town of Longtou, about 370 kilometres (230 miles) northeast of Kunming. Helicopters hoisted supplies to the most remote areas.

VIDEO: Rescuers work to find, free those left trapped by China earthquake (Aug. 4)

The Yunnan Civil Affairs Bureau said Tuesday that 410 people had been killed and 2,373 injured, with 12 people still missing about 48 hours after the quake. Rescuers pulled dozens of trapped people from the debris in the first couple of days.

A 5-year-old boy was dug from a collapsed home Monday, and on Tuesday, state media released a photo taken in a hospital of two pregnant women who comforted each other while trapped in the rubble before they, too, were rescued.

Many of the homes in Ludian, which has a population of about 429,000, were rudimentary mud-brick structures that collapsed easily in the quake.

Cai Jiangping, a 46-year-old corn farmer, pointed to where he and seven members of his extended family had lived on the other side of a river valley just south of Longtou.

“The house is a complete write-off. But we’ll throw some plastic over it and then talk to the insurance company,” he said.

Cai was sheltering with a group of friends, his motorcycle his only surviving possession.

Further from the worst-hit areas, landslides created barrier lakes where water levels were rising Tuesday to pose a new threat to about 800 residents and seven power stations downstream, where sudden flooding could prompt power outages, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The region is prone to earthquakes. In 1970, a magnitude-7.7 earthquake in Yunnan killed at least 15,000 people. In September 2012, a series of quakes killed 81 people.

In May 2008, a powerful quake in Sichuan province left nearly 90,000 people dead.

©2014The Canadian Press

Severe thunderstorm warning ended in Saskatchewan – Saskatoon

UPDATE: All severe thunderstorm warnings have ended in Saskatchewan

SASKATOON – Environment Canada issued a severe thunderstorm warning Monday afternoon in Saskatchewan.

Meteorologists are tracking a system capable of producing strong wind gusts, ping pong ball size hail and heavy rainfall.

Radar indicates that 50 and 75 millimetres of rain was possible.

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  • Somewhat stormy, but still superb August long weekend outlook

The agency is reminding motorists fast-moving water across a road can sweep vehicles away. Drivers should also watch out for possible washouts near bodies of water.

Anyone who would like to report severe weather can call Environment Canada at 1-800-239-0484 or email photos to [email protected]桑拿按摩.

Want your weather on the go? Download the Global News Skytracker weather app for iPhone, iPad or Android.

Severe thunderstorm warning ENDED for:

Humboldt – Wynyard – Wadena – Lanigan – Foam LakeLeader – Gull LakeSwift Current – Herbert – Cabri – Kyle – Lucky LakeKamsack – Canora – Preeceville

Severe thunderstorm watch ENDED for:

SaskatoonMartensville – Warman – Rosthern – Delisle – WakawOutlook – Watrous – Hanley – Imperial – DinsmoreThe Battlefords – Unity – Maidstone – St. WalburgYorkton – Melville – EsterhazyKindersley – Rosetown – Biggar – Wilkie – MacklinShaunavon – Maple Creek – Val Marie – Cypress Hills

Thousands flee as Lebanese army battles Syrian militants – National

LABWEH, Lebanon – Thousands of Lebanese civilians and Syrian refugees crammed into cars and pickup trucks fled Monday as Lebanese artillery pounded a border town that had been overrun by militants from neighbouring Syria.

The civilian exodus came in the early morning hours during a relative lull in fighting and just a few hours later the bombardment around the town of Arsal had reached an intensity of three shells every minute.

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READ MORE: Syria rebels raid Lebanese town, capture troops

The fighting is the most serious spillover of violence from Syria’s civil war into Lebanon, compounding fears that tiny Lebanon is fast becoming a new front in its neighbour’s conflict, now in its third year. The government has rushed reinforcements to scene, including dozens of armoured personal carriers and tanks.

The three days of clashes in Arsal, a predominantly Sunni town surrounded by Shiite villages, could worsen already bubbling sectarian tensions in Lebanon. The Syrian government, which is battling a largely Sunni insurgency, has the support of Lebanon’s premier Shiite militia, Hezbollah.

The town of 40,000, whose population has almost tripled because of the presence of Syrian refugees and rebels, is wedged between Syrian government-controlled territory and Lebanese Shiite villages sympathetic to Hezbollah.

A senior Lebanese security official said 17 soldiers have been killed in three days of fighting, including two lieutenant colonels, and 13 others were missing. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Lebanon’s state-run news agency said the rebels were looting homes and shops in Arsal and a resident on the outskirts told The Associated Press that the militants were committing “atrocities” and shooting at people attempting to flee.

“The rebels feel protected by the civilians there,” he said, confirming there was widespread looting with rebels taking over civilian homes to use as military posts.

Among those fleeing Monday was Aziza Rayed, in her 60s, who said her family was going to the nearby border town of Qaa.

“We are leaving to take these children to a safer place,” she said, her children and grandchildren in the back of a pickup truck.

Syrian refugees who had earlier fled the war at home for Arsal’s safety found themselves on the road again. Fatmeh Meshref from the Syrian central city of Homs, said she and her husband and five children were terrified.

“Our children were screaming and we had no place to hide,” she said.

The Syrian incursion and capture of Arsal came after the Lebanese army said its troops had detained Imad Ahmad Jomaa, who identified himself as a member of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front – one of the most powerful rebel groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops.

The state-run National News Agency reported on Saturday that Jomaa was detained as he was being brought to a hospital in Lebanon after being wounded while fighting Syrian troops.

Lebanese army chief Gen. Jean Kahwaji said on Sunday that the Syrian fighters in Arsal belonged to extremist Sunni groups, without naming them. He said the fighting was “more serious than what some people imagine” and called on Lebanese politicians to show unequivocal support for the military.

Associated Press writer Zeina Karam contributed reporting from Beirut.

©2014The Associated Press

World War I: 100 years later, cause remains a mystery – National

WATCH ABOVE: The battle of Vimy Ridge was the first time Canadian soldiers fought together as a unified force instead of being dispersed through the ranks of the British Army. Global’s Stuart Greer traveled to Vimy and explains why it’s not just Canadians who are making the pilgrimage this year.

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  • Harper marks 100th anniversary of World War I

  • Grandfather’s diaries open a window on First World War for defence chief

  • 100th anniversary of World War 1 commemorated in Edmonton

TORONTO –  It’s been 100 years since Europe’s major powers, Canada and their other colonies and dominions went to war, but the passage of time has done little to settle the debate about who or what was responsible for the First World War.

The war was considered a turning point in Canadian history, when the country shed its colonial mindset to become a nation in its own right.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper marked the centenary of the beginning of the First World War at a ceremony on Parliament Hill Monday morning, calling the occasion a time to “remember and honour the sacrifices and tremendous achievements of the more than 650,000 brave Canadians and Newfoundlanders who left their families and the comfort of their homes to serve their King and country, as well as to preserve the universal values of freedom, peace and democracy that we hold most dear.”

GALLERY: Global News’ Stuart Greer visits the WWI trenches, the Canadian and Commonwealth WWI cemetery, and the monument to the Canadians killed in and around Vimy, France.

The iconic monument to Canadians killed in the First World War at Vimy, France.

Stuart Greer / Global News

The iconic monument to Canadians killed in the First World War at Vimy, France.

Stuart Greer / Global News

Global News cameraman Dan Hodgson at the iconic monument to Canadians killed in the First World War at Vimy, France.

Stuart Greer / Global News

World War I trenches at Vimy, France.

Global News / Stuart Greer

As one of the best preserved WWI battlefields in Europe, Vimy, France gets hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Global News / Stuart Greer

The Canadian and Commonwealth World War I cemetery near Vimy, France.

Stuart Greer / Global News

Canadian historian and author Margaret MacMillan looks at the series of events that led to WWI in her new book.

Stuart Greer / Global News

Margaret MacMillan’s new book “The War That Ended Peace” looks at the series of events that led Europe and the world to war.

Stuart Greer / Global News

In all, about 620,000 Canadians enlisted during the war and about 419,000 went overseas. About 60,000 would never come home.

“It is a source of deep national pride that the bravery and courage of our service members helped ensure Allied victories in important battles at places like Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele and Amiens,” said Harper.

“These efforts played a vital role in finally bringing about the negotiation and conclusion of the Armistice, which ended the First World War at precisely 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918.”

Canadian historian and author Margaret MacMillan is one of the leading authorities on World War I. Her new book The War That Ended Peace looks at the series of events that led Europe and the world down the path of destruction.

MacMillan told Global News reporter Stuart Greer there are many possible causes, and no agreement on how those causes interacted to spur the war in 1914.

“We still don’t know how it started. And that’s rather frightening,” said MacMillan.

“If we don’t know how it started, can we hope to avoid similar catastrophes in the future?”

WATCH: Margaret MacMillan explains why the way World War I started remains a “puzzle” today.  

MacMillan said when Britain declared war, it did so without consulting parts of its empire such as Canada. This decision was accepted at the time, but proved to be a significant turning point, she said.

“A very important part of what happened to countries such as Canada … they became increasingly autonomous within the British Empire. They became increasingly willing and indeed insisting on taking control over their own affairs, including over foreign policy.”

WATCH: MacMillan on how Canada reacted to Britain’s declaration of war, and how Canada changed as a result.

When it comes to lessons learned, MacMillan suggested Ukraine is a potentially dangerous situation in today’s world, especially with what she calls Russia’s “strong feeling” that eastern Ukraine and Crimea should belong to Russia.

“What perhaps will prevent the situation in Ukraine from turning into the very dangerous situation before the First World War, is that so far, there’s only one power that is really making the running—and that’s Russia.”

WATCH: MacMillan weighs in on whether another major conflict could erupt in Europe today.

MacMillan doubts historians will ever settle the debate of what or who is to blame for the First World War, and that’s probably for the best.

“We shouldn’t be trying to tell even schoolchildren that there is just a simple explanation of the war,” she said.

“I think we should tell them that … there’s a discussion, and that it’s all right to have different views on what happened in history. Some things you just won’t get a consensus.”

WATCH: Global’s Stuart Greer takes us inside the trenches, bunkers, and craters at what was once the site of the battle of Vimy Ridge in the First World War.

With files from Global News’ Stuart Greer, The Canadian Press and The Associated Press

‘Guardians’ blasts to top of weekend box office

LOS ANGELES – Guardians of the Galaxy blasted past expectations at the weekend box office.

The cosmic romp starring Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana as members of an intergalactic band of rebels earned $94 million in its debut weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. Ahead of its Friday debut, box office analysts initially projected that the comic book adaptation would earn between $60 million and $75 million in North America.

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The launch gives Guardians the biggest opening for an August film, a record previously held by the $69.2 million debut of 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum. It also makes Guardians the third largest opening of 2014, coming behind the $95 million inauguration of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the $100 million launch of Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Guardians also features Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel voicing the computer-generated characters Rocket Raccoon and Groot.

READ MORE: What the critics are saying about recent movies

In a distant second place, Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson as a woman with mind-bending powers, nabbed $18.3 million in its second weekend, bringing the release’s domestic total to $80 million.

Meanwhile, James Brown biopic Get on Up featuring Chadwick Boseman as the soulful singer opened in third place with $14 million.

Hercules was fourth with $10.7 million and in fifth was Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which added $8.7 million to its haul.

©2014The Associated Press