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Canada votes and the Emmys go to the streamers: In The News for Sept. 20 – Coast Reporter

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In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Sept. 20 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Canada’s first-ever pandemic election culminates today as Canadians from coast-to-coast go to the polls to choose the 338 members of Parliament to sit in the House of Commons.

Elections Canada says almost 6.8 million people voted early, most of them at advanced polls over a week ago, and the rest through special ballots cast by mail or at Elections Canada offices.

However, a majority of Canada’s more than 30 million eligible voters will mark their ballots today.

Elections Canada encourages voters to wear masks but only requires them in places where they are mandated by provincial rules. Proof-of-vaccination regulations do not apply at polling stations in any province where they currently exist.

Polling stations are open for 12 hours, though opening times vary by region, starting as early as 7 a.m. PST in British Columbia and as late as 9:30 a.m. EDT in Ontario and most of Quebec.

Most riding winners will be known by the end of the evening, but Elections Canada is warning it could take up to four days to finish counting all the special ballots, meaning some close races may not have official winners for several days.

Also this …

OTTAWA — Dozens of female Afghan students have escaped the Taliban with the help of a Toronto-based charity and are heading to Saskatoon after a daring land journey lasting weeks.

Nearly 100 girls have managed to flee to Pakistan with their families after failing to get out of Kabul before the airport was closed. A number of Afghan female dancers were also part of the group.

They will head to Saskatoon within the next three weeks, Canada’s immigration minister confirmed on Sunday.

The group of about 200 Afghans spent weeks trying to find a safe route to evade the Taliban, which recently reclaimed political control of the country and opposes the education of women. 

Prince’s Trust Canada, which is a charity set up by Prince Charles that supports youth and veterans programs and was involved in co-ordinating the escape, said it was relieved the group had finally made it to safety. 

“They are a highly inspiring community and now they have an opportunity to grow and continue their education in Canada,” said charity chairman Mark Fell.

With support from the youth charity, the girls tried to escape by air after the Taliban seized control of the country last month. But conditions proved too perilous to allow the girls and their relatives to reach the Kabul airport.

They then tried to make it to another Afghan airport and considered fleeing over the border with Uzbekistan before ultimately escaping to Pakistan. 

The federal government confirmed on Sunday that it plans to resettle the female students and their families in Saskatoon. They are expected to travel there within two or three weeks, and will quarantine after their arrival in Canada in accordance with federal measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Last month the federal government announced it would resettle 20,000 Afghans who had fled their country.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

DEL RIO, Texas — The U.S. is flying Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland and trying to block others from crossing the border from Mexico. 

It’s a massive show of force that signals the beginning of what could be one of America’s swiftest, large-scale expulsions of migrants or refugees in decades. 

Three flights with 145 passengers each arrived in Port-au-Prince, and Haiti said six flights were expected on Tuesday. 

In all, U.S. authorities moved to expel many of the more 12,000 migrants camped around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, after crossing from Mexico.

Also this … 

Authorities are continuing to look for a Florida man following the apparent discovery of his girlfriend’s body in Wyoming after she went missing on a cross country trip. 

An FBI agent says the body discovered Sunday is believed to be Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito. 

The cause of death not yet been determined. 

Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, left in July on a cross-country trek in a converted van to visit national parks in the U.S. West. 

Police said Laundrie was alone when he drove the van back to Florida, on Sept. 1. 

He’s been named a person of interest in the case. The search for him concentrated over the weekend on a vast wildlife area near Florida’s Gulf Coast.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

MOSCOW — A gunman opened fire in a university in the Russian city of Perm this morning, leaving eight people dead and others wounded, according to Russia’s Investigative Committee. 

The gunman has been detained, the Interior Ministry said. 

The Perm State University press service said the perpetrator used a so-called “traumatic” firearm; such guns are designed to fire non-lethal rubber or plastic projectiles, but can be modified to fire other ammunition. 

Students and staff of the university locked themselves in rooms, and the university urged those who could leave the campus to do so. 

The state Tass news agency cited an unnamed source in the law enforcement as saying that some students jumped out of the windows of a building.

Also this … 

LOS LLANOS DE ARIDANE — Lava continues to flow slowly from a volcano that erupted in Spain’s Canary Islands off northwest Africa.

The head of the islands’ regional government said today that he expects no injuries to people in the area after some 5,000 were evacuated. 

Lava is flowing on the island of La Palma toward the sea, moving at about 700 metres per hour. 

Officials say the lava is moving in two streams through a mostly unpopulated area but has destroyed some 20 isolated houses. 

Officials say they are not expecting any other eruption and no lives are currently in danger. La Palma has a population of 85,000.

And this …

SEOUL — North Korea is criticizing a U.S. decision to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia and threatened unspecified countermeasures if it finds the deal affects its security. 

State media today published comments from an unidentified North Korean Foreign Ministry official who called the arrangement between U.S., Britain and Australia an “extremely” dangerous act that would destroy the security balance in the Asia-Pacific. 

The official said it would trigger a nuclear arms race. 

U.S. President Joe Biden revealed last week a new alliance including Australia and Britain that would include an Australian fleet of at least eight nuclear-powered submarines. 

Biden stressed the vessels would be conventionally armed. 

In entertainment …

LOS ANGELES — Netflix’s “The Crown” and “The Queen’s Gambit” combined with Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso” to sweep top series honors at the Sunday’s Emmy Awards, a first for streaming services that cemented their rise to prominence in the television industry.

“I’m at a loss for words,” said Peter Morgan, the creator and writer of the British royal saga “The Crown,” which collected acting, writing and directing awards in addition to four acting honors.

His comment may also apply to the premium cable channels that once ruled the Emmy Awards and to the broadcast networks — including Sunday’s ceremony host, CBS — that have long grown accustomed to being largely also-rans.

Netflix won a leading total of 44 awards, equaling the broadcast network record set back in 1974, by CBS. The streaming service, which fielded the first drama series nominee, “House of Cards” in 2007, finally won the category.

Newcomer Apple TV+’s first top series came less than two years after it launched.

“The Crown” and “The Queen’s Gambit” tied as leaders with 11 awards each, with “Ted Lasso” topping the comedy side with seven trophies.

The ceremony proved disappointing to those scrutinizing diversity in Hollywood. The record number of nominees of colour yielded only two Black winners, including RuPaul for “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and star-creator Michaela Coel’s writing award for “I May Destroy You.”

Cedric the Entertainer proved a game host, moving from a hip-hop opening number to gags and sketches, but the relatively small crowd — a result of pandemic precautions — was fairly muted in their response to him and others’ one-liners.

Among the lost stars remembered during the show was Canadian comedian Norm Macdonald. John Oliver of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” paid tribute.

“No one was funnier in the last 20 years than Norm Macdonald on late-night comedy,” Oliver said in accepting the Emmy for best variety talk show, suggesting people spend time checking out clips of Macdonald, as he did after Macdonald died Sept. 14 at age 61.

ICYMI …

TORONTO — British star Kenneth Branagh’s “deeply personal” directorial effort, “Belfast,” picked up some awards season momentum after winning the People’s Choice prize at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The family drama inspired by his own childhood in Belfast, Ireland won the honour during Saturday’s TIFF Tribute Awards broadcast on CTV, which ended 10 days of pandemic-tailored in-person screenings and digital at-home viewing.

Caitríona Balfe, Jamie Dornan and Judi Dench star in the black-and-white coming-of-age tale, set amid the tumult of late-1960s Northern Ireland.

Branagh, who’s also an esteemed actor with an Oscar-nominated turn in “Henry V,” said he was “deeply grateful” for the prize chosen through online votes.

The People’s Choice prize has been seen as a predictor of Academy Award success.

The first runner-up was Canadian drama “Scarborough,” directed by Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson and based on Toronto author Catherine Hernandez’s award-winning 2017 novel about the city’s eastern suburb. The film also took the Shawn Mendes Foundation’s Changemaker Award, which comes with a $10,000 cash prize. 

This year’s festival marked a return to red carpets with stars, more indoor venues and a larger offering of films than last year’s largely digital event.

It still wasn’t a typical TIFF, though, with theatres operating at 50 per cent capacity and COVID-19 protocols including mask-wearing and proof of either full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2021

The Canadian Press

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Bitcoin hovers near 6-month high on ETF hopes, inflation worries

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Bitcoin hovered near a six-month high early on Monday on hopes that U.S. regulators would soon allow cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds (ETF) to trade, while global inflation worries also provided some support.

Bitcoin last stood at $62,359, near Friday’s six-month high of $62,944 and not far from its all-time high of $64,895 hit in April.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to allow the first American bitcoin futures ETF to begin trading this week, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, a move likely to lead to wider investment in digital assets.

Cryptocurrency players expect the approval of the first U.S. bitcoin ETF to trigger an influx of money from institutional players who cannot invest in digital coins at the moment.

Rising inflation worries also increased appetite for bitcoin, which is in limited supply, in contrast to the ample amount of currencies issued by central banks in recent years as monetary authorities printed money to stimulate their economies.

But some analysts noted that, after the recent rally, investors may sell bitcoin on the ETF news.

“The news of a suite of futures-tracking ETFs is not new to those following the space closely, and to many this is a step forward but not the game-changer that some are sensing,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone in Melbourne, Australia.

“We’ve been excited by a spot ETF before, and this may need more work on the regulation front.”

 

(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo and Tom Westbrook in Singapore; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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China’s plunging construction starts reminiscent of 2015 downturn

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China’s September new  construction starts slumped for a sixth straight month, the longest spate of monthly declines since 2015, as cash-strapped developers put a pause on projects in the wake of tighter regulations on borrowing.

New construction starts in September fell 13.54% from a year earlier, the third month of double-digit declines, according to Reuters calculations based on January-September data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday.

That marks the longest downtrend since declines in March-August 2015, the last property malaise.

When the sector recovered in 2016 after authorities loosened their grip on purchases and development, tens of thousands of real estate firms borrowed heavily to build homes.

But as regulations tightened again this year, many of them have started to face a liquidity crunch, which was then worsened by sharply weaker demand due to tighter restrictions on speculative purchases.

Property sales by floor area dropped 15.8% in September, down for a third month, according to Reuters calculations based on the statistics bureau’s data.

The slowdown in the sector was also underscored by a 3.5% drop in property investments by developers in September, the first monthly decline since January-February last year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in China.

“All the data are poor,” said Zhang Dawei, chief analyst with property agency Centaline.

“Financing is hard, sales are tough, so of course, there has been no enthusiasm to build. For the first time in history, developers are encountering two blockages – blockages in sales and blockages in financing.”

The potential collapse of highly indebted real estate firms such as China Evergrande Group have raised concerns about systemic risks to the broader economy. The real estate sector accounts for a quarter of China’s gross domestic product.

Authorities will try to prevent problems at Evergrande from spreading to other real estate companies to avoid broader systemic risk, Yi Gang, governor of China’s central bank, said on Sunday.

On Friday, a central bank official said the spillover effect of Evergrande’s debt problems on the banking system was “controllable.”

“There is a likelihood that housing policies may loosen in the fourth quarter, and that would ease the pessimism in the property transaction data,” said Yan Yuejin, director of Shanghai-based E-house China Research and Development Institution.

On Friday, representatives from 10 Chinese Property Companies met government regulators to ask for an “appropriate loosening” on policy restrictions, financial news outlet Yicai reported.

China’s real estate shares have fallen 22% so far this year. On Monday, they were down 2.6% as of 0300 GMT.

In the first nine months, property investment rose 8.8% from a year earlier, slowing from 10.9% growth seen in January-August.

Funds raised by China’s property developers grew 11.1%, slower than the 14.8% rise seen in the first eight months.

(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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Saks Fifth Avenue ecommerce unit aims for IPO at $6 billion valuation – WSJ

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The ecommerce business of luxury department store  Saks OFF 5TH is preparing for an initial public offering and targeting a $6 billion valuation, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing sources.

The company is interviewing potential underwriters this week for an  IPO that could take place in the first half of next year, according to the report.

 

(Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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