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  • admin 21:10 on 29/12/2018  

    WATCH: Every disaster is an opportunity and for Iraq’s Kurdish population, this may be a chance to go it alone. Stuart Greer reports from Erbil.

    Please note: This post, originally published June 18, has been updated to include new reporting from inside the Kurdistan region

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    Kurdish-controlled areas of Iraq have been largely spared the country’s worsening turmoil as Islamist militants make their way further south, taking over cities and towns en route to Baghdad.

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took over areas that have large Kurdish populations, including Iraq’s second-largest city Mosul last week, but the Sunni Muslim militant group’s fighters haven’t attempted to move into Kurdish-controlled areas so far.

    Erbil, the capital of autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, has become a haven for displaced people fleeing ISIL’s violent advances.

    With Iraq on the brink of bloody sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites – again – and amid fears the country could fall apart, the Kurdistan region in the north may have a chance to achieve a greater degree of independence.

    Iraqi Kurdistan is safe – for now

    The Kurds may not have the strongest relationship with the Shiite-led government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but they’re by no means pledging allegiance to ISIL, as local Sunni groups in captured cities have.

    Iraq’s Kurds see ISIL as a terrorist group and, with the advance on Mosul June 6, the Kurdistan Regional Govenment mobilized peshmerga forces to protect the autonomous region’s recognized borders.

    Peshmerga forces protected Kurdish territory and moved into Kirkuk – the oil-rich city the Kurds have long claimed as their capital, but which has been under Iraqi government control – and areas of the northwestern province of Niveneh, where Mosul is located.

    Meanwhile, areas inside Iraqi Kurdistan have become a refuge for those fleeing the violence.

    About 300,000 people fled Mosul last week and sought refuge in Kurdish cities and towns, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

    An Iraqi boy who fled fighting between security forces and al-Qaida inspired militants in his hometown of Tal Afar carries his belongings at Germawa camp for displaced Iraqis, in a hot dusty plain in the largely-autonomous Kurdish area of Dahuk, 430 kilometers northwest of Baghdad Tuesday, June 17, 2014.

    AP Photo

    That’s in addition to about 250,000 Syrian refugees that have fled into Iraqi Kurdistan in the past three years, and thousands of others seeking refuge from fighting in Iraq’s Anbar province this year, according to Rudaw, a Kurdish news network.

    Are Kurdish forces fighting with ISIL?

    Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told BBC on Tuesday that peshmerga fighters would not assist Iraqi efforts to reclaim Mosul.

    “It would be a mistake to fight the ISIS at this stage,” Kurdish politician Arif Taifour told Rudaw . “We should defend our own Kurdish territories outside the Kurdistan Region and not become part of the religious fight in Iraq.”

    A peshmerga officer told Rudaw ISIL promised to keep its fighters out of Kurdish controlled areas: “If you don’t attack us, we [will] not attack you,” the group reportedly said in a message sent by courier Sunday.

    But there have been clashes between ISIL militants and peshmerga fighters in the past two weeks in areas claimed by both Kurds and the Iraqi government, such as in Niveneh and Diyala province.

    Six peshmerga were injured Wednesday in the town of Jalula, about 125 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, where the ISIL are fighting to take control.

    Kurdish peshmerga fighters wounded in fighting with al-Qaida-inspired Sunni militants recover in a hospital bed in Erbill, a city in the Kurdish controlled north 350 kilometers north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. Kurdish security and hospital officials said Wednesday that fighting has been raging since morning between Kurdish fighters known as peshmerga and militants who are trying to take the town of Jalula, in the restive Diyala province some 125 kilometers northeast of Baghdad.

    AP Photo

    Will Iraqi Kurdistan become independent?

    That’s anyone’s guess. But the prime minister and deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government said, in separate interviews, they expect Iraq could end up divided.

    “We’ve said all along that we won’t break away from Iraq but Iraq may break away from us, and it seems that it is,” Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani told TIME, adding that Iraq looks like it may become three separate states – Kurdistan in the north, a Sunni state through central Iraq and a Shia state in the south.

    Kurdish Prime Minister Barzani told the BBC it would be “almost impossible” for Iraq to go back to the way it was before the ISIL advances.

    “Regarding a solution, is for the Sunni areas to decide, but the best model is to have a Sunni region like we have in Kurdistan,” Barzani told Rudaw.

    Kurds suffered under Saddam Hussein: Between 3,200 and 5,000 people died when Hussein ordered a gas attacks on the Kurds in 1988, and between 50,000 and 100,000 more were killed or disappeared during a seven-month campaign that completely wiped out villages.

    The Iraqi Special Tribunal charged Hussein with genocide in April 2006, but was never tried. He was executed on Dec. 30, 2006 after the tribunal convicted him of him crimes against humanity for the 1982 murders of 148 Shiites in Dujali, north of Baghdad.

    But since Hussein’s fall, Iraq’s Kurdistan region thrived – largely thanks to the oil industry. It’s grown about 10 per cent annually, according to an Oct. 2013 report in the New York Times.

    International oil companies are pouring billions of dollars into Iraqi Kurdistan, home to about 45 billion barrels of oil, according to Forbes magazine.

    And the Kurds have built a new pipeline to Turkey that will eventually allow 400,000 barrels per day to flow to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

    Turkey, which has a collegial relationship with Iraq’s Kurds but not its own Kurdish population, supports the possibility of Iraqi Kurdistan independence. Huseyin Celik, spokesperson for Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party, told Rudaw the people of Iraqi Kurdistan “would have the right to self-determination like other nations” if Iraq splits apart. But he said Turkey would rather Iraq stay united.

    With files form The Associated Press

     
  • admin 21:10 on 29/12/2018  

    QUEBEC CITY – “My family, people close to me, we’ve all heard about it.”

    It’s an election promise and something close to the Quebec premier’s heart. Bullying is a plague, said Philippe Couillard, that despite laws that have been passed, still poisons thousands of Quebecers, from children to the elderly.

    “We don’t solve a problem like this only by laws and regulations.” 

    “You solve it by showing it’s a priority,” he said.

    Story continues below

    HangZhou Night Net

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    “I’m the chief of the government of Quebec and I’m telling the population that this is an utmost priority for me.”

    In 2012, the previous Liberal government forced school boards to implement anti-bullying and anti-violence plans, where rules of conduct and safety measures had to be explained to students at a civics session each year.

    MORE: Montreal kids beat bullying series 

    However, the media kept getting wind of more bullying cases, often ones that involved teens resorting to drastic measures to make it stop.

    Jasmin Roy, an openly gay television personality, said he believes more work needs to be done.

    “People want to find solutions against bullying and violence, so what they need now is to be supported,” said the founder and president of the Jasmin Roy Foundation, a charity that works to fight bullying.

    The premier is investing $200,000 towards a forum on bullying, scheduled for October 2 in Quebec City, launching online consultations for anyone with something to say on the issue and mandating his team to consult with youth centres.

    Opposition parties said they’re on board and compared the collaboration to the non-partisan Dying with Dignity consultations.

    “I hope that we will be able to apply concrete measures after this forum, within six months,” said Coalition Avenir Quebec house leader François Bonnardel.

    Although Premier Couillard didn’t promise millions towards this initiative, he did promise the fight against bullying would start at the top. He admonished one of his MNAs for bullying Quebec Solidaire’s Manon Massé in the hallways at the National Assembly.

     
  • admin 21:10 on 29/12/2018  

    WATCH: Hero nurse Chris Burden talks about how he saved the man’s life who had been struck by lightning

    TORONTO – Chris Burden was in the clubhouse at Stouffville’s Bethesda Grange Golf course, taking shelter from the severe storm rolling through southern Ontario Tuesday, when lightning struck and the room was “overwhelmed” by thunder.

    Someone was hit.

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    • Clean up underway after tornado rips through Angus, Ont.

    • By the numbers: Ontario’s deadliest tornadoes

    • Timelapse of severe storm hitting Toronto

    • Dramatic videos of the severe weather that hit parts of Ontario

    Burden and his brother, a police officer in Halton, ran outside and saw four people injured. One of them, a 60-year-old man, was lying face down about 50 yards from the 18th hole.

    Witness Peter Epstein said the man appeared dead, his clothing was melted and his skin was burned.

    “He wasn’t breathing and he didn’t have a pulse, and he wasn’t conscious. He was dead,” Epstein said Tuesday.

    Burden, an ICU nurse, said his instincts immediately took over.

    “His body was burned, his face, his hands, everything we could see was burned,” he said. “He was purple, he was ashen at the time. His eyes had rolled back into the back of his head and it was just purely instincts to start CPR.”

    WATCH: Witness describes scene after four men were struck by lightning at Toronto-area golf course

    READ MORE: Ontario’s deadliest tornadoes 

    He rolled the man over and started CPR with his brother.

    “This guy’s not going to go now, me and my brother have to do what’s got to be done until somebody can come with better tools than we have.”

    Burden finished two minutes of chest compressions and CPR. His brother was about to start when there was another clap of thunder overhead and Burden thought he was also going to be hit.

    But as his brother started giving CPR, the man started breathing.

    “His eyes started to open, he started to move his hand and started to move his arms,” Burden said. “I started looking at my brother as if to say, I think we got him, I think we got him back.”

    Burden and his brother focused on keeping the man stable and moved him to a safer position, off the course, away from the golf clubs and out of the rain.  Paramedics came and took the man to hospital in critical condition.

    “Did that just really happen?” asked Burden.

    Three other men were hit and injured on the golf course as the storm moved through much of southern Ontario, flooding some streets in Toronto and damaging hundreds of homes when a tornado touched down in Angus, Ontario.

    After the paramedics came, Burden and his brother went back to the clubhouse and ordered a burger and a drink.

    When crowds of people started to form, they left.

    “My brother’s a cop, I’m a nurse, we’re public servants. We do our job for others, we don’t do it for ourselves,” said Burden. “We work to make other people better and safer and we’ve done that for years and years now. So the hero thing, it’s a title. I just did what I knew I could do in that situation. Luckily what I did, it helped save this guy. I hope what I did has given him a chance at another 30 years of life. I hope.”

    – With files from Mark McAllister

     
  • admin 21:10 on 29/12/2018  

    WASHINGTON – The Libyan militant accused of masterminding the deadly Benghazi attacks that have become a flashpoint in U.S. politics awaited his first court appearance Saturday amid heightened security at a federal courthouse.

    Ahmed Abu Khattala was scheduled to appear before a magistrate judge, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. He is charged in connection with the assaults on the U.S. diplomatic compound in the eastern Libyan city on Sept. 11, 2012, that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

    U.S. special forces captured Abu Khattala in Libya two weeks ago, marking the first breakthrough in the investigation. Officials had been questioning Abu Khattala aboard a Navy ship that transported him to the United States.

    This undated image obtained from Facebook shows Ahmed Abu Khattala, an alleged leader of the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, who was captured by U.S. special forces on Sunday, June 15, 2014, on the outskirts of Benghazi. (AP Photo)

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    The prosecution reflects the Obama administration’s stated position of trying suspected terrorists in the American criminal justice system even as Republicans call for Abu Khattala and others to be held at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    Critics say suspected terrorists don’t deserve the legal protections afforded by the American court. The administration considers the civilian justice system fairer and more efficient.

    Abu Khattala was flown early Saturday by military helicopter from the ship to a National Park Service landing pad in the Washington’s Anacostia neighbourhood, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss the transfer publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    READ MORE: Female activist assassinated in Benghazi on election day

    A criminal complaint filed last year and unsealed after Abu Khattala’s capture charges him with terror-related crimes. They include killing a person during an attack on a federal facility; that crime can be punishable by death.

    At the initial hearing, the government was expected to outline the charges against him. He almost certainly will remain in detention while the Justice Department seeks a federal grand jury indictment against him.

    The violence in Libya on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon quickly became a political controversy at home.

    Republicans accused the White House, as the 2012 presidential election neared, of intentionally misleading the public about what prompted the attacks. The White House said Republicans were politicizing a national tragedy.

    Abu Khattala was a prominent figure in Benghazi’s circles of extremists. He was popular among young radicals and lived openly in the eastern Libyan city, spotted at cafes and other public places, even after the Obama administration publicly named him as a suspect.

    He is accused of being a member of the Ansar al-Shariah group, the powerful Islamic militia that the U.S. believes was behind the attack.

    WATCH: Video shows U.S. capture of terror suspect Abu Anas al-Libi

    He acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press in January that he was present during the storming of the U.S. mission in Benghazi. But he denied involvement in the attack, saying he was trying to organize a rescue of trapped people.

    In the attack, gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades and stormed the mission, with many waving the black banners of Ansar al-Shariah.

    The compound’s main building was set ablaze. Ambassador Chris Stevens suffocated to death inside and another American was shot dead.

    At the time, several witnesses said they saw Abu Khattala directing fighters at the site.

    Later in the evening, gunmen attacked and shelled a safe house, killing two more Americans. No evidence has emerged that Abu Khattala was involved in the later attack.

    Abu Khattala is one of just a few cases in which the administration has captured a suspected terrorist overseas and interrogated him for intelligence purposes before bringing him to federal court to face charges.

    Those cases include Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who was arrested in Jordan in March 2013 and turned over to U.S. agents. A jury in New York City convicted him in March of conspiring to kill Americans.

    ©2014The Canadian Press

     
  • admin 21:10 on 29/12/2018  

    FREDERICTON – The city of Fredericton is warning drivers a 12 week rehabilitation project on the city’s Westmorland St. Bridge will create some serious traffic delays over the summer if people don’t change their driving habits.

    The Government of New Brunswick is investing $4.3-million into the project, including $950,000 for paving Devonshire Drive.

    Construction begins June 23.

    “There’s two phases in the project. Phase one will be on the upriver side of the bridge and all the associated ramps,” said Darren Charters, the city’s traffic engineer.

    “Essentially they’re cutting the bridge in half and working on half at a time. Once they’re done of the upriver side, they’ll flip it and work on the down river side lanes, and ramps, so the ramps is what makes it very difficult for access to the bridge.”

    The City of Fredericton has the summer’s construction projects identified on their website.

    City of Fredericton

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    Over 51, 000 vehicles use the bridge each day. Once the project is complete, the bridge is expected to be able to withstand decades of traffic, connecting the south side to the north side of the city.

    In the meantime, the city is asking the public to change their commute if they routinely use the bridge, or use a different mode of transportation.

    “Walking, cycling, active transportation, carpooling is huge, there’s not many people in Fredericton who carpool and that makes a huge difference. Using transit is a big advantage to the traffic congestion,” Charters said.

    For phase one of the project, people will be unable to cycle or walk across the bridge for safety reasons.

    READ MORE: Westmorland Street Bridge Construction 2014

    Some sustainable transportation advocates are hoping the project will mean more people turning to other methods of transportation.

    “Get on your bike, drive to work, you get yourself to work, you change, you’re healthy, you’re happy and you’re ready to tackle your day,” said Dorian Beggs, with Capital City Cycles. “And at the end of the day, you’ll be driving by everyone who’s steaming in traffic.”

    Capital City Cycles is a community program trying to get more bicycles and less vehicles on Fredericton roads.

    The city is also hoping more people will turn to Fredericton transit. There have been complaints about a lack of frequency and the need for transit in growing areas of the city.

    The transit system hasn’t changed significantly in two decades, and both sides of the city have become much denser over the past 20 years.

    The city is hosting two open houses, asking for people’s input in ways to improve the transit system.

    READ MORE: Transit changes to be presented at open houses

    Making the changes will take some time, but for this summer, it could be a better option than driving, the city says.

     
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