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Canada’s latest rescue flight from Sudan planned today as fighting enters 3rd week



Canadians stranded in Sudan will have another chance to leave on Saturday aboard at least one evacuation flight, as fighting continues across the country, Canada’s Defence Minister Anita Anand said.

“The situation on the ground remains volatile, precarious and unpredictable,” Anand said Saturday. “The window for opportunity at the airfield is closing” and the Canadian government is looking at other options for transport by sea and land, she said.

She reiterated that the Canadian military will continue evacuation flights “as long as conditions allow it.”

Two Canadian rescue flights made it safely out of the Wadi Seidna Air Base just north of the capital Khartoum late Friday after two earlier airlifts to extract people from the war zone were cancelled. Anand said the successful airlifts carried 221 passengers, including 68 Canadians and six permanent residents of Canada.

Two flights on Thursday airlifted 117 people, including 42 Canadians, from Sudan. In total, 375 Canadians have left the country as of Friday “as the security situation in Sudan continues to worsen,” she said.

WATCH | Chaos in Sudan hinders Canadian evacuations:

Chaos in Sudan hinders Canadian evacuations


Signs of a ceasefire in Sudan are scarce as the two warring factions have returned to fighting that has temporarily derailed rescue attempts for Canadians still trapped in the country.

Foreign governments are rushing to evacuate their diplomats and other citizens to safety despite the latest ceasefire between warring factions in Sudan, broken on Saturday as part of a power struggle between the country’s army and a paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The sounds of airstrikes, anti-aircraft weaponry and artillery could be heard in Khartoum early on Saturday and dark smoke rose over parts of the city, as fighting in Sudan entered a third week.

Fighting continued despite the announcement of a 72-hour ceasefire extension on Friday, when strikes by air, tanks and artillery rocked Khartoum and the adjacent cities of Bahri and Ombdurman.

The RSF said in a statement on Saturday it had shot down an army warplane in Omdurman, across the Nile from Khartoum, and accused the army of violating the ceasefire with an attack there. The army did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Social media filling in gaps

Amid the confusion, some have turned to social media to help others flee Sudan.

Sara Elnaiem, of Milton, Ont., is one of several Sudanese Canadians who run a WhatsApp group that relays on-the-ground, real-time information to Canadians in Sudan.

She told CBC News that she joined the effort after seeking help with extricating her own family from Sudan. She was introduced to the group and said she stayed on to help fill in the information gap.


Sudanese diaspora rallying on WhatsApp to help those still in country


Sara Elnaiem, a Sudanese Canadian family physician in Milton, Ont., discusses the support networks that members of the global diaspora have used to help people still in Sudan escape the ongoing violence.

“I’m surprised of how little involvement there is from international governments and international NGOs to help people on the ground, that it has fallen on the shoulders of … the diaspora,” Elnaiem says, adding she hopes the awareness raised by the group will lead to increased efforts from said institutions.

She says the group relays information about safe routes for travelling and flight schedules; details requirements needed to enter different countries, and connects people who need rides with those who can offer them.

“It’s been quite challenging,” Elnaiem says, noting the telecommunication issues in Sudan that can lead to radio silence from evacuees using the group for days. “You’re just hoping for their safety. The moments of darkness where you’re not getting any news or updates can be quite scary.”

Maritime evacuation to Saudi port

Saudi state broadcaster Alekhbaiya said a passenger ship with 1,982 people on board from 17 countries would arrive at Jeddah port on Saturday, adding to 5,000 others who had already arrived.

Britain said its evacuations would end on Saturday as demand for spots on planes had declined.

A couple carry two small children as they walk on an airport tarmac.
People fleeing conflict in Sudan are welcomed by Emirati officials at an airport in Abu Dhabi after an evacuation flight on Saturday. (Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. said several hundred Americans had departed Sudan by land, sea or air. A convoy of buses carrying 300 Americans left Khartoum late on Friday on a 850-kilometre trip to the Red Sea in the first U.S.-organized evacuation effort for citizens, the New York Times reported.

A reported 230 Indian citizens were safely flown out of the country to New Delhi on Saturday.

Iran’s foreign ministry said on Saturday 65 Iranian citizens had left from Port Sudan, through Jeddah, to Iran.

Hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands have fled for their lives in the power struggle that erupted into violence on April 15, derailing an internationally backed transition toward democratic elections.

The fighting has also reawakened a two-decade-old conflict in the western Darfur region where scores have died this week.

In Darfur, at least 96 people had died since Monday in inter-communal violence rekindled by the army-RSF conflict, UN human rights office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said.

Residents pinned down by urban warfare

The army has been deploying jets or drones on RSF forces in neighbourhoods across the capital. Many residents are pinned down by urban warfare with scant food, fuel, water and power.

At least 528 people have been killed and 4,599 wounded, the health ministry said. The United Nations has reported a similar number of dead, but believes the real toll is much higher.

The violence has also sent tens of thousands of refugees across Sudan’s borders and threatens to stir instability across a swath of Africa between the Sahel and the Red Sea.

Breaking down the Sudan conflict and who’s fuelling the fight


Sudan’s capital has turned into a war zone as two rival factions battle for control, but other countries are also playing a role. McGill Associate Professor Khalid Medani and War Child Canada President Samantha Nutt break down how outside forces are also helping fuel the fight.

More than 75,000 people were internally displaced within Sudan just in the first week of the fighting, according to the United Nations. Only 16 per cent of hospitals were operating as normal in the capital.

The renewed truce, brokered by foreign powers, is supposed to last until Sunday at midnight.

The RSF accused the army of violating it with airstrikes on its bases in Omdurman, Khartoum’s sister city at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile rivers, and Mount Awliya.

The army blamed the RSF for violations.

Envoy sees sides more open to talks

The UN special representative in Sudan, Volker Perthes, told Reuters he had recently sensed a change in the two sides’ attitudes and they were more open to negotiations, and were saying they would accept “some form of talks.”

Perthes said the sides had nominated representatives for talks and suggested they could take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, or Juba in South Sudan, though he said there was a practical question over whether they could get there to “actually sit together.”

The immediate task, Perthes said, was to develop a monitoring mechanism for ceasefires.

“They have both accepted that this war cannot continue,” he said.



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Aecon reports $123.9 million loss in second quarter, revenue down




TORONTO – Aecon Group Inc. says it lost $123.9 million in the second quarter, down from a profit of $28.2 million a year earlier.

The Toronto-based company says revenue totalled $853.8 million, down from $1.2 billion during the same quarter last year.

Diluted loss per share was $1.99, down from a gain of 38 cents last year.

Aecon says much of the decline in revenue can be attributed to its construction segment, which was $288 million lower than a year earlier.

Aecon says it recorded a charge of $127 million in the second quarter related to its settlement with TC Energy Corp. over delays and cost increases that took place during the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project, for which Aecon was one of the prime contractors.

The company says it also recorded an aggregate charge of $110 million related to three other joint venture legacy projects which also encountered delays and mounting costs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2024.

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The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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NBA says it has signed new 11-year media rights deal with Disney, NBC and Amazon




The NBA signed its 11-year media rights deal with Disney, NBC and Amazon Prime Video on Wednesday after saying it was not accepting Warner Bros. Discovery’s US$1.8 billion per year offer to continue its longtime relationship with the league.

The media rights deals were approved by the league’s Board of Governors last week and will bring the league about $76 billion over those 11 years.

WBD had five days to match a part of those deals and said it was exercising its right to do so, but its offer was not considered a true match by the NBA. That means the 2024-25 season will be the last for TNT after a nearly four-decade run.

“Warner Bros. Discovery’s most recent proposal did not match the terms of Amazon Prime Video’s offer and, therefore, we have entered into a long-term arrangement with Amazon,” the league said Wednesday. ““Throughout these negotiations, our primary objective has been to maximize the reach and accessibility of our games for our fans. Our new arrangement with Amazon supports this goal by complementing the broadcast, cable and streaming packages that are already part of our new Disney and NBCUniversal arrangements. All three partners have also committed substantial resources to promote the league and enhance the fan experience.”

Amazon Prime Video will carry games on Friday nights, select Saturday afternoons and Thursday night doubleheaders which will begin after the conclusion of Prime Video’s “Thursday Night Football” schedule. Prime Video will also take over the NBA League Pass package from WBD.

“The digital opportunities with Amazon align perfectly with the global interest in the NBA,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “And Prime Video’s massive subscriber base will dramatically expand our ability to reach our fans in new and innovative ways.”

The package also includes at least one game on Black Friday and the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship game of the NBA Cup.

“Over the past few years, we have worked hard to bring the very best of sports to Prime Video and to continue to innovate on the viewing experience,” said Jay Marine, global head of sports for Prime Video. “We’re thrilled to now add the NBA to our growing sports lineup, including the NFL, UEFA Champions League, NASCAR, NHL, WNBA, NWSL, Wimbledon, and more. We are grateful to partner with the NBA, and can’t wait to tip-off in 2025.”

ESPN and ABC will keep the league’s top package, which includes the NBA Finals. ABC has carried the finals since 2003.

ESPN/ABC will combine for nearly 100 games during the regular season. More than 20 games will air on ABC, mainly on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons, while ESPN will have up to 60 games, mostly on Wednesday nights with some Friday games. ABC and ESPN will also combine for five games on Christmas Day and have exclusive national coverage of the final day of the regular season.

During the playoffs, ESPN and ABC will have approximately 18 games in the first two rounds each year and one of the two conference finals series in all but one year of the agreement.

The return of NBC, which carried NBA games from 1990 through 2002, gives the NBA two broadcast network partners for the first time.

NBC will have up to 100 regular-season games, including on Sunday night once the NFL season has ended. It will air games on Tuesdays throughout the regular season, while a Monday night doubleheader would be exclusively streamed on Peacock.

NBC will also have the All-Star Game and All-Star Saturday Night. During the playoffs, NBC and/or Peacock will have up to 28 games the first two rounds, with at least half on NBC.

Amazon’s content will stream in Canada exclusively, while Peacock games will include domestic partners north of the border.

NBC and Amazon will carry one of the two conference finals series in six of the 11 years on a rotating basis. NBC will have a conference final in 2026-27 followed by Amazon the next season.



The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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N.S. murderer’s cryptocurrency stash rules out free legal aid for appeal




HALIFAX – A judge has ruled that a stash of cryptocurrency belonging to a convicted Nova Scotia murderer means he won’t be receiving free legal aid for an appeal.

Justice Cindy Bourgeois said in a decision released Wednesday that William Sandeson — a former medical student who killed another student during a 2015 drug deal — had about $640,000 in bitcoin and cash when he was jailed.

Last year, Sandeson appealed his conviction of second-degree murder in the death of Taylor Samson but was refused funding for a lawyer by the province’s legal aid agency.

In her decision denying his appeal of that refusal, the Court of Appeal judge accepted that Sandeson has expenses to pay — including a lawsuit claim from the victim’s family — but concluded “a significant balance” would remain available to him.

Bourgeois wrote that Sandeson didn’t prove his debts would stop him from obtaining counsel, or that he has exhausted all other sources of financial assistance.

Her decision noted that Sandeson had bitcoin worth “at least $443,624,” and another $198,000 in cash at the time he was jailed.

The court found that some of those funds would go toward “any ordered payment” to Samson’s family as a result of a civil lawsuit they’ve launched against Sandeson, as well as to his lawyers in that case.

However, the judge noted that Sandeson has testified “he will be left with assets of between $200,000 and $300,000 for his own use.”

Sandeson had argued before the court that he faced other debts, including capital gains tax that will become payable upon liquidation of the cryptocurrency; legal fees still owing for his first trial; a student line of credit and student loans; and $177,000 owed to his mother for earlier legal expenses.

The judge found there wasn’t documented evidence of what the tax bill would be, and Sandeson lacked documentation to prove his student debt.

She also wrote there was a lack of clarity on how much Sandeson owed his mother, saying evidence showing the mother’s line of credit wasn’t sufficient.

“Although I accept the appellant has some outstanding debts, there is nothing before me that establishes he is obligated to immediately pay out the entirety of the outstanding balances,” wrote Bourgeois.

The judge also said Sandeson provided no estimate from legal counsel of the cost of advancing his appeal.

Because of time served while awaiting trial, Sandeson’s 15-year sentence for killing Samson and then disposing of his body would make him eligible for parole in 2030.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Jamie Chipman ruled last year that Sandeson should spend at least 15 years in prison for firing a single bullet into the head of the 22-year-old physics student. Both men attended Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Chipman said in his decision that Sandeson “made a reprehensible and incomprehensible choice,” and as a result, instead of entering medical school, Sandeson went to jail in the summer of 2015.

Last year’s trial was the second time Sandeson was tried for the crime. He was convicted of first-degree murder in 2017, but the verdict was overturned on appeal and a new trial was ordered in 2020.

The Crown argued during the trial that Sandeson was motivated by greed to kill Samson and steal the nine kilograms of marijuana he had brought to Sandeson’s downtown apartment to sell.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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