Ebola treatment kept secret: Possible serums and effect on survivors – National

WATCH: Doctors are treating two infected Americans with an experimental Ebola serum, never before used on humans … and it’s working. Anthony Robart reports.

TORONTO – As the death toll from Ebola in several West Africa countries climbed to 887, a special plane was sent to evacuate the second American missionary who contracted the disease in a Liberia treatment facility. But the experimental serum being used on the Americans remains somewhat of a mystery.

Missionary Nancy Writebol’s plane is set to arrive in the U.S. Tuesday, where she will join Dr. Kent Brantly in an Atlanta hospital’s special isolation ward. Brantly has already received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy, an Ebola survivor, who had been under his care, said the aid organization he works for.

But neither organizations are commenting on further treatment for their workers or which serum is being used.

Dr. Kent Brantly is shown in this 2013 photo provided by JPS Health Network.

AP Photo/JPS Health Network

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“It’s one of two possibilities,” suggested Dr. William Schaffner, a preventive medicine expert from Nashville’s Vanderbilt University.

“One is they could have taken some serum from a patient who has recovered from Ebola and used that in and of itself as the treatment. Or they could have …made a monoclonal antibody to Ebola and used that.”

Schaffner said a monoclonal antibody means producing an antibody in a molecular-biological fashion rather than taking it from a recovered patient.

“When we first heard that plasma or a blood transfusion had been given to these two patients—the plasma first to the lady, and then the blood transfusion to Dr. Brantly—we actually thought it was the first of the two possibilities: that these were harvested from survivors of Ebola and then infused into the sick patients,” said Schaffer.

“It’s strange that we don’t have a little bit more information yet about these details.”

No vaccine or antidote

Ebola has no vaccine or antidote, but international relief group Samaritan’s Purse (the group Brantly works for) said both workers were given the experimental treatment last week. Samaritan’s Purse has been providing emergency response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa for months.

Writebol has received two doses of the serum and is showing marked improvement, said Palmer Holt, a spokesman for Service in Mission (SIM), the aid organization for which Writebol works.

Nancy Writebol with children in Liberia. Writebol is one of two Americans working for a missionary group in Liberia that have been diagnosed with Ebola.

AP Photo/Courtesy Jeremy Writebol

“She is walking with assistance….strength is better…has an appetite,” wrote Holt in an email to Global News. When asked for details on which serum Writebol received, Holt said, “Medical questions not our area of expertise.”

Companies testing Ebola treatments

Aside from using survivor plasma, there are two pharmaceutical companies that have been working with the U.S. military to help find a treatment for the drug, according to the International Business Times.

One is Canadian company Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp., which has already issued a statement that no one infected in the ongoing outbreak in West Africa has been treated with its drug, called TKM-Ebola.

Although there are a number of Ebola therapies in development, Tekmira’s is thought to be the furthest along in the regulatory process, though its clinical trial was recently put on hold by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which asked for additional data related to an inflammatory reaction seen when the drug was given at higher doses.

A second company working on the treatment is Mapp Biopharmaceuticals, developed with the help of tobacco leaves, according to the IB Times. CNN reports this is the company responsible for the drug administered to Writebol and Brantly.

A 2011 Arizona State University Report suggested Mapp’s plant-derived vaccine for Ebola “provided strong immunological protection in a mouse model” in which 80 per cent of mice given the treatment compounds survived.

‘Desperate times’ and life after Ebola

Ebola, which causes hemorrhagic fever, spreads through close contact with bodily fluids and blood, meaning it is not spread as easily as airborne influenza or the common cold. 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.

Schaffner said experimental serums have a long tradition in the history of the treatment of infectious diseases.

This image by the CDC shows an Ebola virus.

AP Photo/CDC, File

“If you have experimental, possibly therapeutic mechanisms or devices available, you can use them in individual patients in exigent circumstances—and this is the kind of emergent circumstance in which you might try something even in advance of a clinical trial.

“Desperate times demand desperate measures, and you do those things only in very controlled and limited circumstances.”

While the fatality rate for Ebola can be as high as 90 per cent, health officials in the three countries say the current crisis is killing at least 60 per cent of the people it infects in Africa.

But there have been some survivors. Schaffner said not many survivors have been studied, but the body would eventually rid itself of the virus for a complete recovery, unlike other diseases.

“You don’t create a chronic infection like HIV or sometimes Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C, where the patient for months and years continues to have the virus in the body with the risk of a resurgent disease; that does not happen with Ebola.

“It is not an auto-immune disease, and it is not a chronic infection.”

With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press

Block Parent Program makes a comeback in the West Island – Montreal

WATCH ABOVE: Many in Montreal’s West Island are working hard to bring the Block Parent program back to life. Rachel Lau has more.

POINTE-CLAIRE – For more than 40 years, the Block Parent Program was a comfort for parents; a red-and-white sign that everyone on your street was looking out for your children.

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“We say it takes a village to raise children, but it also takes a village to watch over our children,” said Pina Arcamone, Director General of the Missing Children’s Network.

“The Block Parent sign, I think, is one of the icons that is well-known across the province.”

Over the years, Block Parent signs have slowly disappeared, but many in Montreal’s West Island are working hard to bring the program back to life.

“There were Block Parent signs pretty much on every street at that time,” said Pamela Santini, who was a Block Parent when the program first started back in the 1970s.

She remembers the relief children felt when they saw that red sign in her window.

“Mums were just starting to head back to work,” she said.

“It certainly was something that our children learnt that it could be a safe place.”

The Block Parent signs started disappearing in the early 2000s, but some residents insist their West Island neighbourhoods have never lost that community feel.

“Everyone kind of does look out for everyone,” said mother Kimberly Holt.

“They usually do know all the kids on the block.”

Grandmother Joyce Docherty admitted parents worry more about their kids now than they did be fore.

“I guess things have changed since my kids were small,” she said.

“We used to let them walk to school by themselves and come up to the park on their own, but now it’s not done.”

Bringing the Block Parent program back to the West Island is good news to the Missing Children’s Network, as a way to encourage parents to have that conversation about the importance of safety.

“We want to watch over our children, we need to watch over our children,” said Arcamone.

“Collectively we can protect children, and maybe even discourage perpetrators from committing crimes.”

For Santini, the return of the Block Parent Program is also a way to make sure children are aware of their surroundings.

“I don’t think children get as many chances to learn to make good judgments for themselves,” she said.

“We are protecting them so much. We drive them everywhere, few go on school buses. They don’t have as much awareness.”

Anyone who is interested in becoming a Block Parent is encouraged to apply online.

Wal-Mart to personalize online shopping experience – National

NEW YORK – Wal-Mart, in its latest bid to compete with nemesis Amazon杭州夜网, is making changes to its website to personalize the online shopping experience of each customer.

Wal-Mart is rolling out a feature that will enable its website to show shoppers more products that they may like, based on their previous purchases. It also will customize Wal-Mart’s home page for each shopper based on where that customer lives, showing local weather and events, as well as the customer’s search and purchase histories.

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So if a new mom just bought a stroller or crib on Walmart杭州夜网, the revamped website might recommend diapers and car seats, too. And if someone who lives in Dallas searches the website for sports jerseys, Walmart杭州夜网 could suggest Rangers or Dallas Cowboy gear.

The personalization feature is part of a push by Wal-Mart to improve the online shopping experience of its customers, leading up to a complete re-launch of the site in early 2015. The retailer is looking to boost its business online at a time when its U.S. discount division has seen disappointing sales.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s e-commerce sales increased by 30 per cent to over $10 billion in its fiscal year that ended Jan. 31. By comparison, Wal-Mart’s U.S. discount division has had five straight quarters of sales declines at stores opened at least a year. Wal-Mart sees big growth opportunity in the online business: Online sales still are only a fraction of the $473 billion Wal-Mart generated in overall annual revenue, dwarfed by Amazon’s $60.9 billion in annual sales.

The move to personalize websites for shoppers has become a top priority for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers like Wal-Mart as they play catch up with Amazon杭州夜网, the online king that pioneered customizing content for shoppers. Retailers increasingly are trying to use their reams of customer data they get from mobile devices and computers to personalize their websites and ultimately, boost sales.

Other retailers, including home-improvement chain Home Depot and office-supplies retailer Staples, have been ahead of Wal-Mart in the race to personalize the online shopping experience. In fact, a quarter of customers who visit Home Depot’s home page see product recommendations that are based on recent purchase or browser history, according to the company.

Retailers have seen benefits in personalizing their websites for customers, as well as other efforts to improve the online shopping experience. Overall, Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said that changes in customization can help lift a retailer’s online sales in the mid-single digits.

Wal-Mart said that customers have responded well to improvements it has made to its website in the past two years, including quadrupling the assortment of items it offers online to 8 million. For example, when Wal-Mart updated its search tool, it saw a 20 per cent increase in shoppers completing a purchase after searching for a product using the new search engine.

Wal-Mart has other changes in store for customers. Among them: Over the next couple of months, customers will see a quicker online checkout process: They’ll view one page instead of six before clicking on the “buy” button. And the company will be able to update web pages quicker with new products.

Calgary concert to honour Brentwood murder victims

CALGARY – It’s expected thousands of people will gather at a memorial concert this fall, which will be held in honour of five Calgarians killed in a horrific mass murder.

Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Jordan Segura, 22, Josh Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, and Lawrence Hong, 27, were stabbed to death at a house party in Brentwood on April 15th.

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The concert will pay tribute to the young victims, and help raise funds for scholarships created in their honour.

READ MORE: Young Calgary stabbing victims receive honorary degrees

The event was organized by Kyle Tenove and Barry Mason, who used to play in the band Zackariah & The Prophets with both Hunter and Rathwell.

They say they were left scrambling to find a venue after the University of Calgary’s Student’s Union denied their request to use campus space.

Although officials later reversed their decision, Tenove and Mason decided instead to host the concert at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.

Mason was with Josh Hunter’s father when he was contacted by government officials who offered up the venue.

“When we found out, both of us, we had tears kind of welling up in our eyes,” says Mason. “We never could have imagined having such a large-scale forum for us to do this event.”

“What we want to do is not think about that tragic end, we want to really celebrate the years before.”

The concert will be held on Thursday, September 4th, 2014.

– With files from Carolyn Kury de Castillo

Residents calling it an environmental disaster: tailings pond breach at Mount Polley Mine near Likely, BC

WATCH: The scale of Monday’s disaster at the Mount Polley Mine is becoming more clear tonight.  Reporter John Daly has more on how authorities are responding to the tailings breach

Local residents are calling it an environmental disaster.

A breach of the tailings pond on Mount Polley Mine sent five million cubic metres of toxic waste into Hazeltine Creek, Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake, with fears it could spread far and wide in the coming days.

Residents in the area, along with visitors to waterways near the Mount Polley Mine close to Likely, B.C., have been issued a complete water ban. Affecting close to 300 homes, it extends to the entire Quesnel and Cariboo River systems up to the Fraser River, including Quesnel Lake, Cariboo Creek, Hazeltine Creek and Polley Lake.

People in Quesnel are also being asked to avoid using water from the Quesnel River, and late in the day the Cariboo Regional District extended the water advisory right to the Fraser River – although they said that was a precautionary measure.

WATCH: Aerial view of the destruction from the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach

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There are already concerns that the total damage will be immense. The sheer volume of toxic slurry from the pond – equivalent to 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools – caused Hazeltine Creek to expand from four feet in width to 150, and some of the sludge has already made its way into Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake.

READ MORE: Concerns about Mount Polley tailings pond were raised 3 years ago

Phil Owens, a professor at the University of Northern British Columbia and researcher with the Quesnel River Research Centre, says it’s impossible to know at this stage where the tailings will stop.

“Once something starts, it will just cascade down through the chain,” he said.

“We don’t know when it will stop, and we don’t know when it will move through the system.”

Al Richmond, the Cariboo Regional District Chair and Area G Director told Global News that clean-up is premature at this point and officials are still assessing the situation.

“Our concern mainly is first of all for life and limb and there’s been no one injured in this event and for that we’re thankful,” he said. “Our next concern is for the community of Likely and those folks living around Likely that their water supply is safe and potable for them to use.”

WATCH: An environmental disaster is unfolding in the Cariboo. Catherine Urquhart reports.

The Ministry of Environment said the breach at Mount Polley Mine happened in the middle of the night on August 4. The ministry. along with the Cariboo Regional District (CRD), RCMP, Central Cariboo Search and Rescue and emergency management crews are investigating and assessing the possible environmental impact.

Mount Polley Mine is an open pit copper and gold mine, which is operated by Imperial Metals Corporation. The dam that holds back the tailings pond is an earth-filled dam.

MAP: Route from Mount Polley Mine to Williams Lake

The Horsefly Likely Forest Service Road has been washed out at Hazeltine Creek, but the Likely Bridge is not affected at this time.

Rob Hood, president of the Likely Chamber of Commerce, told Global News that the Cedar Point Provincial Park campground has also been evacuated.

There are concerns around the debris and chemicals from the tailing ponds coming down into Quesnel Lake, Hood says, where approximately 300 people get their drinking water. Others fear the billions of litres of contaminated water could pollute other water ways in the area. The alert will remain in place until test results are completed.

READ MORE: Water from breached tailings pond near Likely B.C. is almost drinkable: President

Likely resident, Larry Chambers says he was woken at 3 a.m. and could hear the sounds of rushing water. “I could hear the roar like a 747 jet,” he told Global News.

Chambers describes Polley Lake as “milky green” and says the flood is bringing in a ton of debris. Residents described a stench in the air and dead fish washing up.

MAP: Mount Polley Mine Infrastructure.

From Imperial Metals

WATCH: The resource industry is BC’s fastest growing economic sector and tailing pond breaches don’t help generate confidence among people already wary about environmental risks. Jas Johal reports.

Several employees of the mine, who wished to remain anonymous to protect their jobs, said the same tailings pond had a minor breach three months ago.

Common minerals and elements found in tailings – which is the waste material left over from the extraction of metals – can include: arsenic, mercury, sulfur and cyanide.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Environment told Global News that, “further monitoring and testing of waterways will be required before the full extent of potential environmental impacts can be determined. Steps are being taken to put those processes in place.”

Imperial Metals has issued the following statement:

Imperial Metals Corporation reports the tailings storage facility at its Mount Polley mine was breached, releasing an undetermined amount of water and tailings in the early morning of August 4. The cause of the breach is unknown at this time.

Senior company management are at the mine site and are working with mine operating personnel, local agencies, provincial ministry officials and the engineers of record to assess the extent of the breach and the impact of the released water and tailings on the surrounding area.

The Company will provide further information when confirmed and available.

RELATED VIDEO: Reporter Jas Johal spoke with Imperial Metals last year about BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line 


Aerial photo of the lake and breach, Global News.

Global News

Aerial photo of the breach site, Global News.

Global News

Polley Lake after the tailings breach. Photo by Larry Chambers

Polley Lake after the tailings breach. Photo by Larry Chambers

Polley Lake after the tailings breach. Photo by Larry Chambers

Polley Lake after the tailings breach. Photo by Larry Chambers

Polley Lake after the tailings breach. Photo by Larry Chambers

Polley Lake after the tailings breach. Photo by Larry Chambers

Before and after, credit Elaine Lucas.

Elaine Lucas

Post-breach, credit Larry Chambers.

Larry Chambers

Where the tailings came down, credit Larry Chambers.

Larry Chambers

Quesnel Lake, near the site of the breach, via Facebook.

Where Hazeltine Creek enters Quesnel Lake.

Where Hazeltine Creek enters Quesnel Lake.

Where Hazeltine Creek enters Quesnel Lake.

Where Hazeltine Creek enters Quesnel Lake.

2nd American missionary sick with Ebola to land in US Tuesday morning – National

ATLANTA – A second American missionary stricken with Ebola is expected to fly Tuesday to the U.S. for treatment, following a colleague who was admitted over the weekend to Emory University Hospital’s infectious disease unit.

A Liberian official confirmed to The Associated Press plans for Nancy Writebol to depart with a medical evacuation team. The official, Information Minister Lewis Brown, said the evacuation flight was scheduled to leave West Africa between 1 a.m. and 1.30 a.m. local time Tuesday.

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Writebol’s son, Jeremy Writebol, said his mother “is still struggling” but that “there seems to be improvement” and that the family is optimistic she will recover amid a spreading Ebola outbreak that has killed at least 729 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The Writebols’ mission team partner, Dr. Kent Brantly, also was improving Sunday after he was admitted to Emory’s quarantine unit a day earlier, according to a statement from his wife.

“Our family is rejoicing over Kent’s safe arrival, and we are confident that he is receiving the very best care,” Amber Brantly said, adding that she was able to see her husband Sunday.

READ MORE: Canadian-made Ebola drug not used on U.S. missionary

Brantly and Nancy Writebol served on the same mission team treating Ebola victims when they contracted the virus themselves. Brantly was serving as a physician in the hospital compound near Monrovia, Liberia, when he became infected. Writebol worked as a hygienist whose role included decontaminating those entering or leaving the Ebola treatment area at that hospital.

There is no cure for Ebola, which causes hemorrhagic fever that kills at least 60 per cent of the people it infects in Africa. Ebola spreads through close contact with bodily fluids and blood, meaning it is not spread as easily as airborne influenza or the common cold. Africa’s under-developed health care system and inadequate infection controls make it easier for the Ebola virus to spread and harder to treat.

American doctor infected with Ebola flown home for treatment


American doctor infected with Ebola flown home for treatment


American with Ebola infection arrives in the U.S.


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Any modern hospital using standard infection-control measures should be able to handle it, and Emory’s infectious disease unit is one of about four in the U.S. that is specially equipped to test and treat people exposed to the most dangerous viruses.

Patients are quarantined, sealed off from anyone who is not in protective gear. Lab tests are conducted inside the unit, ensuring that viruses don’t leave the quarantined area. Family members can see and communicate with patients only through barriers.

Brantly arrived Saturday under stringent protocols, flying from West Africa to Dobbins Air Reserve base outside Atlanta in a small plane equipped to contain infectious diseases. A small police escort followed his ambulance to Emory, where he emerged dressed head to toe in white protective clothing and walked into the hospital on his own power.

READ MORE: 1st time Ebola patients brought to US, doctor now in Atlanta for treatment

A physician from Texas, Brantly is a Samaritan’s Purse missionary. The Writebols are working through SIM USA. The two Christian organizations have partnered to provide health care in West Africa.

The Rev. John Munro, the Writebols’ pastor at Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, described the couple as “quiet, unassuming people” who felt called by God” to go overseas 15 years ago.

Jeremy Writebol said his parents spent five years in Ecuador and nine years in Zambia before going to Liberia last August.

Munro added, “They take the Great Commission literally,” a reference to the scriptural instruction from Jesus Christ to “make disciples of all nations.”

Munro, whose church sponsors the Writebols’ mission work, recalled speaking with the couple when the Ebola outbreak began. “We weren’t telling them to come back; we were just willing to help them come back,” he said. “They said, ‘The work isn’t finished, and it must continue.”‘

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

The outbreak comes as nearly 50 African heads of state come to Washington, D.C., for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit – billed as a tool for African nations to integrate more into the world economy and community. With the outbreak, however, the presidents of Liberia and Sierra Leone have scrapped their plans to attend the three-day summit opening Monday.

Meanwhile, some airlines that serve West Africa have suspended flights, while international groups, including the Peace Corps, have evacuated some or all of their representatives in the region.

In the United States, public health officials continue to emphasize that treating Brantly and Writebol in the U.S. poses no risks to the public here.

“We know how to control it: hospital infection control and stopping it at the source in Africa,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Frieden’s agency is ramping up its effort to combat the outbreak. He promised “50 staff on the ground” in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone “in the next 30 days.”

Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press reporter Roxana Hegeman in Wichita, Kansas, contributed to this report.

Longueuil woman survives attack by ex-husband – Montreal

LONGUEUIL — Residents of an apartment building on De Rousillon Street in Longueuil told Global News that they can’t get the horrible sounds out of their heads.

On Sunday evening around 7 p.m., a woman in a first floor unit was heard crying for help.

Police said the 46-year-old victim was possibly threatened with a gun by her former husband, and then left her tied up in her apartment.

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“It’s only the investigation that will tell us why he was in that mental state,” said Longueuil Police spokesperson Constable Ghyslain Vallieres.

After the alleged attack, police said the armed 49-year-old suspect fled the scene, and threatened to jump off the Jacques-Cartier Bridge.

The bridge was closed to traffic for about an hour during the delicate police operation.

The man eventually gave up and was arrested.

“He faces forcible confinement charges and other serious criminal counts,” Vallieres told Global News.

Many residents said they knew about the violence in the couple’s relationship, but they admitted they ignored what they saw.

“I know she came up crying a lot to my house, she came crying,” the victim’s friend, Margaret Martin, said.

“She wanted me to call the cops, but you don’t want to get involved.”

Groups that support women in abusive relationships said this case puts the spotlight on a major issue: witnesses of abuse should speak out.

“I think people hestitate because they don’t want their names out there,” said June Michel, a spokesperson with Women Aware.

“You can request that your name remain anonymous in the records of the report.”

The victim in this case is being treated for shock and is expected to make a full recovery.

UPDATE: Over $34,000 raised for woman seriously injured in a hit and run – BC

Vancouver police are looking for the driver suspected of committing a hit and run early this morning that sent a young woman to hospital with a serious head injury.

The victim has been identified by family and friends as 26-year-old communications consultant Ovey Yeung.

Police say the incident happened shortly after 4 a.m. on Pacific Boulevard between Abbott and Carrall Street.

Ovey was walking along Pacific Boulevard with a friend when she was hit.

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After being struck by the vehicle, she was rushed to the hospital and remains in critical condition.

Her family is still waiting on a prognosis.

“We don’t know what is going on just yet,” Ovey’s older sister Ardelis Yeung told Global News. “We will just have to wait and see.”

Ardelis says her sister has been slightly responsive so far.

“It is very hard to say if she will make a full recovery. At this point, it is just a waiting game. We will have to wait and only time will tell,” she says.

Family and friends have launched a campaign to help raise money for her recovery. Over $34,000 has been raised since Tuesday.

Yeung is pleading with any witnesses to come forward.

“To the driver, I am sure you feel awful right now about what you have done,” she says. “But the longer you wait, the worse it is going to get for yourself. And if you truly feel bad, you will come forward and help us out.”

Ovey Yeung, Facebook


Ardelis says Ovey is a very ambitious young woman with a long, fulfilling life ahead of her.

“We’d really like to see this not impede her too much,” she says.

Police are looking for a dark-coloured Honda Civic, which could have frontend damage. They do not have a driver description.

Video obtained by police shows there may have been several witnesses to the incident including two people standing on the corner of Abbott and Pacific, and someone on rollerblades across the street.

Anyone with information is asked to call the VPD Collision Investigation Unit at (604) 717-3012 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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

OTTAWA – Gen. Tom Lawson, Canada’s top military commander, was thumbing through his grandfather’s First World War diaries when he had a startling moment of kinship with a man he knew only as a “tough” old guy.

One of the journal’s entries told of a soggy day in southern England in 1918 as newly minted flight-lieutenant Norman Moran endured the rigours of Royal Flying Corp training at the controls of Sopwith Camel biplane, a notoriously tricky fighter plane.

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Moran was preparing to fight high above the grinding morass of trenches and shell fire, but ultimately didn’t get the chance.

The war ended before he could get to France, but even still he lost two dozen friends and colleagues to training accidents on the Salisbury Plains southwest of London.

One of the under-appreciated legacies of the war to end all wars is how it spawned a culture of service in succeeding generations, with many of those in uniform today tracing their ancestry back to that calamitous time.

Reading through the time-worn passages, Lawson said he recognized his grandfather buried much of his grief, but the diaries still gave him a glimpse of an anxious young man struggling to master what was then a dangerous machine.

“It was a connection I’d never felt to my grandfather,” Lawson said of the diaries, which he only received last Christmas.

“His experiences in flight training were very much like my experiences in flight training. You (start) with terrible self- confidence and you have to build that self-confidence to become a pilot.”

READ MORE: Former European enemies unite during ceremonies marking start WWI

Moran, Lawson’s maternal grandfather, went on to serve in the Second World War as a squadron commander alongside U.S. forces in Alaska. Both Lawson’s father and his paternal grandfather also served in uniform.

Lance Cpl. Thomas Lawson started out as cyclist, but ended up serving as a rifleman during the exceptionally bloody last 100 days of the First World War, when the 100,000-strong Canadian Corps served as the shock troops of the British Army on the Western Front.

Other soldiers, notably retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie, also trace their lineage back to the war.

Both of Leslie’s grandfathers, former general Andrew McNaughton and Brooke Claxton, served with distinction in the artillery. Leslie’s father was also a gunner in Korea.

Historian Jack Granatstein said the war helped foster a legacy of service in a number of families, but the phenomenon is most pronounced among junior non-commissioned officers, the backbone of the military.

“Seems to me I can think of a large number of sergeants who sent their kids to (Royal Military College) so that they would keep the connection but do it as an officer,” said Granatstein, who penned the book The Greatest Victory: Canada’s One Hundred Days, 1918.

“I’m not sure you can do that in the UK, for example. I don’t think the son of a sergeant could end up at Sandhurst (Britain’s officer training school). But ours is a more democratic society. Getting into RMC is a matter of having sufficient grades.”

Being the grandson of a lance corporal, Lawson, who was appointed chief of defence staff in October 2012, embodies that spirit to a certain extent. He rose to become Canada’s top military commander.

On Friday, the military marked the milestone event of 50 years since the creation of the chief of defence staff position.

Lawson counts former general Sir Arthur Currie, the commander of Canadian Corps and the architect of the victory at Vimy Ridge, as one of his heroes.

The wars Currie fought off the battlefield, with his allies and most notably with the volatile Sam Hughes, Canada’s minister of militia and defence, have been significantly instructive for Lawson.

“He teaches me today that there things that are far more important than simply following orders,” he said. “There is ground for a chief of defence staff to die on, so to speak, in defence of the Canadian Armed Forces, but (also) in defence of Canadians and Canadian interests.”

There’s another interesting parallel, Granatstein says.

Lawson is struggling today with a shrinking defence budget in much the same way Currie and other soldiers from the First World War generation had to fight to preserve what was built up during the conflict.

Jim Brady, press secretary wounded in Reagan assassination attempt, dies – National

WASHINGTON – James Brady, the affable, witty press secretary who survived a devastating head wound in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan and undertook a personal crusade for gun control, died Monday. He was 73.

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“We are heartbroken to share the news that our beloved Jim “Bear” Brady has passed away after a series of health issues,” Brady’s family said in a statement. “His wife, Sarah, son, Scott, and daughter, Missy, are so thankful to have had the opportunity to say their farewells.” The statement did not say where Brady was when he died.

Brady suffered a bullet wound to his head outside the Washington Hilton Hotel on March 30, 1981. Although he returned to the White House only briefly, he was allowed to keep the title of presidential press secretary and his White House salary until Reagan left office in January 1989.

Brady, who spent much of the rest of his life in a wheelchair, died at a retirement community in suburban Alexandria, Virginia, where he lived with his wife.

A federal law requiring a background check on handgun buyers bears his name, as is the White House press briefing room.

“He is somebody who I think really revolutionized this job,” said Josh Earnest, President Barack Obama’s press secretary. “And even after he was wounded in that attack on the president, was somebody who showed his patriotism and commitment to the country by being very outspoken on an issue that was important to him and that he felt very strongly about.”

Brady “leaves the kind of legacy … that certainly this press secretary and all future press secretaries will aspire to live up to,” Earnest said.

Brady seriously wounded in assassination attempt

Of the four people stuck by gunfire on March 30, 1981, Brady was the most seriously wounded. A news clip of the shooting, replayed often on television, showed Brady sprawled on the ground as Secret Service agents hustled the wounded president into his limousine. Reagan was shot in one lung while a policeman and a Secret Service agent suffered lesser wounds.

Brady never regained full health. The shooting caused brain damage, partial paralysis, short-term memory impairment, slurred speech and constant pain.

The TV replays of the shooting did take a toll on Brady, however. He told The Associated Press years later that he relived the moment each time he saw it: “I want to take every bit of (that) film … and put them in a cement incinerator, slosh them with gasoline and throw a lighted cigarette in.” With remarkable courage, he endured a series of brain operations in the years after the shooting.

On Nov. 28, 1995, while he was in an oral surgeon’s office, Brady’s heart stopped beating and he was taken to a hospital. His wife, Sarah, credited the oral surgeon and his staff with saving Brady’s life.

When Reagan was elected his advisers appeared hesitant to give Brady the White House spokesman’s ‘ job. Nancy Reagan was said to feel the job required someone younger and better-looking than the 40-year-old, moon-faced, balding Brady.

“I come before you today not as just another pretty face, but out of sheer talent,” Brady told reporters. A week later, he got the job.

Gun control efforts

He was divorced from the former Sue Beh when, in 1973, he courted Sarah Jane Kemp, the daughter of an FBI agent who was working with him in a congressional office.

Sarah Brady became involved in gun-control efforts in 1985, and later chaired Handgun Control Inc., but Brady took a few more years to join her, and Reagan did not endorse their efforts until 10 years after he was shot. Reagan’s surprise endorsement – he was a longtime National Rifle Association member and opponent of gun control laws – began to turn the tide in Congress.

“They’re not going to accuse him of being some bed-wetting liberal, no way can they do that,” said Brady, who had become an active lobbyist for the bill.

The Brady law required a five-day wait and background check before a handgun could be sold. In November 1993, as President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law, Brady said: “Every once in a while you need to wake up and smell the propane. I needed to be hit in the head before I started hitting the bricks.”

Clinton awarded Brady the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996. In 2000, the press briefing room at the White House was renamed in Brady’s honour. The following year, Handgun Control Inc., was renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence as a tribute to Brady and his wife.

Survivors include his wife, Sarah; a son, Scott; and a daughter, Melissa.

©2014The Associated Press