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Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan arrives in Iraq, meets with security officials Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan arrived in Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, on Sunday. He was welcomed by Kurdish Interior Minister Karim Sinjari and Kurdish Foreign Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir. A spokeswoman for Sajjan says the purpose of the trip was to meet with defence and security officials in the region and visit Canadian military personnel. She says Sajjan met with his Iraqi counterpart in Baghdad and with Kurdish leaders in Irbil. The defence minister recently visited the United Kingdom, where his British counterpart Michael Fallon and he discussed a collaboration “on issues of common interest,” which included Canada’s contribution to the fight against the Islamic State. Canada’s military says that several of the 69 Canadian trainers currently deployed in Iraq, along with hundreds of local troops, came under fire from approximately 500 IS fighters near Mosul last week. They fired back and managed to hold the line. Canadian CF-18 fighter jets also pounded an ISIL position near Mosul. Canadian participation in the fighting came as the new Liberal government is actively considering when to withdraw its six CF-18s from combat and how to beef up the ground training mission of local forces. Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion told Global News that a decision on the future of our troops in Iraq will be coming soon. “The goal that we have is to be sure that the Canadian effort in the coalition will compliment what our allies are doing and will be very effective to fight these terrorist groups,” Dion said. WATCH: Future of combat mission to be decided within weeks: Dion With files from the Associated Press. 

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Tips to help you avoid the Christmas blues EDMONTON- The holidays can be a stressful time of year for many people. There’s so much to do and what seems like so little time to do it in – shopping, baking, cooking, cleaning and the list goes on. Psychologist Amanda Slugoski says, if you’re feeling the pinch, take a step back and ask yourself a couple of questions. “How do you want to be with that stress? You may want to be gentle or calm or flexible that things aren’t going to be perfect,” she said. Related Holiday Stress Super Saturday a reminder time is running out for last-minute Christmas shoppers Secret to a stress-free holiday dinner: planning READ MORE: Need help over the holidays? Here are the numbers to call in Alberta Slugoski adds finances are often the biggest stressor during the holiday season. Many shoppers are left juggling the guilt for spending too much or too little on their loved ones. “There is certainly a lot of pressure to spend. We get a lot of messages from the media, marketing, and going into stores. “This is the hot new toy, this is the thing you can’t live without’,” she said. Slugoski also says we need to let go of the perception that Christmas is this magical joyous time of the year for everyone and acknowledge it can be stressful or sometimes even sad. She suggests that, if you know someone is struggling, reach out. “The best thing thing you can do is let them know that you’re there for them if they want to come to you,” she said.

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Indian protesters demand that minor convicted in fatal gang rape be held after serving term NEW DELHI – The man was short of his 18th birthday when he and five others brutally attacked the 23-year-old woman in a case that shocked India, where sexual violence against women is rampant. Several activists and politicians have demanded that he not be released until it can be proven that he has been reformed. Scores of protesters Sunday were led by the parents of the woman who was attacked. On Friday, the Delhi High Court rejected a petition to extend the man’s term, saying that he has served the maximum sentence allowed under the law. India’s top court is set to hear another such petition Monday. News reports said the man was moved Sunday from the reform home where he had been kept to a new home under the care of a children’s rights group. Police eventually broke up the protests Sunday, removing the demonstrators from central New Delhi in buses. The December 2012 attack in the heart of New Delhi sparked outrage across India and highlighted the issue of violence against women in the country. The woman and a male friend were returning home from seeing a movie at an upscale mall when they were tricked by the attackers into getting on the bus, which the men had taken out for a joyride. The attackers beat the victim’s friend and took turns raping her. They penetrated her with a rod, leaving severe internal injuries that led to her death two weeks later. Four men were convicted of rape and murder in an unusually fast trial for India’s chaotic justice system, and legal appeals against their death sentences are pending in the Supreme Court. A fifth man involved in the case died in prison. The four adults who went to trial confessed to the attack but later retracted their confessions, saying they’d been tortured into admitting their involvement. In response to the attack and the widespread public protests it provoked, India’s government rushed through legislation doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalizing voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women. The case also ignited a debate about whether minors who commit especially horrific crimes should be tried as adults. New legislation to lower the age for young people to be tried as juveniles from 18 to 16 is currently stuck in India’s Parliament.

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Youth accused in Edmonton Mac’s murders cries in court EDMONTON – The three people facing charges in Friday’s murders at two Edmonton convenience stores made their first appearances in court Monday morning. The 13-year-old accused in the Mac’s shootings stood in court Monday, swaying back and forth and crying as the charges against him were read. Related Edmontonians pay respects to murdered Mac’s store employees 13-year-old boy among three suspects arrested in Mac’s murders Charges laid in Mac’s Convenience store robberies He looked at his family a few times during the short hearing. The youth will be back in court Jan. 4. As he was led away, one family member told him, “I love you.” If convicted of first-degree murder, he would face a maximum 10-year sentence under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, only six of which would be served in custody. All three people are facing a long list of charges, including two counts of first-degree murder each. Colton Steinhauer and Laylin Delorme appeared by CCTV and could be seen wearing orange jump suits waiting for the hearing to start. Shortly before 11 a.m., the cases of both 27-year-old Steinhauer and 24-year-old Delorme were adjourned until Jan. 11, 2016. Both of the accused need to look for lawyers. Two people were shot to death early Friday morning after a pair of armed robberies in the south part of the city. The two victims in the Mac’s shootings have been identified as Karanpal Singh Bhangu and Ricky Cenabre. Both Steinhauer and Delorne have long criminal histories. Colton Steinhauer Colton Steinhauer was sentenced June 2, 2014 to 30 days in jail for assault. Other previous charges include assault with a weapon and breaches. Most recently, he was given 12 months probation on June 15 for uttering threats to cause death. Steinhauer, 27, is facing charges of first-degree murder, robbery with a prohibited restricted firearm, disguise with intent, possession of a weapon and possession of a loaded prohibited restricted firearm. Watch below: Michel Boyer reports on the criminal backgrounds of the three suspects involved in Friday’s deadly convenience store shootings. Laylin Delorme Laylin Delorme was sentenced Oct. 2, 2014 to six months behind bars, 12 months on probation and a $100 fine after pleading guilty to mischief, damage under $5,000 and assault with a weapon. He spent one day in jail after pleading guilty May 13, 2011 to mischief and damage under $5,000. He also spent 15 days in custody after pleading guilty in February 22, 2011 to obstructing a peace officer. Delorme, 24, is facing charges of first-degree murder, robbery with a prohibited restricted firearm, possession of a loaded prohibited restricted firearm, possession of stolen property over $5,000, dangerous driving and criminal flight. READ MORE: Edmontonians pay respects to murdered Mac’s store employees Unnamed 13-year-old boy The teen, who cannot be named, is also facing charges of first-degree murder, disguise with intent, robbery with a prohibited restricted firearm and breach of undertaking. READ MORE: Alberta labour group calls for better safety for night workers following deadly shootings  *EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published on Dec. 20 and was updated on Dec. 21 with information about their first court appearance.

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Edward Snowden to appear via video link at New Hampshire convention of libertarians MANCHESTER, N.H. – Edward Snowden will appear via video link as a featured speaker at a New Hampshire convention of libertarian activists. The Valley News reports that the former National Security Agency contractor will participate in a 30-minute discussion and Q&A at the New Hampshire Free State Project’s convention in Manchester in February. The Free State Project describes itself as an effort to recruit “liberty-loving people” to move to New Hampshire. The group says it is trying to recruit 20,000 people who agree that a government should act to protect people’s rights. Snowden leaked millions of documents about government surveillance to a United Kingdom newspaper in 2013. He has been living in Russia under a grant of asylum and faces charges in the U.S. for leaking details of the once-secret program. Free State Project President Carla Gericke confirmed the speaking engagement at their Liberty Forum, which runs from Feb. 18-21. She said the topic has yet to be decided. READ MORE: US can’t access NSA phone records in California terror case “He’s a really insightful and brilliant man,” she said. “From our perspective, we’re really excited to give him a platform.” Gericke said Snowden doesn’t deserve to be labeled a “traitor.” “I think what he did was incredibly courageous and brave,” she said, comparing Snowden’s disclosures with those of Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers. Snowden was the subject of a 2014 Academy Award-winning documentary called “Citizenfour,” which chronicles his work with Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras to reveal the secrets.

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