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World Curling Tour considering conduct policy after 'extremely drunk' curlers ejected from bonspiel

CALGARY — In the wake of four curlers being ejected from a bonspiel in Red Deer, Alta., over the weekend, the World Curling Tour says it's now considering a Code of Conduct policy.

The curling foursome of Jamie Koe, Ryan Fry, Chris Schille, and DJ Kidby was kicked out of the Red Deer Curling Classic for "unacceptable conduct" that included being "extremely drunk." They were kicked out of the event by organizers on Saturday after breaking brooms, damaging equipment in the locker room and swearing. 

Now the head of operations for the WCT says they are going through an internal review to look at what happened in Red Deer. He says they don't currently have any policies around this sort of incident, something they are now looking at. 

"This is very uncommon. Very rarely do we deal with incidents like this," Gerry Geurts said. "This went into a direction that was beyond having a few drinks after a game."


Geurts says he was first alerted to the unfolding situation in Red Deer when he noticed the team had forfeited a game.

"That was kind of surprising", he said.

Geurts says he was soon inundated with emails from concerned fans and coaches about the behaviour of the curlers.

"We posted a statement about it immediately on our WCT social media channels."


Geurts says the WCT is now awaiting an official report of what happened to be filed by the organizing committee of the Red Deer Curling Classic.

Red Deer Curling Club responds

Wade Thurber says he's been bombarded by media phone calls from across Canada and internationally asking what happened during the event. 

Thurber is the club's facility manager and says the Red Deer Curling Classic has existed for 20 years. This year's event featured 56 teams — 28 men's and 28 women's teams from around the world. 

Right now, Thurber says the organizing committee is just trying to get through the event, which wraps up on Monday. 

"I had no idea when I started this event I'd be dealing with this," Thurber said. 

The committee will spend the next couple of weeks looking over comments and feedback from fans, curlers and coaches about what took place before filing an official report to the WCT, Thurber says.

Ryan Fry was part of the gold-medal winning curling team that represented Canada at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. (Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

"We will meet after the fact and discuss what action we're going to take here in Red Deer with these four curlers," Thurber said. 

The "unacceptable behaviour" — as Thurber describes it — took place Saturday. The team lost 10-5 against a team skipped by Kody Hartung. Jamie Koe was not on the ice, so the team was playing with three curlers. The teams shook hands after seven ends. 

"They went out to curl and they were extremely drunk and breaking brooms and swearing and just unacceptable behaviour that nobody wants to watch or hear or listen to and it was just 'enough was enough,'" Thurber said. 

There was also a small hole in the dry wall in one of the locker rooms. 

Thurber says the players have been apologetic — including Fry, who has offered to pay for the damages.

Players apologetic after incident

Fry, who is normally a third on Team Brad Jacobs, was serving as a spare with Koe's team at the event. He lives in Calgary, while the rest of the team curls out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. 

He says a bad lapse in judgment affected the experience for others.

"I would like to sincerely apologize to the fans, participants and organizers of the Red Deer Curling Classic," Fry said.

Skip Brad Jacobs says he's "very disappointed" with what's unfolded and that the team has been in contact with Fry. 

"We in no way support that type of behaviour, whether it's displayed on or off the ice. It's absolutely unacceptable. We've shared that with Ryan [Fry]. Really at this point, we're just taking the necessary steps to handle it internally and that's really where we're at." Jacobs said.

Fry was part of the 2014 Olympic gold-medal winning curling team for Canada. He's played in 10 Briers, winning the national title and silver at the world championship in 2013.

"I came to the event to play and enjoy the sport. My actions were truly disrespectful and embarrassing — the committee was right to disqualify us from play." 

"I allowed myself to lose control and I offended people with my actions. I wish nothing more than to apologize to everyone individually," Fry said.  


Fry has since returned to the Red Deer Curling Club to meet with the members there to apologize. He also issued apologies to everyone affected. 

On Monday, Jamie Koe and Chris Schille took to Twitter to also post apology statements.


"Due to a lapse in judgment on Saturday, we contributed to an unpleasant experience for others," Koe said. "Although I removed myself from the last game before it started, the actions from the team led to our disqualification."

Schille says they took their fun a little too far.


"In the time since I have talked with other staff and board members to apologize, and to reiterate that the decision they made was the right one given the position they were put in," Schille posted on Twitter.


 

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Olympic champ among curling foursome booted from bonspiel for being 'extremely drunk'

The curling foursome of Jamie Koe, Ryan Fry, Chris Schille, and DJ Kidby was kicked out of the Red Deer Curling Classic on Sunday for "unacceptable behaviour" that included being "extremely drunk."

The four were ejected from the World Curling Tour event and forced to forfeit their final match.

After receiving numerous complaints from opponents and spectators, the tournament committee at the Red Deer Curling Centre was compelled to intervene.

"They went out to curl and they were extremely drunk and breaking brooms and swearing and just unacceptable behaviour that nobody wants to watch or hear or listen to and it was just 'enough was enough,'" facility manager Wade Thurber told CBC Sports.

"There was some damage in the locker room and other teams complaining about their stuff being kicked around in the locker room. So at the end of the day, it was like 'OK, that's enough of this gong show.' The committee for the bonspiel collectively decided that we needed to remove them from the spiel for this year and what happens down the road, I'm not sure yet."

However, a sign was placed on the main board of the arena to make it clear that a decision had been made to remove Koe's team from the competition and all future events at the club.


"We did that because we had so many complaints from other players and teams, not to mention the spectators, and so we wanted them to know that we did something about it," said Thurber. 

"We had people taking pictures of the sign and also lots of people telling us we did the right thing. When you have people complaining like that, there is a need to do something, right?"

Olympic champ apologizes for 'embarrassing' actions 

Fry, who is normally a third on Brad Jacobs's team, was serving as a spare with Koe's rink at the event. He lives in Calgary while the rest of the team curls out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and says a bad lapse in judgment affected the experience for others.

"I would like to sincerely apologize to the fans, participants and organizers of the Red Deer Curling Classic," Fry said in a statement to CBC Sports.

"I came to the event to play and enjoy the sport. My actions were truly disrespectful and embarrassing — the committee was right to disqualify us from play."

Fry won gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi as a member of Team Canada along with Jacobs, E.J. Harnden, Ryan Harnden and alternate Caleb Flaxey. He's played in 10 Briers and won both the national title and world championship in 2013.

"I allowed myself to lose control and I offended people with my actions. I wish nothing more than to apologize to everyone individually," Fry said.

"I will be taking proper steps to ensure this problem can never happen again and I will strive to become a better version of myself while contributing positively to the sport and curling community that I love so much."

Thurber, who said he "probably did them a favour" by kicking them out, admits he may have worded his notice harshly as far as Team Koe's future at the event, but said it was important to deliver a stern message.

"Maybe the wording wasn't quite right on that paper. At the end of the day, we put it up because we wanted all the spectators and the curlers to know that we've done something about it, because there was quite a bit of backlash, getting lots of complaints and everyone saying the same thing that we needed to get them out of here," Thurber said.

"Then people were commenting and saying 'I suppose they just have to apologize and they're back in next year.' So we kind of said it in a way that there's no guarantee that's what's going to happen — an apology may no cut it." 

Thurber added that the event committee was asked by the World Curling Tour to file a formal complaint. 

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'Extremely dangerous' Hurricane Willa aims for Mexico

Forecasters say Hurricane Willa has grown rapidly into an "extremely dangerous" near-Category 5 storm in the eastern Pacific, on a path that could smash into Mexico's western coast between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta in the coming days.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said early Monday that Willa could "produce life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall over portions of southwestern and west-central Mexico beginning on Tuesday." It predicted that Willa could become a Category 5 hurricane later Monday morning, generating life-threatening surf and rip conditions.

Hurricane Willa is expected to hit southwestern Mexico with heavy winds and rain beginning on Tuesday. (U.S. National Hurricane Center)

A hurricane warning was posted for Mexico's western coast between San Blas and Mazatlan. Tropical storm warnings were raised from Playa Perula to San Blas and north of Mazatlan to Bahia Tempehuaya. The centre said Willa is expected make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Willa had maximum sustained winds of 249 km/h early Monday and was centred about 315 kilometres south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes. It was moving to the north at eight km/h.

46 cm of rain possible

Hurricane force winds extended out 40 kilometres from the storm's core and tropical storm force winds were up to 145 kilometres out.

The hurricane centre said 15 to 30.5 centimetres of rain should fall — and some places could see up to 46 centimetres — on parts of Mexico's western Jalisco, western Nayarit and southern Sinaloa states, raising the danger of flash flooding and landslides in mountainous areas.


Farther to the south, tropical storm Vicente weakened but was still expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over parts of southern and southwestern Mexico.

Forecasters said it was expected to weaken into a tropical depression Monday night or early Tuesday while moving nearer to Mexico's southern Pacific shore.

Its core was about 355 kilometres southeast of Acapulco with top sustained winds of 65 km/h late Sunday. The hurricane centre said it could produce 7.5 to 15 centimetres of rain in parts of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima and Jalisco states.

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Hurricane Willa strengthens to 'extremely dangerous' Category 4 storm off Mexico's Pacific coast

Newly formed Hurricane Willa rapidly gained force and grew into an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm in the Pacific off Mexico on Sunday, with a potential to make landfall on a western stretch of coast between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta in the coming days.

The U.S. National Hurricane Centre said in an evening bulletin that the storm was "forecast to produce life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall over portions of southwestern and west-central Mexico beginning on Tuesday."

A hurricane watch was posted for a stretch of shore between San Blas and Mazatlan, while a tropical storm warning was in effect from Playa Perula to San Blas. Hurricane force winds extended out 40 kilometres from the storm's core and tropical storm force winds were up to 130 kilometres out.

Willa was about 340 kilometres south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes late Sunday, with maximum sustained winds of 230 km/h. It was moving to the north-northwest at 11 km/h, but a turn toward the north was likely during the night or Monday.


The hurricane centre forecast 12.5 to 25 centimetres of rain across parts of western Jalisco, western Nayarit and southern Sinaloa states, with lesser amounts falling as it moves inland.

Meanwhile, a weakening Tropical Storm Vicente appeared to be a less potent threat farther south. Forecasters said it was expected to weaken into a tropical depression overnight, while remaining just offshore or near Mexico's southern Pacific coast through Tuesday morning.

Its core was about 370 kilometres southeast of Acapulco with top sustained winds of 65 km/h. The hurricane centre said it could produce 7.5 to 15 centimetres of rain in parts of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima and Jalisco states.

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Social media plays 'extremely important' role in Iranian protests despite censorship

Since the 2009 Green Movement protests in Iran, internet connections have grown significantly, which is why social media is likely playing an important role in the anti-government demonstrations rocking the country.

“I believe that has made a tremendous difference between now and then,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director for the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran. “One difference between now and 2009 is that almost the whole nation is now plugged online.

“I think for these protests it’s extremely important.”

Mahsa Alimardani, an Iranian-Canadian internet researcher, said many Iranians used Twitter during the protests over a disputed election in 2009, mainly to communicate to the outside world. This time Iranians are using social media to communicate with each other.

Iran Protests

Demonstrations, the largest in Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election, have brought days of unrest. (Associated Press)

“It’s no exaggeration to say that this time, technology really is playing a central role in allowing people to organize, share information with each other,” Alimardani wrote in a column for Politico.

The protests began Thursday in Mashhad and have expanded to several cities. Hundreds of people have been arrested and at least 21 have been killed.

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities have sought to suppress the protests in part by shutting down key social media sites protesters use to communicate, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Telegram.

‘Played a huge role’

“When you think about the events last weekend in Mashhad and how quickly they were followed up the next day in dozens of far and near cities of Mashhad, one can only surmise that social media played a huge role in disseminating that news and motivating other protesters to be out there within 24 hours,” Ghaemi said.

He said these are small networks of people sharing and disseminating the news, not one large outlet that has many followers.

“I wouldn’t pin it down on one or two or three particular channels,” he said. “I think it’s really just people talking to their own circles and communicating with them.”

Going viral

“To me this is the meaning of going viral. The protest in Mashhad went viral.”

The social media app that likely played the biggest role in fostering communication is Telegram, used for communicating encrypted messages, sharing files and videos with friends and family, and receiving news reports and updates 

It has become the social media platform of choice for Iranians, with an estimated 40 million users out of a population of 80 million.

The use of the app exploded, says Ghaemi, shortly after Iranians got access to 3G and 4G services. It may be surprising that the regime, so intent on censoring and restricting information, would allow such services into Iran. But Ghaemi said with Iran needing to be part of the digital economy, the government really had no choice.

Now many Iranian companies are dependent on Telegram for doing business, meaning the clampdown will have a negative economic impact, he said.

“There’s really been such a huge backlash throughout the country because something like Telegram has become very essential to the social economic fabric,” he said.

Alimardani told CBC’s The Current that the Iranian government reached out to Telegram and asked for curbs to be put in place.

telegram

Telegram has become the social media platform of choice for Iranians, with an estimated 40 million users out of a population of 80 million. ‘There’s really been such a huge backlash throughout the country’ because the government censored the service, said human rights advocate Hadi Ghaemi. (CBC)

When the company stopped responding, the government shut down and blocked the only uncensored foreign media platforms, Telegram and Instagram. Disruptions to general internet services followed.

“We can’t really know what the effect or the significance of Telegram is for these particular protests, but we can gauge the reaction of the authorities,” she said. “Telegram has been popular since 2015, but it’s only been in the past few days that they’ve been really cracking down, becoming sensitive toward it.”

Backdoor software

Even before this crackdown, many Iranians were using backdoor software and virtual private networks (VPNs) to circumvent censorship.

“Iranians have been living under censorship and the prospect of surveillance for years, so I think they’re very tech-savvy,” Alimardani said.

But the recent restrictions will hamper the ability of large groups of people to communicate, Ghaemi said.

“Not everybody is technically savvy enough to use the software to bypass [the censorship],” he said.

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'Extremely dangerous': Puerto Rico faces threat from failing dam after Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rican officials rushed to evacuate tens of thousands of people downstream of a failing dam and said they could not reach more than half the towns in the U.S. territory as the massive scale of the disaster wrought by Hurricane Maria started to become clear on Friday.

Government spokesperson Carlos Bermudez said that officials had no communication with 40 of the 78 municipalities on the island more than two days after the Category 5 storm crossed the island, toppling power lines and cellphone towers and sending floodwaters cascading through city streets.

Officials said 1,360 of the island’s 1,600 cell-phone towers had been downed, and 85 per cent of above-ground and underground phone and internet cables were knocked out. With roads blocked and phones dead, officials said, the situation may be worse than they know.

“We haven’t seen the extent of the damage,” Gov. Ricardo Rossello told reporters in the capital.

Nearly 40 centimetres of rain fell on the mountains surrounding the Guajataca Dam in northwest Puerto Rico after Maria left the island Wednesday afternoon, swelling the reservoir behind the nearly 90-year-old dam.

Authorities launched an evacuation of the 70,000 people living downstream, sending buses to move people away and sending frantic warnings on Twitter that went unseen by many in the blacked-out coastal area.

“This is an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SITUATION,” the National Weather Service wrote. “All the areas around the Guajataca River must evacuate NOW. Your lives are in DANGER.”

The 316-metre dam, which was built around 1928, holds back a manmade lake covering about five square kilometres.

An engineer inspecting the dam reported a “contained breach” that officials quickly realized was a crack that could be the first sign of total failure of the dam, said Anthony Reynes, a meteorologist with the U.S. National Weather Service.

“There’s no clue as to how long or how this can evolve. That is why the authorities are moving so fast because they also have the challenges of all the debris. It is a really, really dire situation,” Reynes said. “They are trying to mobilize all the resources they can but it’s not easy. We really don’t know how long it would take for this failure to become a full break of the dam.”

Sweeping power outages

Maj. Gen. Derek P. Rydholm, deputy to the chief of the Air Force Reserve, said at the Pentagon that it was impossible to say when communication and power will be restored. He said mobile communications systems are being flown in. But he acknowledged “it’s going to take a while” before people in Puerto Rico will be able to communicate with their families outside the island.

Until Friday, he said, “there was no real understanding at all of the gravity of the situation.”

Across the island more than 15,000 people are in shelters, including some 2,000 rescued from the north coastal town of Toa Baja, including several who were stranded on roofs.

Rossello couldn’t say when power might be restored.

The island’s electric grid was in sorry shape long before Maria struck. The territory’s $ 73 billion US debt crisis has left agencies like the state power company broke. It abandoned most basic maintenance in recent years, leaving the island subject to regular blackouts.

“Some transmission structures collapsed,” Rossello said, adding that there was no severe damage to electric plants.

He said he was distributing 250 satellite phones from FEMA to mayors across the island to re-establish contact.

Secretary of State Luis Marin said he expects gasoline supplies to be at 80 per cent of capacity because the port in the southeastern town of Yabucoa that receives fuel shipments received minor damage.

Hours-long lines formed at the few gas stations that reopened on Friday and anxious residents feared power could be out for weeks — or even months — and wondered how they would cope.

Some of the island’s 3.4 million people planned to head to the U.S. to temporarily escape the devastation. At least in the short term, though, the soggy misery will continue: Additional rain — up to 15 centimetres — is expected through Saturday.

‘I will stay here’

In San Juan, Neida Febus wandered around her neighbourhood with bowls of cooked rice, ground meat and avocado, offering food to the hungry. The damage was so extensive, the 64-year-old retiree said, that she didn’t think the power would be turned back on until Christmas.

“This storm crushed us from one end of the island to the other,” she said.

The death toll in Puerto Rico stood at six but was likely to rise.

At least 27 lives in all have been lost around the Caribbean, including at least 15 on hard-hit Dominica. Haiti reported three deaths; Guadeloupe, two; and the Dominican Republic, one.

STORM-MARIA/

People look at a flooded expressway after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Yauco, Puerto Rico Sept. 21, 2017. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria continues to have maximum sustained winds of 205 km/h. The core of the storm was about 280 kilometres east of San Salvador Island at 11 p.m. Friday.

Israel Molina, 68, found that Maria had ripped away roofing from his Israel Mini Market in San Juan.

“I’m from here. I believe we have to step up to the task. If everyone leaves, what are we going to do? With all the pros and the cons, I will stay here,” he said, and then paused. “I might have a different response tomorrow.”

Diana Jaquez, one of the owners of the Coquette hair salon in San Juan’s Santurce area, assessed storm damage with her husband Friday as their children played nearby. She said she hadn’t decided whether to leave the island.

“Business has dropped a lot,” she said. “People have other priorities than looking good.”

Outside her store, more than 100 people stood in line waiting to get money out of an ATM machine and hoping there would still be some cash left when their turn came.

New York plans to send about 240 National Guardsmen and state troopers to assist Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The state is also sending drinking water, ready-to-eat meals, electrical generators and other supplies.

AFP_SO68D

An aerial view shows the flooded neighbourhood of Juana Matos in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Catano, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 22, 2017. (Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images)

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