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Gaza analysis: Israel exit scenarios begin to take shape – National

TEL AVIV, Israel – The savage fighting between Israel and Hamas is escalating in Gaza, cease-fire efforts take on elements of farce, and bravado rules the public discourse. But even through the fog of war, a few endgame scenarios can nonetheless be glimpsed.

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For the moment, the deadlock is well-entrenched: As long as the crippling blockade of Gaza remains in place, Hamas says it will continue firing rockets at Israel – terrifying but mostly ineffectual, thanks to the “Iron Dome” defence system. Israel says the blockade must stay to stop a terrorist government from importing yet more weapons.

There is not much pressure yet on either side to stop – even in Gaza, where more than 1,300 people, mainly civilians, have been killed, amid widespread devastation.

An Egyptian-led cease-fire plan more than two weeks ago, which Israel accepted and was a straight return to the status quo before this current round – was rejected by Hamas, and there was little criticism of that decision in Gaza.

Such is the hatred of the air, land and sea blockade in the strip – in addition, perhaps, to the fear of Hamas.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon makes a statement regarding the violence in Gaza during their meeting in Cairo, Thursday, July 24, 2014.

AP Photo/Pool

Last week’s mediation effort led by John Kerry fizzled amid a most undiplomatic frenzy of criticism in Israel of the U.S. secretary of state. He had dared suggest Hamas’ blockade-ending demands be on the table. He also had ignored Israel’s new demands – probably long-term at best – that the militant group be disarmed.

There is a chance the casualties will pile up so high that the world may start applying enormous pressure on Israel to stop even if that leaves Hamas with a victory of sorts. Things like that have happened before, especially during a Lebanon bombing campaign in 1996 against Hezbollah militants that ended after Israel hit a UN compound housing refugees, claiming error. But it hasn’t happened yet – despite an increasingly harrowing and somewhat murky reality on the ground.

While it is too early to say how all this will end, quiet diplomacy continues. There also is a growing sense that it can’t go on much longer – but then again, it might.

Here are some ways it could play out:

Israel declares victory and leaves

If you listen carefully, Israeli leaders generally describe the ground operation in Gaza as intended to destroy the Hamas-built tunnels leading into Israel, almost certainly for purposes of attack. The military says it has found and is destroying more than 20 tunnels and believes there are a few more. Once that job is done, Israel could well pull out and try to declare victory or even a unilateral cease-fire. The hope would be that the respite from the devastation visited on Gaza would compel Hamas to think again and quietly accept a return to the way it was: no rocket fire on Israel; no airstrikes and shelling of Gaza. This probably wouldn’t work. Hamas has put Gazans through so much that they certainly feel they must have something to show for their efforts in the form of an easing of the blockade. Rocket fire would continue and the hostilities would swiftly resume.

A Palestinian man burns a tire during clashes with Israeli soldiers following a protest against the Israeli offensive in Gaza, outside Ofer, an Israeli military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, July 18, 2014. Israeli troops pushed deeper into Gaza on Friday to destroy rocket launching sites and tunnels.

(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Despite huge reservations, Israel may just end up reoccupying the strip, even at the cost of hundreds of soldiers and then being saddled with nearly 2 million Gazans to rule. If the situation becomes bad enough, more fantastical scenarios suggest themselves: perhaps even a NATO force to pacify and rebuild the traumatized strip. It probably won’t be necessary. Hamas will run out of rockets eventually. But for now, it’s believed to have thousands more, Israel will continue to strike back, and the destruction will be harrowing for weeks.

The Palestinian Authority takes over the border with Egypt

Hamas wants an end to the blockade that was imposed by Israel after the militants won the 2006 Palestinian parliament election, were sidelined by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and then seized Gaza in 2007. Some minor things are conceivable, like a small extension of the rights of fishermen to venture out to sea. But Israel will not allow true sea access or an airport as long as Hamas controls the strip. The concern is that even bigger rockets and weapons would stream in. Israel also won’t soon open its borders to Gazans, remembering too well the suicide bombings of a decade ago.

There is one plausible way to greatly ease the siege: Open the southern border near the town of Rafah leading to Egypt, and put the Gaza side not under the control of Hamas but under the Palestinian Authority. Cairo has been extremely cool to the idea of opening the frontier but not to the PA taking it over, in line with the tough Egypt-first policy of new President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Egypt seems little inclined to help Hamas against Israel, views Gaza as someone else’s problem, and fears Gaza’s militants trickling in and compounding its own jihadi problems in Sinai. But the PA on the border could be spun as a win for everyone: Hamas broke the siege; the PA is back in business in the strip; Israel didn’t give up much under fire; the Gazans feel relief; and Egypt is the hero. When the dust finally settles, don’t be surprised if this is the face-saving way out.

The Palestinian Authority takes over Gaza

Somehow forgotten in the current discourse is that the blockade was imposed after the Hamas takeover. It was probably intended both to be punitive – an incentive to the people to rebel, which has proven impractical under the militants – and to prevent Hamas from arming further. At this point, it is mainly about this latter goal of reining in Hamas. Alternatively, Hamas could call the world’s bluff by accepting the conditions presented to it by the world community: recognize Israel, adhere to previous agreements, renounce violence. Acquiescence here would also probably eliminate the blockade. But no one expects Hamas to do this; it would cease to be Hamas. Either way, the principle’s the same: No Hamas – no blockade.

West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

AP Photo/Amr Nabil

West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas signed a “unity government” deal two months ago that would have actually achieved this on paper – but few seriously expected Hamas to give up its control of Gaza. Israel fought vehemently against the deal, lobbying the world to shun even Abbas – part of a series of events that culminated in the current fight. Essentially the “unity government” was stillborn – but the war could give the arrangement new and genuine life, especially if this comes with serious relief on the blockade. Hamas would find it especially hard to oppose this if major financial incentives were added, like billions in aid from the Gulf and the West, conditioned on the PA being in charge. After all, the support it finds among ordinary Gazans is about improving life for the people, not fighting Israel to the death. Last week, both the German and French foreign ministers said re-involving the PA in the administration of Gaza was the only way to guarantee a long-term cease-fire. Given Hamas’ relative unpopularity in the region at the moment, and its money crunch, it’s not inconceivable.

A challenge for Israel, therefore: It will have to go along with such a game-changing ambitions to a degree. But what if militants from an Abbas-run Gaza still find a way to fire rockets? It may actually rue the day Hamas melted away, removing with it Israel’s near-impunity to hit back as hard as the past month has seen.

Dan Perry has covered the Middle East since the 1990s and currently leads Associated Press’ text coverage in the region. 

©2014The Canadian Press

Continue reading Gaza analysis: Israel exit scenarios begin to take shape – National

Drunk driver who killed woman faces sentencing hearing – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – Details about a drunk driving crash that killed a 71-year-old woman a year ago were heard during a sentencing hearing Friday afternoon.

Cameras were permitted in court for the case of Adam Langan, who had already pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death.For the first time since Manitoba Justice began allowing cameras in some court proceedings, a victim impact statement was broadcast live.

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The seven-car pileup at McPhillips Street and William Avenue at about 5 p.m. on Aug. 24, 2013, injured multiple people, including Doreen Chaikowsky, who later died of crush injuries.

Police said at the time that a Ford Ranger was speeding north on McPhillips when it hit a Honda Ridgeline that was turning left onto William from the southbound lanes of McPhillips.

The Ranger then hit Chaikowsky’s Chevrolet Cobalt and then a Honda Civic.

The Ranger’s “black box” showed Langan was driving it at “full throttle” for the five seconds before impact and travelling at 123 kilometres per hour with no breaking, the Crown lawyer said during the sentencing hearing.

Crown and defense were both seeking a 4.5 year jail sentence for Langan. Judge Kelly Moar reserved his decision to July 31.

READ MORE: Crash kills woman, man charged with impaired driving

Langan was arrested at the scene of the crash and pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death in May.

Adam Langan pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing the death of Doreen Chaikowsky, 71, in August 2013.

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Seven vehicles were damaged in a crash that killed an elderly woman in Winnipeg in August 2013. Adam Langan faces a sentencing hearing Friday.

Howard Wong

Seven vehicles were damaged in a crash that killed an elderly woman in Winnipeg in August 2013. Adam Langan faces a sentencing hearing Friday.

Howard Wong

Seven vehicles were damaged in a crash that killed an elderly woman in Winnipeg in August 2013. Adam Langan faces a sentencing hearing Friday.

Howard Wong

Adam Langan pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing the death of Doreen Chaikowsky following a crash in August 2013.

Howard Wong

Seven vehicles were damaged in a crash that killed an elderly woman in Winnipeg in August 2013. Adam Langan faces a sentencing hearing Friday.

Howard Wong

Continue reading Drunk driver who killed woman faces sentencing hearing – Winnipeg

John Tory wants Rob Ford code of conduct ruling before October election – Toronto

TORONTO – Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory has sent a letter to the city’s integrity commissioner to find out the status of an investigation into a potential code of conduct violation involving Mayor Rob Ford and whether a ruling will be handed down prior to the municipal election in October.

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As first reported in the Globe and Mail in May, a complaint filed by a watchdog group called Democracy Watch alleges the mayor lobbied city staff on behalf of two companies that had done business with his family’s company, Deco Labels and Tags.

Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper initiated an investigation into the matter but it was temporarily halted when Ford entered a rehab centre for this substances abuse issues.

“We understand that your investigation was stayed on or about May 12th, during Mayor Rob Ford’s declares leave of absence,” wrote the letter issued by the law offices of Benson Percival Brown LLP.

“Will you issue a public report or statement regarding your investigation once completed?”

The letter also questions whether the office recognizes “the timely issue” of the report and the need for the public to have a ruling “in advance of this year’s municipal election.”

This past week, Mayor Ford denied he gave any special treatment to two companies who had ties to his family’s business.

The code of conduct complaint alleges Ford intervened on behalf of Apollo Health and Beauty Care when the company was being investigated by the city for a sewage spill in 2012.

It is also reported that Ford and his brother Doug helped printing company RR Donnelley and Sons seek a city contract.

Tory’s letter was sent to the integrity commissioner on Thursday, July 24.

Continue reading John Tory wants Rob Ford code of conduct ruling before October election – Toronto

First John Daly, now Taylor Pendrith: Golf’s new biggest hitter is a Canadian amateur

WATCH ABOVE: Canadian Amateur Taylor Pendrith put on a long drive show in his opening round at the RBC Canadian Open en route to a 5-under 65 to sit one back of the leaders.

ILE BIZARD, Que.—There’s nothing more impressive in sports than speed and power. That’s why sports fans loved when Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman threw a 105 mile per hour fastball, are amazed at the explosiveness of Usain Bolt, and are blown away by Milos Raonic’s 250 km/h serve.

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And now you can add Richmond Hill, Ontario’s Taylor Pendrith to the mix. The 23-year-old played in his first PGA Tour event Thursday, teeing it up late in the afternoon at the RBC Canadian Open at Royal Montreal.

The amateur who is just finishing his schooling at Kent State, started conservatively enough, pounding his first drive 309 yards. He then proceeded to take apart Royal Montreal Golf Club with a display of power golf rarely seen since “Long” John Daly showed up at the 1991 PGA Championship and overwhelmed the course by hitting drives places no one had previously considered.

Since then sports fans have always been thrilled by golfers who could hit the ball farther than ever before. For a while that was Daly, who gave way to Tiger Woods, while these days the likes of Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson reside in the group that can power the ball miles in the air.

Pendrith not only belongs in that group, he’s actually longer than any of them.

Consider this: in the first round of the Canadian Open, Pendrith hit eight drives over 300 yards, including a 365-yard bomb, where he nearly drove the eighth green, and leads the field in total driving average by an astounding 14 yards. He launches the ball high into the stratosphere at an average speed of 185 miles per hour, on average four miles faster than Johnson or Watson – considered golf’s biggest hitters. And when he’s put on radar devices that track ball speed, he’s hit the ball more than 190 miles per hour on occasion.

Meet Canada’s Taylor Pendrith – an amateur golfer who is turning heads at the Canadian Open for his otherworldly ability to hit a golf ball incredible distances.

Golf Canada / Bernard Brault

Not bad for a kid whose parents barely played the game, and who didn’t start playing golf until he was 12. He teed it up in his first tournament three years later at the age of 15.

Now on the verge of turning pro, Pendrith put on a show off the tee at the Canadian Open that was jaw dropping. It was only bettered by the fact the twenty-something can chip and putt, finishing at 5-under in a tie for third.

“He has a second gear other golfers don’t have,” said Herb Page, his coach at Kent State who walked the golfer’s round. “And he’s just touching the surface.”

Page said when Pendrith first came to Kent State he was a raw golfer, capable of hitting hooked pitching wedges 190 yards. Page and his staff worked hard to turn Pendrith into a real golfer. When he came to Kent State he could hit the ball incredible distances, but not always straight. He left with a tidy short game, the ability to move his drives from right to left, and ranked as the 17th-best amateur in the world.

WATCH: Rising Team Canada star Taylor Pendrith is a long hitter with a bright future. Global News’ Rob Leth reports.

Walking with their son, Pendrith’s parents said they aren’t sure where his ability comes from. He was a good hockey player with a big slap shot. He could throw a ball well. But one day he came home and told his dad golf was his thing.

“He said, ‘Dad, I need to hit balls every day’,” said the golfer’s father, Darrel. “So I built him something that let him do it.”

That was less than 10 years ago. Now, Pendrith is turning heads on golf’s grandest scene. And he makes it all sound, well, so easy.

“I played other sports growing up, played hockey and baseball and I was just a powerful guy in both of those,” he said. “I had a pretty hard slap shot and I was a pitcher and threw pretty hard. I don’t know. It’s just natural, I guess.”

Maybe it is just natural. Maybe there’s no explanation for Pendrith’s otherworldly ability to hit a golf ball incredible distances.

Regardless, in a game that loves the long ball – and in a culture that loves faster, harder, farther – Pendrith is a Canadian with an impressive future.

Continue reading First John Daly, now Taylor Pendrith: Golf’s new biggest hitter is a Canadian amateur

Determined Manitoba cat lives with head stuck in bird feeder – Winnipeg

BRANDON, Man. – Not since Sylvester and Tweety has a cat’s determination to catch a bird caused such a predicament.

A ginger-and-white feline nicknamed Butterscotch has been spotted numerous times with a small bird feeder stuck on its head in a Brandon, Man., neighbourhood.

Witnesses say the cat can see out of one eye and runs away when approached.

They say there’s no way it can eat or drink, and are worried about how long it can survive.

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“He was meowing a little bit as if he wanted somebody to help him, but he’s a stray and he’s obviously afraid of people, so I wasn’t able to get near him,” said Colleen Gareau, who first spotted the distressed cat Wednesday morning.

Staff with the city’s pound have tried to catch Butterscotch. So have volunteers from a local animal group, who have been baiting traps with tuna, sardines and cat food.

The traps are ones used for larger animals because the cat wouldn’t fit into a regular cat trap because of the feeder.

So far, Butterscotch has given everyone the slip.

“It spooks whenever it hears anything because it doesn’t know what’s really approaching, so any noise, the cat runs,” said Toni Gramiak of the Brandon and Area Lost Animals group.

“We’re surprised it’s not running into things, but somehow it’s figured out how to get around.”

Witnesses say the cat can even jump onto fences with the feeder on its head.

Gareau said the cat had been a regular visitor to her yard for some time and gets along well with her own cat, Emmie, which she lets out into her yard on a leash.

“He probably just put his head in — I don’t think he was interested in food — but snooping around and it just got caught on his neck. And he was shaking his head. He just cannot get it off.”

Gareau assumed the cat belonged to someone in her neighbourhood. But despite all the attention the fettered feline has generated in Brandon, no one has stepped forward to claim the animal.

Gramiak said when the cat is captured, it will be checked for an ear tattoo or microchip identification. As it is right now, it’s hard to identify the animal when no one can properly see its face.

Gramiak has even been putting tuna juice on trees to try to lure Butterscotch back to Gareau’s yard.

The last time Gareau saw the cat free of the feeder was a week ago.

“At the very most, the cat has not had food or water for about a week,” Gramiak said.

©2014The Canadian Press

Continue reading Determined Manitoba cat lives with head stuck in bird feeder – Winnipeg

California man, 80, says he shot burglar despite pregnancy plea – National

WATCH: 80-year-old Tom Greer defends shooting a pregnant intruder in his house.

LONG BEACH, Calif. – An 80-year-old man who came home to find two burglars says he shot and killed one of them despite her pleas that she was pregnant, but it’s her alleged accomplice who has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Police said they would present their case to prosecutors Friday but were uncertain whether to recommend charges against Tom Greer, who told a television station he shot the fleeing woman in the back.

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“She says, ‘Don’t shoot me, I’m pregnant – I’m going to have a baby,’ and I shot her anyway,” Greer told KNBC-TV outside his house.

“The lady didn’t run as fast as the man, so I shot her in the back twice,” Greer told the TV station.

Long Beach police Chief Jim McDonnell said at a news conference Thursday that 28-year-old Andrea Miller did not appear to be pregnant, but an autopsy would determine whether she was.

The surviving suspect, Gus Adams, 26, was arrested on suspicion of residential burglary and murder. The murder charge is possible because he is accused of being involved in a felony that led to a death, the chief said.

READ MORE: Homeowner charged in Michigan porch shooting death of Renisha McBride

Both Miller and Adams, who had histories of similar crimes, were unarmed, McDonnell said.

Greer had been burglarized three times before and believed the same suspects were responsible.

He said both suspects hit him with their fists and ultimately “body slamming” him to the floor, breaking his collar bone, McDonnell said.

READ MORE: Detroit teenager shot to death on porch while seeking help after accident

Greer managed to get to another room where he grabbed a gun and opened fire. He chased the suspects outside, where he shot Miller.

McDonnell would not say whether Miller was shot in the back as Greer said.

Under California law, homeowners can defend themselves if they are in “imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death,” McDonnell said. Prosecutors will have to determine whether chasing after the suspects and firing on them outside the home goes beyond self-defence.

©2014The Canadian Press

Continue reading California man, 80, says he shot burglar despite pregnancy plea – National

WATCH: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ trailer thrills fans, upsets morality groups – National

MONTREAL – The first official trailer for the highly anticipated big screen adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey debuted Thursday – and fans of E.L. James’ erotic novels seem to have been left satisfied.

The two-and-a-half-minute trailer, backed by a seductive version of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”, gives a sneak peek at the made-in-Vancouver film starring Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele.

Fifty Shades of Grey was directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and is set for a Valentine’s Day release.

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But while fans showed their excitement on social media, morality groups expressed their outrage.

“Here’s a book and a movie that are really normalizing and even romanticizing BDSM relationships,” Melissa Henson of Parents Television Council told The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s very troubling, especially the way that this romance is presented in the trailer.”

READ MORE: Jamie Dornan one of 10 males stars who modelled underwear

Morality in Media said in a statement the film promotes “abuse of power, female inequality, coercion, and sexual violence.”

According to executive director Dawn Hawkins, “the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey among women sends a message to men that this is what women really want.”

She added: “Do we really want our sons to become Christian Greys, practicing a violent masculinity that degrades men as well?”

BELOW: Global’s The Morning Show weighs in on the casting of Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey.

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Continue reading WATCH: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ trailer thrills fans, upsets morality groups – National

The NFL in Toronto? Bon Jovi group exploring stadium sites – Toronto

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A Buffalo Bills prospective ownership group that includes rocker Jon Bon Jovi has conducted a feasibility study into buying the NFL franchise and building a stadium in Toronto, a person close to the situation said.

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The study identified at least three potential stadium sites, two in Toronto, including one on the waterfront, and another in the suburb of Mississauga, the person told The Associated Press on Thursday. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because Bon Jovi and his partners, Larry Tanenbaum and the Rogers family, have not publicly revealed details of their plans to purchase the team.

Andy Bergmann, responsible for overseeing the Bon Jovi group’s stadium plans, confirmed Thursday in an email to the AP that his company has conducted stadium studies, “but nothing related to any specific site.”

“We have undertaken engineering and design studies,” wrote Bergmann, co-founder of Toronto-based Wessex Capital Partners, a growth equity investment firm that specializes in architecture, design and engineering services. “All of our work has been about a generic site and whether it was more rural or urban. We are aware of potential sites in the western NY and southern Ontario region, and are in fact meeting with two Buffalo area developers next week.

“No feasibility studies have been undertaken on any site to date.”

READ MORE: Bon Jovi reportedly part of Toronto group looking to buy Buffalo Bills

Tanenbaum is chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which controls the NBA’s Raptors and NHL’s Maple Leafs. The Rogers family includes Edward Rogers, deputy chairman of Rogers Communications, the Toronto-based communications giant.

The Bills are being sold following the death of Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson in March.

Under terms of the team’s lease with the state and county, the Bills – including Wilson’s estate – are not allowed to negotiate with anyone, who to their knowledge, has an intention of relocating the team before the end of the 2022 season, when the lease ends.

The feasibility study was commissioned about 18 months ago and overseen by an investment bank, the person said, adding that one of the stadium construction costs was between $800 million and $900 million.

The Bon Jovi group has not said they would relocate the team, but Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told the AP on Wednesday that he has no doubt the group’s intentions are to move the Bills to Toronto.

“It is my personal opinion that any bid associated with the Toronto group has a long-term interest in moving the team to Toronto,” Poloncarz said, while attending Bills training camp in suburban Rochester, New York.

Thursday night, New York Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy posted several notes on his 桑拿会所 account and specifically mentioned Bon Jovi in sending a warning to any prospective ownership groups that might have plans of relocating the Bills.

READ MORE: Jon Bon Jovi to be honoured for humanitarian work

“Note to JBJ: You will lose fans/all of WNY- forever. Not worth it,” Duffy said, referring to Bon Jovi and western New York. “Note to prospective owners: BUFFALO Bills. Don’t pick this fight.”

Duffy then referred to a clause in the Bills’ lease that provides the state and county an opportunity to seek court action to block negotiations between the team and any party that has expressed an intention of relocating the team during the lease. If the legal action failed and the Bills relocated during the lease, the state and county would be open to seeking a $400 million penalty as compensation.

“It would be a public relations disaster for any new owner to consider a move- and the 400m hit,” Duffy wrote in a post that included a link to the AP story.

The Bills most recently were valued by Forbes at $870 million. They are projected to be sold for at least $1 billion, partly because NFL teams rarely go on the market.

John Vrooman, a Vanderbilt professor who specializes in sports economics, said feasibility studies are standard practice among prospective ownership groups and there should be no immediate cause for alarm. He said such studies evaluate expected cash flows and best- and worst-case risk factors based on location.

Vrooman projected the Bills to be valued at between $950 million and $1 billion in western New York, and about $1.5 billion if they moved to Toronto and even more in Los Angeles.

The Toronto group is represented by Goldman Sachs, and is one of at least 10 groups to have submitted a nondisclosure agreement form to Morgan Stanley, the banking firm overseeing the Bills sale on behalf of Wilson’s estate.

Among those also listed as returning their forms are Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula and New York City real estate mogul Donald Trump.

The next step comes Tuesday.

That’s when prospective bidders must submit to Morgan Stanley what’s called “a first letter of indication,” which includes their initial and non-binding bid to purchase the team, said a person familiar with the sale process. The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the sale process is private.

The person said the firm will review the bids and determine which prospective groups will be eligible to proceed to the next stage of bidding.

The list of remaining groups allowed to move forward is anticipated to be identified by the end of next week, the person said. Those groups will then be granted further access to the Bills financial date to better determine their bid.

It’s possible that a prospective owner could be identified by as early as late August, and be presented to NFL owners for approval during league meetings in early October.

Continue reading The NFL in Toronto? Bon Jovi group exploring stadium sites – Toronto

Blustery weather across Edmonton and central Alberta

WATCH ABOVE: Global meteorologist Nicola Crosbie’s weather forecast from Friday’s edition of the News Hour. For more info, check out Global Edmonton’s weather page.

EDMONTON – High winds and heavy rain drenched areas across the Capital Region Friday, wreaking havoc on city roads, trees, power lines and resident’s basements.

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The weather caused flight delays and cancellations at the Edmonton International Airport. As of 2:00 p.m. Friday, approximately 48 flights had been cancelled or diverted. EIA says passengers whose flights have been cancelled should contact their airlines for rebooking.

READ MORE: High winds cancel or divert dozens of flights at EIA 

Margie Balaneski, who lives in the area of 145 Avenue and 96 Street, spent most of the evening vacuuming water out of her basement after area sewer lines backed up into her home.

Balaneski says she has a back water shut off valve, but “it couldn’t hold the pressure that came through the lines.”

This isn’t the first time Balaneski has been forced to clean up following heavy rainfall; in August 2013, she was vacuuming water out of her basement after an intense overnight thunderstorm.

“We experienced the same problem. We have sewer water in the basement and we have been busy… vacuuming it up, taking it out in bucket loads,” she explained Friday night.

“History has repeated itself.”

READ MORE: Flooding in Edmonton following overnight storm

Due to the extreme weather, the Interstellar Rodeo was cancelled Friday night.  Artists that were set to play Friday – or whose flights had been cancelled or delayed – will be moved to Monday.

“Edmontonians are hearty, and not afraid of a little rain,” said producer Shauna de Cartier, “but the high winds and rain make for unsafe conditions and we decided to work on a Plan B.”

Organizers say Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans, scheduled to perform Friday, will be back Monday night. Saturday and Sunday performances will go ahead as scheduled. All Friday Interstellar Rodeo tickets will be honoured on Monday night.

The wet weather also rained on Taste of Edmonton’s parade Friday night.

But, earlier in the day, some brave souls battled the rain to check out the treats.

“There are no line-ups,” said Amber Durocher.  “You don’t have to push anyone out of your way and the food is just as good.”

Concerts at the K-Days midway went ahead as scheduled Friday night. Northlands staff offered free gate admission after 6 p.m.

The nightly fireworks show was cancelled, though, as the grounds closed following the concerts.

According to Global Meteorologist Nicola Crosbie, a cold low has moved in from Northern B.C., creating major instability across central Alberta.

Rain was falling at a rate of about five mm per hour, which Crosbie says is significant.

The unofficial rainfall amount in west Edmonton is 100 mm, which Crosbie says fell between 11 p.m. Thursday and 5 p.m. Friday. The average rainfall for July is 94 mm, according to Crosbie.

A wind warning was in place for much of the day, but it was dropped by Environment Canada by Friday evening.

Fortunately, this wet and rainy day is not expected to carry on throughout the weekend.

“The good news is the forecast really improves for Saturday,” Crosbie explains. “A strong ridge of high pressure builds in again and temperatures will head into the 30s by Tuesday.”

A few hardy food lovers at the Taste of Edmonton; July 25, 2014

Fletcher Kent, Global News

Flooding near 83 Street and Argyll Road in south Edmonton.
Friday, July 25, 2014.

Dave Carels, Global News

Flooding near 83 Street and Argyll Road in south Edmonton.
Friday, July 25, 2014.

Dave Carels, Global News

Flooding near 83 Street and Argyll Road in south Edmonton.
Friday, July 25, 2014.

Dave Carels, Global News

Workers clearing a downed tree on Rabbit Hill Road, in southwest Edmonton. Friday, July 25, 2014.

Dave Carels, Global News

Workers clearing a downed tree on Rabbit Hill Road, in southwest Edmonton. Friday, July 25, 2014.

Dave Carels, Global News

Downed power lines following a storm in Edmonton; July 25, 2014

Fletcher Kent, Global News

A wet Friday at Interstellar Rodeo; July 25, 2014

Fletcher Kent, Global News

A wet Friday at Interstellar Rodeo; July 25, 2014

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Malkovich, Cumberbatch make Comic-Con debuts – National

ABOVE: Benedict Cumberbatch, Megan Fox, John Malkovich and others talk Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO – John Malkovich and Benedict Cumberbatch each made their Comic-Con debuts — as themselves and as their first animated characters.

The two actors were in San Diego Thursday to offer an early look at DreamWorks Animation’s Penguins of Madagascar, a sequel to 2012’s Madagascar 3.

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They revealed they’d only just met one day earlier. Each did their voice-recording sessions alone in a sound booth while making the film.

“I was really gutted about that, because I was really looking forward to working with the penguins and John,” said Cumberbatch, who drew swoony screams from the audience every time he spoke. “That’s the hardest thing: You don’t have the usual camaraderie which you do in most other mediums.”

He called Malkovich “a legend of acting” and an “extraordinarily brilliant man.”

Cumberbatch plays a wolf in the film — a super spy who runs an organization called the North Wind, which protects animal welfare. The Sherlock star joked that he went undercover to prepare for the role.

“I worked in Yellowstone Park as a wolf for a while,” he said. “It got a bit hairy when, no pun intended, when I became the alpha male.”

Malkovich plays the villain, an evil scientist octopus named Dave, whom Malkovich said looks like his youngest sister.

“She’s going to have to learn about this,” he said. “I didn’t even call her before.”

Hosted by Craig Ferguson — who worked in a few playful jabs at DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg — the panel included several clips of the penguins in action, as well as the first six minutes of the new film, which is set to open at U.S. Thanksgiving.

The 90-minute presentation also included a peek at Home, which stars Jim Parsons as a lost alien who befriends a human girl, voiced by Rihanna. The film is set to be released in March 2015.

The studio also announced its newest star-studded effort, B.O.O., which stands for the Bureau of Otherworldly Operations. Featuring the voices of Seth Rogen, Melissa McCarthy and Bill Murray, B.O.O. is set to open next summer.

©2014The Associated Press

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