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Shooting outside US court in Phoenix wounds federal officer – World News

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The Canadian Press – | Story: 310672

A drive-by shooting wounded a federal security officer outside the U.S. courthouse in downtown Phoenix on Tuesday, and a person has been taken into custody, authorities said.

The officer was taken to a hospital and was expected to recover, according to city police and the FBI. Jill McCabe, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Phoenix office, said someone has been detained and there’s no indication of a further threat to the public.

The FBI said it’s not releasing more information as it investigates. Police had released a photo of a silver sedan spotted leaving the area.

The court security officer works for the U.S. Marshals Service and was struck in their protective vest, said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

Court security officers work under the direction of the U.S. Marshals Service but generally are employed by private security companies.

Hours after the shooting, a street around the courthouse was closed to traffic, roped off by yellow tape with police officers standing on each corner. Four armed federal officers were talking outside the main entrance to the courthouse, which was still open to the public, according to a court clerk.

The shooting came after the weekend ambush of two Los Angeles County deputies who were sitting in their parked vehicle when a man walked up to the passenger’s side and fired multiple rounds.

The deputies were struck in the head and critically wounded but are expected to recover. The gunman hasn’t been captured, and a motive has not been determined.

Federal courthouses have been flashpoints for recent violence, but it’s not clear who shot the officer in Phoenix or why.

In June, a federal security officer was shot and killed and his partner was wounded outside the federal courthouse in Oakland as they guarded the building during protests over racial injustice and police brutality. An Air Force sergeant was charged with the shooting, and prosecutors say he had ties to the far-right, anti-government “boogaloo” movement and used the protest as cover for the crime and his escape.

During demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, protesters and federal officers clashed at the federal courthouse, where people set fires and tossed fireworks and rocks, while federal authorities sprayed tear gas and made arrests.

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The Canadian Press – Sep 15, 2020 / 2:07 pm | Story: 310665

Jack “Murf the Surf” Murphy, who was behind one of the biggest jewel heists in U.S. history, gained membership in a surfing hall of fame and served time for murder, has died in Florida. He was 83.

Murphy’s death earlier this week was confirmed by John Hughes, director of the Florida Surf Museum in Cocoa Beach, Florida, who has been in touch with Murphy’s friends and family members. A longtime friend, fellow surfer Bill Yerkes, also confirmed his death.

Murphy is best known for a daring heist in 1964 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where he and other thieves used a bathroom window they had unlocked earlier to steal the famed Star of India sapphire — bigger than a golf ball — along with other precious gems.

The heist became the subject of a 1975 movie.

They didn’t get far, with Murphy and the others arrested two days later. Murphy was sentenced to three years in prison and the Star of India was found in a locker at a Miami bus station, according to reports at the time.

That wasn’t the end of Murphy’s legal troubles.

In 1969, he was convicted of killing Terry Rae Frank, 24, and sentenced to life in prison. In 1970, he received a second life sentence, plus 20 years, for conspiracy and assault to commit robbery against Olive Wofford. Yet he was paroled in 1986 because of his religious awakening and later settled in the quiet Florida west coast town of Crystal River with his wife, Kitten, while establishing a nationwide prison ministry.

“I found God in prison,” Murphy told the Tampa Bay Times a few years ago. “Listen, I loved the life. I loved the insanity. I loved stealing jewels. It was like (actor) Cary Grant, very exciting, and the people you stole from always had insurance. But I also know I was out of control and so I had to have a new manager.”

Murphy also has acknowledged he and others stole from waterfront Miami-area homes, using boats to sidle up to the wealthy places, climbing over walls and fences to steal jewelry from the mansions along Biscayne Bay. Murphy has said he would swim off the boat with the jewels so that if the boat were stopped by authorities there would be nothing incriminating aboard.

At the time, he was called the Miami cat burglar.

Before all of this, Murphy was a championship surfer. Born in California, he established himself on the waves across the country by winning the 1966 East Coast Surfing Championships in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He won other titles, leading to his induction in the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame in 1996.

It was in Florida where he got his nickname, according to a post on the surf hall of fame website.

“There was no surf scene in Florida when I got there. There were guys who had surfed up in Daytona on 16-foot paddleboards in the ’20s and ‘30s,” Murphy said in the post. “But in the ’50s, there was nobody really surfing in Florida, so the lifeguards called me “Murf the Surf.”

He also at one point had a business in Indialantic, Florida, called “Murf’s Surf Shop.” In earlier times, Murphy attended the University of Pittsburgh on a tennis scholarship and was also an accomplished violinist. The state Department of Corrections once reported he tested at a genius level on IQ exams.

Murphy told the Tampa Bay Times a while back that he never expected to get out of prison alive.

“On your own, you don’t have the strength to deal with the blunders of your life, the evil things you’ve done, the people you’ve hurt,” he said. “The guilt was overwhelming. I felt that I had to turn all my guilt over to a higher power. I prayed a lot and read scripture about redemption and forgiveness.?

Yerkes, the friend who is also a championship surfer and today owns a Florida surf shop, said there was nothing false about Murphy.

“He was the real deal. There was nothing phoney, nothing put on about him. He was real,” Yerkes said.

The Canadian Press – Sep 15, 2020 / 10:28 am | Story: 310632

Donald Trump is a “climate arsonist” bent on watching the country burn, his Democratic challenger said Monday as climate change and presidential politics collided on the campaign trail.

Joe Biden chose to exploit Trump’s contempt for the climate crisis on a day when the U.S. president was en route to California for an update on the deadly blazes ravaging tinder-dry parkland up and down the U.S. west coast.

For Biden, the arrival of a category-1 hurricane churning in the Gulf of Mexico just off the Florida panhandle — a queue of other tropical cyclones lining up in the Atlantic Ocean behind it — couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused these fires and record floods and record hurricanes, but if he gets a second term, these hellish events will continue to become more common, more devastating and more deadly,” Biden said from his home state of Delaware.

“If we give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze? If we give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if more of America is under water?”

Trump, who famously tried to blame California wildfires two years ago on the state’s failure to conduct proper “raking and cleaning” of its forest floors, doubled down on that remark prior to Monday’s briefing.

Wildfires are also terrorizing residents of Oregon and Washington state. There are 60 firefighters from Quebec who are currently helping battle the North Complex fire in California, and federal officials in Ottawa say they don’t anticipate sending more unless asked. But in an update on the fire Monday, Jake Cagle of the U.S. Forest Service sounded an anxious note.

“We are getting stretched thin,” Cagle said during his daily update.

Smoke from the fires is already having an impact on the other side of the Canada-U.S. border, said Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, who represents the riding of North Vancouver.

“The air quality in Vancouver is as bad as any air quality in the world,” Wilkinson said as some of his cabinet colleagues gathered in Ottawa for a two-day meeting prior to next week’s throne speech.

“It’s an important lesson for all of us that we need to think forward about the crisis that looms on the horizon. And that is the crisis of climate change.”

The wildfires and the resulting smoke has at least helped to drive home the importance and the urgency of the climate crisis — particularly in Canada, where the variations in seasonal temperatures can make people complacent, said Kyla Tienhaara, a School of Environmental Studies professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

“In Canada, I think we’ve often felt sort of sheltered, not only in terms of time, like this is something that’s going to happen in the future, but also in terms of our location,” Tienhaara said.

“If you’re on the west coast of Canada right now — where, for example, my family lives — you’re experiencing really terrible air quality.”

A catastrophic wildfire season in Australia just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic claimed at least 34 lives, destroyed nearly 6,000 buildings and razed more than 18 million hectares. In the end, the smoke claimed more lives than the flames did, Tienhaara said.

For years, activists have struggled to convince people to make environmental concerns a priority, particularly in times of high unemployment or fiscal uncertainty, which invariably end up pulling public and policy focus.

But the sheer scale of the fires, the fear of a coming historic barrage of hurricanes, the flooding that swamped the upper midwest last spring — all of it appears to be adding up to a paradigm shift.

“California’s climate apocalypse,” the Los Angeles Times declared Sunday in its banner front-page headline. “Fires, heat, air pollution: The calamity is no longer in the future — it’s here, now.”

Trump nodded politely as Gov. Gavin Newsom, who does not shy away from linking the fires to climate change, spelled out the scale of the disaster for the president on Monday.

“The hots are getting hotter, dries are getting drier,” said Newsom, who acknowledged the state has more to do when it comes to forest management. He also noted more than half of the state’s forests are federally managed.

“Something’s happened to the plumbing of the world … humbly, we submit that the science is in, and the observed evidence is self-evident that climate change is real, and that is exacerbating this.”

In an exchange with someone else at the table who blamed climate change, Trump pushed back: “It will start getting cooler,” he said, eliciting chuckles from elsewhere in the group. “Just watch.” When the official tried to point to scientific evidence, the president said: “I don’t think science knows, actually.”

Biden sought to put the climate emergency on the same tier as the other three crises roiling the U.S. and the world: the pandemic, the ensuing economic collapse and the racial upheaval sparked in May by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Trump, who also spent part of Monday bestowing honours on a group of National Guard pilots who rescued trapped residents from the wildfires last week, is likely to try to do the opposite, particularly given how much an economic recovery is likely to mean for his re-election chances.

“The government has sort of taken advantage of the COVID crisis in order to try to push a gas-led recovery, which is catastrophic in environmental terms,” Tienhaara said of the Australian aftermath.

“I hope to God that they don’t have anything catastrophic happen again this season, but you know, the timing is important because things do fade from people’s memory very quickly, unfortunately, when they have so much to deal with.”

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The Canadian Press – Sep 15, 2020 / 10:20 am | Story: 310629

A suspect in Georgia left his good luck behind when he abandoned a winning lottery ticket while fleeing sheriff’s deputies.

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office says the man had a Georgia Lottery scratch game card worth $100 when he ran away during a traffic stop on Interstate 75 on Monday.

In a Facebook post, it offered its congratulations and invited him to claim the ticket at its office in Canton about 40 miles north of Atlanta.

The man, who was not identified, was later taken into custody, sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Jay Baker told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Baker said the man was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over for a tag violation, and he ran into the woods. The lottery ticket was in a backpack that also had methamphetamine, according to Baker. The man can have the lottery ticket back, but the sheriff’s office said it will keep the drugs.

The Canadian Press – Sep 15, 2020 / 7:38 am | Story: 310613

The World Trade Organization said Tuesday that Trump administration tariffs on Chinese goods totalling more than $200 billion are illegal under the rules of the global trade body.

The decision marks the first time the Geneva-based trade body has ruled against a series of tariffs that President Donald Trump’s government has imposed on a number of countries, allies and rivals alike.

Trump has repeatedly criticized the WTO, which oversees international disputes on trade, for allegedly treating the U.S. unfairly.

In its decision, the WTO ruled against the Trump administration’s argument that China has engaged in practices harmful to U.S. interests, on issues including intellectual property theft, technology transfer and innovation.

The ruling, in theory, would allow China to impose retaliatory tariffs on billions worth of U.S. goods – if the process is completed. But the U.S. government can appeal the decision announced by the WTO’s dispute settlement body, and the WTO’s appeals court is currently no longer functioning – largely because of Washington’s single-handed refusal to accept new members for it.

The Canadian Press – Sep 15, 2020 / 7:11 am | Story: 310605

The city of Louisville will pay several million dollars to the mother of Breonna Taylor and install police reforms as part of a settlement of a lawsuit from Taylor’s family, The Associated Press has learned.

The settlement would be the largest sum paid by the city for a police misconduct case, according to a person who has seen the settlement. The person asked to not be identified because the settlement has not been announced publicly.

Taylor’s shooting by police serving a narcotics warrant at her home has sparked months of protests in Louisville and calls nationwide for the officers to be charged in her death. The state’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, is investigating police actions in the March 13 shooting.

The lawsuit, filed in April by her mother, Tamika Palmer, alleged the police used flawed information when they obtained a “no-knock” warrant to enter the Black woman’s apartment in March. Taylor, 26, was shot several times and police found no drugs at her home.

The suit accused three Louisville police officers of blindly firing into Taylor’s apartment the night of the March raid, striking Taylor several times. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was in the apartment with her and fired a single shot that struck an officer in the leg. Walker said he didn’t hear police announce themselves and said he thought he was guarding against an intruder.

The settlement will include reforms on how warrants are handled by police. The city of Louisville is expected to announce the details Tuesday afternoon.

The largest settlement previously paid in a misconduct case was $8.5 million in 2012, to a man who spent nine years in prison for a crime he did not commit, according to news reports.

The Canadian Press – Sep 15, 2020 / 7:07 am | Story: 310604

Legal advocates are lining up on both sides of actor Bill Cosby’s appeal as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court prepares to review his 2018 sex assault conviction.

Cosby was the first celebrity to go on trial in the #MeToo era, and his appeal could resolve lingering questions about how the cases should be tried. For starters, the high court will try to clarify when other accusers can testify against a defendant — and when the additional testimony amounts to character assassination.

Public defenders in Philadelphia, in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in Cosby’s appeal, noted that courts have given conflicting guidance on the issue.

“Courts repeatedly fail to analyze how uncharged misconduct is relevant to prove, for example, intent or identity,” the Defender Association of Philadelphia wrote in the amicus brief, one of several filed in the case this past month.

They say the testimony should only be allowed if it’s linked to a single crime scheme, to avoid “the genuine risk that defendants will be convicted for who they are, or for what they may or may not have done before.”

Prosecutors, in a brief filed late Monday, offered several legal justifications for the accusers’ testimony, hoping at least one of them will stick. They said it’s needed to show Cosby’s pattern of behaviour, to show the encounter wasn’t a one-time mistake, and to show the complaint wasn’t filed on a whim.

“It is unusual, to say the least, that defendant has been repeatedly … accused of engaging in sexual conduct with unconscious or otherwise incapacitated young women … without any consequences,” the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office wrote in their response to Cosby’s appeal.

Cosby, 83, will mark two years in prison this month and has another year to go before he can seek parole. However, he has vowed to serve the full 10-year maximum rather than show remorse for what he calls a consensual 2004 encounter with Andrea Constand, a former professional basketball player who worked for his alma mater, Temple University, in Philadelphia.

Cosby won a shot at reversing his conviction earlier this year, when the state Supreme Court agreed to review two central trial issues: the other accuser testimony and Cosby’s claim that a former prosecutor had promised he could never be charged in the case.

Cosby’s lawyers said they relied on that promise when they let him testify in a civil suit that Constand filed in 2005, shortly after the suburban Philadelphia prosecutor declined to arrest Cosby. A successor, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, arrested Cosby a decade later after the comedian’s damaging deposition from the lawsuit was unsealed.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, in a brief in support of Steele, said the Cosby camp’s decision to rely on an unwritten promise before he testified in such “a grave matter … was unreasonable.”

The Supreme Court has not yet set a date for oral arguments. Other groups filing legal briefs in the appeal include the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, known as RAINN; the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers; and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.

Cosby was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault based on charges that he drugged and molested Constand after she came to his house for career advice. The five other accusers who testified for the prosecution said they believed he also drugged and sexually assaulted them in the 1980s.

The Canadian Press – Sep 15, 2020 / 6:59 am | Story: 310601

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny posted a picture of himself from his hospital bed in Germany on Tuesday, looking gaunt but joking wryly about his condition and saying that he was enjoying the ability to finally breathe on his own after being poisoned with a nerve agent.

The Instagram post was the first image of the 44-year-old released since he was taken to Berlin’s Charite hospital two days after falling ill on a domestic flight in Russia on Aug. 20.

“Hi, this is Navalny,” he wrote in the Russian-language post. “I have been missing you. I still can’t do almost anything on my own, but yesterday I managed to breathe on my own for the entire day.”

Navalny had been kept in an induced coma for more than two weeks as he was treated with an antidote before hospital officials said on Sept. 7 that his condition had improved enough for him to be brought out of it.

On Monday, the hospital said he had been removed from mechanical ventilation and was able to leave his bed for “short periods of time.”

In the photo, Navalny is being given a hug by his wife Yulia and is flanked by his two children as he sits upright in his bed in a hospital gown. His statement even had the ring of his well-known sarcastic humour.

“Just on my own, no extra help, I didn’t even use the simplest valve in my throat,” he said of being able to breathe without ventilation. “I liked it very much. It’s a remarkable process that is underestimated by many. Strongly recommended.”

Despite his recovery, doctors have said they cannot rule out long-term health issues associated with the poisoning.

Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, tweeted that once he had recovered, Navalny plans to return to Russia.

“No other option has ever been considered,” she wrote.

Leonid Volkov, a top associate of Navalny, refused to give any details on his condition or his possible return when reached by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

A German military lab has determined that Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, the same class of Soviet-era agent that Britain said was used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, in 2018. On Monday, the German government said independent tests by labs in France and Sweden backed up its findings.

The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons also is taking steps to have samples from Navalny tested at its designated labs, Germany has said.

The Kremlin has bristled at calls from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders to answer questions about the poisoning, denying any official involvement.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said he had expressed “deep concern over the criminal act” that targeted Navalny directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. The Kremlin said Putin in the call “underlined the impropriety of unfounded accusations against the Russian side” and emphasized Russia’s demand for Germany to hand over analyses and samples.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday that Russia is puzzled by the German refusal to share Navalny’s analyses and other medical data, or compare notes with the Russian doctors who found no trace of poison in his system while he was at a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk.

Kelsie Kilawna, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, IndigiNews – Sep 14, 2020 / 7:15 pm | Story: 310587

“I have never been so stressed in my life,” reads an email from Sonny Sellars, a Secwepemc and Colville member currently living on the Colville Reservation East of Omak, Washington. 

The Cold Springs Fire ignited without forgiveness the evening of Sunday, Sept. 6, fueled by low humidity and high winds the fire grew quickly to 187,689 acres (75955 hectares). With 290 fire personnel now battling the fire the fire is now 25 per cent contained, with much more work to be done.

The fire has largely impacted the Colville Reservation with the Northwest area of the Reservation being most affected by the fires.

The fires have claimed many homes and tragically the life of one person. 

Making difficult decisions 

When Sellars woke up on Monday morning, he logged into Facebook and says he couldn’t believe what had happened when he slept.

“The fire was deceptive.” he says.“The smoke went due south, giving the false impression it was already passed, but the fire would come down the hill into the valley from where it started.” 

With the fire continuing, Sellars went to check on his family and make sure his 18-year-old son was safe. As the sun went down, Sellars says power went out on the reserve and it was a hectic situation. 

“Sirens were going off like crazy and fire trucks, ambulances, and police vehicles were running up and down the highway behind the house,” he says. 

After falling asleep late in the evening Sellars recalls being awoken at four in the morning by his sister who came to his home because she was evacuated. He asked her to stay with him but he soon too was to be evacuated.

“She said we would be under evac real soon too. That caught me off guard…I told my son we needed to get our stuff together and leave,” Sellars says. 

“I tried my neighbor’s door to tell him, but no answer. I told my other neighbor and he said he heard on the scanner. I told him not to waste time and get going.”

After packing up his car, his son’s car, and his truck Sellars and his son left to go to the Visitor Centre where he and his sister decided to meet. He gave her his blankets to keep them warm and began to wait until a safe hour to return home. 

The family tried to find food but Sellars says that restaurants were beginning to close and with no power or cellular service cash was the only option.

Once Sellar and his son returned home the evening drew on and they went to bed.

“Again, I thought it was safe to go to sleep,” he says. 

“Not long after I went to sleep, my brother woke me up and said he lost his home in Malott, he and three neighbors.”

Several parts of the Colville Reservation which borders Malott, Washington caught ablaze late on Tuesday evening, the amount of homes lost in the area is unknown. 

“I got up and felt horrible because we were safe, but now my brother had nothing.”

Immediately after hearing the news Sellars opened his home up to his brother, sister in-law, and their two grandchildren. Sellars began to prepare his home for his family when reality began to set in. 

“They packed, but only one bag for the night, fully expecting to get home the next day,” shares Sellars. “It was hard because I don’t think we knew where to start to get his life back on track.”

How to help

After news began to spread of his brother’s home, offers of support started to come in from generous donors and family members, says Sellars. 

In the meantime, Sellars brother is staying at a cabin in a nearby town that has opened its doors to evacuees and folks from both the Okanagan Nation and Colville Tribes have offered support in the way of clothing and small furnishings. 

The family has setup a GoFundMe to support Sellars in rebuilding.

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation has also set up a page for general donations.

The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is currently working with the Colville Tribes to get non-perishable donations across the border to their southern relatives in need. In the future ONA will also be supporting the nation members to rebuild their homes with necessities when things have settled according to Jennifer Lewis, Manager of Wellness for ONA. 

Lewis suggests folks keep an eye on the ONA Facebook page for updates, drop-off times, locations and as well as the list of needs from the Colville Confederated Tribes. 

Currently, ONA will be setting up donation drop-off spots throughout the nation and will be also accepting documented monetary donations as well. 

Lewis at ONA shares her thoughts on how important it has been for the Okanagan Nation to support relatives in the south as the border dissects the nation. 

“The border was never there historically and we do have a lot of family down there, all of our communities are interrelated and our people we struggle.”

“They were really hit hard with COVID-19 and now with these fires, it’s really about doing what we can to support our relatives. It’s remembering that we are all one, and we are all related.”

The Canadian Press – Sep 14, 2020 / 10:31 am | Story: 310514

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is able to breathe on his own and briefly leave his hospital bed, his doctors said Monday, while Germany announced that French and Swedish labs have confirmed its findings that he was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.

Navalny, 44, was flown to Berlin for treatment at the Charite hospital two days after falling ill on a domestic flight in Russia on Aug. 20. Germany has demanded that Russia investigate the case, while Moscow has accused the West of trying to smear Russia.

Navalny has “successfully been removed from mechanical ventilation” and is able to leave his bed “for short periods of time,” the hospital said.

Although noting the improvement in Navalny’s health, the statement didn’t address the long-term outlook for the anti-corruption campaigner and most prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Doctors previously cautioned that even though Navalny is recovering, long-term health problems from the poisoning cannot be ruled out.

The Kremlin has bristled at calls from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders to answer questions about the poisoning, denying any official involvement.

The news about Navalny’s condition came as his associates made some gains in regional elections held across Russia on Sunday.

In Novosibirsk, which Navalny visited before falling ill, the head of his regional headquarters, Sergei Boiko, won a seat on the city council. United Russia, the main Kremlin party that Navalny has dubbed a “party of crooks and thieves,” lost its majority on the council, according to preliminary returns. Another Navalny representative, Ksenia Fadeyeva, won a city council seat in Tomsk, the city he left on the flight on which he fell ill.

The German government said tests by labs in France and Sweden backed up findings by a German military lab that Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, the same class of Soviet-era agent that Britain said was used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, in 2018.

The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons also is taking steps to have samples from Navalny tested at its designated labs, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

He said Germany had asked France and Sweden for an independent examination of the findings. German officials said labs in both countries, as well as the OPCW, took new samples from Navalny.

“In efforts separate from the OPCW examinations, which are still ongoing, three laboratories have meanwhile independently of one another presented proof that Mr. Navalny’s poisoning was caused by a nerve agent from the Novichok group,” Seibert said.

“We once again call on Russia to make a statement on the incident,” he added. “We are closely consulting with our European partners regarding possible next steps.”

Seibert wouldn’t identify the French and Swedish labs. But the head of the Swedish Defence Research Agency, Asa Scott, told Swedish news agency TT: “We can confirm that we see the same results as the German laboratory, that is, that there is no doubt that it is about these substances.”

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed “deep concern over the criminal act” that targeted Navalny during a phone call Monday with Putin, Macron’s office said.

He confirmed France reached the same conclusions as its European partners on the poisoning, the statement said.

The Kremlin said Putin in the call “underlined the impropriety of unfounded accusations against the Russian side” and emphasized Russia’s demand for Germany to hand over analyses and samples. Putin also called for joint work by German and Russian doctors.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the West of using the incident as a pretext to introduce new sanctions against Moscow. He said Navalny’s life was saved by the pilots of the plane who quickly landed in the Siberian city of Omsk when he collapsed on board and by the rapid action of doctors there.

“The perfect action of pilots, ambulance crew and doctors is being presented as a ‘happy coincidence,’” in the West, he told RTVI television in an interview broadcast Monday.

“They dare to question the professionalism of our doctors, our investigators,” he said. “Arrogance and a sense of one’s own infallibility have been seen in Europe before, and the consequences were very sad.”

Lavrov, who has cancelled a scheduled trip Tuesday to Berlin, said Russian authorities have conducted a preliminary inquiry and documented the meetings Navalny had before falling ill, but he emphasized they need to see the evidence of his poisoning to launch a full criminal investigation.

“We have our own laws, whereby we cannot believe someone’s say-so to open a criminal case,” he said, adding that “for now, we have no legal grounds” for such a probe.

Berlin has rejected suggestions from Moscow that it is dragging its heels on sharing evidence.

With Germany’s findings corroborated by labs abroad, “we do not expect the bringer of the bad news — namely us — to be attacked further, but rather that they should deal with the news itself,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said of Russian authorities.

Asked why no samples from Navalny have been given to Russia, German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr replied that “Mr. Navalny was in Russian treatment in a hospital for 48 hours.”

Russian doctors who treated Navalny in Omsk said no evidence of poisoning could be found, adding he was too unstable to be transferred. A German charity sent a medical evacuation plane to bring him to Berlin, which it did after German doctors said he was stable enough to be moved.

“There are samples from Mr. Navalny on the Russian side,” Adebahr said. “The Russian side is called on, even after three independent labs have established the result, to explain itself, and Russia has … all the information and all the samples it needs for an analysis.”

Navalny was kept in an induced coma for more than a week as he was treated with an antidote before hospital officials said a week ago that his condition had improved enough for him to be brought out of it.

The Canadian Press – Sep 14, 2020 / 10:25 am | Story: 310511

After opening a free grocery store earlier this year, country music star Brad Paisley and his wife are expanding their efforts to fight hunger in America.

Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, have pledged to donate 1 million nutritional meals this month. The initiative is billed as the Million Meal Donation Tour, which kicked off in Detroit last week.

The tour will run for two weeks visiting food banks in 16 major cities including Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Atlanta, Miami and Nashville, Tennessee. It will end in Chicago on Sept. 21.

“We’re just rallying to feed people,” Paisley said in a recent interview.

The couple and their food brand, Tiller & Hatch, are working with Feeding America on the initiative. They are hoping to serve individuals and families who are experiencing food insecurities and financial hardship.

Some of the distributed meals will include artisanal pastas, hearty stews and flavourful soups. The meals will be packed in semi-trucks with about 750,000 pounds of food to feed more than 60,000 families.

Williams-Paisley said they are grateful to be servants to the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

“So many of us feel helpless during this time,” she said. “It just feels like there’s one disaster after another. One challenging situation after another. But it’s been really wonderful for both of us to have this outlet that was coming into fruition. We can’t solve all the problems. But to tackle this issue, it’s been really empowering.”

The couple’s new initiative comes after they opened their free grocery store called The Store in May in Nashville, Tennessee, to help needy families. The idea for their store originated after the couple volunteered their kids’ service at a similar store in Santa Barbara, California.

Since their store’s opening, the couple has heard countless stories about people who never thought they’d need food assistance but are now seeking it. He said more than 54 million people have experienced food insecurity in 2020, including 18 million children.

“Now it’s a matter of what’s happening and trying to figure out how to not let people fall through the cracks,” Paisley said. “It’s been a lot of people who have been poor for a longtime. But then, there are others who were financially sound six months ago, but now have fallen on hard times. We are seeing this firsthand. We are trying to meet their needs.”

The Canadian Press – Sep 14, 2020 / 10:23 am | Story: 310510

President Donald Trump’s massive campaign war chest was supposed to finance an onslaught of attacks that would destroy Joe Biden’s chance of winning in November.

But after months of profligate spending, the attacks did little to diminish the Democratic nominee’s standing. Trump’s formidable cash advantage has evaporated. And it is Biden who over the past month has outspent Trump by nearly double, advertising data shows.

Coming off a record-shattering $364 million August fundraising haul, Biden is pouring tens of millions of dollars into a torrent of ads airing in battleground states. The aim is to get out his message of competent leadership, while pinning blame on Trump for a lost year, wracked by disease, unrest and economic hardship.

Trump’s campaign, meanwhile, has implemented recent belt-tightening measures and went dark on TV multiple times in August to conserve resources, worrying allies that Democrats could drown him out on TV with weeks left in the campaign.

On Monday, the Trump campaign cancelled at least $2.5 million worth of advertising that was planned for Iowa, Ohio and Nevada, where he campaigned over the weekend, the data shows. Last week he also cancelled ads in those states, as well as in Arizona, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

“It should be an alarm to every Republican donor that they’ve got to dig deep and give more,” said David McIntosh, a former Indiana congressman who leads the conservative Club for Growth, which has come to Trump’s aid by running commercials on his behalf. “Fox News will help carry (Trump’s) message, but the mainstream media won’t. That means he’s got to have enough resources to go over their heads and talk directly with voters.”

Advertising is not likely to be a deciding factor in the presidential contest, but it is a powerful tool to influence perceptions. And it has taken on heightened importance this year because the coronavirus has limited direct contact with voters, particularly for Democrats who have eschewed knocking on doors to encourage turnout.

That places added value on not only crafting messages that resonate with diverse swaths of the electorate, but also saturating TV and social media with them.

Biden is currently running ads aimed at suburbanites, Black voters and is also running Spanish language ads to target Latinos. He’s also ramped up his own attacks on Trump.

One recent online series of ads targeting sports fans blamed Trump’s handling of the pandemic for the absence of Big 10 football. The ads show aerial footage of empty football stadiums. As the final notes of the Star Spangle Banner ring out on an electric guitar, a caption flashes across the screen reading: “Trump put America on the sidelines. Let’s get back in the game.”

It seems to have gotten Trump’s attention. After its roll-out, Trump tweeted, “I want Big Ten, and all other football, back – NOW” while insisting that “Dems don’t want football back, for political reasons.”

Other Biden ads seek to push back on Trump’s false claims that Biden wants to defund the police and that his election would lead to violence in the streets. In fact, Biden has not called for defunding the police, and the ads highlight that the unrest gripping some American cities has happened on Trump’s watch.

“We wanted folks to understand that the fact that they can’t go to church, they can’t go to school – that is a failure of American leadership. And it didn’t have to happen,” said Patrick Bonsignore, who is the director of paid media for the Biden campaign.

Trump’s campaign dismisses concerns that they don’t have the resources to compete, pointing to $200 million in ad reservations they’ve made through the election. And they argue Biden’s many ads targeted to different demographic groups are a sign of weak support.

Last week they unveiled an ad called “Great American Comeback” that puts an optimistic spin on the pandemic, suggests a vaccine is just around the corner and pledges the economy will soon come roaring back.

“President Trump wins the economic argument hands-down, and it’s not even close,” said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director.

Trump’s campaign also notes Biden’s spending in Minnesota, a longtime Democratic state that Trump is trying to contest this year. Biden has already spent $2.8 million there, and has reserved an additional $3.4 million in advertising, according to data from the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG. He will also travel to the state later this week.

But there are other signs of vulnerability in Trump’s massive operation, which his former campaign manager Brad Parscale likened in May to a “Death Star.”

Though Trump has outspent Biden on Facebook, which was long touted as one of the keys to Trump’s 2016 victory, an analysis of spending data by the firm Applecart shows roughly two-thirds of those ads are still geared toward fundraising — not voter persuasion — in states that will not decide the election.

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Today’s coronavirus news: Tory calls alarming jump of 130 new cases in Toronto ‘troubling’; Ontario surpasses 400 infections for first time since June; Canada/U.S. border closure extended to Oct. 21

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KEY FACTS

  • 11:35 a.m.: Canada/U.S. border closure extended to Oct. 21

  • 11 a.m.: Tory calls alarming jump in Toronto ‘troubling’

  • 10:23 a.m.: Ontario surpasses 400 infections for first time since June

  • 9:05 a.m.: EMA recommending steroid for treatment

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

12:53 p.m. Voters in the Toronto ridings of York Centre and Toronto Centre will vote in federal byelections on Monday, Oct. 26. Both vacancies are in seats that were held by the governing Liberals.

12:21 p.m.: The British Columbia Teachers Federation is asking the Labour Relations Board to address its concerns about health and safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Documents filed with the board say the federation has heard from many of its members about “inconsistent and inadequate” health and safety precautions in schools.

The complaint says the protections do not meet what was promised by the provincial government over the summer about reopening schools.

The teachers have filed the submission under a section of the Labour Relations Code that allows the board to make settlement recommendations if disputes arise while a collective agreement is in force.

The federation urges the labour board to act on an “expedited basis” to resolve concerns that may cause teachers to “refuse to perform unsafe work” or file a “tsunami of grievances” about how school districts have implemented Ministry of Education policies.

The ministry did not immediately respond with a comment.

The B.C. government announced in July that most students would go back to school full time in September. The ministry said Thursday that 85 per cent of kindergarten to Grade 12 students have returned.

12:19 p.m.: The federal minister overseeing key aid programs for workers during the pandemic says there could still be changes to a proposed package of income-support benefits as the country faces renewed pressure from COVID-19.

That includes caregiver payments for anyone who can’t go to work because their child’s school or daycare is closed, or they have to keep them home for COVID-19 reasons.

To get the help after the fact, workers would have to show they could not work at least 60 per cent of their usual hours, or about three days out of a five-day workweek.

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough says she’s heard that eligibility criteria might be too restrictive for parents who have to take off a day or two to wait in hours-long lines for a COVID-19 test.

She says the proposed package and eligibility rules are a baseline and that the government wants them to be flexible to take into consideration that some people may only need one or two days.

The alternative would be to start from scratch on benefits, which Qualtrough says the Liberals want to avoid.

12:16 p.m.: As the six-month freeze on federal student loan payments nears its end, students are calling for an extension of the measure they say offered relief from the financial pressures of the pandemic.

Bryn de Chastelain, chair of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, says his group wants Ottawa to extend the moratorium.

He says the job market is still reeling from COVID-19, creating stress among students and recent grads juggling loans, high tuition costs and other bills.

Ottawa suspended repayments for approximately one million borrowers in repayment from March 30 to Sept. 30, saying no interest would accrue on students loans during the same period.

12:15 p.m.: Several provinces are imposing tougher measures in a bid to tackle a rapid increase in new COVID-19 cases.

Quebec has announced a blitz to enforce public health rules, saying they’ll send officers to 1,000 bars across the province over the weekend.

The province, which has been the hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, announced 297 new cases on Friday.

Ontario, meanwhile, hiked fines for those caught congregating in overlarge groups to $10,000, and cut down the maximum size of gatherings in three hotspot regions.

In Toronto, Ottawa and Peel region, only 10 people will be allowed to gather indoors — down from the current limit of 25 — while the number for outdoor gatherings will drop to 25 from 100.

Ontario reported 401 new cases on Friday — a daily increase not seen since June.

But soaring case numbers are not limited to the two provinces that have been hardest hit by the virus.

British Columbia, for instance, reported 165 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday — an all-time daily high for the province where cases started soaring in August in spite of a previously flattened curve.

12:13 p.m.: Deputy public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo declines to say generally there’s a second wave across Canada.

The seven-day average of new daily cases is now 849, he said at his daily media briefing.

“It’s too early to declare a second wave, but the increase is the trend that’s concerning us.”

11:50 a.m.: Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has tested positive for COVID-19, the party says.

His wife said earlier this week she had tested positive.

Blanchet was already in self-isolation after a staff member contracted the illness.

In a statement, Blanchet says he feels healthy.

11:35 a.m. (updated): Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the partial closure of the border with the United States is being extended another month, to Oct. 21.

Crossings of the border have been largely restricted to trade goods, essential workers and citizens returning home since March, in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Blair and his American counterpart, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, each tweeted the latest one-month extension of the closure agreement this morning.

The pandemic has raged in the United States throughout the spring and summer, and cases in Canada have recently started rising again as well.

At the same time, leaders in border communities have asked federal authorities to loosen restrictions slightly to allow people with links on both sides to live more normally.

The Conservatives also called Friday for Blair to allow more compassionate exemptions to the closure, such as for people who are engaged to be married or where loved ones are seriously ill.

11:10 a.m.: New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh is accusing his Liberal and Conservative counterparts of doing the bidding of big business during the pandemic.

Singh takes the swipe at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole in a speech today that lays out the NDP’s priorities ahead of next week’s throne speech.

Singh is calling on the Liberals to do more to help working people cope with the economic hardship of the COVID-19 crisis.

That includes extending benefits for unemployed Canadians that he says the Liberals are planning to curtail.

He’s also calling on the government to do more to help seniors, and address the crises in climate change and affordable housing.

But Singh is differentiating himself from Trudeau and O’Toole by telling his supporters his two main political rivals are essentially in the back pocket of big business and the “super-rich,” who he says have profited massively during the pandemic at the expense of working people.

11 a.m.: In light of an alarming jump Friday in new COVID-19 infections in Toronto, Mayor John Tory says the city is looking hard at new restrictions.

Calling the increase of 130 cases for Toronto reported by the provincial governmen “troubling,” Tory said rules could include applying the new smaller gathering limits to banquet halls and other businesses.

Toronto had asked Premier Doug Ford to apply the new limits — 10 people indoors, 25 people outdoors — to businesses that host wedding.

But the new rules announced this week for Toronto, Peel and Ottawa apply only to private events and not Ones hosted by businesses.

The mayor said city officials will over the weekend what other steps Toronto can take on its own.

Tory said he learned Friday of a fifth Toronto wedding where infections occurred.

Toronto is also expected next week to introduce new mandatory mask rules applying to workplaces.

The Star’s David Rider and Jennifer Pagliaro has the story.

10:23 a.m. (updated): Ontario is reporting 401 new cases of COVID-19 today, a daily increase not seen since early June.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says Toronto is reporting 130 new cases, with 82 in Peel Region and 61 in Ottawa.

She says nearly 70 per cent of the new cases are in people under the age of 40.

The total number of cases in Ontario now stands at 46,077, which includes 2,825 deaths and 40,600 cases classified as resolved.

There were also 176 cases newly marked as resolved over the past 24 hours.

The province says it processed 35,826 tests over the previous day.

The Star’s Rob Ferguson has the story.

10:15 a.m.: Hamilton has its first confirmed case of COVID connected to a school.

A late-Thursday release from Hamilton public health says a staff member at the Umbrella Family and Child Centres of Hamilton’s before- and after-school program at Templemead Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19. Templemead is located on the east Mountain and is part of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

“HWDSB is working with public health officials to facilitate case and contact tracing,” the release states.

No information was provided on when the person tested positive, nor what their role with the program is or when they last worked.

“It is vital that personal health information and identifiers are not released, and the privacy of everyone involved is respected,” the release states.

10:10 a.m. Two Canadian film and television organizations say hundreds of productions and thousands of jobs are on hold because the government has yet to intervene and help them get COVID-19 insurance.

The Canadian Media Producers Association and the Association québécoise de la production médiatique say $1 billion in production volume is at risk because of the lack of insurance options.

They have identified 214 camera-ready film and TV projects that cannot move forward because they can’t find insurance and say those productions would generate 19,560 jobs.

The organizations pitched a federal government-backed insurance program in June, but say politicians have yet to act on the proposal.

The groups say the lack of government help now means that the entertainment industry is facing an even more dire situation and they hope intervention will come soon.

Several Canadian productions were halted when COVID-19 started spreading across the country in March, but many are slowly returning with added precautions, including mandatory distancing and mask policies.

9:05 a.m.: The European Medicines Agency is recommending an inexpensive steroid be licensed for the treatment of people with severe coronavirus who need oxygen support.

The EMA says it is endorsing the use of dexamethasone in adults and adolescents age 12 or older who need either supplemental oxygen or a ventilator to help them breathe. The drug can be taken orally or via an infusion.

In June, British researchers published research showing dexamethasone can reduce deaths by up to one third in patients hospitalized with severe coronavirus. Shortly afterward, the U.K. government immediately authorized its use in hospitals across the country for seriously ill coronavirus patients.

Steroid drugs like dexamethasone are typically used to reduce inflammation, which sometimes develops in COVID-19 patients as their immune system kicks into overdrive to fight the virus.

9:02 a.m.: Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.6 per cent in July to $52.9 billion, helped by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations.

Economists had expected an increase of 1.0 per cent for the month, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Statistics Canada says sales were up in six of 11 subsectors in July with the motor vehicle and parts dealers subsector contributing the most to the increase with a 3.3 per cent increase. Sales at gasoline stations rose 6.1 per cent.

However, the agency said core retail sales, which exclude those two subsectors, fell 1.2 per cent.

Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers fell 11.6 per cent, while sales at food and beverage stores dropped 2.1 per cent.

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Retail sales in volume terms were up 0.4 per cent in July.

8:07 a.m.: Young people are reporting higher levels of stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic compared to those over age 60 despite their significantly lower risk of dying from the virus itself, a new study has revealed.

Levels of generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder are proving to be the highest and more prevalent among those under 25, while those over age 60 reported the lowest levels for both disorders.

These numbers are revealed in new research published in early September by Dr. Izunwanne Nwachuchwu from the University of Calgary, alongside researchers from the University of Alberta and Alberta Health Services. The study shows that 96 per cent of people under age 25 said they’ve experienced moderate or high levels of stress as a result of the pandemic, compared to 68 per cent of people over the age of 60.

Read the full story by the Star’s Nadina Yousif

7:31 a.m.: Canada’s top curling teams are trying to cobble together a competitive fall season despite the COVID-19 pandemic decimating the calendar.

The Grand Slam of Curling was whittled from six events this winter to just two scheduled for next April and November’s Canada Cup of Curling was cancelled, creating a competitive void for the country’s elite curlers.

A slew of September and October bonspiels across Canada have been called off, but some remain on the calendar.

Curling Canada’s return-to-play guidelines provide a template for events to go ahead with several modifications on and off the ice to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We want to play as much as we can under whatever guidelines are set and get some competition in,” said skip Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

“That’s about all we can hope for. It’s not about going out and trying to win prize money and points. None of that stuff really matters.

6 a.m.: British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has hinted that fresh restrictions on social gatherings in England could be announced soon as part of efforts to suppress a sharp spike in confirmed coronavirus cases.

Following reports that the government was considering fresh curbs on the hospitality sector, such as pubs and restaurants, Hancock said this is a “big moment for the country.”

He said that another national lockdown is the “last line of defence” and that most transmissions of the virus are taking place in social settings.

Hancock says the government’s strategy over the coming weeks is to contain the virus as much as possible “whilst protecting education and the economy.”

The government has come under sustained criticism in the past week following serious issues with its virus testing program.

5:45 a.m.: Confirmed cases of the coronavirus have topped 30 million worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

The worldwide count of known COVID-19 infections climbed past 30 million on Thursday, with more than half of them from just three countries: the U.S., India and Brazil, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins researchers.

The number increased by 10 million in just over a month; global cases passed 20 million on August 12.

5:31 a.m.: Joe Biden on Thursday went after President Donald Trump again and again over his handling of COVID-19, calling Trump’s downplaying of the pandemic “criminal” and his administration “totally irresponsible.”

“You’ve got to level with the American people — shoot from the shoulder. There’s not been a time they’ve not been able to step up. The president should step down,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to applause from a CNN drive-in town hall crowd in Moosic, outside his hometown of Scranton.

Speaking about Trump’s admission that he publicly played down the impact of the virus while aware of its severity, Biden declared: “He knew it and did nothing. It’s close to criminal.”

Later, Biden decried Americans’ loss of basic “freedoms” as the U.S. has struggled to contain the pandemic, like the ability to go to a ball game or walk around their neighbourhoods. “I never, ever thought I would see just such a thoroughly, totally irresponsible administration,” he said.

5:21 a.m.: China says imported coronavirus cases climbed to 32 over the previous 24 hours.

Thirteen of the cases reported Friday were in the northern province of Shaanxi, whose capital Xi’an is a major industrial centre. The eastern financial and business hub of Shanghai reported 12.

China has gone more than a month without reporting any cases of locally transmitted coronavirus cases within its borders.

5:18 a.m.: U.N. World Food Program chief David Beasley is warning that 270 million people are “marching toward the brink of starvation” because of the toxic combination of conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beasley on Thursday urged donor nations and billionaires to contribute $4.9 billion to feed the 30 million he said will die without U.N. assistance.

He reminded the U.N. Security Council of his warning five months ago that “the world stood on the brink of a hunger pandemic,” and welcomed the response, which averted famine and led countries to fight back against the coronavirus.

Beasley said the U.N. food agency is keeping people alive “and avoiding a humanitarian catastrophe” but he said “the fight is far, far, far from over.”

5:14 a.m.: India’s coronavirus cases have jumped by another 96,424 infections in the past 24 hours, showing little signs of slowing down.

The Health Ministry on Friday raised the nation’s confirmed total since the pandemic began to more than 5.21 million. It said 1,174 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 84,372.

India is expected within weeks to surpass the reported infections seen in the United States, where more than 6.67 million people have been reported infected, the most in the world.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday made a fresh appeal to people to use face masks and maintain social distance as his government chalked out plans to handle big congregations expected during a major Hindu festival season beginning next month.

5:10 a.m.: The Australian government on Friday announced a 5 million Australian dollars ($3.7 million) grant to the national news agency as part of pandemic-related assistance to regional journalism.

Australian Associated Press is critical to media diversity and has consistently demonstrated its commitment to accurate, fact-based and independent journalism over its 85-year history, including a strong contribution to regional news, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a statement.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered unprecedented challenges for Australia’s regional media sector, with severe declines in advertising revenue threatening the sustainability of many news outlets,” Fetcher said.

AAP provides services to more than 250 regional news mastheads across Australia, covering public interest content on national, state and regional news. This allows regional mastheads to concentrate on local news stories important for their communities, he said.

AAP Chair Jonty Low and Chief Executive Emma Cowdroy welcomed the funding as an “endorsement of the role that AAP plays in providing a key piece of Australia’s democratic Infrastructure.”

5 a.m.: Israel is set to go back into a full lockdown later Friday to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has steadily worsened for months as its government has been plagued by indecision and infighting.

The three-week lockdown beginning at 2 p.m. (1100 GMT) will include the closure of many businesses and strict limits on public gatherings, and will largely confine people to their homes. The closures coincide with the Jewish High Holidays, when people typically visit their families and gather for large prayer services.

In an address late Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that even stricter measures may be needed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. There are currently more than 46,000 active cases, with at least 577 hospitalized in serious condition.

“It could be that we will have no choice but to make the directives more stringent,” Netanyahu said. “I will not impose a lockdown on the citizens of Israel for no reason, and I will not hesitate to add further restrictions if it is necessary.”

Under the new lockdown, nearly all businesses open to the public will be closed. People must remain within 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) of home, but there are several exceptions, including shopping for food or medicine, going to work in a business that’s closed to the public, attending protests and even seeking essential pet care.

4:05 a.m.: Four conservative-minded premiers are to issue today their wish list for next week’s throne speech on which the fate of Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government could hinge.

Quebec’s François Legault, Ontario’s Doug Ford, Alberta’s Jason Kenney and Manitoba’s Brian Pallister plan to hold a news conference in Ottawa to spell out what they hope to see in the speech.

Billions more for health care is likely to top their list.

Ford and Legault last week called on Ottawa to significantly increase the annual federal transfer payments to provinces and territories for health care.

The transfer this year will amount to almost $42 billion under an arrangement that sees it increase by at least three per cent each year.

On top of that, the federal government is giving provinces and territories $19 billion to help them cope with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, including some $10 billion for health care.

4 a.m.: A new survey finds that young people have been vaping less frequently since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The survey, conducted by the Lung Association of Nova Scotia and Smoke-Free Nova Scotia, finds that respondents decreased vaping to five days per week from six, on average.

They also cut back to an average of 19 vaping episodes per day, down from 30.

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario.

The researchers say it may be related to warnings of potential complications from COVID-19 for e-cigarette users.

The survey heard from more than 1,800 respondents between 16 and 24 years old, and found most begin vaping at around the age of 15.

Thursday 8.18 p.m. B.C. has once again topped its previous daily record for new COVID-19 cases, the Richmond Sentinel reports.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 165 new cases since Wednesday. That raises the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 7,663. There are 1,705 active cases, an increase of 91 from yesterday, and of nearly 300 from a week ago, the Sentinel reports.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said it’s important to put the high case count in context; yesterday, there were 7,674 tests conducted across B.C., the highest number in a single day since the pandemic began.

Click here for more of Thursday’s COVID-19 coverage.



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France seeks EU sanctions on Turkey over energy tensions | World News

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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — France on Friday backed Cyprus’ calls for the European Union to consider imposing tougher sanctions on Turkey if the Turkish government won’t suspend its search for energy reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters where Cyprus and Greece claim exclusive economic rights.

French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said sanctions should be among the options the 27-member bloc considers employing if Turkey continues to “endanger the security and sovereignty of a member state.”

“We believe that the European Union must be ready to activate…all available tools and certainly to resort to sanctions, if developments don’t proceed in a positive direction,” Beaune said after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides in Nicosia.

EU leaders are set to hold a summit in a few days to discuss how to respond to Turkey’s refusal to recall a warship-escorted research vessel it dispatched to a part of the eastern Mediterranean that Greece maintains is over its continental shelf. The dispute has ratcheted up military tensions between the two NATO allies.

The tensions appeared to ease in the last week, with Greek and Turkish officials having contact after Turkey temporarily pulled back the research vessel. But Ankara extended its gas search in waters southeast of Cyprus until mid-October.

Turkey doesn’t recognize ethnically divided Cyprus as a state and insists it have every right to prospect for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean. It has vowed vowed do defend its rightful claims to the region’s energy reserves, as well as those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots.

Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a “double standard” by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud and police brutality while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members.

Beaune said the EU cannot accept Turkish actions and that France has “committed” to resolving the issue while making its military presence felt in the eastern Mediterranean in support of its EU partners.

———

This version corrects the spelling of the French minister’s surname to Beaune. not Baume.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Friday briefing: ‘Prejudiced’ Home Office not learning – MPs | World news

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Top story: ‘Too little intent to change’

Hello, Warren Murray bringing you matters topical this Friday morning.

The Home Office has drawn on “anecdote, assumption and prejudice” to draw up immigration policies instead of relying on evidence, the public accounts committee of MPs has concluded in a highly critical report. Priti Patel’s department was unaware of the damage caused by policy failures, with officials having “no idea” what its £400m annual spending on immigration enforcement achieves.

Meg Hillier, chair of the committee, said that while the Home Office accepts the damage done by the Windrush scandal, “the evidence we saw shows too little intent to change”. Despite years of debate and concern, the department has not estimated the illegal population in the UK since 2005, meaning “potentially exaggerated figures calculated by others could inflame hostility towards immigrants”, says the report. A lack of diversity at senior levels has created blind spots in the organisation: “Only one member of its executive committee came from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background.” On Brexit, the report warns officials have been caught “unprepared for the challenges”, such as cooperation with the EU on the return of foreign offenders and illegal migrants.

The committee has given the Home Office six months to come up with a detailed plan to fix problems, particularly with regard to tackling illegal migration. Minnie Rahman of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said the report was a “very accurate picture of a clueless, careless and cold-hearted Home Office”. A Home Office source said the home secretary agreed with the PAC assessment of “historical issues … She has spoken at great length about how the department puts process before people, and it is why she has committed to implementing the findings of the Wendy Williams review into Windrush.”


Coronavirus latest – Test and trace has been condemned as “barely functional” as its tsar, Dido Harding, admitted demand was up to four times capacity while 90% of tests were failing to hit the 24-hour turnaround target. The Guardian has seen documents showing tracers taking up to two weeks to alert contacts of people diagnosed with Covid-19. But Harding has told MPs: “I strongly refute that the system is failing.” Leeds and Lancashire are expected to face enhanced lockdown measures, bringing the number of people subject to restrictions to more than 11 million, including nearly 2 million in north-east England.

Just 1.9% of people using a home test kit in England got their results within 24 hours in the week to 9 September – the lowest since test and trace began in May. Results from 33.3% of in-person tests were turned around within 24 hours, down from 66.5% the previous week. Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, has said in a CNN town hall: “I don’t trust the president on vaccines. I trust Dr Fauci. If Fauci says a vaccine is safe, I would take the vaccine. We should listen to the scientists, not to the president.” Follow further developments at our live blog.


GCSE gap narrows – Disadvantaged students in England narrowed the GCSE attainment gap with their peers this summer, according to an analysis. Based on this year’s results at 1,200 secondary schools, researchers found that 56% of disadvantaged pupils achieved a 4 or above in English and maths, compared with 78% of non-disadvantaged pupils. At 22 percentage points the gap remains vast, but it is an improvement on 2019 when it was 26 percentage points. A separate report has found that state schools in the most deprived areas of England have suffered their worst decline in funding since the 1980s. The decline that began under David Cameron’s Tory-led coalition is so deep that the additional £7bn pledged by the current government will not be enough to reverse the cuts by 2023, says the IFS. England spends around £6,100 per pupil a year, well behind £7,300 in Scotland where investment continued to rise over the course of the 2000s.


Russia still meddling: FBI – Christopher Wray, the FBI director, has warned that Russia is interfering in the 2020 US presidential elections to undermine Joe Biden and sap Americans’ confidence in the election process. He said a “steady drumbeat of misinformation” could undermine confidence in the result of the election. On the US campaign trail, Donald Trump has been condemned for downplaying America’s historic legacy of slavery and claiming schoolchildren have been subjected to “decades of leftwing indoctrination”.


Toe springs’ internal toll – Trainers that curve upward at the toe may carry a risk of doing long-term damage to the wearer’s feet, researchers are warning. The “toe spring” is a common feature that helps the front of the foot roll forwards, making thick and cushioned soles more comfortable. But the effect on foot muscles had not been well studied until now. A team at Chemnitz University of Technology in Germany found the spring makes the muscles’ work easier but this might weaken them to the point where other structures in the foot, such as ligaments, take over, increasing the risk of conditions like plantar fasciitis. Responding to the study, Trevor Prior, consultant podiatric surgeon and spokesman for the College of Podiatry in the UK, said the detrimental effect was theoretical but people should wear a range of footwear to minimise the negative effect any specific shoe design might have.


Ockham’s poo knife – To test a folk story, Metin Eren from Kent State University in Ohio tried making a knife from his own frozen faeces. He tested it on animal hide – ending in failure but ultimately earning an Ig Nobel award for research that “first makes people laugh, and then makes them think”. This year’s awards included a physics prize for recording the shape of earthworms when vibrated at high frequency; a peace prize to India and Pakistan for having their diplomats ring each other’s doorbells and run away; and an economics prize for the UK after Chris Watkins, a psychologist at the University of Abertay, found French kissing is more common in areas of high income inequality. Boris Johnson shared a medical education prize with the likes of Trump and Putin for demonstrating during the pandemic that politicians can have a more immediate effect on life and death than scientists and doctors.

Today in Focus podcast: Amy Dorris – ‘Trump groped me’

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, former model Amy Dorris talked to Lucy Osborne about allegations that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her at the US Open tennis tournament more than two decades ago, in an alleged incident that left her feeling “sick” and “violated”.

Today in Focus

Amy Dorris – Trump groped me

Lunchtime read: ‘I was 19 with cornrows from Harlem’

With the release of a new album, Alicia Keys picks favourite tracks from her back catalogue and talks about the magic of working with Kanye West, surviving the tough streets of New York and her struggles with self-worth.

Alicia Keys



Alicia Keys. Photograph: Milan Zirnic

Sport

Recently crowned US Open champion Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open in another serious blow to organisers of the tournament in Paris. Rory McIlroy made a solid start to the US Open, scoring 67 in the first round to lie two shots behind leader Justin Thomas. Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign the midfielder Thiago Alcântara from Bayern Munich for €30m (£27.3m) on a four-year contract. Goals from Harry Kane and Tanguy Ndombele secured a Europa League comeback win for Tottenham against Lokomotiv Plovdiv after the hosts had two men sent off. Jemma Reekie again emphasised her striking talent by beating her friend and housemate Laura Muir in a tactical 800m at the Rome Diamond League.

Rob Baxter backed the decision to allow Northampton to draft in Gloucester’s Alex Seville for the European Champions Cup quarter-final at Exeter on Sunday, but he accused the Saints of playing mind games to swing the decision. Fifty years after she helped form a breakaway women’s tour, the Fed Cup has been renamed the Billie Jean King Cup. And German amateur side SG Ripdorf/Molzen II sacrificed a tight defence for social distancing as they fielded only seven players as a coronavirus precaution in a 37-0 loss to local rivals SV Holdenstedt II.

Business

Asia-Pacific shares have been slightly higher despite the overnight fall on Wall Street. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 inched up as did South Korea’s Kospi and the Hang Seng while Sydney was little changed and Shanghai added 0.5%. A 0.18% fall is indicated for the FTSE at the open while the pound is worth $1.295 and €1.093 at time of writing.

The papers

Test and trace ‘barely functional’ as 10m people now face lockdown” reports the Guardian and our print edition’s front-page picture is of Amy Dorris who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Donald Trump at the US Open in 1997. The Mirror also reports the 10m figure and “tough new local curbs imposed all over UK”.

Guardian front page, Friday 18 September 2020



Guardian front page, Friday 18 September 2020.

The Times reports “‘Chaos and inefficiency’ in Covid-19 testing labs” while the Telegraph has “Hospitals told to clear beds for Covid spike in two weeks”– both papers give a picture slot to models for London fashion week. Metro leads with “Cases up 75% in one week … 24-hour test results down 50%”.

“Here, at last!” – a debatable comma there but the Express continues “Virus test result in just 90 minutes”. It’s about the NudgeBox – as our report explains the device is a game-changer for testing where lab facilities are unavailable, but can only take one sample at a time, meaning a maximum of 16 tests in 24 hours. The Mail has “£1bn cost of maternity blunders”. The i bags a decent angle: “Emergency powers will allow use of unlicensed vaccine in UK”, saying the government is prepared to sidestep EU licensing laws. The FT goes with Brexit: “Von der Leyen ‘convinced’ Brussels can still reach trade deal with UK”.

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