Look out Edmonton, there’s a new farmers’ market in town – Edmonton

Watch above: A brand new farmer’s market has opened its doors in the heart of the city. Mother’s Market celebrates its grand opening Sunday. Tom sits down with Robert Holm and Phil Filipchuk to learn more about the new market.

EDMONTON – As more and more Edmontonians make the move to support locally produced food, a new farmers’ market has opened its doors in the city’s downtown.

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Mother’s Market celebrated its grand opening Sunday. Edmonton’s newest indoor market, located in the heart of the city, is open three days a week, 52 weeks a year.

“We’re different than other farmers’ markets,” said Mother’s Market CEO Robert Holm. “We stay open late on Friday so you can pick up groceries before heading home. Also, it’s a great lunch spot. Come in, eat, have a coffee and take a seat on our patio.”

The two-storey, 20,000-square foot market offers everything from fresh eggs, fish and vegetables to baked good and gelato. Upstairs, there are five hot food vendors offering Indian, Mexican, Aboriginal and Polish cuisine.

“What we’re trying to establish is a community feel,” said Holm’s business partner, Phil Filipchuk. “Bring the family down, enjoy the afternoon, just shop around. It’s a relaxed space, we have a jukebox, we have all kinds of fun stuff in there. Plus, we have great food, very healthy items.”

“I think people are really waking up to the foods and health and what we need to be eating and going back to more old school,” added Holm. “When I was young everybody had a garden and a cold room and now nobody is doing that. But the young people are really starting to take that on.”

READ MORE: To market, to market, Edmontonians go

Plans for the market began in November. There are already four markets like this in Calgary, so Holm and Filipchuk thought it was about time to bring one to Edmonton.

“The energy in this place is incredible,” said Holm. “People should go to all the markets in town. However, if you live in the area, come check us out too. We’re trying to get something going here, an answer to Vancouver’s Granville Market right here in Edmonton.”

The market is located in the old Mother’s Music building at 10251-109 Street. It is open Fridays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit the market’s website.

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Canada wins silver at women’s rugby World Cup – National

WATCH: Canada’s women’s rugby team made it to the world finals in Paris this weekend. And as Francis Silvaggio reports, the ladies are setting a fantastic example for girls everywhere.

PARIS – You could almost hear the sigh of relief from her English teammates as Emily Scarratt broke through one tackle, evaded another and touched down in the corner of Canada’s end zone.

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After having to fight for every inch against a resilient Canadian team, England needed a stellar solo effort from its star centre to cement a 21-9 win over Canada in the women’s rugby World Cup final.

Scarratt scored 16 points on Sunday, including 10 straight to close the gold-medal game, as England won its second World Cup and its first in 20 years.

After England dominated in the first half, Canada closed to within two points on a Magali Harvey penalty halfway through the second. But Scarratt kicked a penalty of her own a minute later, then capped the scoring with a try six minutes from the end of regulation.

“We had a couple of opportunities to score tries that could have made a difference, but because we didn’t then they were full of confidence and more physical and fresher than us,” Canada coach Francois Ratier said.

“When you have two opportunities and you don’t score, then it’s almost impossible. It’s not a question of passion or heart. It’s just a question of in the final of any sport, if you don’t score when you have the opportunities, then the other team will take them.”

Scarratt received the ball from a lineout and ran past Mandy Marchak, fended off fullback Julianne Zussman and ran the ball in to give England some much needed breathing room. She kicked a conversion to cap a spectacular tournament for the England centre.

“It’s just a missed tackle,” Ratier said. “We tried to tackle high but (Scarratt) has a really strong upper body. We should have gone lower but that’s the way it is.”

Harvey had all of Canada’s points on three penalties and finished the tournament with 61 points, second only to Scarratt’s 70.

It was Canada’s first appearance in the World Cup final. Its previous best finish was fourth, which it did in three consecutive tournaments from 1998 to 2006. England, meanwhile, ended 16 years of heartache by finally winning it after finishing as runner-up to New Zealand in the last three tournaments.

Harvey was named the IRB women’s player of the year after the game. Canadian captain Kelly Russell was also a finalist for the award.

Harvey and Russell were two of the five Canadian players on the World Cup roster who were on the team that lost to New Zealand in the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens final.

Canada fought to a 13-13 draw with England during the group stage, but it looked like a different English side in the first half on Sunday. They keyed in on Harvey and prevented her from making a game-breaking run as she did in Canada’s semifinal win over host France.

On offence, England used its size to exert all sorts of pressure, making several dangerous advances into Canadian territory.

Scarratt opened the scoring 11 minutes into the match. England drew a penalty after an impressive break from Natasha Hunt, who used her speed to run down the middle deep into the Canadian zone.

England could have come away with more early on, but Canada’s defence held firm with some solid tackling.

Canada was spared a try when Hunt was tackled near the touch-line. An official review declared Hunt had not moved the ball into touch when she was brought down by Andrea Burk.

England kept coming, and Scarratt kicked her second penalty of the game at the 25-minute mark to put England up 6-0.

Canada had trouble getting into England’s zone and it proved costly when Danielle Waterman capped a series of crisp passes and scored the game’s first try at the 33 minute mark. Scarratt missed the convert as England went up 11-0.

“We were not able to match physically. At times we were dominant but they were more consistent,” Ratier said.

“They won some balls and we were not able to attack on the outside. We tried, but they were just better at defence.”

Canada finally started to get some momentum late in the half, and it paid off with a key penalty before the break when England was called for offside. Harvey converted the kick on the last play of the half to cut the deficit to 11-3.

Harvey started the second half with two long penalties, the second from 42 yards out, and Canada suddenly looked dangerous trailing just 11-9.

But that was as close as Canada would come. Scarratt responded with a penalty one minute later to restore England’s advantage to five points.

Canada had some opportunities to close the gap, but Scarratt rescued her team when she scored a try with six minutes left in regulation, and added two points on a conversion.

Canada continued to press for their first try of the game as time ran out. While the Canadians were able to get deep into England’s zone, the English did an excellent job of preventing any runs on the outside from getting through.

“I was happy with how I played, how my team set me up, how they played,” Harvey said. “It’s too bad it couldn’t go until the end, so it wasn’t enough.”

Magali’s scoring, including an incredible try against France where she ran the length of the field, has made her the breakout star of the Canadian team. Ratier said while she is a good teammate and a good player, she is still only one part of the team.

“She’s a winger, so she scores tries because it’s her job,” Ratier said. “She’s the first to get a bit annoyed when she’s made out to be the star of the team, because she doesn’t feel like that at all.”

But Ratier sees the value of having someone like Harvey become the face of the team, especially for a sport like women’s rugby which is still finding a foothold in the Canadian sports landscape.

“It’s good for visibility, it’s good for marketing, it’s good for promotion of the sport, it’s good for the image big time,” he said.

Farm honours Derek Jeter by carving his likeness into 5-acre corn maze – National

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As far as corny Derek Jeter tributes go, this one will be tough to beat.

A farm in central New Jersey carved an image of the New York Yankees captain and a thank you message to him into its five-acre corn maze. The VonThun Farm in South Brunswick is about 55 miles south of Yankee Stadium.

“Thanks Captain Clutch” is carved into the maze, along with a baseball with Jeter’s No. 2 on it. Farm owner Cindy VonThun said the maze will be open from Sept. 20 through Halloween.

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“This was just something totally different,” she said. “To walk out in the field and to be on a path and to say, ‘I’m in Derek Jeter’s chin,’ it’s pretty cool.”

Jeter is retiring after 19 seasons with the Yankees. He has been honoured at Major League ballparks around the country this year, including by former President George W. Bush, who presented him with a photo from his presidential library last month in Texas.

But this is the first known instance of him being honoured with a corn maze.

VonThun said the original idea was to do a design this year with a tractor carrying pumpkins. She said that the company in Utah that it contracts with to build the maze, The Maize Company, came up with the idea to honour Jeter.

“You’re in the middle of Jeter Country, why wouldn’t you be doing a tribute to this man, he’s wonderful,” she said of the company’s thoughts. “Everyone’s going to love that more than they’re going to love a tractor pulling some wagons, pulling some pumpkins. We thought about it and thought why not.”

She said that company maps out the image and then uses chemicals to prevent corn from growing in the spots that become the pathways of the maze, which can take an hour or longer to go through.

The farm celebrated its 100th anniversary last year and is known for its fall corn maze. The farm has previously carved a salute to Rutgers football into the maze.

The Maize Company also recently created a maze with “Today” show weatherman Al Roker’s likeness on it for a farm in Iowa.

©2014The Canadian Press

‘It limits our creativity’: Edmonton bartender on Alberta liquor law

EDMONTON – As the demand to prepare original, inventive cocktails grows in Alberta, some bartenders believe an Alberta liquor policy is tying their hands, creatively speaking.

“We have to work around these rules,” said Brady Grumpelt, manager and instructor at Edmonton’s Fine Art Bartending School.

“There are definitely things that I would like to be doing but I simply can’t.”

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According to the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission, “it is prohibited to adulterate or alter liquor in any way. Nothing may be added (including ice, mixes or flavouring agents) until the liquor is used to prepare a drink requested by a patron.”

The main concern with the policy for bartenders is the fact they aren’t able to infuse their own liquors.

“As a bartender, it limits our creativity a little bit,” said Grumpelt. “Being limited to only certain pre-made brands really holds back on what we’re able to give to the customers as an experience.”

Grumpelt says if Alberta bartenders were able to infuse their own liquors, it would drastically increase the variety of customized cocktails they’re able to offer customers.

“We can age cocktails for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks; and that is one of the methods that is very popular down in the States, out in Vancouver, Toronto and we’re just not able to do it here,” Grumpelt said, recalling a barrel-aged Manhattan he really enjoyed while in Victoria.

READ MORE: Should Alberta modernize its liquor laws?

The policy came under review a couple of years ago, but was found to be appropriate for protecting the health and safety of consumers, according to the AGLC. A spokesperson with the AGLC says it’s also important to ensure consumers know exactly what they’re putting in their bodies.

“The concern is – with mixing liquor products or adding food or any kind of additive – it does change the composition and level of alcohol in the product,” said Tatjana Laskovic, a spokesperson with the AGLC.

“The goal is to be responsive to industry and consumer trends, but we also need to balance that with social responsibility.”

However, Grumpelt maintains that – if done correctly – infusing liquor doesn’t drastically alter the alcohol content.

“This is just another regulation that’s thrown on there which ultimately just ties bartenders’ hands.”

According to the province, 76 per cent of Albertans consume alcohol; and the province leads the way nationally in alcohol sales growth.

Earlier this summer the AGLC said it was in the process of preparing a broad-based review of liquor laws and policies in the province, which were last overhauled in 2008.

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Citizens Decoration Day honours fallen soldiers – Saskatoon

Watch above: honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice defending Canada’s freedom

SASKATOON – Citizens Decoration Day gives family and friends a day to remember those brave men and women who have fallen defending our country. In Saskatoon, the 91st annual parade and ceremony included legion members, ANAVET members, cadets and armed forces.

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Those who wish to honour a fallen soldier can purchase a brass plaque and memorial tree at Woodlawn Cemetery along Memorial Lane. Since June 2013, 34 ex-service personnel and spouses have been buried in the veteran’s field.

Bernie Wilkinson travelled from Victoria to honour the uncle he never had a chance to meet. After discovering last year that Wilkinson’s memorial plaque had disappeared, he ensured that a new one was made, and the plaque and tree were rededicated in this year’s service.

“I’ve heard the saying, ‘We give veterans Remembrance Day,’ well one day isn’t enough. I came here, like many people, to honour them giving up their lives to ensure Canada is as safe as it is today,” said Wilkinson.

WWII and Korea War veteran Irving Larson is full of war stories; he comes to citizens decoration day every year.

“It’s a way of thanking those who protected Canada. I have a few medals myself, but lots of those men didn’t make it back. I’m honoured to be here and representing those who couldn’t be here,” said Larson.

Memorial Lane is open to the public at Woodlawn Cemetery, located near the north entrance.

Tropical storm Karina continues in Pacific, another forming close behind – National

TORONTO – As Tropical Storm Karina continues to churn in the east Pacific Ocean, another tropical storm is brewing behind it.

Tropical depression 12E formed on Sunday afternoon about 1,000 km southwest of the southern tip of Baja, California. As of Monday morning the storm was producing maximum sustained winds of 55 km/h. The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, anticipates the depression could form into a tropical storm by late Monday.

READ MORE: Forecasters have higher expectations for slow Atlantic hurricane season

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Karina is taking a rather strange track.

Karina developed into a hurricane late Thursday, but lost some of its punch and was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday.

Karina’s path takes it west before it moves east again. Tropical depression 12E, meanwhile, is forecast to become a tropical storm by Monday night.

Global News

Karina is moving west-southwest at 15 km/h. However, preliminary tracking data has the storm moving west over the next couple of days before turning back toward the east.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds are 75 km/h, though some strengthening is possible during the next two days.

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Opioids like OxyContin to get stronger warning labels: health minister – National

OTTAWA – The federal government is putting stronger warning labels on extended-release painkillers like OxyContin in an effort to prevent the abuse of opioids.

“Too many people are abusing prescription drugs,” Health Minister Rona Ambrose told the annual conference of the Canadian Medical Association on Monday.

“Too many people are suffering and dying as a result.”

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In prepared remarks, Ambrose reminded the conference that Canada is now the second-largest per capita consumer of prescription opioids in the world, behind the United States.

As well, she pointed out, a 2012 study suggests that close to a million young Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24 reported using prescription drugs in the previous 12 months.

READ MORE: What you need to know about prescription painkillers

The Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey also found that 410,000 Canadians said they’d abused prescription drugs like opioid pain relievers, including Demorol and OxyContin; stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall; and tranquilizers and sedatives that include Valium, Ativan and Xanax.

“Quite frankly, these numbers are frightening, unacceptable and the reason why our government is taking action,” Ambrose said.

The Conservatives’ new initiatives include stronger warnings on opioid labels that emphasize the risks and safety concerns associated with the drugs.

The new labels also remove reference to “moderate” pain to clarify opioids should only be used to manage severe pain.

Ambrose is also calling for the development of other practical solutions that will prevent opioid abuse while keeping the painkillers available for patients who truly need them.

READ MORE: Health Canada looking for ways to make opioid prescriptions safer

A year ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced safety labelling changes for all extended-release and long-acting opioids intended to treat pain.

David Juurlink, a medical toxicologist at the University of Toronto, said it’s “hard to argue” with label changes, adding OxyContin and related drugs should have been restricted for treating only patients in severe pain as soon as they came onto the market.

“The change will limit what drug companies can say in advertisements to doctors, but it’s not likely to change how doctors prescribe opioids,” he said in an interview. “That horse has bolted.”

Ottawa needs to go much further, Juurlink added.

“What we really need are federal initiatives to quantify the toll of opioid misuse, to properly educate doctors about the risk/benefit profile of opioids and perhaps even federal support for an investigation into how these drugs were marketed in Canada,” he said.

“That’s happening in the United States, and for good reason. Why it’s not happening here, I don’t know.”

READ MORE: How pilfered Canadian pills are fuelling a U.S. health crisis

©2014The Canadian Press

Government announces independent investigation into Mount Polley

WATCH: Two weeks after the tailings pond failure at the Mount Polley mine, the BC government is ordering an independent investigation into the disaster and a third party review of dam inspections at all tailings ponds in the province. Here’s Jas Johal.

The provincial government announced an independentinvestigation into the Mount Polley tailings pond breach today,along with a review of all tailings ponds in B.C.

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Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett announcedthe two reviews this morning, calling the breach “a disaster”.

“We need to find out why it happened, and ensure it never happens again,” said Bennett, who says the investigation will issue a final report by January 31.

“People need to know we can mine in this province safely.”

Bennett says all mine companies must conduct safety inspections of their own tailings ponds by Dec. 1, and to have the inspections reviewed by outside engineering firms.

The three-person panel reviewing the Mount Polley breach will be able to compel Imperial Metals, which owns the mine, to testify and give evidence during the investigation.

“The investigation will be thorough and rigorous,” said Dirk Van Zyl, one of the three appointees. “I have full confidence we will have complete freedom to make any necessary recommendations.”

Van Zyl, a UBC Mining professor with more than 30 years experience in researching tailings ponds, said that it is difficult to compare the Mount Polley disaster with other tailings pond breaches, because they’re all built differently. According to Bennett, there are 98 tailings ponds in B.C. alone.

“There has been worldwide interest from engineers on this,” he said.

“It’s important to understand how this occurred. It’s important for mining, and it’s important for governments.”

The tailings pond at Mount Polley Mine near the town of Likely breached on August 4, sending 4.5 million cubic metres of waste into Hazeltine Creek, Quesnel Lake and Polley Lake.

WATCH: Aerials of Mount Polley Mine disaster

The cost of the cleanup is expected to be around $200 million, and Imperial Metalslaid off 42 workerslast week.

While the long-term impact of the spill to the local environment will not be known for some time, water samples taken from Quesnel River and Lake in the past week have met drinking water guidelines.

A water ban is still in place in the area directly affected by the breach, including Polley Lake and Hazeltine Creek, and is expected to stay in place indefinitely.

Bennett also announced that a permit for Red Chris Mine, which Imperial Metals was hoping to open this fall, will be put on hold while the Tahltan Indian Band appoints someone to assess the mines’ tailings pond.

In addition, the Williams Lake Indian Band and Soda Creek Indian Band each have signed a letter with the government to work in partnership during the review. The two bands, who will each receive $200,000 from the government, will appointing a liaison to work with the independent panel.

While Bennett said that “one accident is one too many” in B.C., he defended the mining industry’s future, saying it would be an important economic engine for years to come.

“There has been no breach of a major tailings pond in B.C. of an operating mine in at least 40 years,” he said.

“The industry has, other than this accident, a very solid safety record. Safety as it relates to government, and safety as it relates to people.”

WATCH: The provincial government announces an independent panel to review the Mount Polley tailings pond breach

Your Saskatchewan: August 2014 – Saskatoon

Every weeknight on News Hour Final and weekends on News Final, we feature a viewer submitted photo for Your Saskatchewan.

To submit a picture for Your Saskatchewan, email to [email protected]桑拿按摩.

Pictures should be at least 920 pixels wide and in jpeg format.

Aug. 1: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Kevin Herman at Lac La Loche.

Kevin Herman / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 2: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Christina Larson at Fishing Lake.

Christina Larson / Viewer Supplied

Aug. 3: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Myra Leanne at Pike Lake.

Myra Leanne / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 4: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Susan Fortay in Lloydminster.

Susan Fortay / Viewer Supplied

Aug. 5: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Harasyn at Emma Lake.

Harasyn / Viewer Supplied

Aug. 6: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Amanda Loseth near Estevan.

Amanda Loseth / Viewer Supplied

Aug. 7: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Ryan Trotchie south of Battleford.

Ryan Trotchie / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 8: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Eric Beck high above Saskatoon Thursday morning.

Eric Beck / Global News

Aug. 9: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Roxanne Levis near Rosetown.

Roxanne Levis / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 10: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Josie Adamko on Candle Lake.

Josie Adamko / Viewer Supplied

Aug. 11: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Jill Carberry of her daughter doing yoga on a paddle board at Jackfish Lake.

Jill Carberry / Viewer Supplied

Aug. 12: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Hosneara Khanam at Shannon Lake.

Hosneara Khanam / Viewer Supplied

Aug. 13: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Trish Tanner at Nemebien Lake.

Trish Tanner / Viewer Supplied

Aug. 14: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Diane Kacher of a dandelion seed head near Aberdeen.

Diane Kacher / Global News

Aug. 15: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Leah Kosh at the Saskatoon Zoo.

Leah Kosh / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 16: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Marion Beyer at Chitek Lake.

Marion Beyer / Viewer Supplied

Aug. 17: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Brandon Ovechkin in Prince Albert.

Brandon Ovechkin / Viewer Supplied

Aug. 18: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Gisele Diehl in Turtleford.

Gisele Diehl / Viewer Submitted

Aug 19: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Dorothy Caisse of the smoky sky near near Île-à-la-Crosse.

Dorothy Caisse / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 20: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Paul Koo just south of Findlater.

Paul Koo / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 21: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by @SSkPrairie in Lumsden.

@SSkPrairie / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 22: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Tejvir Sidhu of some loons in Prince Albert National Park.

Tejvir Sidhu / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 23: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Levana Dutertre at Emerald Lake.

Levana Dutertre / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 24: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Sandy Muyres at Turtle Lake.

Sandy Muyres / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 25: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Trudy Tarasoff at Mistusinne on Diefenbaker Lake.

Trudy Tarasoff / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 26: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Byron Hiebert at Sturgeon Lake.

Byron Hiebert / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 27: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Shelly Gerein at Otter Creek.

Shelly Gerein / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 28: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Linda Asztalos near Bradwell.

Linda Asztalos / Viewer Submitted

Aug. 29: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Nicole Anderson in Saskatoon.

Nicole Anderson / Viewer Submitted

Aug: 30: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Sydney Ruest at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway.

Sydney Ruest / Viewer Supplied

Aug. 31: This Your Saskatchewan photo was taken by Dorothy Caisse at Île-à-la-Crosse.

Dorothy Caisse / Viewer Supplied


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Abducted Amish girls’ father feels sorry for suspects accused of abuse – National

OSWEGATCHIE, N.Y. – The father of two Amish girls abducted in northern New York last week says he feels sorry for the two people accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing his daughters.

The parents of the 7- and 12-year-old sisters spoke to the Johnson Newspapers at their home in Oswegathcie on Sunday, two days after Stephen Howells Jr. and Nicole Vaisey were charged with kidnapping with the intent to physically or sexually abuse the girls.

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“It’s sad,” the 44-year-old father said.

“They must have ruined their whole life.”

The Associated Press is not naming the family members because it generally does not identify victims of sexual abuse.

The sisters were abducted Wednesday from a farm stand in front of the family’s home near the Canadian border. They were set free about 24 hours later and turned up safe at a house 24 kilometres from where they were taken.

Howells and Vaisey were arrested Friday. Authorities say the couple sexually abused the girls before letting them go. District Attorney Mary Rain has said additional charges are likely as early as this week.

Sheriff Kevin Wells said Monday that investigators have finished gathering evidence at the home Howells and Vaisey share. He said that it will take time to go through that information and that there has been no decision to file additional charges ahead of a preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday.

Lawyers for the suspects could not be reached by phone on Monday, but Vaisey’s lawyer, Bradford Riendeau, told The New York Times that she was in an abusive relationship with Howells.

The couple, who have 14 children and are Amish, a Christian religious group that espouses simple living, plain dress and humility, did not express anger toward the suspects.

A 19-year-old sister told the newspaper group, which includes the Watertown Daily Times, that her younger siblings were not speaking much about their ordeal. The mother said that she is grateful to have her girls back home, but that daily life has not yet returned to normal.

“We feel relieved we have them,” the mother said. “It's still not like it was.”

©2014The Canadian Press

McDonald’s confronts its junk food image as sales flag – National

NEW YORK – At a dinner McDonald’s hosted for reporters and bloggers, waiters served cuisine prepared by celebrity chefs using ingredients from the chain’s menu.

A Kung Pao chicken appetizer was made with Chicken McNuggets doused in sweet and sour sauce and garnished with parsley. Slow-cooked beef was served with gnocchi fashioned out of McDonald’s french fries and a fruit sauce from its smoothie mix. For dessert, its biscuit mix was used to make a pumpkin spice “biznut,” a biscuit-doughnut hybrid.

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The event, held in New York City’s Tribeca neighbourhood, was billed “A transforming dining experience of ‘fast food’ to ‘good food served fast.”‘ Attendees tweeted out photos and the night was written up on various websites.

The evening is part of a campaign by McDonald’s to shake its reputation for serving cheap, unhealthy food. At a time when Americans are playing closer attention to what they eat, the company is trying to sway public opinion by first reaching out to the reporters, bloggers and other so-called “influencers” who write and speak about McDonald’s.

It’s just one way McDonald’s is trying to change its image. In the past 18 months, the chain has introduced the option to substitute egg whites in breakfast sandwiches and rolled out chicken wraps as its first menu item with cucumbers. Last fall, it announced plans to give people the choice of a salad instead of fries in combo meals. And in coming months, mandarins will be offered in Happy Meals, with other fruits being explored as well.

McDonald’s declined to make an executive available for this story, but CEO Don Thompson said early this year: “We’ve got to make sure that the food is relevant and that the awareness around McDonald’s as a kitchen and a restaurant that cooks and prepares fresh, high quality food is strong and pronounced.”

The company faces an uphill battle, especially if the past is any indication. The salads it introduced more than a decade ago account for just 2 to 3 per cent of sales. And the chain last year discontinued its Fruit & Walnut salad and premium Angus burgers, which analysts said were priced too high for McDonald’s customers at around $5.

The problem is that some simply people don’t consider McDonald’s a place to get high quality food, in part because the prices are so low. And while McDonald’s has added salads and a yogurt parfait to its menu over the years, Americans are gravitating toward other attributes, like organic produce and meat raised without antibiotics.

“People just don’t think of McDonald’s as having that premium quality,” said Sara Senatore, a restaurant industry analyst with Bernstein Research.

In some ways, the image McDonald’s is battling is ironic, given its reputation for exacting standards with suppliers. Thompson has also noted the ingredients tend to be fresh because restaurants go through them so quickly.

“The produce and the products that we have at breakfast and across the menu are fresher than – no disrespect intended – what most of you have in your refrigerators,” he said at an analyst conference in May.

But even that reputation for supply chain rigour was recently tarnished when the chain’s longtime supplier was reported to have sold expired meat to its restaurants in China.

The Price Conundrum

The low-cost burgers, ice cream cones and other food that made McDonald’s so popular since it was founded in 1955 have come to define it. And some people can’t get over the idea that low prices equal low quality.

“It’s the whole perception people get when you sell something cheaply,” said Richard Adams, who used to own McDonald’s restaurants in San Diego and now runs a consulting firm for franchisees.

Anne Johnson, for instance, said she eats at McDonald’s because she can get a burger, fries and drink for about $5. But Johnson, a New York resident, doesn’t think there are any healthy options there.

“Basically, it’s junk food,” she said.

Adding to its challenge, McDonald’s can’t seem to raise prices without driving people away. Pressured by rising costs for beef and other ingredients, the chain tried to move away from the Dollar Menu in 2012 with an “Extra Value Menu” where items were priced at around $2.

But customers are apparently righteous about the $1 price point, and the strategy was scrapped. Last year, McDonald’s changed its tactic a bit, hoping not to turn off customers. It tweaked the name of the “Dollar Menu” to the “Dollar Menu & More.”

McDonald’s low prices also are part of what keeps it from competing with places such as Chipotle, which is touting the removal of genetically modified ingredients from its menu, and Panera, which recently said it will eliminated all artificial ingredients by 2016. Such moves would be Herculean feats for McDonald’s, given its pricing model and the complexity of its menu.

Meanwhile, the company acknowledges there are problems with how people perceive its food. “A lot of our guests don’t believe our food is real,” said Dan Coudreaut, director of culinary innovation at McDonald’s, in an interview last year.

Taking Control of The Narrative

The image of McDonald’s food is a growing concern for the company at a time when U.S. sales have been weak for two years. The last time McDonald’s managed to boost a monthly sales figure at home was in October, and the company warns its performance isn’t expected to improve anytime soon.

McDonald’s has said it has other problems, including slow and inaccurate service at its restaurants. But improving perceptions about its food is also a priority.

Following the dinner in New York last fall, the company hosted a similar event last month for reporters covering the Essence Festival in New Orleans. Beignets filled with grilled chicken and dusted with sugar were served alongside a packet of McDonald’s honey mustard sauce.

Other “chef events” in local markets are planned for coming months, according to Lisa McComb, a McDonald’s spokeswoman. She declined to provide details but said the events will be a spin on a recent contest between two friends to make a gourmet dish out of a Big Mac meal.

McComb said McDonald’s wasn’t associated with that particular contest, which was posted online.

The company continues to tweak the menu, too. The new Bacon Club burger McDonald’s is promoting comes on a brioche bun and looks more like something that might be found at a trendy burger joint. It costs $5 or $6, depending on where you live, making it the most expensive sandwich on the menu.

In Southern California, McDonald’s also is testing a “Build Your Own Burger” concept, with the patties being cooked to order more slowly on a separate grill.

Beyond the menu, the company is determined to take control of its narrative.

“We’re going to start really, really telling our story in a much more proactive manner,” said Kevin Newell, U.S. brand and strategy officer for McDonald’s said late last year.

He added that McDonald’s has gone too long in “letting other folks frame the story for us.”

©2014The Canadian Press

Monsoon floods in Nepal and India kill 180, maroon villages – National

Watch the video above: Raw video of monsoon floods in India.

KATMANDU, Nepal – The death toll from three days of flooding and torrential rain in Nepal and India rose to more than 180 people Monday, as relief teams sent food, tents and medicine to prevent any outbreaks of disease.

The worst-hit areas were in western Nepal and northern India, where swirling floodwaters submerged hundreds of villages and swept away homes made of mud and straw.

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Four helicopters with relief supplies and medical workers were sent to cut-off villages in western Nepal, said Jhanka Nath Dhakal of the National Emergency Operation Center. Most roads into the area are submerged or damaged by flooding, preventing vehicles from passing.

READ MORE: Rain-triggered landslide kills at least 21 in remote Indian village

Thousands of people are without shelter in 10 flooded districts, and local officials on Monday distributed rice and lentils and cooking pots to people who lost their homes. The area is mainly farmland where the poor live in mud and straw huts that wash away easily.

At least 100 people have died in Nepal and 84 in neighbouring India since Thursday due to torrential rains, authorities said.

The situation in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh worsened after dams were opened in Nepal, said Alok Ranjan, a top official in Uttar Pradesh. Along with incessant rain, the rising waters caused several rivers to breach their banks, he said.

Officials in the state reported 10 more deaths overnight, pushing its toll to 34 over the past three days.

Also in northern India, at least 50 people have died in Uttarakhand state, many of them washed away as rivers overflowed, submerging villages and fields.

An aerial photo shows houses in a residential area partially submerged by monsoon floods at Nalanda district of Bihar, India, ion Aug. 17.

AP Photo/Press Trust of India

People in the worst-affected villages were being evacuated to relief camps set up in government and school buildings, Ranjan said.

State authorities said paramilitary soldiers in about 400 boats were helping to evacuate people from their homes after entire villages were marooned in northern Uttar Pradesh.

Vinod Kumar, a resident of Karonda village in Uttar Pradesh, said flood waters moved in so swiftly that they barely were able to escape.

“Late Friday we saw the water level of the Saryu River rising and by Saturday it had inundated our homes. We left the house with whatever we could manage,” Kumar said.

Schools and government buildings were hastily turned into makeshift relief camps, and officials were struggling to provide food and other necessities to thousands of people in the camps, said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

READ MORE: WATCH: Monsoon batters Phoenix, Arizona

In the remote northeastern Indian state of Assam, flood waters submerged large swathes of Kaziranga National Park, a wildlife reserve, forcing animals to cross a highway to escape to higher ground, said M.K. Yadava, the park’s director.

The Kaziranga reserve is home to more than 2,500 of the 3,000 one-horn rhinos left in the wild.

“Some parts of the park are under five feet of flood water from the Brahmaputra River which flows along one side of the park,” Yadava said.

Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala appealed to domestic and foreign agencies to help flood victims. The main opposition party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, disrupted parliamentary proceedings and demanded that the government declare a national emergency.

Dhakal said the government was trying to send medical teams and supplies to prevent diseases such as cholera that can follow flooding. It was also distributing tents and plastic sheets to make temporary shelters, utensils to cook food, and clothes for those who lost their belongings.

The June-September monsoon season often brings flooding to Nepal and India. The rains caused a landslide earlier this month that covered an entire village near Kathmandu, killing 156 people.

Last year, more than 6,000 people were killed as floods and landslides swept through Uttarakhand state during the monsoon season. Heavy deforestation over the last few decades has made the area more vulnerable to landslides.

©2014The Canadian Press

Early ticket sales for 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games begin Sept. 15 – Toronto

TORONTO – The early access period to request tickets for next year’s Pan Am Games in Toronto will begin Sept. 15.

Organizers will use a lottery system for high-demand events to ensure fans have equal access to tickets. There will be over 400 ticketed events for the July 10-26 Games and almost 1.4 million tickets will be available.

Ticket prices will range from $20-$140 for athletic events and $90-$350 for the ceremonies.

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“We’ve gone with the theme of, ‘Affordable, Fun and Accessible,’ and we want families to show up,” said organizing committee CEO Saad Rafi.

Tickets can be requested via the Games’ website or by phone. The request phase will last for three weeks and end on Oct. 6.

Customers will receive an email in late November to let them know whether their ticket requests were successful, organizers said. Any remaining tickets will then go on sale in December on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Athletics medal events ($80-$140) and swimming ($40-$140) are two of the more expensive events at the Games. Competitions like baseball ($20-$35), soccer ($20-$35) and rugby sevens ($20-$45) are on the cheaper side.

“Best of all, our tickets are priced to be affordable for families – more than 75 per cent will be $45 or less,” Rafi said. “Our ceremonies and gold-medal event tickets will be in great demand, so we encourage everyone to plan their Games experience now.”

The opening ceremonies, featuring a performance by Cirque du Soleil, will range from $100-$350.

Ticket prices for the closing ceremonies will range from $90-$200. That event will feature entertainment acts to be confirmed at a later date.

About 6,000 athletes from 41 countries are expected to participate at the Games.

Information on tickets for the Aug. 7-15 Parapan Am Games will be released at a later date.

Rafael Nadal pulls out of US Open due to wrist injury – National

Reigning champion Rafael Nadal pulled out of the U.S. Open because of an injury for the second time in three years Monday, leaving Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer as the men to beat at the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.

Nadal announced his withdrawal, blamed on a bad right wrist, one week before play begins at Flushing Meadows.

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“I am sure you understand that it is a very tough moment for me since it is a tournament I love and where I have great memories from fans, the night matches, so many things,” Nadal’s posting read.

“I am sure you understand that it is a very tough moment for me since it is a tournament I love and where I have great memories from fans, the night matches, so many things,” a posting on Nadal’s Facebook page read. “Not much more I can do right now, other than accept the situation and, as always in my case, work hard in order to be able to compete at the highest level once I am back.”

The second-ranked Nadal plays left-handed, but he uses a two-handed backhand.

The 14-time major champion was hurt July 29 while practicing on his home island of Mallorca ahead of the North American hard-court circuit. The next day, Nadal announced he needed to wear a cast on his wrist for two to three weeks and would be sitting out tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati.

The 28-year-old Spaniard also said at that time he expected to return for the U.S. Open.

Instead, he’s the fourth man in the Open era, which began in 1968, to decline to try to defend his U.S. Open title. The others were Ken Rosewall in 1971, Pete Sampras in 2003 and Juan Martin del Potro in 2010. Del Potro also is out of this year’s U.S. Open after wrist surgery in March.

Nadal is 44-8 with four titles in 2014, including his record ninth French Open trophy in June. He has not competed since losing in the fourth round of Wimbledon on July 1.

With Nadal sidelined, five-time U.S. Open champion Federer joins Djokovic as a favourite in New York – even if there are questions about them.

Federer turned 33 this month, and it’s been more than two years since he won one of his record 17 Grand Slam titles. But he is coming off a runner-up finish at Wimbledon last month and a hard-court title at the Cincinnati Masters on Sunday.

After beating David Ferrer 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 on Sunday, Federer declared: “My game’s exactly where I want it to be.”

Djokovic won Wimbledon to take the No. 1 ranking from Nadal, but had a rough time on hard courts, losing his second match in both Toronto and Cincinnati.

Still, Djokovic will be seeded No. 1 at the U.S. Open, and the third-ranked Federer is expected to rise one seeding spot to No. 2, so they could meet only in the final. The draw is Thursday.

Federer reached six consecutive finals at Flushing Meadows from 2004-09, but hasn’t been that far since, losing in the semifinals in 2010 and 2011, the quarterfinals in 2012, and the fourth round a year ago, when he was dealing with a bothersome back.

Nadal won his second U.S. Open championship in 2013, part of a run of reaching the final in each of his last three appearances. He beat Djokovic to win the titles in 2010 and last year, and lost to Djokovic in 2011.

The one question about Nadal over the years has been his durability, on account of a hard-charging, play-each-point-as-if-it’s-your-last style.

He did not enter the U.S. Open in 2012, part of an extended absence because of a problem with his left knee.

And this will be the second time Nadal chose to not attempt a defence of a major title: A year after winning Wimbledon in 2008, he missed that tournament with knee tendinitis.

©2014The Associated Press