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Ontario reports 653 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday – CBC.ca

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Ontario reported another 653 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The majority of the new cases, 499, have occurred in individuals who have either not been fully vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unclear.

Here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health’s daily provincial update:

Tests completed: 31,063

Provincewide test positivity rate: two per cent

Active cases: 5,591

Patients in ICU with COVID-related illnesses: 177; 127 needed a ventilator to breathe

Deaths: Six, pushing the official toll to 9,704

Vaccinations: 21,651,850 doses have been administered to date. Nearly 86 per cent of Ontarians aged 12 or older have now received a first dose, while slightly more than 80 per cent have received two doses.

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Tigray forces say air strikes hit Ethiopia’s Mekelle, government denies

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Rebellious Tigrayan forces accused the Ethiopian government of launching air strikes on the capital of Tigray region on Monday, though the government denied the reports.

The reported attack follows intensified fighting in two other Ethiopian regions, where the central government’s military is trying to recover territory taken by the northern province’s Tigray Peoples Liberation Front(TPLF).

Tigrai TV, controlled by the TPLF, said the attack on the city of Mekelle killed three civilians.

A resident of the city told Reuters one strike hit close to a market, behind a hotel. An aid worker and a doctor in the region also said there had been an attack and a diplomat shared pictures of what they said was the aftermath, including pools of blood and smashed windows.

All asked not to be named. Reuters could not confirm the authenticity of the images.

Ethiopia’s government spokesman, Legesse Tulu, denied launching any attack. “Why would the Ethiopian government attack its own city? Mekelle is an Ethiopian city,” he said.

“Terrorists are the ones who attack cities with innocent civilians in them, not government,” Legesse added. He accused the TPLF of killing civilians in fighting in neighbouring regions.

Reuters was not able to verify any of the accounts in an area that is off-limits to journalists.

“I WAS A FEW METRES AWAY”

War erupted in Tigray almost a year ago between the Ethiopian military and the TPLF, the political party that controls the region, killing thousands of people and forcing more than two million to flee.

Tigrayan forces were initially beaten back, but recaptured most of the region in July and pushed into the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions, displacing hundreds of thousands more.

A week ago, the Tigrayan forces said the military had launched a ground offensive to push them out of Amhara. The military acknowledged on Thursday there was heavy fighting there, but accused the Tigrayan forces of starting it.

Reporting details of Monday’s air attack, Tigray TV said the first strike hit the city’s outskirts, near a cement factory, while the second struck in the city centre.

A doctor in the region said they heard the first attack on Monday morning. “First I heard the sounds of jet and also an explosion from afar,” the doctor told Reuters?

“Then in the afternoon there was another sound, which seemed closer. This one seemed like it happened inside the city,” the doctor said.

A Mekelle resident told Reuters that around noon, (0900 GMT), a strike hit close to a market behind the city’s Planet Hotel, in the city centre.

“I was a few metres away, I thought they had hit our compound,” the resident said.

TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda tweeted: “#AbiyAhmed’s ‘Air Force’ sent its bomber jet to attack civilian targets in& outside #Mekelle,” referring to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Diplomats are worried that renewed fighting will further destabilise Ethiopia, a nation of 109 million people, and deepen hunger in Tigray and the surrounding regions.

 

(Reporting by Addis Ababa newsroom; Additional reporting and writing by Nairobi newsroom; Editing by Alison Williams, Andrew Heavens, William Maclean)

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New York directs two cryptocurrency lending platforms to cease activity

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Two cryptocurrency lending platforms were asked to cease activities in New York by the state’s attorney general on Monday and three other platforms were directed to provide information about their business.

The move comes weeks after New York Attorney General Letitia James won a court order forcing the closure of cryptocurrency exchange Coinseed.

In a redacted version of a letter dated Monday, James said the Office of the Attorney General “was in possession of evidence of unlawfully selling or offering for sale securities and/or commodities”.

Regulators in the U.S. have been ratcheting up scrutiny of a world that has so far existed in a regulatory gray area, against the backdrop of rising tension between the crypto industry and regulators worldwide.

James filed a lawsuit in February to shut down Coinseed for allegedly defrauding thousands of investors, including by charging hidden trading fees and selling “worthless” digital tokens.

The state’s attorney general warned investors about “extreme risk” when investing in cryptocurrency and issued warnings to those facilitating in the trading of virtual currencies.

“Cryptocurrency platforms must follow the law, just like everyone else, which is why we are now directing two crypto companies to shut down and forcing three more to answer questions immediately,” James said on Monday.

 

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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Trudeau to visit B.C. First Nation and Canadian kidnapped: In The News for Oct. 18 – 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 Monday, Oct. 18 …

What we are watching in Canada …

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to visit Kamloops, B.C., today, where the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc Nation announced it had found what are believed to be some 200 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school last spring.

Since May, numerous Indigenous nations have reported finding unmarked graves at former residential schools with the same ground-penetrating radar technology used in Kamloops, prompting calls for justice that have resonated across the world.

Monday’s visit comes after Trudeau apologized to Tk’emlúps Chief Rosanne Casimir earlier this month for not having accepted invitations to attend the nation’s event marking Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.

He faced backlash for travelling to Tofino, B.C., with his family instead of appearing at any in-person events to honour survivors of the state-sponsored residential institutions where Indigenous children were torn from their families and abused. 

Trudeau had spoken with some survivors by telephone on Sept. 30 and attended an event on Parliament Hill the night before, and later said it was a “mistake” to travel.

Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc issued a statement saying it was not interested in apologies that don’t lead to real change and action to support healing for residential school survivors and the revitalization of Indigenous culture and languages.

Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc has called on Ottawa to fund a new healing centre for survivors and their families in the Kamloops area and for the full disclosure of government records related to children who attended the institution there.

Also this …

A Canadian is among 17 missionaries allegedly kidnapped in Haiti on Saturday, Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement on its website. 

The U.S.-based mission organization said Sunday that five children are also believed to be in the group. 

The organization said they were on returning from a trip to help build an orphanage. It did not name any of the abducted people, including the Canadian.

Global Affairs Canada said Sunday it was aware of media reports that a Canadian citizen had been kidnapped in Haiti. 

“Canadian government officials in Haiti are working with local authorities,” Global Affairs said in an emailed statement.

Haitian police Insp. Frantz Champagne says the 400 Mawozo gang kidnapped the group in Ganthier, east of the capital Port-au-Prince.

Authorities say the gang, whose name roughly translates to 400 “inexperienced men,” controls the Croix-des-Bouquets area that includes Ganthier.

Haiti is again struggling with a spike in gang-related kidnappings that had diminished in recent months following the fatal shooting of President Jovenel Moise in July and a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck its southwest region in August, killing more than 2,200 people.

And this …

Gov. Gen. Mary May Simon arrived in Berlin Sunday to begin her first international visit on behalf of Canada in the German capital. 

May Simon’s four-day state visit will include a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, and she will represent Canada at the 2021 Frankfurt Book Fair. 

“Canada and Germany have long been allies and friends. A state visit highlights our shared values and strong ties, and also helps support Canadian industries that have been hard hit during this pandemic,” Rideau Hall said Sunday.

In Berlin, May Simon is to visit the Humboldt Forum, which houses numerous Canadian artefacts, including two Indigenous totem poles from the West Coast.

In Frankfurt, she’ll attend the book fair, which is featuring Canada as the guest of honour this year. 

May Simon will also take part in a virtual event with Canadian writer Margaret Atwood and will attend a roundtable discussion about Arctic exploration, which will be held at the Frankfurt Archaeological Museum.

May Simon was Canada’s first ambassador for circumpolar affairs. She was also Canada’s lead negotiator in the creation of the eight-country Arctic Council.

The international visit comes a week after May Simon’s first formal public appearance in Ottawa, which was at a homeless shelter.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden is entering a crucial two weeks for his ambitious agenda. 

He’s racing to conclude contentious congressional negotiations ahead of both domestic deadlines and a chance to showcase his administration’s accomplishments on the world stage. 

Biden and his fellow Democrats are struggling to bridge intraparty divides by month’s end to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a larger social services package. 

That goal has been jeopardized by fractures among Democrats, leaving the fate of sweeping climate change promises in peril.

There’s also rising anxiety within the party in the leadup to a bellwether Virginia gubernatorial contest and looming Senate fights over the federal debt limit and government funding. 

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

CANBERRA — Australia’s Queensland state announced plans Monday to open up to vaccinated travelers, ending the status it has enjoyed throughout the pandemic of remaining virtually free of COVID-19.

Queensland and Western Australia have been among the states most successful in keeping COVID-19 out, and they also were among the most reluctant to relax their strict border controls after the highly contagious delta variant took hold in New South Wales state in June and spread through Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

Queensland authorities warned infection rates would rise and remain high for months.

“For almost 600 days for nearly two years we have kept the virus out of Queensland,” Treasurer Cameron Dick said. “Those days will soon come to an end. This will be the end of the zero COVID for Queensland.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said fully vaccinated travelers would be allowed into the state without quarantining when 80 per cent of the state’s population aged 16 and older was vaccinated. That benchmark is expected to be achieved by Dec. 17.

Travelers would also need to test negative to COVID-19 within three days before entering the state.

Vaccinated travelers will be allowed into Queensland when 70 per cent of the target population is vaccinated, a target expected to be reached by Nov. 19, but will face restrictions including 14 days of quarantine on arrival.

Also this …

PESHAWAR — The Taliban win in Afghanistan is giving a boost to militants in neighboring Pakistan. 

The Pakistani Taliban, known as the TTP, have become emboldened in tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan. 

They hope to regain control in these areas that they lost in an offensive by the Pakistani military nearly seven years ago. 

Taliban rule in Afghanistan also fuels the broader, toxic mix of radical religious parties in Pakistan, where polls show wide support for a Taliban-style government. 

Islamabad is trying to open negotiations with the TTP, but that risks only stoking the group’s ambitions.

ICYMI …

Police were called to deal with large, rowdy homecoming parties Saturday near Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., and Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S.

In Kingston, local police said an officer was taken to hospital after projectiles were thrown at police as a crowd of thousands swarmed the city’s university district on Saturday afternoon.

Numerous arrests were made during what police declared an “aggravated nuisance party,” which allowed them to fine attendees up to $2,000 each.

Kingston Police posted a video online showing hundreds of what they described as “intoxicated students” gathered in the dark near the Victoria Park area. 

The footage showed them hoisting and surfing a couch through the neighbourhood, where a banner hung from one home emblazoned with “@Bylaw add it 2 our tab.”

Patrick Deane, principal and vice-chancellor of Queen’s University, called the scene that unfolded over the weekend “reckless.”

“We know the last few years have been a struggle for young people, but such behaviour is dangerous, irresponsible, and ultimately inexcusable,” he wrote in a statement issued Sunday.

In Wolfville, the RCMP confirmed that arrests were made and fines were handed to students who gathered by the hundreds on the town’s streets and in backyards.

Police said some partygoers were handed tickets for carrying open liquor and violating health-protection orders that prohibit informal outdoor gatherings where more than 50 people assemble without wearing masks or physical distancing.

Ian Murray, a spokesman for Acadia University, issued an emailed statement Saturday saying the university was  “deeply disappointed” in the conduct of students who “gathered noisily” and damaged property.

Earlier this year, disorderly street parties were also reported at the University of Guelph in southern Ontario and McMaster University in Hamilton. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2021

The Canadian Press

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