Paralympic champion Valerie Grand’Maison retires from swimming – Montreal

MONTREAL – Canadian swimmer Valerie Grand’Maison has announced her retirement after winning nine Paralympic medals, including four gold.

The 25-year-old from Montreal also earned three gold medals and a silver medal at last year’s International Paralympic Committee world swim championships in her hometown.

She retires holding world records in the 200-metre individual medley and 400-metre freestyle for the S13 classification, which is for visually-impaired athletes.

Canada’s Valerie Grand Maison celebrates her gold medal in the Women’s 100m Freestyle S13 final at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games in Beijing Wednesday Sept 10, 2008.

Greg Baker/The Canadian Press

“After much soul searching, I am confident that my swimming career has come to an end,” Grand’Maison said Tuesday in a statement from Swimming Canada.

Grand’Maison struggled through a shoulder injury prior to the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, yet she won gold in the 200 I.M. in world-record time. She also collected silver in both the 100-metre and 50-metre freestyle.

She led a Canadian sweep of the 100-metre butterfly at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. She also won the 100-metre and 400-metre freestyle.

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©2014The Canadian Press

Edmonton’s growing population helping local festival – Edmonton

EDMONTON – The 39th annual Servus Heritage Festival is being deemed a major success by those responsible for putting the event together.

Organizers estimate 360,000 to 380,000 people attended this year’s festival, which is equal to last year’s record breaking number.

“Day one and day two were on par with last year. Day three looks like it’s going to be on par too,” said Jack Little, Servus Heritage Festival Executive Director.

Sixty pavilions filled Hawrelak Park for this year’s festival.

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Little believes there is still room to grow the quality of the event but not the size.

“People want to add an extra tent in here, and they got to realize we’re in a park, and we have trees and stones and roads. So that’s been a huge problem. So the growth has really stymied now. We’re pretty well finished growing.”

Little said festival-goers did their part to make it a more enjoyable experience this year by purchasing tickets in advance which helped them avoid long lines.

“They seemed to have really smartened-up.”

The three day festival also serves as the largest donation drive for Edmonton’s Food Bank, and the organization believes they surpassed their donation goal of 50,000 kilograms of food.

“People tend to think of us at Christmas or festive times of the year, but the need for Food Bank services is all year round. So the food that’s collected at this particular event helps stabilize us, provide us with those non perishable food items that we need heading into the fall,” said Marjorie Bencz, Edmonton Food Bank.

Planning has already begun for next year’s Servus Heritage Festival which will mark the 40th edition.

UPDATE: Accident sends two to hospital, shuts down Highway 97 for 7 hours – Okanagan

LAKE COUNTRY, B.C. – UPDATE 12:30 p.m. to include witness account:

An accident involving high speed on Highway 97 shut down the route for more than seven hours early Tuesday morning.

The collision between a Cadillac and Chevy truck hauling a trailer happened on a four lane stretch near the Beaver Lake Road intersection at Lake Country at 10:15 p.m.

RCMP say the Cadillac lost control on a curve and crossed into oncoming lanes. Alcohol was not a factor, according to RCMP.

According to witnesses, the white Cadillac was seen travelling northbound on the highway at a high rate of speed right before the crash, say police.

“That Cadillac passed us around Duck Lake, going at least 150-160 km/hr,” says a comment from Nicky Dooley Brown on the Global Okanagan Facebook page. “(He was swerving in and out of traffic). We were in the right hand lane, and he came up behind us and swerved out into the left lane, speeding past us and back into our lane. Then he did the same to the other vehicle ahead of us.”

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Dooley Brown goes on to post, “Approximately 45 seconds later we came into Winfield where the speed limit drops to 70 and then 50 and saw he had crashed into the pick up. A tire was rolling in the middle of the road, and the vehicles were still steaming/smoking and leaking fluids. He was driving like an asshat, so we hope no one in the truck was injured. His vehicle is clearly totaled, but he needs his license revoked. There’s no reason to drive like a maniac. He’s lucky he didn’t kill someone — but we still don’t know what happened to the person/people in the pick up truck.”

Both men in the Cadillac were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries, with the passenger sustaining more serious injuries.

A 24-year-old Alberta man could face potential dangerous driving charges.

Police spent the night investigating the accident scene, keeping the highway closed until about 6 a.m.

WATCH: UFC champ Jon Jones brawls with opponent at pre-fight press conference – National

Under normal circumstances, the headline “Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier engage in wild fight” would make UFC brass very happy.

Unfortunately, those “normal circumstances” involve said fight happening live on Pay-Per-View – and not at a pre-fight media event.

But that’s exactly what happened Monday at the MGM Grand when a UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) press conference ended in a wild brawl.

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UFC Light-Heavyweight champion Jon Jones and challenger Daniel Cormier were on hand to promote their upcoming world title fight in Las Vegas on September 27.

The formula for these type of events is simple: following questions from the media, champion and challenger generally pose for a “face-to-face” photo op for the gathered cameras.

It’s tough to determine exactly where the event went off the rails, but Cormier evidently didn’t like Jones’ proximity during their faceoff, forcefully shoving him backwards.

That set off Jones, who responded by lunging back at Cormier.

Caught in the fray was UFC Director of Communications Dave Sholler, who tried desperately to separate two men.

Unfortunately for him, Sholler was swatted aside with ease by the 6’4, 220-pound plus UFC champion, and sent tumbling into the banner behind the stage with enough force to send the whole thing crashing down.

Jones then tore into Cormier, with both men throwing punches and falling to the floor as security tried to separate the two men.

Speaking to ESPN shortly after the brawl, Jones apologized for the incident, but said his actions were justified.

“I’ve never had a fighter but his hands on me while squeezing my throat,” Jones said. “I reacted in self-defence by beating up Daniel.”

Cormier, who openly snickered throughout the champion’s remarks, accused Jon of instigating the fight and of being insincere in his apology.

“Hey I’m glad he apologized, and I apologize for our actions, but it’s so fake,” Cormier said. “Jon Jones is a fake individual and a fake person.”

Jones (20-1) is the most dominant champion in Mixed Martial arts today. He is currently riding an 11-fight winning streak, including nine straight victories in world title fights.

But the undefeated Cormier (15-0) may be his toughest test to date. An elite amateur wrestler, Cormier has been a member of two US Olympic wrestling teams, as well as winning two gold medals in freestyle wrestling at the Pan Am games.

The two men have taken plenty of shots at each other over social media and in interviews in recent days, since it was announced Cormier would be stepping in for the injured Alexander Gustafsson as Jones’ next title challenger.

And it didn’t stop post-brawl either, with both men continuing the trash talk on 桑拿会所.

Lost in all the hubbub was the usually-vocal UFC President Dana White, who happened to be taking the first day of his vacation Monday when the brawl took place.

Ontario will treat children injured in Gaza, Health Minister says – Toronto

TORONTO – The Ontario government is willing to provide medical care to 100 injured children from Gaza, it said Tuesday – several days after a Palestinian-Canadian doctor made a public plea to bring kids to Canada for treatment.

Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins issued a statement Tuesday morning arguing the province has a “moral responsibility” to help the injured children, whether Israeli or Palestinian.

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“We received a formal request from Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish to make the necessary resources available to allow our hospitals to support kids who need medical attention due the conflict,” Hoskins said in the statement.

“We have engaged with our partners in the health system and are pleased to do what we can to help meet the needs of any child, whether Palestinian or Israeli.”

Abuelaish is a Palestinian-born doctor who worked at an Israeli hospital. He’s the author of “I Shall Not Hate,” a book written after three of his children were killed in 2009 from the shelling of an Israeli tank in Gaza.

He’s now an assistant professor at the University of Toronto and wants to bring 100 injured children from Gaza to Ontario for medical treatment.

Watch: (Aug. 1) Sean Mallen talks to Dr. Abuelaish about trying to bring wounded children to Ontario. 

The McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, the Kingston General Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, The Hospital of Sick Children and the London Health Sciences Centre have all offered to treat the children.

Israel and Hamas paused cross-border attacks Tuesday as a three-day ceasefire took effect at approximately 8 a.m.

Sixty-seven Israelis and 1,900 Palestinians have been killed in almost a month of fighting in the region, according to Israeli and Gazan health officials, respectively.

It’s not yet clear how the children would be transported from Gaza to Ontario.

Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement it is “consulting with our partners to determine how best we can provide assistance to victims of Hamas.”

Watch: 16×9 story on Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish. 

2nd American aid worker with Ebola arrives in US – National

WATCH: The second American aid worker infected with the Ebola virus in Liberia is back on US. soil. As Omar Villafranca reports, Nancy Writebol was not able to walk into Emory University in Atlanta.

MARIETTA, Ga. – The second American aid worker who was recently diagnosed with Ebola in west Africa has arrived in the Atlanta area for treatment.

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The patient arrived in a specially equipped jet at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia, late Tuesday morning. She will be taken to an isolated unit at Emory University Hospital for treatment.

Although hospital officials haven’t released the patient’s identity, the aid group she was working with has identified her as 59-year-old Nancy Writebol.

SIM says in a statement that Writebol remains in serious but stable condition.

READ MORE: NYC hospital testing patient who visited West Africa for Ebola

Dr. Kent Brantly, a physician with North Carolina-based Samaritan’s Purse, arrived in Atlanta for treatment Saturday. Both contracted Ebola while treating patients in Liberia.

Ebola has killed at least 887 people in four West African countries in what’s considered one of the largest outbreaks ever.

©2014The Canadian Press

Hantavirus claims a second life in Saskatchewan this year

REGINA – Provincial health officials are confirming a second person in Saskatchewan has died from hantavirus.

There have been four cases of hantavirus reported this year, including the two deaths. The most recent death was an adult in northern Saskatchewan.

Symptoms of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome include fever, muscle aches, cough, headaches, nausea and vomiting, which is followed by shortness of breath and respiratory failure.

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“Seek medical attention immediately if you develop a fever, muscle aches, coughing and shortness of breath within one to six weeks of exposure to mouse-infested areas,” Saskatchewan’s Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Denise Werker said.

Hantavirus is transmitted by breathing contaminated airborne particles from the droppings, urine and saliva of infected deer mice.

“People should be aware of mouse droppings and nesting materials when cleaning buildings,” Werker said. “Take precautions to prevent direct contact and inhalation of particles that may be contaminated.”

There have been 30 cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome reported in Saskatchewan since 1994 and 10 of them have resulted in death.

BlackBerry’s Chen says layoffs over

Several years of widespread layoffs at BlackBerry (TSX:BB) are finally over, according to an internal memo from the company’s chief executive officer.

John Chen told employees Friday that the Waterloo, Ont.-based smartphone company has reached the end of cuts that began three years ago — part of an attempt to turn its business around.

“We have completed the restructuring notification process, and the work force reduction that began three years ago is now behind us,” he wrote in the memo, which was obtained by The Canadian Press.

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“I am confident that we have the right organization in place to execute our business strategy.”

Chen said BlackBerry is now ready to make strategic acquisitions, like the purchase of Germany’s anti-eavesdropping firm Secusmart that it announced last week.

The CEO was brought in last year and began to make dramatic changes to the company which included stripping out parts of the business, selling real estate and laying off employees to cut costs.

BlackBerry plans to begin “modest” hiring in certain areas of the business, such as product development and sales, Chen added.

“Many employees were let go, many others left by their own choice, while those who stayed often were uncertain about the company, its future and their future,” Chen wrote.

“I know it can be very difficult to maintain a high level of focus and commitment during a time of turmoil and uncertainty.”

The letter outlined some of BlackBerry’s upcoming plans, which include the launch of several new devices and services.

Chen closed the letter reminding staff that while the company has made progress, it’s still not clear of its challenges.

“I ask for your help more than ever to focus on execution at every level,” he said.

“There is no margin for error to complete BlackBerry’s turnaround to success.”

BlackBerry shares were ahead 22 cents to $10.37 in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

— Follow @dj_friend on 桑拿会所.

©2014The Canadian Press

‘Bomb Gaza’ game pulled from Google Play store after outrage – National

TORONTO – Google has pulled a game simulating attacks on the Gaza Strip from the Google Play store following public outrage over the app.

The game titled “Bomb Gaza,” developed by PlayFTW, was meant to simulate the ongoing conflict between Israel and militant group Hamas.

The game’s description encouraged users to “drop bombs and avoid killing citizens.” Its maturity rating was set to “low.”

It allowed players to drop bombs from a fighter jet, while dodging missiles from Hamas fighters.

Screenshot/PlayFTW’s Facebook Page

Screenshot/Facebook

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Google said it removed the app because it violated its policies, but did not specify which one. The game, released on July 29, was removed some time between midday Sunday and early Monday morning.

According to the Google Play developer program policy, apps cannot include content that includes gratuitous violence, bullying, or hate speech.

The app has sparked outrage, with many taking to the developer’s Facebook page to condemn making light of the ongoing crisis.

“This is sick. You should be ashamed to have created such an app,” wrote one Facebook user. “Do you really think it’s a game?”

“This is not a game, it is inciting and perpetuating hatred, war, oppression and killing,” wrote another.

The app had been downloaded over 1,000 times since its release on July 29, according to a report by The Guardian.

WATCH: Amazing night-sky time-lapse of Milky Way over California – National

TORONTO – For Gavin Heffernan, chasing the stars has become a bit of an obsession.

“I started shooting my own experimental projects and the time-lapse passion emerged out of that process,” Heffernan said. “Once I started doing the long exposure shoots of the galaxies and Milky Way, I was definitely hooked.”

WATCH: Amazing time-lapse of night sky

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KINGS from Sunchaser Pictures on Vimeo

Heffernan’s latest time-lapse captures the starry night sky over King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Park in California.

Heffernan, born in Oakville, Ontario, was able to capture millions of stars, the bulge of our Milky Way galaxy as well as meteors. He also created star trails, an effect that is done by pointing a camera at Polaris, the north star around which the rest of the stars appear to rotate. The camera shutter is left open, and trails of stars seem to wheel around the sky.

Capturing stunning time-lapses like this one requires a secluded location away from light pollution, something that can be a challenge in this day and age.

“It’s really a combination of an area with low light pollution and some kind of stunning foreground to set against the stars,” he said.

Heffernan and his partner John C. Brookins had to travel across much of the combined 3,504 kilometres of the two parks. They were kept on their toes as bears wandered the area.

“Seeing that big bear in King’s Canyon was definitely startling, but it made me feel alive more than worried,” he said.

WATCH: Gavin Heffernan and John C. Brookins take you behind the scenes of the making of “Kings”

STARCHASERS: Kings Canyon / Sequoia National Park from John C. Brookins on Vimeo

Heffernan has shot other amazing night-sky time-lapses, such as “YIKÁÍSDÁHÁ.”

As for future projects, the filmmaker and screenwriter is hoping to find more dark-sky sites like an abandoned mining town or an airplane graveyard.

“I guess I’m trying to keep improving and exploring that creative side, while having a great excuse to see some of the most beautiful places in the world and escape into nature.”

Follow @NebulousNikki