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UPDATE: Massive south Winnipeg condo fire cracks windows on surrounding homes

WINNIPEG –  A massive fire leveled a three storey apartment complex on Waverley Street at John Angus in South Pointe early Thursday morning. Surrounding homes were evacuated and some were left with cracks on their windows from the intense heat.

“We felt the heat through our window,” Asit Dey said. “It was so scary I almost cried.”

The blaze started around 2:30 a.m. at 2475 Waverley Street. The building was under construction at the time when the fire broke out. Damage is estimated to be around 3.5 million dollars.

Fire crews battled the flames for several hours. Around 50 firefighters were dispatched.

“It started so quickly, because it was all exposed wood,” fire chief Tom Mulvenna said. “There was nothing to stop it. Once it started, it just kept going.”

Mulvenna said it was a tough battle because the flames spread so quickly. “Just think of a fire in the backyard, and think of the whole yard being a bonfire,” Mulvenna said.  “You can’t actually go and fight it you have to stay back and put water on it, so it just takes a while.”

A massive fire leveled a three storey apartment complex on Waverley Street at John Angus in South Pointe early Thursday morning.

Shaun McLeod

A massive fire leveled a three storey apartment complex on Waverley Street at John Angus in South Pointe early Thursday morning.

Shaun McLeod

A massive fire leveled a three storey apartment complex on Waverley Street at John Angus in South Pointe early Thursday morning.

Shaun McLeod

A massive fire leveled a three storey apartment complex on Waverley Street at John Angus in South Pointe early Thursday morning.

Global News

Emergency crews and police closed off traffic in the area for several hours. Residents were able to return to their homes late Thursday morning. There were no injuries, and there is no word on how the blaze started. An investigation is underway.

Seymour Pacific Develpments sent out a news release Thursday afternoon, acknowledging the fire at South Pointe Terrace. “We are thankful for the quick response from the Winnipeg Fire Department,” said Seymour Pacific’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive VP Kris D. Mailman. “Although this is a setback for our completion date we anticipate we will be starting to build on the other two unaffected buildings as soon as the investigation clearance is complete.”

Image courtesy of Shaun McLeod

Shaun McLeod

An aftermath shot of the fire that destroyed a complex.

Josh Arason/ Global News

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Kerry, Netanyahu demand end to incitement amid wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence

BERLIN – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Thursday for an immediate end to incitement blamed for a recent deadly wave of Palestinian attacks against Israelis.

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Meeting in Berlin as Kerry waded into the volatile mix of spiraling tensions in a bid to de-escalate the situation, the pair condemned the attacks. Kerry called for an end to all incitement and all violence but Netanyahu pointedly repeated earlier direct accusations that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to blame, saying he is “spreading lies” about Israel and the status of the holy site at the centre of the tensions.

“There is no question this wave of attacks is driven directly by incitement, incitement by Hamas, incitement from the Islamist movement in Israel and incitement, I am sorry to say, from President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority,” Netanyahu said. “I think it is time for the international community to say clearly to President Abbas to stop spreading lies about Israel. Lies that Israel wants to change the status quo at the Temple Mount, lies that Israel wants to tear down the Al-Aqsa Mosque, lies that Israel is executing Palestinians. All of that is false.”

He said Israel is committed to keeping the status quo at the site, which is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism and home to the biblical Temples. For Muslims, it is the Noble Sanctuary, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam and a key national symbol for the Palestinians. The site, captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war, is a frequent flashpoint of violence.

The Palestinians accuse Israel of trying to change the longstanding “status quo” at the site, which allows Jews to visit but not to pray. They point to a growing number of Jewish visitors who seek an expanded Jewish presence and prayer rights at the site.

Netanyahu rejected those claims and said ending incitement was the only way to ease tensions.

“To generate hope, we have to stop the terrorism,” he said. “To stop the terrorism, we have to stop the incitement and I think it’s time the international community told Pres Abbas to stop the incitement and hold him accountable for his words and his deeds.”

Kerry was more circumspect and did not single out Abbas for blame.

“We have to stop the incitement, we have to stop the violence,” he said, adding that he had spoken to Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah, who is charged with overseeing the Jerusalem site, in the past day and both assured them of their commitment to calm.

“I believe people want this to de-escalate,” he said of Abbas and Abdullah, whom he will meet on Saturday in Amman.

Kerry added that these conversations would be “very important to settle on the steps that can be taken beyond the condemnation and beyond the rhetoric” to end the violence.

Kerry has said he wants clarity about the status quo about the site, but officials say he doesn’t believe that needs to be in writing.

With only a general outline of goals in these discussions, Kerry arrived here intending to listen as much as talk, as he steers attempts to restore relative calm in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

After Kerry meets Netanyahu he will see German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, and then travel to Vienna, where he will meet the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia about Syria on Friday. He will then visit Amman, where he will see Abdullah in addition to his talks with Abbas. He plans to wrap up the trip in Saudi Arabia.

Complicating his already delicate tasks, the situations in both hotspots have taken recent unexpected and potentially dangerous turns. Netanyahu blamed a former Palestinian leader for inspiring Hitler’s Holocaust and new Palestinian stabbing attacks on Israelis have threatened to further inflame the combustible atmosphere.

U.S. officials have yet to detail any American plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian unrest that erupted a month ago over Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site. During that time, 10 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian assailants, mostly in knife attacks, while 47 Palestinians – including 26 labeled by Israel as attackers – have been killed by Israeli fire. The remainder died in clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters. In addition, an Israeli mob killed an Eritrean migrant after mistaking him for an Arab attacker.

More changes to Parliament Hill security may be coming: senior Mountie

OTTAWA – A year after a rampaging gunman stormed the Centre Block, the RCMP and federal officials are still studying ways to make Parliament Hill more secure, says a senior Mountie.

While it’s still early, the process could lead to new, highly visible security measures on the Hill, said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud.

“We want to make sure that we address all potential threats,” Michaud said in an interview.

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One year ago today, Michael Zehaf Bibeau fatally shot honour guard Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial before rushing into Parliament Hill’s Hall of Honour, where he was killed in a hail of bullets.

READ MORE: War Memorial ceremony Thursday to honour Nathan Cirillo, Patrice Vincent

The RCMP was responsible for the grounds of the parliamentary precinct, while House of Commons and Senate security forces had jurisdiction inside the Parliament Buildings.

A now-merged parliamentary protective service manages day-to-day security on Parliament Hill, a direct consequence of Oct. 22 intended to eliminate possible confusion.

VIDEO: New Parliament Hill security measures to go into effect

But Defence Research and Development Canada is quietly working away at two studies that could further transform security on the Hill and for about three dozen other buildings in the parliamentary precinct.

One report, to be done by the end of the year, is looking at officer training, exercises and co-ordinating procedures of the newly merged security forces. The other, to be completed by April, is examining possible investments in new security facilities and equipment or other kinds of measures.

READ MORE: Reservist inequality persists months after Ottawa promised action

“I’m sure that they’re looking at some aspect of how we can better screen people before they come on to the Hill,” Michaud said. “Because we’re doing screening of vehicles, but what about people? Is there a way that that can be done without limiting their access?”

He cautioned that wouldn’t necessarily mean setting up guard booths just inside the Hill gates, noting screening could be accomplished through other tools, such as security cameras – which are already being used to some extent.

“There are different ways of doing it,” Michaud said.

Ultimately, options will be presented to the speakers of the House of Commons and Senate, who retain overall responsibility for Hill security, to see “what they’re willing to live with,” he added.

READ MORE: Reservists like Nathan Cirillo are worth $1.8M less to the feds. Why?

The goal is to balance security needs with access to a place Canadians and tourists love to visit.

“And we need to respect that,” Michaud said. “Are there ways that we can still respect that fundamental privilege that exists, while ensuring that those that do visit feel safe, and are safe?

“That’s a bit of a juggling act there, and that’s what we’re trying to make sure that we get right.”

Michael J. Fox torn over Cubs prediction in ‘Back to the Future II’

NEW YORK – While some of the predictions made in “Back to the Future II” eventually came true like, Skype and fingerprint scanners, one of them did not: The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series.

At a special screening for the film Wednesday, star Michael J. Fox admitted on the red carpet that he was a little torn over that one.

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“It’s tough because I’m a New Yorker and I would love to see the Mets do well. But I’d love the see the film be right. So I’m torn,” Fox said before the game ended, adding “Whatever happens, happens.”

Christopher Lloyd who played Doc Brown said he didn’t really follow the predictions, except for that one.

“I’m hoping the Cubs win tonight and go into the series, that would be the ultimate prediction,” Lloyd said with a bit of trepidation.

But that was not to be.

The New York Mets defeated the Cubs 8-3 Wednesday in the National League Championship series. They will advance to the World Series.

WATCH: What ‘Back to the Future’ got wrong, right and sort of right

“Back to the Future Part II” envisioned more than baseball. It depicted a colorful 2015 with flying cars, hoverboards and self-tying shoelaces. While those doodads are hardly prevalent today, the film did accurately tease the rise of flat-screen televisions, biometric scanning and hands-free gaming.

According to writer and co-creator Bob Gale, most of the predictions, including the one about the Cubs “were intended to be jokes.”

“The most far-fetched prediction was that lawyers would be abolished in the future. We didn’t expect that would happen, but you put stuff in the movie you’re going to enjoy,” joked Gale.

“Back to the Future” Day was celebrated around the country on Wednesday. It marked the day in 1985 that Marty McFly, along with Emmett “Doc” Brown and Jennifer Parker travelled in their souped-up DeLorean time machine to 2015 in the sci-fi film trilogy’s second installment in 1989.

“Back to the Future” filmmaker Robert Zemeckis’ trilogy has left a lasting impression on pop culture in the 30 years since the original film debuted, spawning a theme park attraction, video game and animated series.

The town of Reston, Virginia ceremoniously changed its name to Hill Valley, McFly’s fictional hometown. Washington, D.C.’s Washington West Film Festival featured a marathon screening of the trilogy and will have a Sunday screening of the original film. Stars Christopher Lloyd and Claudia Wells, as well as screenwriter-producer Bob Gale will attend.

Other celebrations in California included a tour of the Hill Valley town square on the Universal Studios lot, an “Enchantment Under the Sea” dance at the Hollywood United Methodist Church and a screening in the parking lot of the Puente Hills Mall, where McFly famously blasted off in the DeLorean. There also was the Million McFly March, a gathering of fans dressed as McFly that began at the Burbank, California, location of the Burger King restaurant depicted in “Back to the Future.”

For those who didn’t want to leave home, the trilogy was streamed on Amazon Prime. Universal also is releasing a special edition trilogy box set in light-up packaging resembling Doc Brown’s flux capacitor.

©2015Associated Press

Mayors Iveson and Nenshi discuss city issues at Edmonton lecture

EDMONTON – Fresh off a federal election that saw the country’s leadership shift from blue to red, the mayors of Alberta’s two largest cities took the stage at the University of Alberta to discuss their vision for the future of Canadian cities.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson spoke in front of a packed auditorium of about 680 people Wednesday night at the University of Alberta’s annual Hurtig Lecture.

Their message? The need for attention to be paid to growing Canadian cities.

“Despite our national stories and myths involving mountains and rivers and moose, maple trees that don’t grow in most of the country, beavers, Canada is actually one of the most urbanized countries in the world,” said Nenshi, who anticipates by 2050, 86 per cent of the developed world will live in cities.

Both Iveson and Nenshi highlighted the need for more affordable housing, public transportation investment, infrastructure development and thinking about cities in a global context. They both plan to hold the new government accountable for its promises.

“Let’s just put it this way, if you visit my website at citiesmatter长沙夜网, you will see that our new prime minister-designate designate has made a number of very large promises,” said Nenshi. “Don and I have that printed out and we’re going to spend a lot of time making sure that they live up to those promises.”

“Local governments have the social licence, they have the trust of the people. Not all the time. Not every bridge goes up perfect, not every LRT line turns on on time,” Iveson said, getting a chuckle from the crowd.

READ MORE: Mayor Don Iveson confident election results bode well for Edmonton

Amarjeet Sohi, who won the Edmonton Mill Woods seat for the Liberal Party, was also in the crowd. He said he’s excited about what the next four years will bring.

“The things that we’re proposing to do are immediate, such as investment into public transportation, affordable housing, or giving a seven per cent tax reduction to middle class families which will actually help with some of the challenges,” he said.

Iveson pointed out that municipalities often have to do more with less.

“We have eight cents of your dollar. Sometimes six. Fifteen if you count all of the transfers or ways in which other orders of government fund back to municipalities,” he said. “But in terms of the tax dollars, what we actually collect is between six and eight cents across the country, so Canadians are overestimating by a factor of three or four how much money our local governments have and they still think we’re the most responsible with it?

“They think we have four times the resources we have to deliver the services and the infrastructure that we do, and they think we’re the most efficient at it. So give us the other 20 cents and then see what we can do.”

The environment was also on the mayors’ radar, with Iveson voicing his high hopes for the forthcoming climate change conference in Paris.

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  • Federal Election 2015: Alberta remains a Conservative stronghold

  • Federal election results a victory for positive campaigns: Notley

    Federal Election 2015: Liberals make inroads in conservative stronghold Calgary

©2015