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Heavy rainfall causes flash flooding for communities in southeast Saskatchewan

REGINA – Heavy rainfall is causing flooding problems for many communities in the southeast part of the province.

In Regina, the storm water drainage and domestic sewer systems were operating at capacity Sunday night, and officials recommended residents delay showers, baths, and even flushing until capacity could be reduced.

Emergency Management Staff at the Ministry of Government Relations said they are in contact with municipal officials to determine the scope of the flooding and the need for additional support.

The Mayor of Melville, Walter Streelaski, said that the city had issued a local state of emergency due to excessive flooding, Sunday morning.

Streelaski said a command centre is set up at City Hall and that fire trucks are being used to pump out the water, but they are unable to keep up with the amount.

Residents are urged to drastically minimize their water use, as the city’s sanitary system is overflowing with the amount of rain it’s received in the last 24 hours.

A bit of perspective from NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman on board the International Space Station. “Storm begins to swirl near Winnipeg, Canada.”

Reid Wiseman/NASA

Outside Melville

Carmen Bochek

Yorkton, Sk. This is on the East end of the city, going down Dracup Ave.

Karen Sheichuk/Supplied

Parking lot at Mosaic Stadium.

Adrian Raaber/Global News

Near Weyburn

Carrie Guenette/Supplied

#8 Highway north of Moosomin washed out.

Kristy Stewart/Supplied

Brittany Kreklewich snapped this shot while travelling through the Melville/Yorkton/Ituna area on Sunday.

Brittany Kreklewich/Supplied

Whitewood

Crystal Schaan/Supplied

A mass of earthworms flushed out by heavy rain in Regina.

Kent Morrison/Global News

Brittany Kreklewich snapped this shot while travelling through the Yorkton/Melville/Ituna area on Sunday.

Brittany Kreklewich/Supplied

Water up to the roof of a car stranded on Albert St. near stadium

Kent Morrison/Global News

Brittany Kreklewich snapped this shot while travelling through the Yorkton/Melville/Ituna area on Sunday.

Brittany Kreklewich/Supplied

Brittany Kreklewich snapped this shot while travelling through the Yorkton/Melville/Ituna area on Sunday.

Brittany Kreklewich/Supplied

Brittany Kreklewich snapped this shot in Regina on Sunday.

Brittany Kreklewich/Supplied

Rocanville

Kyla Chantel Broom

Horrible rain outside of Chamberlain. Strong wind speeds.

Melissa Nakhavoly/Global News

Taylor Field at Mosaic Stadium

Adrian Raaber/Global News

Regina

Nikki Peever/Supplied


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Melville is among many communities in the southern part of the province dealing with flash flooding.

The Town of Carnduff, the Rural Municipality of Mount Pleasant, and the Village of Maryfield have declared a local emergency due to heavy rain fall in the South East of the province.

Officials are urging residents to avoid travel if possible and to watch out for barricaded streets.

A number of highways across the province have also been shutdown, including High 8 from Moosomin to Spyhill.

SaskPower says roughly 8,000 people in southeast Saskatchewan are experiencing power outages due to flooding and winds. Crews are working to address the issues.

Meanwhile, SaskEnergy is warning residents to turn off gas if they are experiencing basement flooding.

Drivers are asked to avoid that part of the highway as severe flooding is crossing the road, and surrounding secondary gravel roads as well.

The overflow of water is also causing debris to collect on the roads.

Intense wind, rain hammering southern Manitoba – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG-Through most of southern Manitoba intense wind is wreaking havoc. Winds up to 80 kilometres per hour are ripping trees out of the ground, causing siding to peel off houses and causing power outages through most of Manitoba.

Here’s how high the wind gusts were throughout Manitoba Sunday:

Brandon         96 km/hGimli           83 km/hOak Point       83 km/hWinnipeg        81 km/hDeerwood        81 km/hPilot Mound     74 km/h

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Heavy rainfall warnings are also continuing in southern Manitoba Sunday. The western half of the province including Dauphin, Swan River, Brandon, Virden and Killarney are under a rainfall warning. Environment Canada says, “Precipitation associated with this weather system is now situated over southwestern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan and will slowly move northeastward into the western Manitoba parklands. Moderate to heavy rainfall will continue today on the backside of this system. An additional 30 to 50 mm of rain is expected over the next 24 hours with localized storm totals of 125 to 150 mm possible in areas close to the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border. Weather conditions will begin to improve later Monday.”

Saturday, the area was hit with heavy rainfall. Here’s total rainfall amounts from Friday to Sunday at 1:00 p.m. from Environment Canada:

Virden          137 mmPierson         124 mmBrandon arpt    117 mmDeloraine       116 mmMoosehorn       112 mmNeepawa          98 mmReston           97 mmForrest          92 mmHamiota          91 mmDauphin          88 mmBirtle           86 mmEriksdale        86 mmMelita           84 mmBoissevain       78 mm

The intense amount of rain is raising flood fears. The community of Cromer, Manitoba, southwest of Virden has been evacuated. Reston is asking for help with sandbagging efforts.

Activists push for guaranteed minimum income

MONTREAL – A group of academics and activists is trying to drum up interest in an ambitious plan to provide every Canadian with a guaranteed minimum level of income — whether or not they have a job.

Rob Rainer, a campaign director for the Basic Income Canada Network, envisions a country where everyone is assured a minimum of $20,000 annually to make ends meet.

“For many of us, we think the goal is no one should be living in poverty,” Rainer said at a conference on the issue over the weekend at McGill University.

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“That’s essentially what we’re striving to achieve.”

More than 100 speakers and participants were on hand for the conference, which focused on the merits of a guaranteed minimum income that would either replace or exist alongside existing social programs.

The idea is hardly new — the Canadian and Manitoba government conducted an experiment with the issue in the 1970s — but it has enjoyed a resurgence lately.

Switzerland is expected to hold a non-binding referendum this fall on whether to guarantee every citizen an annual income of Cdn $35,900.

And in the United States, the idea has supporters on both sides of the political spectrum.

Proponents on the left argue it represents an opportunity for greater redistribution of wealth, while those on the right see it as a chance to cut back on bureaucracy and return control to people’s lives.

The two sides disagree, however, on whether there would be accompanying tax hikes and whether other social programs would remain place.

Almaz Zelleke, a professor at New York University, said guaranteed income has rarely had this much attention in the United States since President Richard Nixon tried to introduce such a program for families in the 1960s. That effort was ultimately thwarted by Congress.

At the conference, Zelleke gave a presentation laying out how a guaranteed income could be offset by taxes and work from a practical, fiscal standpoint. But even she admitted it would be a challenge to get such a plan on the agenda in Washington, D.C.

“To be very honest, it’s not on the agenda of any mainstream political party in the United States,” she said in an interview, but added a recent surge in media attention has, helpfully, “generated discussion among people who understand that there are problems with the welfare state.”

In Canada, the town of Dauphin, Man., was famously the subject of a government pilot project where residents were provided with a guaranteed minimum income from 1974-1978.

The goal of the program, which cost $17 million, was to find out whether providing extra money directly to residents below a certain household income level would make for effective social policy.

The community’s overall health improved and hospital rates declined during the period, according to a 2010 study by Evelyn Forget, a professor at the University of Manitoba.

Former Conservative senator Hugh Segal, who officially resigned from his post this month, argued for years in favour of the idea, saying it would provide more effective services at a reduced cost.

Quebec’s new minister of employment and social solidarity was also once a prominent advocate.

Francois Blais, a former political science professor, published a book in 2002 called “Ending Poverty: A Basic Income for All Canadians,” though Philippe Couillard’s Liberal government has made no commitments on the issue.

At the federal level, Rainer conceded it’s far from the agenda of the current Conservative government, but said there’s a “little bit of traction” among opposition parties.

Liberal Party delegates passed two resolutions related to guaranteed minimum income at a meeting in Montreal this year — a move Rainer called “pretty significant.”

The Green Party also endorses the notion in its party platform.

“The idea is not new, it’s not really radical,” Rainer said, pointing out that seniors and families with children receive a form of guaranteed income from the government.

“Where it does become more radical is when you get into the area of the working age population, and the idea that people should receive some income whether they are in the labour market or not. That’s a fairly radical idea in our culture, because most of us were brought up to believe that in order to survive you have to work.”

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Israel targets Hamas sites amid suggestion of reoccupying Gaza Strip – National

WATCH: Several rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on June 28. One hit a paint factory in Israel’s southern city of Sderot, burning it to the ground. Footage believed to be from the scene shows a large fireball.

JERUSALEM – Israel carried out airstrikes on militant targets in the Gaza Strip early Sunday after a rocket attack, the military said, as the country’s foreign minister suggested it consider reoccupying the Hamas-ruled territory to stop the increasing rocket fire.

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There has been an increase in rockets launched from the Hamas-ruled territory toward Israel this month, as the army has carried out a wide-ranging operation against Hamas in the West Bank while searching for three Israeli teens who Israel says were abducted by the Palestinian militant group.

The military said it targeted 12 locations in Gaza on Sunday, including concealed rocket launchers, weapons manufacturing sites and what it called “terror activity” sites. The airstrikes were in retaliation for six rockets from Gaza that struck Israel the previous evening. Two of the rockets hit a factory in the town of Sderot, setting it ablaze.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said limited operations against militants in Gaza only strengthen Hamas.

“The alternative is clear,” Lieberman said on Army Radio. “Either with each round we attack terror infrastructure and they shoot, or we go to full occupation.”

Israel unilaterally pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, but continues to control access to the territory by air, land and sea. Israeli leaders have said the pullout cleared the way for Hamas to seize control of the territory two years later and turn it into a base for rocket attacks on Israel, but there has been little support for reoccupying the territory.

On Friday, an Israeli airstrike killed two Palestinian militants in Gaza who were members of the Tawhid Brigades, an ultraconservative Islamic militant group unaffiliated with Hamas, according to Palestinian security officials and militants from the group. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters and the militants because they operate underground.

WATCH: Security footage captures fatal Israeli air strike

The security officials had initially said the two fighters were members of a militant group allied with Hamas that often fires rockets at Israel.

Since the beginning of June, over 60 rockets have been launched from Gaza toward Israel — more than four times the amount in May — and 28 of the rockets hit Israeli territory, the military said. The crude, makeshift devices rarely wound anyone, but they have caused damage and sown panic in communities along the frontier.

Also on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has asked Israeli authorities to consider outlawing a Muslim group in Israel, following calls in support of abducting Israeli soldiers at a demonstration in an Arab-Israeli town.

“In many cases, those behind such calls and demonstrations are from the northern branch of the Islamic Movement,” Netanyahu said. “It constantly preaches against the state of Israel and its people publicly identify with terrorist organizations such as Hamas.”

Israel has arrested the movement’s leader, Raed Salah, on a number of occasions, banning him from Jerusalem and accusing him of incitement. Salah has called for a third intifada, or Palestinian uprising, against Israel.

In 2003, Israel jailed Salah, an Israeli citizen, for more than two years, saying his organization funneled money to Hamas, which at the time was frequently carrying out deadly suicide bombings in Israel.

Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank contributed to this report.

©2014The Associated Press

A look at the 5 highs and lows from the fall session of Parliament

OTTAWA – A number of major themes echoed through the turbulent fall session of Parliament that comes to an end this week. Here is a quick look at some of them:

Politics: With the next scheduled federal election less than a year away, the Conservatives were working to hold their majority, while the New Democrats pondered byelection omens and the Liberals piled their political eggs in Justin Trudeau’s basket.

There were six byelections held in June and November, and the Conservatives held onto four seats — despite the oft-repeated maxim that byelections tend to go against a party in power. The Liberals held one and picked up another. The NDP, however, saw popular support plummet. The party finished second in Trinity-Spadina, which they had won with 54.5 per cent of the vote in 2011. In Whitby-Oshawa, the party fell to 8.1 per cent of the vote from 22.3.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers a question during question period in the House of Commons, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014 in Ottawa.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

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Finance: Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government touted the imminent return to a budget surplus, while rolling out a series of targeted goodies, including a new child benefit, tax breaks and income-splitting for families, EI premium cuts for small business and new infrastructure spending pledges. Plunging oil prices are a growing cloud on the government horizon, however.

The NDP and Tom Mulcair pledged to bring in a multibillion-dollar program of $15-a-day child care. That came just before Quebec announced changes to its own cherished $7-a-day program, saying it would jack up prices in a sliding scale.

READ MORE: Unreal exchange in House of Commons over Canada’s involvement in Iraq

Trudeau condemned income-splitting, but was short on details of his own plans. He did say he wants to stress infrastructure and help for the middle class as the basis of his fiscal policies. He suggested Harper’s tax breaks are wrong and that he might reverse some.

A woman leaves the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after paying her respects at the National War Memorial, where Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, was killed by a gunman, in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Terror: Terrorism re-emerged as a political issue in the fall with the brutal rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and disturbing attacks at home. The Conservatives dispatched six CF-18 fighter-bombers to participate in air strikes against ISIL. This came over the objections of the NDP and Liberals, who both argued for more humanitarian aid and against military action. Trudeau scorned Harper’s use of jets as a macho gesture.

Attacks in Quebec and Ottawa which left two soldiers dead and saw a shootout in the Centre Block of Parliament sparked a debate over what constitutes terrorism. Were the attacks the work of deranged individuals, as the opposition argued, or terrorist-inspired assaults which should be warnings for the future, as the government claimed?

Federal Liberal MPs Massimo Pacetti and Scott Andrews are shown in recent file photos.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Scandals: Anonymous accusations of misconduct, which led Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to suspend two of his MPs, sparked an onerous discussion of harassment on Parliament Hill and how to deal with it. The debate sits stalled, with no clear way forward and two political careers in limbo.

The government’s handling of veterans benefits had the opposition demanding that Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino resign or be fired. Each government effort to extricate itself from the political mire just seemed to dig it in deeper.

An April trial date was set for disgraced Sen. Mike Duffy on charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery. That will resurrect the whole Senate expense scandal just five months before the scheduled election.

Minister Stephen Harper walks past Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit Thursday Sept.5, 2013 in St.Petersburg, Russia.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Foreign Affairs: Although Harper has long been accused of ignoring foreign policy and scorning the United Nations, the autumn saw his stock rise internationally. Amid Russian aggression against Ukraine, Harper travelled to Kyiv to show his support and won international notice for a public rebuke of Russia’s Vladimir Putin at a summit in Australia.

He and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird worked behind the scenes as Michaelle Jean was selected to lead the Francophonie. The government also contributed money, vaccines, equipment and people to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The opposition nagged about some details, but generally left the government’s foreign efforts alone.

©2014The Canadian Press

Right Some Good shuts down Spring Garden, helps fill stomachs – Halifax

HALIFAX – It was a feast for the senses as a pop-up food festival shut down a popular downtown Halifax street and international, award-winning chefs rubbed elbows with Haligonians.

On Sunday, hundreds of people filled Spring Garden Road to celebrate the inaugural Right Some Good festival in Halifax. The event shut down Spring Garden from Queen Street to South Park Street.

The festival has run for three years in Cape Breton, but this is the first time it has made its way to Halifax and it seems foodies couldn’t wait to get their hands on some grub.

“It was delicious,” said Sean MacInnes, as he munched on a fish taco.

“It was light, tangy with a mild amount of spice.”

“I just had a fish taco that was so succulent and juicy. One was not enough,” said Emily Durant.

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“I’m working on the crab [dish] right now, just the different flavours mixed together is a party in my mouth.”

Those types of responses are exactly what Right Some Good Culinary Director Adorn Mofford hopes to hear.

Mofford said he was overwhelmed to see the number of people who came out to celebrate the pop-up food festival.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” he said. “It’s been fantastic. The turnout is incredible.”

Mofford said Right Some Good is meant to turn people on to local, sustainable ways of eating.

“Local is so important for the economy, for health reasons but also to know your farmer. The products are so fresh.”

It’s a sentiment Lunenburg chef Martin Ruiz Salvador agrees with. Ruiz Salvador is the chef at Fleur De Sel and is the only Nova Scotian chef involved with the pop-up festival.

He said he sees a difference when he cooks with local products.

“The real reason for me is flavour. It’s the taste of the food. No matter what you do, if you ship in asparagus from Mexico, it’s not ever going to be as good as if you get it from the Hutten Family Farm at the market,” he said.

“Food that travels less is healthier for you. It’s basically a win-win but the idea is first and foremost is flavour.”

Chef Michael Reidt is the owner of Miami based restaurant Pilgrim Culinary. He said eating local is even more important in an age where many people tend to use pre-packaged and processed foods.

“People lost touch with what’s growing around their area. We’re trying to go back to the old days where you only eat and consume what you grow and what’s around you,” he said.

“When you eat what’s around you and what’s available to you locally, this is how amazing it can be.”

Mofford said the reception from both chefs and foodies has been phenomenal and the event is already looking towards coming back next year.

The mayor’s office said this is the first time Spring Garden Road has been closed to vehicle traffic for the whole day for 15 years.

Spring Garden Road was shut down to vehicle traffic from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm.

Julia Wong/Global News

It’s Canada’s 147th birthday – guess who’s not invited?

OTTAWA – The Harper government is snubbing officials from a select group of pariah states, ordering its diplomatic missions around the world not to invite them to receptions celebrating Canada Day on July 1.

Foreign Affairs circulates a “persona non grata” list in June each year, warning its embassies, consulates and other missions to bar them from local events marking Canada’s birthday.

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The department has refused to release its latest list, but The Canadian Press obtained last year’s version – likely little changed for 2014, with the possible inclusion of Russia for the first time.

North Korea, Fiji, Belarus, Iran, Syria, Madagascar and Guinea-Bissau are prominent, largely because of Canada’s disapproval of unelected or badly behaved governments.

Taiwan is also on the list, though only because Canada does not recognize the island as a state rather than from any disapproval of the government.

Sudan has special status: officials can be invited, but only those not named in arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court.

Last year’s list, created before Canada’s vocal diplomatic rift with Russian President Vladimir Putin over incursions in Ukraine, does not include Russia – but Russian officials are likely unwelcome at receptions this year.

Canada’s relations with Myanmar have improved in recent years, and last year’s list allowed civilian officials from the Asian country formally known as Burma to attend Canada Day receptions.

An accompanying memorandum from deputy minister Morris Rosenberg also notes the invitation restrictions apply for events being held in Canada as well.

“The same considerations would apply to any official Canada Day event hosted in Ottawa and involving the local diplomatic corps,” he said.

The memo and related materials were obtained under the Access to Information Act, with a few parts blacked out under an exemption protecting international relations.

Asked to comment on the list the department provided to The Canadian Press, a spokesman said “it is not our practice to provide lists of country representatives invited or not invited to functions held at our missions abroad.”

“I’m afraid that’s all I have at this point,” Ian Trites said in an email.

Trites did not respond as well to specific questions about Russia’s status on this year’s persona non grata list.

Canada has applied sanctions against more than five dozen Russians and others linked to the Ukraine crisis, while Russia has imposed sanctions against more than a dozen Canadians in retaliation.

One of Russia’s close allies, Belarus, appears on the 2013 list with the most detailed explanation for its exclusion.

“The most recent election, held in December 2010, was marred by a lack of transparency in the vote counting process, a violent crackdown on protesters, and the detention of most of the opposition presidential candidates,” says the document.

“Given the current situation in Belarus – which continues to deteriorate – Canada sees no reason to modify its policy of limited engagement.”

On Friday, Foreign Affairs publicly released another list, naming the countries favoured for foreign aid from Canada. The document added Myanmar and six others to the 20 countries first identified in the 2009 version, while dropping Pakistan and Bolivia.

©2014The Canadian Press

Cameroon, Ghana investigate after World Cup eliminations – Montreal

DOUALA, Cameroon – The presidents of Cameroon and Ghana have called for investigations following disappointing World Cup showings that saw both countries eliminated during the group stage.

In Cameroon, state media said President Paul Biya had given his prime minister one month to submit a report on the Indomitable Lions’ “inglorious campaign.”

The report is expected to include steps for “a profound and deep restructuring of Cameroonian football,” said a statement from Biya’s office.

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READ MORE: Ghana throws Muntari, Boateng off World Cup squad

Ghana President John Mahama also said an investigation was needed to figure out why Ghana failed to advance to the knock-out rounds for the first time in three World Cup appearances, according to the state-run Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.

Mahama has already replaced the country’s sports minister along with his deputy.

Both teams placed at the bottom of their groups.

For Cameroon, the trouble began even before the tournament opened when players refused to board their chartered plane to Brazil until a dispute over bonuses was resolved.

The national football federation said it had to take out a “private loan” to meet player demands, increasing the sum given to each squad member by $12,000.

The total bonus was not disclosed.

READ MORE: Ghana star hands out cash in Brazilian slum at World Cup

In three games, Cameroon allowed nine goals and scored just one against Brazil after it had already been eliminated.

Toward the end of a 4-0 defeat against Croatia, defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto thrust his head into the face of teammate Benjamin Moukandjo and the pair scuffled in front of their goal before being separated by another Cameroon player.

Earlier in that match, midfielder Alex Song was sent off for elbowing Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic in the back in an egregious off-the-ball incident that has inspired a new song from Cameroonian rapper Maahlox Le Vibeur, complete with an elbow-jab dance move.

The national football federation derided the players’ “disgraceful behaviour.”

After the team was eliminated, local media began calling for sanctions.

The tabloid newspaper La Meteo ran a front-page headline of “All Guilty” underneath photos of sports minister Adoum Garoua, coach Volker Finke and captain Samuel Eto’o.

Ghana’s Black Stars also had disciplinary problems.

Two players were thrown off the squad just hours before its final match against Portugal.

Sulley Muntari was suspended for allegedly attacking a team official and an executive committee member of the national football association, and Kevin-Prince Boateng was suspended for alleged “vulgar verbal insults targeted at coach Kwesi Appiah.”

The suspensions came just after Ghana resolved its own dispute over bonus payments when the government chartered a jet to fly $3 million in cash to players in Brazil.

According to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, the national bar association criticized the move as illegal, saying it “sets a bad precedent for the citizenry.”

©2014The Associated Press

Gunmen fire on worshippers in churches in northeast Nigeria – National

ABOVE: A Nigerian government spokesmen on Monday acknowledged two attacks a day earlier by suspected Islamic extremists just a few miles from the town where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped

BAUCHI, Nigeria – Suspected Islamic extremists sprayed gunfire at worshippers and torched four churches Sunday in a village just miles from the town where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped, witnesses said.

Scores of people have been killed and survivors are hiding in the bush around Kwada village, residents said.

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“They killed dozens of people and burned houses after attacking worshippers,” survivor Mallam Yahi told The Associated Press by telephone from Chibok town, to which he escaped.

Some of the church buildings destroyed included the Church of Christ in Nigeria, the Deeper Life Bible Church and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa, which is Hausa for Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, Yahi said.

He said the attackers went on to neighbouring Kautikari, where they gunned down villagers and burned down homes.

Police spokesman Gideon Jubrin said he could not confirm the attack because bad communications have kept officials from reaching the nearest security post at Chibok. That was the site in northeast Borno state of the mass abduction in April. Officials say 219 girls remain captive. Kwada is 10 kilometres (six miles) and Kautikari seven kilometres (four miles) away.

WATCH: Boko Haram kidnappings

Boko Haram kidnaps more people according to witnesses

01:13

Boko Haram kidnaps more people according to witnesses

02:42

Nigeria kidnappings: Boko Haram’s offer in new video

00:30

Boko Haram leader vows to sell kidnapped girls




Boko Haram extremists are demanding the release of detained fighters in return for the girls. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has been criticized for the slow reaction to the abductions and failure to swiftly rescue the girls. The United States has drones flying to help locate them and other nations have sent experts to help, but negotiations appear stalled.

Nigeria’s military has said it knows where they are but fears any military campaign could get them killed.

Jonathan on Sunday condemned other recent attacks – Friday’s bombing of a hotel that local reports identified as a brothel in Bauchi state, also in the northeast, and sectarian killings of sedentary farmers who are mainly Christian by alleged Fulani Muslim herders in northern Kaduna state.

“The president commiserates with all the families who lost loved ones in the heinous attacks and extends his heartfelt sympathies to all those who suffered injuries or lost their properties during the wanton assaults on Bauchi and Kaduna States,” said a statement.

He promised the attackers would be brought to book.

Jonathan made no mention of the near-daily attacks Boko Haram extremists have been mounting in the area around Chibok, an enclave of mainly Christian people in the majority Muslim north of the country. Bauchi and Kaduna states are governed by Jonathan’s ruling People’s Democratic Party while Borno is held by an opposition governor.

A year-long military state of emergency in three northeastern states, all held by political opponents of Jonathan, has failed to curb the 5-year-old Islamic uprising that has killed thousands of people. The militants have increased the tempo and deadliness of attacks this year, with more than 2,000 people estimated killed compared to 3,600 in all four previous years.

Boko Haram also has increased its theatre of operations to bombings in several northern towns and the capital, Abuja, in central Nigeria. It is also blamed for some attacks in central Nigeria, which some politicians say are being mounted by extremists disguised as Fulani herdsmen.

The extremists are blamed for last week’s bombing of a shopping mall in Abuja, the capital in central Nigeria, that killed 24 people. Boko Haram claimed two separate bomb attacks at an Abuja bus station in April that killed more than 120 people and wounded about 200.

Boko Haram wants to enforce an Islamic state in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, the continent’s biggest oil producer and its most populous nation of about 170 million people divided almost equally between a majority Muslim north and mainly Christian south.

©2014The Associated Press

Canada Day 2014: ‘Weird gap’ frustrates some workers – National

TORONTO – On Monday, some people will go to work begrudgingly, knowing that others are still taking a holiday break.

Canada Day falls on a Tuesday this year, and because of the “weird gap” it creates in the work week, some workplaces have created a de facto extra-long weekend.

“We have both Monday and Tuesday off,” said Jennifer Fleming, who works for a PR company in Toronto and is spending the weekend at a lakeside cottage in Muskoka.

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  • 10 ways to celebrate Canada Day in Montreal

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READ MORE: Top 10 reasons why Canada is awesome

“The suckers are the people who are going to be working,” said Philip Chin, near his Toronto office, where he’ll be in on Monday morning.

“A lot of people will be taking it off covertly,” said Chin. “They’ll be doing as little as possible on that day.”

“It’s kind of awkward because you can’t really do anything,” said Laura Swietochowska. “It’s just a weird gap in the week.”

Unlike Victoria Day or Thanksgiving, which are sliding statutory holidays that always create a long weekend, Canada Day is celebrated July 1 – whenever that falls.

Changing Canada Day to consistently create a long weekend, though, might be more of a hassle than the weird schedules it creates. It would require an act of Parliament.

And because it marks the day of Canada’s confederation on July 1, 1867, some people think the holiday should remain on that date.

“Canada Day should be celebrated on July 1. We have enough holidays that fall on the Monday,” said Julio Digirolamo, one of those with an extended long weekend.

“It’s Canada Day and it should fall on the national holiday.”

But David Rubinstein, who works in a flower shop, said that he could make use of the quiet day Monday while some of his customers are vacationing.

“All this cleaning up, and all this organizing that you do have to do and never gets done, gets done on days like that,” he said.

Next year, Canada Day will split the week again when it falls on a Wednesday – but after that, it’ll create a long weekend for the following four years.

©2014The Canadian Press