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Updated: 22 min 13 sec ago

Secret talks in Jordan try to win release of hostages after death threat from militants

26 min 58 sec ago

Japanese officials were tightlipped Wednesday as secret talks in Jordan sought to secure the freedom of a Japanese journalist and a Jordanian pilot captured by Islamic State extremists and purportedly threatened with death within 24 hours. The global efforts to free Japanese freelance journalist Kenji Goto and Jordanian Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh gained greater urgency with the release of the apparent ultimatum from the Islamic State group. In the message, the extremists say the two hostages will be killed within 24 hours — late Wednesday night Japan time — unless Jordan frees Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman sentenced to death in Jordan for her involvement in a 2005 terrorist attack on a hotel that killed 60 people. The pilot's father, Safi al-Kaseasbeh, made a last-ditch appeal for Jordan "to meet the demands" of the Islamic State group.


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Gunmen storm luxury hotel in Libyan capital, killing 10, including American, 4 Europeans

33 min 7 sec ago

Gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Libya's capital Tuesday, killing at least five foreigners and three guards, authorities said. The attack, which including a car bombing, struck the Corinthia Hotel, which sits along the Mediterranean Sea. Mahmoud Hamza, commander of the so-called Special Deterrent Force, told private satellite television station al-Nabaa that the situation was "under control" Tuesday afternoon, though he couldn't confirm the whereabouts of the gunmen. Another security official earlier said the gunmen killed three guards and took hostages, but had no further information on who the captives were.


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Entire city of Winnipeg under a boil-water advisory after positive E. coli tests

34 min 22 sec ago
The entire city of Winnipeg was under a boil-water advisory Tuesday night after routine sampling turned up some potentially harmful bacteria in the municipal water supply. The city, which has a population of about 700,000, says the move is precautionary after six water samples showed the presence of E. coli and coliform at extremely low levels. "Out of an abundance of caution, we are issuing it citywide," Mayor Brian Bowman told a hastily called news conference Tuesday evening. The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority initially said the advisory only applied to the area of the city east of the Red River.
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Medical marijuana smell overwhelms other businesses

41 min 1 sec ago

Messenger says they don't have a problem with medical marijuana — they just think grow-ops should be located somewhere else. Tenants say the smell makes it almost impossible to work and that it has driven away customers.


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Mexico officials, without DNA confirmation, declare all 43 students dead

46 min 10 sec ago
Investigators are now certain that 43 college students missing since September were killed and incinerated after they were seized by police in southern Guerrero state, the Mexican attorney general said Tuesday. It was the first time Jesus Murillo Karam said definitely that all were dead, even though Mexican authorities have DNA identification for only one student and a declaration from a laboratory in Innsbruck, Austria, that it appears impossible to identify the others. The attorney general cited confessions and forensic evidence from an area near a garbage dump where the Sept. 26 crime occurred that showed the fuel and temperature of the fire were sufficient to turn 43 bodies into ashes. "The evidence allows us to determine that the students were kidnapped, killed, burned and thrown into the river," Murillo Karam said in a press conference that included a video reconstruction of the mass slaying and of the investigation into the case.
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Jim Prentice won't be at Ottawa premiers' meeting

48 min 14 sec ago
His office says Prentice is preoccupied with the upcoming provincial budget. Alberta will also have another representative at the meeting: B.C. premier Christy Clark.
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B.C. hockey rivalry devolves into arguments, prompts judge to order peace bond

48 min 38 sec ago
A junior hockey team owner on Vancouver Island who's been ordered to stay away from the owners of a rival team says he regrets the heated arguments that set off the dispute, but he feels he's been unfairly portrayed by the courts and the media. Kevin Spooner, who owns the Campbell River Storm, was handed a peace bond directing him to keep away from Dave and Marsha Webb, who own the Comox Valley Glacier Kings. The teams are part of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. A provincial court ruling in the case cites several arguments between Spooner, the Webbs and at least one other official with the Glacier Kings.
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Winter storm shutters the Maritimes, plows struggle to cope in places

58 min 3 sec ago

While people across the Maritimes hunkered down during Tuesday's powerful winter storm, Helen and Barry Gibb took in the snowy scenery on the mostly deserted streets of downtown Halifax. "We're roughing it at the Prince George (Hotel)," Helen Gibb said with a laugh. Environment Canada issued blizzard warnings for Prince Edward Island, southeastern New Brunswick and most of Nova Scotia, along with a mix of freezing rain, wind and snowfall warnings for Newfoundland. It said the highest wind gusts were recorded at 125 kilometres an hour in southwestern Nova Scotia and Moncton, N.B., got the most snow, with 30 centimetres late in the afternoon as the snowfall tapered off.


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Sir Isaac Brock students make autism math app

58 min 52 sec ago
Students at a Brampton school are developing an app to help their classmates with autism learn math. The app, a project started by students at Sir Isaac Brock Public School, uses kinetic, auditory and visual prompts to help students answer math questions. The young app developers said they were inspired by one of their classmates with autism. “In math class he looked really confused,” said Priya Joshi, one of developers.
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Canadian National Railway earnings beat, but lag CP on efficiency

1 hour 6 min ago
Canadian National Railway Co reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday and boosted its dividend, but lagged its main Canadian rival when it came to a key efficiency measure. CN Rail raised its quarterly dividend 25 percent to 31.25 Canadian cents per common share, and said it is aiming to increase shipments of crude oil and frac sand in 2015 despite a steep decline in the price of oil. "There's a lot of investments that are being made by our customers in the energy markets," said Chief Executive Claude Mongeau on a call with analysts and investors. Last week, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd reported an operating ratio of 59.8 percent for the fourth quarter, and on Tuesday CN said its ratio had improved 4.1 percentage points to 60.7 percent.
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Open Text revenue hit by strong US dollar, weak emerging markets

1 hour 32 min ago
Canadian business-software maker Open Text Corp's quarterly revenue fell short of market expectations, hit by a strong U.S. dollar and weaker-than-expected revenue from its emerging markets business. U.S.-listed shares of Open Text, whose software helps companies manage documents and workflows, fell 11 percent in extended trading on Tuesday. Revenue from markets including the Middle East, Latin America, China and India was "lower than planned," Chief Financial Officer John Doolittle said on a call with analysts. Total revenue rose 29 percent to $467.8 million in the second quarter ended Dec. 31, but fell short of the average analyst estimate of $486.7 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The company, which gets about half its revenue in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, said revenue in the quarter was hit by a foreign exchange charge of $15 million.
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Families who earn $30K-$60K to benefit least from Tories' family measures

1 hour 39 min ago

Of all the families eligible for the Conservative government's controversial family tax-and-benefit measures this year, those earning between $30,000 and $60,000 will see by far the smallest windfall, internal Finance Department numbers show. The government's own breakdown shows families within that income bracket in 2015 will receive average relief of $660, just slightly more than half the overall average of $1,140 for all eligible families — those with children under 18.


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Shares and dollar wilt before Fed test, Apple outperforms

1 hour 40 min ago

By Wayne Cole SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian stock markets followed Wall Street into the red early on Wednesday, while the euro managed a rare rally on speculation the Federal Reserve could take a dovish turn in its post-meeting statement later in the session. Apple Inc provided some relief after the bell as record sales of its iPhone line helped it beat expectations, sending its stock up 5 percent. On Wall Street, the Dow ended with losses of 1.65 percent, while the S&P 500 fell 1.34 percent and the Nasdaq 1.89 percent. The softness in business investment and corporate earnings stoked talk the Fed would have to acknowledge the more difficult environment in its policy statement at 1400 GMT.


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Royal Bank cuts prime rate to 2.85 per cent; other big banks follow suit

1 hour 40 min ago

Canada's biggest banks have started passing on some — but not all — of the Bank of Canada's recent rate cut, lowering the interest charged to borrowers with loans and mortgages tied to the prime rate. Royal Bank (TSX:RY) was the first to cut its prime rate when it announced it would go down to 2.85 per cent from three per cent, effective Wednesday. The move was quickly matched by the rest of the Big Five: the Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO), TD Bank (TSX:TD), CIBC (TSX:CM) and the Bank of Nova Scotia (TSX:BNS). National Bank (TSX:NA), the country's sixth-largest bank, also pulled back its prime rate to 2.85 per cent, effective Thursday.


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PQ members want another referendum soon, internal document reveals

1 hour 45 min ago

If the PartiQuébécois is voted into power again, party members would like it to hold a sovereignty referendum shortly after the election. Party officials consulted about 2,500 members to decide rules for the leadership race. The document states that many are “exasperated” with the debate on sovereignty. “The members of the Parti Québécois want, first and foremost, the Parti Québécois and its representatives to be actively engaged in drafting a sovereignty plan to promote and demonstrate the benefits of an independent Quebec, rather than discuss the referendum timetable,” the document states.


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New Mexico woman unaware her used van had 13 1/2 pounds of marijuana hidden inside for years

1 hour 59 min ago
A woman drove a van for more than 13 years without realizing there was marijuana hidden inside. Melodie Peil told the Alamogordo Daily News (http://bit.ly/1Ep572B ) she bought a 1990 Chevrolet van at a local dealership in 2001 so she would have room to transport her daughter's children. Until Friday, she had no idea that on trips to softball games and on vacations out of town she had been transporting 13 1/2 pounds (six kilograms) of marijuana hidden in one of the vehicle's doors. A family friend discovered the marijuana when he removed a door panel to repair a broken handle.
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Catholic board open to teaching sexual consent

2 hours 44 sec ago

The Windsor-Essex Catholic School Board says it welcomes any adaptations to its curriculum that would help young students better understand sexual consent, but it recognizes there will be some challenges. 


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Military was kept in the dark during planning for royal visit: documents

2 hours 4 min ago

The Canadian military was not amused by the secrecy and confusion that surrounded a Toronto event it was asked to organize for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2012, a series of internal documents reveal. A post-event analysis written for Canadian Forces commanders paints a picture of befuddlement among those in uniform who were tasked with putting on some kind of military display at Fort York for the royal couple. The Prime Minister's Office kept the location, timing and details of the event a closely guarded secret until almost the last minute, forcing soldiers to scramble to get troops on parade and into supporting positions. "PMO delayed the release of the official announcement of the event location and timings for the Toronto military event, which hampered administration and co-ordinating arrangements for out of town (military) personnel attending or participating in the event," said the report, dated May 31, 2013, and released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.


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Apple iPhone sales top expectations

2 hours 31 min ago

Apple Inc quarterly results smashed Wall Street expectations with record sales of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones in the holiday shopping season and strong sales in China, although the United States remained the top iPhone market. Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told Reuters in an interview that the company did not sell more iPhones in China than the United States, despite some earlier predictions by research analysts.


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AT&T results beat Wall Street, shares rise after hours

2 hours 35 min ago

By Malathi Nayak SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - AT&T Inc on Tuesday posted a quarterly net loss that was slightly slimmer than Wall Street expected, as its mobile device deals attracted more customers, but its users switched to other networks at a higher rate. AT&T shares rose 1.6 percent in after-hours trading after closing at $32.81 on the New York Stock Exchange. Excluding items, AT&T earned 55 cents per share, a penny more than analysts' forecasts. Faced with intense competition and promotional activity, wireless carriers have moved from two-year contract plans to equipment financing plans, which reduce service fees and eliminate subsidies for devices.


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