Amid Ukraine war, pope to give vision for Europe in Hungary
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Pope Francis plans to outline his vision for the future of Europe during a three-day visit to Hungary starting Friday, with Russia’s war in Ukraine, migration flows and Hungary’s tense relations with Brussels looming large over the pontiff’s weekend journey.
Hungarian officials say Francis’ pilgrimage was designed primarily to let the pope minister to the country’s Catholic community and to encourage its members in their faith. But with the war unfolding next door and Hungary butting heads with other European Union nations over rule of law issues and LGBTQ+ rights, Francis’ words and deeds in the heart of Europe will carry strong political undertones.
After landing at Budapest’s Liszt Ferenc airport, Francis was scheduled to meet with President Katalin Novak and Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and then to deliver his main political speech to Hungarian authorities and diplomats. He has a chance to speak to Hungarian society and Europe at large in his final event Sunday, when he’ll address academic and cultural figures at Budapest’s Catholic University.
In between, Francis is set to meet with some of the 35,000 Ukrainian refugees who have remained in Hungary after 2.5 million fled across Ukraine’s border with Hungary’s early on in Russia’s invasion. It will be another opportunity for Francis to raise immigration as a topic and and to reiterate his belief that European countries should, within their means, open their arms and borders to people fleeing poverty as well as conflicts.
Orban’s hard line on migration is well known. In 2015-2016, Hungary built a razor wire fence on its border with Serbia to stop people from entering. However, Francis has expressed appreciation for Hungary’s recent welcome of Ukrainian refugees.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis would use his time in the heart of Europe to look to the continent’s future.
“It’s difficult to not think about the European Union and all of Europe,” Bruni said of the trip. He noted that the “passion” for Europe had perhaps faded over the years and that Francis aimed to revive “the Europe of peoples, with its own history and responsibility in the commitment to global peace.”
For the 86-year-old pontiff, the visit will once again test his frail health after he spent four days in the hospital last month with bronchitis. While Hungarian officials had hoped Francis would travel around the country, the Vatican opted to keep him in Budapest, where he spent seven hours in 2021 to close out a church congress.
The visit comes as the European Union’s parliament continues to put pressure on Hungary to counter what EU lawmakers consider a deterioration in the rule of law and democratic principles under Orban’s government, including rolling back the rights of LGBTQ+ people.
The four biggest groups in the European Parliament have called on the EU’s executive commission to withhold pandemic recovery funds for Hungary until liberal democracy principles are met.
The European Commission has accused Orban for years of dismantling democratic institutions, taking control of the media and infringing on minority rights, allegations the prime minister has denied.
Hungary’s Constitution, approved unilaterally by Orban’s right-wing populist Fidesz party in 2011, outlaws same-sex marriage, and the government has prohibited same-sex couples from adopting children. The government has also outlawed the depiction of homosexuality or divergent gender identities to minors in media content.
Catholic doctrine also prohibits same-sex marriages, but Francis has backed legal protections for people in same-sex unions. He has long ministered to gay and transgender Catholics, while blasting “gender ideology” as an alleged form of the West’s ideological colonization of the developing world.
Francis is unlikely to wade directly into Hungary’s democracy and LGBTQ+ rights debate and instead speak in general terms about the lofty, democratic goals that decades ago inspired the forming of what would become the European Union.
Hungary’s ambassador to the Holy See, Eduard Habsburg, said he thinks Hungary is actually upholding Europe’s founding ideals better than many of its EU partners.
“Hungary has stayed true to the values that have always been the values of the European Union, which is family, faith, Christian, Judeo-Christian roots, sovereignty and all these things,” Habsburg said. “And you sometimes have the idea that … some of these have been lost in the western parts of Europe.”
With Francis traveling closer to Ukraine than at any time since Russia invaded Ukraine, the war will also be front and center during his visit. He plans to visit a Greek Catholic church that delivered aid to Ukrainian refugees.
Francis, who met with Ukraine’s prime minister on the eve of the trip at the Vatican, is likely to repeat his call for a peaceful resolution of the war and to express solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
Orban has called for a cease-fire but been lukewarm in his support of Ukraine, refusing to supply Kyiv with weapons and threatening to veto EU sanctions against Moscow while maintaining Hungary’s strong dependence on Russian energy.
While there was speculation that Francis might meet with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill while in Budapest, no such meeting is planned, according to the Rev. Csaba Torok, the parochial administrator for the Cathedral of Esztergom and coordinator of Catholic programming on state media.
Francis held an unprecedented meeting with Kirill in 2016 and had hoped to pursue a second encounter, but Kirill’s support for Russia’s invasion put the plans on indefinite hold. ___
Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
Cigarettes in Canada will soon bear their own health warnings – CTV News
Canada will soon require health warnings to be printed directly on individual cigarettes, making it the first country to implement this kind of measure aimed at reducing tobacco usage.
Details of the new regulations were announced on Wednesday, which was World No Tobacco Day. The regulations take effect on Aug. 1 and will be implemented through a phased approach over the next year, the federal government said.
“The requirement for a health warning directly on every cigarette is a world precedent setting measure that will reach every person who smokes with every puff,” stated Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos in a news release.
“This innovative measure will be accompanied by enhanced warnings on the package exterior, and health messages on the package interior that are internationally unique. The new regulations deserve strong support.”
As part of the new regulations, the government said it will require labels on the tipping paper, which is the outermost paper of the filter section, of individual cigarettes, little cigars, tubes, along with other tobacco products. The labels will be written in English and French.
King size cigarettes are set to be the first to feature the warnings and will be sold by Canadian retailers by the end of July 2024, followed by regular size cigarettes and little cigars with tipping paper and tubes by the end of April 2025.
The government said the new regulations are part of its strategy to reach a target of less than five per cent tobacco use in the country by 2035.
Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett said tobacco use continues to kill 48,000 Canadians each year, but the new measure will make health warnings “virtually unavoidable” and provide a “real and startling reminder” of the health consequences of smoking.
The labels include messaging like “Poison in every puff,” “Cigarettes cause cancer” and “Tobacco smoke harms children.”
The Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Lung Association and Heart & Stroke Foundation were among the organizations that welcomed the news. On Monday, the three national health organizations issued an open letter, calling on Canada’s premiers to push for initiatives to reduce smoking during settlement negotiations with major tobacco companies.
“It’s going to mean that there’s a warning with every cigarette, every puff, it’s going to be there during every smoke break,” Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, told CTV News Channel.
“It’s a very positive measure and I believe that many other countries are going to follow Canada’s example.”
Doug Roth, CEO of Heart & Stroke, echoed those remarks.
“Canada is now a global leader of the pack when it comes to health warning regimes for cigarettes,” Roth said in a news release.
“Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada and these important new measures will protect youth and support current smokers in their efforts to quit.”
In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Imperial Tobacco Canada said governments should “take a step back and look at the science and benefits” of adopting a “tobacco harm reduction regulatory strategy,” such as promoting vaping as an alternative, similar to what the British government has done.
“A robust regulatory framework is required to govern the manufacture, marketing and sale of vapour products,” said Frank Silva, president and CEO of Imperial Tobacco Canada.
“Unfortunately, some governments are proposing extreme measures that will significantly stop vaping products from fully achieving their harm reduction potential, while doing nothing to address the issue of youth access.”
Other measures the government is taking include strengthening and updating health-related messages on tobacco product packages, extending the requirement for health-related messaging to all tobacco product packages, and implementing the periodic rotation of messages.
– With files from The Canadian Press
How did Canada’s economy perform in Q1? StatCan to update – Global News
The national economy continued to grow overall in the first quarter of 2023 as consumers spent more in the face of recession fears, according to Statistics Canada.
Canada’s economy grew at an annualized rate of 3.1 per cent in the first quarter, beating Statistics Canada’s early estimates of 2.5 per cent. The Bank of Canada’s latest forecasts had called for 2.3 per cent growth in Q1.
Household spending was up in the quarter following two periods of minimal growth, the agency said Wednesday, but housing investment slowed in the first quarter amid higher borrowing costs.
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StatCan said Canadians particularly spent more on new vehicles in Q1. In a note to clients Wednesday, CIBC senior economist Andrew Grantham ascribed that increase to relief in supply chain kinks meaning previous car orders could finally be delivered.
Canadians also returned to dining and vacations in the quarter, Statistics Canada said, with spending picking up for food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and travel expenditures.
StatCan had also expected the economy contracted by a modest 0.1 per cent in March, but Wednesday’s release shows economic growth was flat for the month.
Flash estimates for April show growth of 0.2 per cent. Grantham said that was a surprise as the public sector strike in that month was expected to be a drag on growth.
Weakness persisted in Canada’s housing market in the first quarter of the year. New construction was down in every province and territory except the Yukon, StatCan said, while renovations and figures tied to resale activity were also down nationally.
The first quarter GDP figures mark a rebound from what StatCan called essentially flat growth in the final quarter of 2022.
The GDP report comes ahead of the Bank of Canada’s next interest rate decision June 7.
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The central bank, which is focused on returning inflation to its two per cent target, paused its aggressive rate hiking cycle earlier this year.
However, governor Tiff Macklem has signalled that the Bank of Canada is still evaluating whether interest rates need to go higher to tame inflation which ticked higher in April.
Grantham said that while the stronger-than-expected GDP figures raise the odds of an interest rate hike next week, he expects the central bank will continue to wait for more data and revise its inflation and GDP forecasts in July before moving again.
— with files from the Canadian Press
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'Difficult day' expected as Halifax-area fire continues to burn out of control – CBC.ca
If the power or data on your device is low, get your wildfire updates on CBC Lite. It’s our low-bandwidth, text-only website.
Officials are expecting yet another challenging day, as crews from across Nova Scotia battle a wildfire burning out of control outside Halifax that has already damaged 200 homes and businesses.
David Steeves of the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources said the fire in the suburbs of Hammonds Plains, Upper Tantallon and Pockwock has grown by roughly 49 hectares to 837 hectares.
Steeves, a technician of forest resources, said the growth is not surprising given the dry and hot weather conditions on Tuesday.
He said Wednesday’s forecast is also not favourable, with dry southwesterly winds expected to gust up to 20 km/h.
The humidity is also expected to be low, at around 20 per cent. He explained that when the relative humidity levels get close to the forecasted temperature, it’s known as “crossover,” which is an indicator of “extreme fire behaviour.”
Steeves said that could create dangerous conditions for crews on the ground.
“Today could possibly be a very difficult day,” he said during a press conference at the incident command centre in Tantallon on Wednesday morning. “Our situational awareness is going to be extremely high.”
The evacuation zone remains the same, and there is no update on when residents may be able to return. Steeves emphasized that the order “is not what we want to do, it’s what we have to do.”
“This is to keep people alive,” said Steeves.
“This is a very dangerous situation. It’s changing every moment with wind, with fuels, with the lay of the land, how the sun is heating the fuels. Everything is constantly evolving, so we have to take the safest route for the citizens we are here to serve.”
Halifax Fire Deputy Chief David Meldrum said additional resources will be on the scene today, including crews from a number of other communities in the province and from Prince Edward Island.
Meldrum said there are eight fire engines, 14 tankers, two Defence Department trucks and about 100 firefighters working on hot spots and flare-ups.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a new fire was reported on Hammonds Plains Road near the Farmers Dairy building.
While it’s close to the perimeter of the original wildfire in the area, it’s considered a new fire.
The area around Hammonds Plains Road from Farmers Dairy Lane to Giles Drive was shut down and an evacuation order was issued, but it was later rescinded.
Meldrum said he patrolled the area Wednesday morning and it was looking “very good.”
The cause of that fire is not yet known.
Stay out of the woods
During a briefing with reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Premier Tim Houston said there is now a provincewide ban on all travel and activity within Nova Scotia’s forests, including hiking, fishing, camping and off-road vehicle use.
Natural Resources Minister Tory Rushton pleaded with Nova Scotians to abide by the order, noting there were seven reports of illegal burns on Tuesday after the burn ban was implemented.
“We don’t take this lightly … but we cannot afford to have any more fires,” Rushton told the CBC’s Information Morning.
Officials said on Tuesday that about 151 homes have been destroyed in the suburban communities about 25 kilometres from Halifax that are home to many who work in the city.
Terri and Lutz Kottwitz not only lost their home, but also their business.
The couple run ForestKids Early Learning in Yankeetown, which was decimated by the fast-moving fire that started Sunday afternoon in the Westwood Hills subdivision.
“That’s my life. They’re my family,” a tearful Terri Kottwitz said of the children and families that attended the daycare.
Lutz Kottwitz added: “It’s Terri’s purpose in life. It’s everything.”
Terri Kottwitz said they plan to rebuild.
Wooded areas of municipal parks will be closed as of 8 a.m. on Wednesday. Parks such as Shubie Park, Point Pleasant Park and Admiral Cove Park will be fully closed, as they are heavily wooded. Non-wooded areas of parks, like playgrounds and sport fields will remain open for use.
The restrictions are in place until June 25, “or until conditions allow them to be lifted.”
Mayor Mike Savage said officials are considering reducing the evacuation area boundary so some people who were forced to flee their homes because of the fire might be able to go back sooner.
Savage said a decision will be made Wednesday morning, but that everything hinges on the movement of the wildfire. He said no reductions in evacuated areas would be considered if the risk of fire spreading rises.
“This is dangerous, and it is unpredictable, and fire safety is the No. 1 concern we have,” Savage told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
Anyone who wants to help people displaced by the fire can donate to United Way Halifax, which has set up a wildfire recovery appeal, he said.
Information Morning – NS6:26Strategies to guard against smoke inhalation
Meldrum said Tuesday that most of the damaged or destroyed structures are single-family homes. He asked for patience from some 16,400 residents who are anxiously awaiting information about their properties.
- Have a question or something to say? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or join us live in the comments now.
Meldrum said Emergency Health Services has seen an increase in respiratory distress calls due to poor air quality, some as far away as Dunbrack Street in Halifax, about 20 kilometres from Upper Tantallon.
Nova Scotia is offering a one-time payment of $500 per eligible household for those affected by the evacuation order. Residents can apply for that payment through the Canadian Red Cross.
No injuries have been reported and no one has been reported missing.
Officials are investigating what started the initial fire in the Westwood Hills subdivision off Hammonds Plains Road, but officials with the Natural Resources department have said it was likely human activity.
Nova Scotia RCMP Cpl. Guillaume Tremblay said officers are patrolling the affected neighbours 24 hours a day to keep people who should not be there out.
Halifax Regional Police warned residents on Wednesday about a potential scam related to the evacuation orders. They said a member of the public received a call that stated the fire was in their area.
“It is unclear at this time what motivated the call. However, police are taking this very seriously given the timing of the call during a difficult crisis,” a news release said.
“We want the public to know that they will not receive individual calls from official sources asking them to evacuate their homes. Evacuation orders will come from emergency alerts through the proper government channels.”
The municipality said the evacuation zone could change, and if people need to leave, they should bring their pets, important documents and medication with them, as well as supplies for 72 hours.
People who live in the areas affected by the local state of emergency should have a bag packed and ready to go because they might need to leave on short notice.
Areas affected by evacuations so far include:
- Westwood Hills subdivision.
- White Hills subdivision.
- Highland Park subdivision.
- Haliburton Hills.
- Pockwock Road.
- Glen Arbour.
- Lucasville Road to Sackville Drive.
- Voyageur Way.
- St George Boulevard, including all side streets.
- McCabe Lake area.
- Indigo Shores.
The Halifax Regional Municipality said in a news release Monday afternoon that all residents who have been required to leave must register with 311 (toll-free at 1-800-835-6428, 1.866.236.0020 for hearing impaired only line teletypewriter users).
The following schools are closed Wednesday:
- Bay View High School.
- Tantallon Junior Elementary.
- Tantallon Senior Elementary.
- Five Bridges Junior High.
- St. Margaret’s Bay Elementary.
- Kingswood Elementary.
- Hammonds Plains Consolidated.
- Madeline Symonds Middle School.
- Charles P. Allen High School.
- Harry R. Hamilton Elementary.
- Millwood Elementary.
- Millwood High School.
- Sackville Heights Elementary.
- Sackville Heights Junior High.
- Basinview Drive Community School.
- Bedford South School.
Residents who fled Halifax-area wildfire describe roadsides in flames, homes burning
Shelburne County forest fire still out of control, local state of emergency declared
The Halifax Regional Municipality declared a local state of emergency Sunday night in order to access additional support.
Comfort centres have been opened at:
- Black Point and Area Community Centre, 8579 St Margarets Bay Rd., opens at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and will remain open until further notice.
- Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre, 1583 Beaver Bank Rd., opens at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and will remain open until further notice.
- Canada Games Centre, 26 Thomas Raddall Dr., open 24 hours.
- John W. Lindsay YMCA, 5640 Sackville St., Monday to Friday 5:45 a.m. to 10 p.m, Saturday and Sunday 7:45 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Community YMCA, 2269 Gottingen St., Halifax, Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A mobile primary health clinic will be available at the Canada Games comfort centre on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The clinic will be able to provide care for non-urgent health issues, like prescription refills, minor respiratory symptoms, sore throat, headache, muscle pain and mental health and addiction support.
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