Alberta man has brand new house demolished after court finds he built it without proper permits

A brand new house in the village of Carmangay, Alta. was torn down in just hours Thursday morning, after a court order was issued to demolish the home.

The village claims the Carmangay man who built the house did so without the correct permits.

READ MORE: Readers react with acceptance, vitriol after town tears down Alberta man’s house

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    Kym Nichols, the mayor of Carmangay,  said a development permit was taken out, as was a building permit, but the building permit was for a garage, not a house.

    “He just figured he could build however he wanted, to build wherever he wanted to build,” Nichols said.

    The homeowner was then issued several stop work orders in addition to orders from bylaw officers and RCMP to cease construction.

    After the homeowner failed to comply, Nichols said she felt she was left with no other choice than to take the matter to court.

    “We went to court to get a court order to get him to stop building,” she said.

    “He continued to build and continued to ignore the court order.”

    Members of the community told Global News the man built the house himself.

    A new house in Carmangay is reduced to rubble after the town issued a court order to demolish the home.

    Christina Succi / Global News

    “He was hand-digging the basement at first, then I seen him slowly put the concrete up, the walls up, the roof go on,” village resident Jan Haake said.

    Neighbour Wyatt Dahl sympathizes with the property owner, but agrees with the town’s decision.

    “It’s a shame that his hard work and money went into this,” Dahl said. “But the law is there for a reason.”

    Nichols said the homeowner was given ultimatums to move the structure or dismantle it. The court order stated three separate deadlines were set to comply, none of which were met.

    “This was absolutely the last resort,” Nichols said. “None of us wanted to see it come to this.

    “We were hoping he would comply at some point.”

    Global News was unable to speak to the homeowner and he was not on the premises when the demolition began.

    Carmangay is about a 45 minute drive northwest of Lethbridge and about an hour and 45 minutes southeast of Calgary.

Ziferblat’s ‘coffee office’ model charges for time, not food

On a Monday afternoon, the narrow street outside the Ziferblat cafe is quiet; but inside, the 6,000-square-foot coffee shop is packed with dozens of customers.

The cafe first opened in Manchester, England in 2014, and now serves around 12,000 customers per month. Part of its recipe for success: all of the cafe’s food, drinks and 100 MB of wifi are free.

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“When we first opened this, we were terrified,” recalls Ben Davies, the cafe’s marketing manager. “But I think this is something that isn’t currently provided.”

Here’s the catch: The cafe’s name, Ziferblat, is Russian for “clock face.”

Ziferblat’s customers only pay for the time they spend: six pence, or around 10 Canadian cents, per minute.

READ MORE: Addicted to coffee? Your DNA may be to blame, study suggests

They check-in and check-out, like a hotel. And during their stay, customers can eat and drink as much they like.

An array of fresh, locally-baked cakes, cookies and sandwiches are spread across a table buffet-style. There’s also tea, espresso and coffee machines, and customers are encouraged to help themselves.

“We have had some people who come in here with a spoon and eat two full chocolate fudge cakes. But generally they’re few and far between. And normally they don’t come back,” Davies laughs.

He says their average customer spends 83 minutes here. And most consume far less than you might expect.

“The fact that you have the free choice makes you not want to ‘take the mick,’ or take the entire jar of biscuits,” says customer Luke Halliwell, while sipping a latte and playing a board game with a friend.

“I just have a few (biscuits), because I’m here to relax and enjoy my time.”

Ziferblat’s real secret to success isn’t the customers who play cards or catch-up with friends; it’s the people who come here to work.

Web designer Mark Butler’s head is buried in his laptop. He comes here five days a week; He used to work from home, he says, but “you get cabin fever and you miss human contact.”

So he tried working in traditional cafes; “In a coffee shop you tend to get that vibe where the staff, after half an hour, are glaring at you, waiting for you to buy something else. Whereas it’s a lot more relaxed here. And the wifi is better.”

READ MORE: Caffeine doesn’t tamper with heartbeat, study suggests

Unlike some coffee shops, Ziferplat has no minimum spend. And once you’ve paid for five hours, the rest of the day is free.

In the United Kingdom, around 16 per cent of workers are self-employed. In Canada, freelancers represent around 10 per cent of the workforce. And the number continues to rise.

“You see a lot of people working freelance nowadays,” says Davies, who estimates that half their business comes from customers who use it as an office.

“We’re trying to solve that coffee shop office problem. And people do treat us like a co-working space.”

And that “coffee office” — or “coffice” — business is booming. The Ziferblat cafe is now opening branches throughout the U.K. And the business model is being adopted across Europe and North America, feeding the growing appetite from self-employed workers.

World AIDS Day: Saskatoon’s HIV rates more than twice the national average

In conjunction with World AIDS Day taking place on Dec. 1, the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) released a report that reveals the city’s HIV infection rates and what is being done to decrease the numbers.

The Saskatoon Health Region’s updated ‘Better Health For All’ report shows the city’s 2015 HIV infection rates were more than twice the national average, breaking a five-year downward trend:

Saskatoon: 14.6 in 100,000 in 2015Canada: 5.8 in 100,000 in 2014 (latest national data available)

READ MORE: World AIDS Day put spotlight on high Sask. HIV rates

Deputy health officer Dr. Johnmark Opondo said there was a 55 per cent increase in reported cases this year.

“We had come down to about 31 cases a year but last year, we went up to 51 cases,” he said from the Saskatoon Health Region office.

The increase in reported cases is mainly due to people not using clean needles for injection drug use and unprotected sex:

Injection drug use (IDU) accounted for 65 per cent of transmission in 2015Heterosexual sex accounted for 16 per cent of HIV transmission in 2015Male sex with other males also accounted for 16 per cent of transmission in 2015

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    According to the SHR, the key to decreasing infection rates is to educate the public on the importance of regular testing and providing those in need with access to ongoing treatment.

    “You can imagine if we’re able to do this across a large number of individuals who are HIV-infected, we’re reducing the amount of HIV that’s circulating in the community,” Opondo said.

    “This combined effort in testing and treatment probably explains the downward trend in the Saskatoon Health Region.”

    Seven out of 10 HIV-positive individuals identify as First Nation or Métis in Saskatoon, with contaminated injection drug use as the number one cause of infection.

    “We look at the mental health of the people and what is happening to them. Why are they self-medicating and using drugs?” All Nations Hope Network CEO Margaret Poitras asked.

    “It’s all (part) of the trauma that’s come from the residential schools and from colonization.”

    READ MORE: South African HIV vaccine trial could be ‘final nail in the coffin’ for the disease

    She has been working to find the root causes for the high rates of HIV among indigenous people for 17 years.

    However, HIV rates are now decreasing. Only 35 cases of new infections have been reported in 2016 and the Saskatoon Health Region said it believes that is due to an increase in testing, education and long-term treatment.

Cancer patient claims she was initially turned away by car rental service for not looking like her ID

A California woman who lost her hair as a result of radiation therapy says  she was humiliated by a staff member at a rental car service at the Sacramento airport when she was told she didn’t look like the photo on her driver’s licence.

Leah Cook said she was wearing a wig at the airport on Thursday when she presented her driver’s licence, a credit card and her Alamo rental car reservation at the counter.

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READ MORE: Police mistake breast cancer patient for woman wanted for killing her own baby

“He held up my ID and he said ‘Who is this? Who is this?’ and I said, ‘That’s me,’” Cook told NBC.

“He said, ‘No, that’s not you’ and I was like, ‘Yes it’s me, I have cancer’ and he was like, ‘No that’s not you’. I took off my wig and said, ‘See, I have cancer.’”

She wrote about her experience on Facebook.

Alamo’s parent company, Enterprise, responded saying they are looking into the matter. Alamo told Global News they offered Cook a free upgrade at the airport and she eventually got her rental car. They later called Cook to apologize, making the rental free.

Alamo Rent a Car released this statement to Global  News:

“We have carefully and thoroughly looked into this, and express our sincere apologies.  Our employee at the counter was not sensitive to the customer and mishandled the situation entirely after checking her driver’s license.  However, the employee immediately asked for another Manager’s assistance – and once that Manager was able to resolve the issue, she authorized a free upgrade for the customer.  An Area Manager then personally called to follow up with the customer and apologized profusely again.  The Area Manager even talked to the customer’s daughter and offered to make the weekly rental free.  We understand that great sensitivity is required in situations like these, and we certainly appreciate that the customer was willing to share her story and teach all of us how to better handle such interactions.”

As for Cook, she said on Facebook the whole situation really made her feel minuscule.

“I’ve never been more humiliated in my life! In the moment, I felt like he stripped me of everything I’ve gone thru to beat cancer and made me feel so small.”

Your guide to New Year’s resolutions: How to quit smoking for good

It’s been seven months since Jessica Thierren had a cigarette. The 29-year-old smoked for a decade of her life up until May 2016.

“In over 10 years, it went from a social thing to a habit. I was addicted to it and did it with certain things – wake up, have a coffee, have a smoke, break time at work, have a smoke, go out with friends for drinks, have a smoke,” she told Global News.

Her whole family smokes and so does her fiancé. But with a May 2017 wedding date looming, Thierren knew she wanted to make changes.

“I wanted to be healthier, start walking and running and eating better. Each week got easier because I didn’t feel like smoking, I didn’t feel like crap. It was nice not having to plan out when I’d be smoking next,” Thierren said.

READ MORE: Smokers who quit before 40 save a decade of their lives, study suggests

January is a busy time for smokers’ hotlines across the country. Quitting smoking for good is always one of the top New Year’s resolutions for Canadians.

“We find here, it’s our busy season. A lot of people view [the New Year] as a time for a fresh start to make powerful changes in their lives,” Terri Schneider, a senior co-ordinator for the Smokers’ Helpline, told Global News.

The Smokers’ Helpline, operated by the Canadian Cancer Society, is offered across the country to Canadians, and for free.

Here, Schneider and Thierren offer their tips on how to quit smoking – and to make the switch last for good.

Carve out a realistic plan

What’s feasible for one person who’s been smoking for a year may not be realistic at all for another who’s relied on cigarettes for three decades, Schneider said.

Some people can pull off going cold turkey, but others are simply interested in cutting back.

“It all depends on the individual, how many years they’ve been smoking and how many times they’ve tried to quit in the past,” she explained.

READ MORE: US is marking 50th anniversary of surgeon general report that turned the tide against smoking

“Someone may be smoking for 40 years and to simply say, ‘I’m going to stop today’ may not be a realistic goal. They need it to be realistic so they feel empowered and motivated,” she said.

People could try to quit smoking for 24 hours, learn from that experience and try it again a week later. They could also try cutting back from 40 cigarettes a day to 20.

WATCH: A look at tips on how you can quit smoking

Call the Smokers’ Helpline

Use the tools that are readily available to you, such as the Smokers’ Helpline. On your cigarette pack, there’s a provincial number that’ll guide you to regional resources. The helpline can be accessed over the phone, online or via text.

Coaches, most of whom are former smokers, offer advice around the clock to those who call in.

It’s a resource Thierren still turns to.

READ MORE: Woman featured in graphic anti-smoking ads dies of cancer, hailed as hero

“We’d set a date for them to call me and it kept me accountable even though it was a complete stranger,” she said. The coach took notes from old talks and followed up – if Thierren said she was worried about an upcoming family camping trip because everyone smokes, the counsellor would follow up to see how she did.

Schneider said she fields calls from smokers who are starting to quit, months into the process and even years in. The coaches can relate because they quit at some point, too.

“It’s such a powerful addiction, so it’s helpful to find support in someone who has been through that journey and knows how challenging it is,” she said.

Rely on nicotine replacement therapy

There’s nicotine gum, the patch, sprays, lozenges, inhalers, and even prescription medication doled out by your doctor – these are tools that’ll ease the cravings and withdrawals you’ll initially grapple with.

The patch releases a steady dose of nicotine into the body, while gums, lozenges and inhalers can help with in-the-moment cravings, for example. They give you nicotine without all of the other chemicals that cause the harm.

“We strongly encourage people to explore these options. We know it’s much more effective than quitting cold turkey,” Schneider said.

Find a new habit

If you’re used to a smoke break to relieve stress during the workday or you smoke during a lunch break, you need to find new ways to channel your energy.

When Schneider talks to people calling in, and they’re dealing with a craving, she suggests they chew nicotine gum, take a walk, or start to prepare dinner to keep their hands and mind busy.

READ MORE: Should smoking bans extend to public parks and beaches? Debate sparks controversy in Canada

In Thierren’s case, she swapped her 15-minute smoke break with reading a book.

“I’d whip out a book and I’d be satisfied I didn’t give into my craving,” she said.

After work, she goes for a walk or jogs. Before, when she’d try to quit, she’d snack on junk food more. Getting into better shape was the other half of her goal before getting married. She’s lost 40 pounds since quitting in May.

Take advantage of rewards

Thierren won a $1,000 cash prize for quitting by a set date and taking part in a five-kilometre run in the Run To Quit program. There are handfuls of prizes up for grabs for quitting – another option is the First Week Challenge Contest.

If you quit smoking for the first seven days of the month, you could win $500.

You save plenty of money, too. Thierren said she saves at least $25 a week from not buying cigarettes.

After Thierren won $1,000, which paid for her wedding photographer, she ran another five-kilometre race.

WATCH: Cash incentives can help you quit smoking.

Create a positive environment

Cleaning up your home and workspace goes a long way, according to Thierren.

“The biggest challenge people often face is the exposure to stimuli,” she said.

Get rid of cigarettes and ashtrays around the house and in the car. Make sure there’s no indication of smoking that may prompt you to light a cigarette.

“Set up your environment to facilitate a clean start,” Thierren said.

Create a support network

While Thierren’s whole family smokes, she told them about her commitment so they’d keep the cigarettes and smoke away from her.

Thierren told Global News she told everyone she knows. That way, it’d be harder for her to go back to her old ways.

She also leaned on her fiancé and friends for support. Eventually her fiancé quit smoking, too. He gave up cigarettes in early November.

READ MORE: Could plain packaging for cigarettes help Canadians quit smoking?

Finally, the Smokers’ Helpline coaches helped her identify her triggers and how to address them. The hardest part of quitting for Thierren is driving by the gas station without stopping for cigarettes. With some counselling, she’s able to run errands without second guessing.

If you fail, just try again

Quitting isn’t easy, but each time you do, you further your cause. If you make it a week, you’re nine times more likely to quit for good, according to research.

Thierren tried a handful of times until it finally stuck.

READ MORE: How health officials helped 120,000 people quit smoking

“You make the commitment but Saturday rolls around and you think you’ll just start again on Monday,” she said.

“It’s not super easy. There are lots of challenges, but I’ve never been more proud about doing something before,” she told Global News.

Read more about the Smokers’ Helpline.

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Former Ontario teacher charged with another sex offence involving young girl: police

A 48-year-old former teacher from Kitchener, Ont., faces an additional sex offence charge related to a young girl and police say they believe there may be more victims.

Geoffrey Burnet was charged with eight other people in southern Ontario last month, following an investigation police said was triggered by the sexual assault of a seven-year-old girl who was being made available for sexual services on Craigslist.

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“It’s a very unique case because we’re not used to a victimization of this nature —; it’s really graphic,” Dunbar told last month.

“It’s one of the worst, most heinous crimes we’ve seen because we’ve got multiple offenders and one young victim.”

READ MORE: Nine charged with child porn offences after Ontario sexual assault investigation

Burnet was initially charged by Waterloo police with making and possessing child pornography, then re-arrested by Hamilton police and further charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching in September.

Hamilton police announced Friday that another young girl had come forward and Burnet has since been charged with an additional count of sexual exploitation.

Burnet is a former teacher with Columbia International College, Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board, Upper Grand Distric School Board and the Toronto District School Board.

Investigators were alerted to the sexual assault by the Catholic Children’s Aid Society on May 3. Police said they interviewed the seven-year-old girl that day and arrested her mother’s boyfriend later that night.

WATCH: Hamilton man facing 40 charges in child sexual assault case of 7-year-old girl

The 34-year-old Hamilton man, who police did not identify to protect the identity of the child, faced close to 40 charges including sexual assault, sexual interference and making and possessing child pornography.

The girl’s mother was also charged with failing to provide the necessities of life. Officers then raided their home and seized several items including electronics.

“This young female victim had been sexually assaulted by more than one person and she was also being made available to be sexually assaulted by others through Craigslist,” Hamilton Police Det.-Sgt. David Dunbar said during a press conference Nov. 17.

“This work requires sensitivity and time, it is about supporting victims and intervening before there are additional victims,” added Hamilton Police Chief Eric Girt. “It remains a tragedy.”

WATCH: Multiple charges laid across Ontario cities in child sexual assault case

Investigators said they then discovered another young girl, the 16-year-old sister of the seven-year-old girl, had also been sexually assaulted by more than one person.

Police expanded the investigation, dubbed “Project Links,” and joined forces with police forces in Niagara, Waterloo, Chatham-Kent, Hamilton and the Ontario Provincial Police to execute 14 raids, 15 production orders and seized more than 100 electronic devices.

Burnet was also further charged after police said they also discovered a link to a historic sexual assault case in Hamilton unrelated to Project Links.

Anyone with further information in relation to any sexual assault occurrences involving Burnet are encouraged to contact Det.-Michelle Wiley at (905) 546-3856 or Crime Stoppers at 1(800) 222-8477.

With files from and Leslie Whyte

Sonia Benezra speaks about life as a bilingual TV personality in Quebec

Having spent 30 years in the broadcast industry, Quebec TV personality Sonia Benezra joined Global News Morning as a guest host alongside anchor Laura Casella and weather specialist Kim Sullivan.

Benezra was the first person hired as a VJ on MusiquePlus in 1986, winning four People’s Choice Awards and three Gemini Awards in her career.

She hosted the Sonia Benezra Show on TQS and over the course of her career, has interviewed a long list of celebrities that include Al Pacino, Mick Jagger, Janet Jackson, Rod Stewart, Elton John, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Tina Turner.

Benezra has hosted shows in both English and French.

Global News asked Benezra a few questions to get to know her a little better and find out what she’s up to now.

What projects are you working on now?

I released my autobiography a year ago called Je ne regrette presque rien.

I took a sabbatical after being on air for 30 years straight.

WATCH BELOW: Global’s Laura Casella and guest co-host Sonia Benezra to talk to Denis Vokmirovic about La Récolte, a Montreal restaurant featuring seasonal and locally-sourced food.

Are there any differences between hosting shows in French compared to English?

It takes a lot more words in French to say what you need to say compared to English.

I always felt like a bridge between the two communities.

I always thought it was so unfortunate the French were not aware of what the English community was doing and the English community is not aware of what the French community is doing.

What is it like interviewing celebrities? How do you stay focused?

I think that the best way to do a good interview is to go in prepared and be ready to go somewhere the artist takes you.

To do a good interview, you have to listen to what the person tells you.

I’ve never gone in with general questions, I’ve gone in with specifics and that appeals to the artist, being prepared is really appealing.

WATCH BELOW: Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire from the École Polytechnique de Montréal Corporation talks to Global’s Laura Casella and guest co-host Sonia Benezra about choosing the Order of the White Rose.

What have you learned from interviewing so many people?

Most people, no matter what they’ve accomplished, are actually very fragile.

Most artists that I’ve interviewed have insecurities.

I always try to talk about human aspects.

There’s a fragility, insecurity that exists in most artists, which everyone can relate to.

I’m much more interested in what’s perceived as flaws.

WATCH BELOW: Global entertainment columnist Jay Walker joins Kim Sullivan and guest co-host Sonia Benezra to talk about Cirque du Soleil and Merry Montreal.

Celebrities do a lot of interviews. How do you keep it interesting for them?

I like to be specific. I’ll find something that I can relate to, I always find that makes the interview interesting.

If they’re going through something that’s really delicate, I broach it before the interview so they’re not blindsided and they really like that.

My style is not an aggressive style, it’s more heartfelt.

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Michigan election board to hear Donald Trump’s request to block recount

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s elections board on Friday will consider President-elect Donald Trump‘s request to block a hand recount of all 4.8 million ballots cast in the state he won by about 10,700 votes over Hillary Clinton.

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Lawyers for the Trump campaign argued Thursday that Green Party nominee Jill Stein, a “bottom-dwelling candidate,” cannot seek the expensive, time-consuming recount because she was not “aggrieved” to the point where potential miscounting of votes could have cost her the election. She garnered just 1 per cent in Michigan.

They also said in their objection that Stein waited until the last minute to file her recount petition Wednesday, making it impossible to finish by a Dec. 13 deadline.

Stein countered that Trump’s “cynical efforts to delay the recount and create unnecessary costs for taxpayers are shameful and outrageous.” His objections suspended the planned Friday start of the recount until next week.

READ MORE: Here’s what you need to know as vote recount set to begin

A recount is already underway in Wisconsin, which Trump won by roughly 22,000 votes and where the first reporting of numbers was expected Friday. In Pennsylvania, a hearing was scheduled for Monday on Stein’s push to secure a court-ordered statewide recount, a legal manoeuvr that has never been tried, according to one of the attorneys who filed it.

Recounts were not expected to flip nearly enough votes to change the outcome in any of the states.

WATCH: The first candidate-driven statewide recount of a US presidential election in 16 years was set to begin Thursday in Wisconsin – a state that Donald Trump won by less than a percentage point over Hillary Clinton after polls long predicted a Clinton victory.

The Wisconsin recount doesn’t carry nearly the same drama as the Florida recount in 2000, when the outcome of the presidential race between Al Gore and George W. Bush hung in the balance.

“This is certainly not Bush v. Gore,” said Mike Haas, Wisconsin’s chief elections administrator.

Even so, the campaigns for Trump, Clinton and Stein all had observers spread throughout the state to watch the process.

The recount will have to move quickly. The federal deadline to certify the vote to avoid having the fate of Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes decided by Congress is Dec. 13. Even if that were to happen, the votes would almost certainly go to Trump, since Republicans control both chambers of Congress.

READ MORE: Green Party-backed group pushing for a Pennsylvania recount

Stein has argued, without evidence, that irregularities in the votes in all three states suggest that there could have been tampering with the vote, perhaps through a well-co-ordinated, highly complex cyberattack.

“Verifying the vote through this recount is the only way to confirm that every vote has been counted securely and accurately and is not compromised by machine or human error, or by tampering or hacking,” Stein said.

Stein’s critics, including the Wisconsin Republican Party, contend that she is a little-known candidate who is merely trying to raise her profile while raising millions of dollars.

The Wisconsin recount was estimated to cost about $3.9 million. Stein paid $973,250 for the requested recount in Michigan. Michigan’s Republican secretary of state, Ruth Johnson, has said a recount could cost $5 million total.

—;

Associated Press writer Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.

Halifax police on scene of standoff on Titus Street

Halifax Regional Police crisis negotiators and officers say a man has barricaded himself inside a house on Titus Street in Halifax.

Officers went to a residence on Ashdale Avenue just after 9 a.m. to arrest a man on an outstanding file. During their conversation with the man, he produced a knife, leading officers to call for back up.  The man then retreated into the residence.

Several units were still in the area as of 6 p.m. Friday, and a police service dog was also on the scene.

Crisis negotiators are trying to communicate with the man.

Const. Kristine Fraser with Halifax police said the weapon is the reason for the heavy police presence.

“Any time anybody produces a weapon to anybody, even police, we take that as a serious threat,” Fraser said.

She said they have no reason to suspect guns are in the residence. She said though they have been on scene for several hours, they have not entered the building.

“We have open lines of communication and that’s where we are now,” Fraser said. “We are prepared to stay here as long as we have to for this to have a successful conclusion.”

Traffic is blocked on several streets in the area, causing problems for both businesses and residents.

“I haven’t had a customer yet today so it’s going to hurt for sure,” said Andrew Boutiller, owner of Mary Brown’s restaurant, which is near the suspect’s home. He said Fridays are usually the restaurant’s busiest day.

“I walked out of my place and there was a SWAT team across the street,” said Will Camick, who lives nearby.

Police said a “successful conclusion” would be if the man voluntarily leaves his home.

— With files from Natasha Pace. 

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Texas teen subjected to cyberbullying for months fatally shoots self in front of family

TEXAS CITY, Texas — Family members of a Houston-area high school student who killed herself are rallying for tighter laws against cyberbullying.

Brandy Vela’s family says cyberbullying pushed the 18-year-old over the edge, leading her to shoot herself in the chest Tuesday afternoon at the family’s Texas City home as family members watched.

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Her father, Raul Vela, said she had been receiving abusive text messages for months from bullies using an untraceable smartphone application. Her father said someone made a fake Facebook page of her, creating another cyberbullying medium.

“I heard someone crying,” Brandy’s 22-year-old sister, Jacqueline Vela, told KPRC-TV of Houston, “so I ran upstairs and I looked in her room, and she’s against the wall and she has a gun pointed at her chest and she’s just crying and crying and I’m like, ‘Brandy, please don’t. Brandy, no.”

READ MORE: 桑拿会所 rolls out new tools to combat abuse, cyberbullying after months of criticism

Jacqueline Vela said she went to her parents’ room, “and I just heard the shot and my dad just yelled, ‘Help me. Help me. Help me.’”

“I was almost certain that I could persuade her to put that gun down. It didn’t work. She pulled the trigger,” Raul Vela said.

Her final cellphone text to her family was, “I love you so much just remember that please and I’m so sorry for everything.”

Her family said the harassment focused mainly on Brandy’s weight.

“They would make dating websites of her, and they would put her number and they would put her picture (on the sites), and lie about her age and say she is giving herself up for sex for free, to call her,” said Jacqueline Vela.

The family said they reported the bullying to the Texas City school district and several law enforcement agencies.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia cyberbullying law won’t be ready until next year, minister says

“School was a safe environment for Brandy,” said school district spokeswoman Melissa Tortorici. “She had a lot of friends and was thought of warmly by her peers and teachers. She did bring it to the school’s attention before Thanksgiving break that she was getting harassing messages to her cellphone outside of school. Our deputy investigated it, and the app that was being used to send the messages was untraceable. We encouraged her to change her phone number.”

Brandy Vela changed her number, but bullies always found her, her family said.

“We have lots of incident reports, and they always say the same thing: They can’t do anything about it,” Jacqueline Vela said.

A Texas City Police Department statement says it continues to investigate the Velas’ complaints. Jacqueline Vela told KPRC that she and her siblings have a good idea who may have been behind some of these attacks and have been assisting in the investigation.

The father said that he hopes for stricter laws against cyberbullying and greater awareness of the problem to give some meaning to his daughter’s death.

What Trudeau said: A look back at Liberal promises on electoral reform

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have abandoned their election promise that the 2015 federal election would be the last to use the first-past-the-post voting system.

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In December, an all-party committee released a report recommending the Liberals design a proportional representation voting system and hold a national referendum to gauge support.

At the time, the Liberals refused to knowledge a consensus; two months later, Trudeau directed the minister of democratic institutions to abandon electoral reform altogether.

READ MORE: What you need to know about proportional representation

Trudeau’s new mandate is a total reversal from his promises on the campaign trail.

Starting at the beginning, here’s a look at what Justin Trudeau and his Liberal colleagues have said about electoral reform and how it has changed since election day.

June 16, 2015 —; Trudeau unveils plan to ‘restore democracy’

Trudeau promises to make “every vote count,” while on the campaign trail.

“We are committed to ensuring that the 2015 election will be the last federal election using first-past-the-post.”

WATCH: Major electoral reforms coming 18 months after Liberals are elected: Trudeau 

A national engagement process will be executed, Trudeau pledged, and within 18 months of forming government the Liberals “will bring forward legislation to enact electoral reform.” A ranked ballot system, proportional representation, online voting, and mandatory voting will be examined, he said.

The promise was repeated in Liberal party election materials.

WATCH: Consultation the right path, not referendum, for electoral reform: Trudeau

Dec. 4, 2015 —; Throne speech pledges to boot first-past-the-post

As the new Trudeau Liberal era was ushered in, Gov. Gen. David Johnston delivered a throne speech outlining the new government’s priorities. Among those priorities: getting rid of first-past-the-post.

“To make sure that every vote counts, the Government will undertake consultations on electoral reform, and will take action to ensure that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.”

Dec. 17, 2015 —; Justin Trudeau denies electoral reform favours Liberal party

Trudeau denies any changes to Canada’s electoral system will solely benefit his party.

“It would be easier to do nothing and sit back and just say, ‘Okay, you know what, this worked for us, I think we can make this current system work for a few more mandates’ … But that’s not the kind of leadership that Canadians expected,” he said during an interview with the Canadian Press.

May 11, 2016 —; Liberals announce committee, promise again to get rid of first-past-the-post

The Liberals announced plans for a special all-party committee on electoral reform, which must deliver a report by Dec. 1. During the announcement, Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef reiterated that first-past-the-post would be gone by 2019.

“2015 was the last time that, federally, we will have had an election under the first-past-the-post system,” Monsef said.

“2019 may be conducted under proportional representation or a ranked ballot system, or a hybrid of existing systems.”

WATCH: 2015 ‘the last time’ Canadians will vote in first-past-the-post federal election 

READ MORE: Under fire from opposition, Liberals surrender majority on electoral reform committee

Oct. 19, 2015 —; Trudeau wavers on electoral reform promises

In an interview with French-language newspaper Le Devoir marking his first year as prime minister, Trudeau appeared to back away from the electoral reform promise.

“If we’re going to change the electoral system, people have to be open to that,” Trudeau told the newspaper. “If we get less support, it might be acceptable to make a small change.”

Then in Question Period that day, Trudeau side-stepped questions on the matter, saying he would not use his party’s majority to “ram through” electoral reform.

Oct. 20, 2016 —; Electoral reform may not be necessary anymore: Trudeau

After fallout from the newspaper report, Trudeau clarified his stance —; and continued to back away from electoral reform.

“Under Mr. Harper, there were so many people unhappy with the government and its approach that they were saying, ‘We need electoral reform in order to no longer have a government we don’t like,’” Trudeau explained in French at an event.

“However, under the current system, they now have a government they are more satisfied with. And the motivation to want to change the electoral system is less compelling.”

Nov. 27. 2016 —; Monsef won’t guarantee a new electoral system by 2019

Monsef refuses to commit to getting rid of the first-past-the-post voting system by 2019, in an interview with Global News.

“How do we gauge whether or not this reform has the broad support?” Monsef said. “We’re counting on that committee to come back to us and, if all goes well, we get to introduce legislation to that effect in the House of Commons in the spring.”

Dec. 1, 2016 —; Special committee recommends referendum on proportional representation voting system

The all-party committee released it long-awaited report, recommending the Trudeau government design a new proportional voting system and hold a national referendum to gauge how much Canadians would support it.

The majority report acknowledged the “overwhelming majority” of testimony the committee heard from almost 200 electoral experts and thousands of interested Canadians was in favour of proportional representation.

Later, in Question Period, Monsef said she plans to review the report, and recommends her colleagues do the same.

“The only consensus that the report found was that there is no consensus on electoral reform,” said Monsef.

WATCH: Liberals dance around if referendum will be held following reform report 

Dec. 2, 2016 —; Monsef apologizes for her statements on the committee’s recommendations

“I’d like to sincerely apologize to the members of this House, to Canadians and to the members of the special all-party committee on electoral reform,” Monsef said Friday.

“In no way did I intend to imply that they didn’t work hard, that they didn’t put in the long hours, that they didn’t focus on the task at hand; Mr. Speaker, I thank them for their work.”

WATCH: Maryam Monsef apologizes to electoral reform committee for comments she made in the House of Commons

Feb. 1, 2017 —; Justin Trudeau bails on long-held promise to change Canada’s voting system

The Trudeau Liberals put the final nail in the coffin, completely abandoning any plans for electoral reform.

“Changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate,” Prime Minister Trudeau wrote in a letter to newly appointed Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould.

Cross-Canada consultations failed to signal great demand for electoral reform, Trudeau said. A national referendum would not be happening either.

“A clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged,” Trudeau writes. “Furthermore, without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada’s interest.”

With files from the Canadian Press and Global News

Alberta unemployment hits 9%, highest in 22 years

More Alberta jobs were lost and more Albertans were looking for work in November, pushing the unemployment rate to the highest it has been in over 22 years.

Statistics Canada said, in Alberta, employment fell by 13,000 in November. At the same time, the number of job-seekers increased by over 11,000, pushing the unemployment rate up 0.5 percentage points to 9 per cent — the highest rate since July 1994.

ChangSha Night Net

READ MORE: Calgary maintains highest unemployment rate in Canada for 5th straight month

Compared with November 2015, employment in the province was down 30,000 (-1.3 per cent) and unemployment increased by 52,000 (+30.6 per cent).

The downturn in Alberta’s energy sector has led to thousands of layoffs, as the over two-year-long global oil price slump has made many oil and gas operations unprofitable.

The number show while the unemployment rate in Edmonton has dropped in the past three months (from 8 per cent in August to 6.8 per cent in November), more and more people in Calgary are losing their jobs.

Calgary’s unemployment rate was 10.3 per cent last month, marking the fifth straight month the oil and gas hub’s rate was the highest in Canada.

READ MORE: Here’s why oil prices, the Canadian dollar and stock markets are all up

Edmonton’s unemployment rate dropped slightly from 6.9 per cent in October to 6.8 per cent in November.

The city’s chief economist said employment in construction, manufacturing and energy were essentially unchanged in November, which he believes suggests that employment in these sectors has stabilized.

As we move into 2017, John Rose predicts employment will modestly improve, particularly in areas such as manufacturing and energy.

The unemployment rate in Alberta was higher than the national average.

The Canadian labour market unexpectedly added 10,700 net jobs last month and the unemployment rate slid to 6.8 per cent — but the latest numbers raise questions about the quality of the work.

Statistics Canada’s November employment survey shows yet another monthly decline in the more-desirable category of full-time work — a figure more than offset by a gain in part-time jobs.

READ MORE: Canada’s unemployment rate dips to 6.8% as 10,700 mostly part-time jobs added

The report says the market added 19,400 part-time jobs last month and shed 8,700 full-time positions.

Across the country, more people were employed in the finance, insurance, real estate and leasing industries, in information, culture and recreation, in the “other services” industry and in agriculture.

On the other hand, Statistics Canada said there were declines in construction, in manufacturing, as well as in transportation and warehousing.

ISIS likely to attack Europe again soon, EU police report warns

The Islamic State group is likely to carry out new attacks in the European Union in the near future, probably targeting countries that are members of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the extremist organization in Syria and Iraq, EU police agency Europol said in a report published Friday.

ChangSha Night Net

READ MORE: Terror attack thwarted after French police arrest 7 in anti-terror raids

“Estimates from some intelligence services indicate several dozen people directed by IS may be currently present in Europe with a capability to commit terrorist attacks,” according to the report, which draws on counterterrorism intelligence from around Europe and also cites media reports and previously publicized calls by ISIS leaders for attacks.

But ISIS also is adept at inspiring marginalized youths, some of whom may have mental health problems, and inciting them to carry out attacks.

WATCH: Paris Attacks victims remembered on one year anniversary

The report also warns that tactics the group uses in Iraq and Syria – such as the use of car bombs – could also be deployed in Europe. It also said that past attacks such as those in France and Belgium over the last two years show that extremists acting in the name of ISIS can effectively plan complex attacks.

Both France and Belgium are among European nations that have joined the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group. Others include Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark. Germany’s military also is involved, but not in combat operations.

READ MORE: What’s safe? European security changes after wave of terror attacks

Europol also notes a shift in attacks from symbolic targets like police officers and military personnel to indiscriminate attacks on soft targets, such as the Paris attacks in 2015.

“Indiscriminate attacks have a very powerful effect on the public in general, which is one of the main goals of terrorism: to seriously intimidate a population,” the report says.

IN DEPTH: More than 100 killed in Paris attacks

The focus on so-called soft targets means that attacking critical infrastructure like power grids and nuclear facilities is “currently not a priority,” the report notes.

Europol also says that the consensus among intelligence agencies in EU member states is that “the cyber capabilities of terrorist groups are still relatively low,” but adds that “the possibility of terrorist-affiliated cyber groups engaging in cyber warfare sponsored by Nation States – those with capacities to engage in this type of attacks – should not be discounted.”

WATCH: Paris attacks: Security report finds several intelligence failures aided violent siege 

Meanwhile, a police raid in Morocco in February may have thwarted a possible attack by an IS cell using chemical or biological weapons, raising the specter that such weapons also could be used in Europe, though the report says automatic firearms, knives and vehicles are more easily available and that “The effectiveness, ease of use and access of these weapons will continue to be relevant.”