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Storm washes away areas of Trans-Canada Highway in southwestern Newfoundland – CBC.ca

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The town of Channel-Port aux Basques is cut off from the rest of Newfoundland in both directions as heavy rain continues to fall over the area from a heavy storm that started Tuesday. 

The province said there are road washouts five kilometres north and two kilometres south south of the community Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, the province’s Department of Transportation reported multiple roads are washed out in the Codroy Valley area, including two parts of the Trans-Canada Highway near Doyles, which connect the region to the rest of the island.

The department reported the following road closures:

  • Trans-Canada Highway five kilometres southwest of Doyles intersection, both lanes are washed out.
  • Trans-Canada Highway 16 kilometres southwest of Doyles intersection, one lane washed out.
  • Trans-Canada Highway 25 kilometres northwest of Port aux Basques.
  • Route 406-11, Doyles Station Road, an alternate route is available.
  • Route 413-01, St. Andrews Road, an alternative route is available.
  • Loch Lomond Road, one lane is closed.
  • Upper Ferry Road, one lane is closed.

Wade Osmond has major flooding on his property which is situated near a brook in Port aux Basques. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Environment Canada said Port aux Basques has received 143.4 millimetres of rain as of 11:30 a.m. NT Wednesday.

Roads are also closed in Red Bay in southern Labrador because of washouts. Tracey Road leading to Tracey Hill is closed until further notice, while areas of North Brook Road are damaged but open for the time being.

The town had received 50 millimetres of rain as of 7 a.m. AT, according to officials.

On Wednesday afternoon, Premier Andrew Furey said helicopters are on standby for emergencies, and so far there are no worries about supplies in the community. The province is not considering evacuating any homes yet, but officials and police are asking people to stay off of roadways.

WATCH | Drainage systems are starting to get overwhelmed:

‘Still getting torrential rains,’ N.L. mayor says

4 hours ago

As a powerful rainstorm hammers southwestern Newfoundland, Port aux Basques Mayor Brian Button says drainage systems are starting to get overwhelmed. 4:59

Wade Osmond, who lives in Port aux Basques, woke to discover major flooding on his property that’s located near a brook which he says is ready to burst from the rainfall flowing steadily from a pond above.

“If that breaks, we’re in trouble.”

Osmond also found about 2.5 centimetres of water in his basement and said he’s worried about the rain that’s still to come.

Water levels have risen at the Red Rocks turnoff near Port aux Basques. (Troy Turner/CBC)

More rain to come

Rodney Barney, a meteorologist with Environment Canada’s weather officer in Gander, said the rain intensified early Wednesday morning, as meteorologists expect the system to bring 150 to 200 millimetres of rain to the area in total.

“We’re still looking at another 12 to 18 hours of rain,” he said. 

“It looks like through the morning hours is probably when the heaviest part of the shower activity will be occurring for today, then gradually winding down as we go into the afternoon and evening.”

Barney said another 50 to 80 millimetres of rain could fall, with as much as 150 millimetres over high-elevation areas. 

Osmond said it’s hard to watch, but noted others in the area have it worse. 

“At 6 a.m. this morning I was here, sitting and watching the water rise, watching everything that I worked hard for go down the tubes, down the drain,” he said.

“But it is what it is and we have to deal with it and take it as it comes.”

Ryan Moore was driving his truck along a stretch of road near Doyles when the asphalt beneath him crumbled. The Department of Transportation is reporting multiple washed out roads in the Codroy Valley area, including two parts of the Trans-Canada Highway near Doyles. (Submitted by Ryan Moore)

Winds gusted in excess of 130 km/h in the Wreckhouse area, but diminished slightly Wednesday morning reaching about 90 km/h, Barney said. He said the wind is expected to pick up again later Wednesday morning.

The brunt of the rainfall is confined to the southwest corner of the island, meaning the Port aux Basques area and as far east as La Poile can anticipate the storm to continue to soak the communities.

In a news release, the RCMP said Department of Transportation crews were working in the Codroy Valley areas to assess the damage.

‘All I could hear was pavement cracking’

Ryan Moore, who lives in Doyles, was driving along a stretch of roadway Tuesday night when the asphalt beneath his truck gave way. 

“I was kind of in shock. [The] airbags and everything went off and I jumped out,” he said. 

“I looked behind me and there was just a black hole behind me … all I could hear was pavement cracking, it was pitch black so I couldn’t really see what was going on.”

Moore said he had actually sold that truck earlier in the day. Now it’s a total write off. 

He said he nearly made it across the culvert when it caved in, his front wheel breaking through and bouncing the truck back onto hard ground on the other side. 

Areas of the Trans-Canada Highway near Doyles and the Codroy Valley have been washed away due to the storm. Police are asking motorists to stay off the highway between Cape Ray and North Branch due to heavy flooding. (Troy Turner/CBC)

“I’ve been driving that road my entire life and something didn’t look right,” he said. 

Moore is safe. He used the phone from a nearby neighbour’s house to call for a ride home. He said a tow truck should be able to remove his now abandoned vehicle from the road early Wednesday morning. 

Ferry crossings cancelled

Meanwhile, Marine Atlantic ferry crossings between Port aux Basques and North Sydney, N.S., are cancelled on Wednesday because of the storm, leaving some passengers stranded who are trying to get home.

Jason Caron had been in Newfoundland for the last week, working construction on Walmart stores on the island. With the work completed, he was headed for home, until the ferry cancellations deflated his plan. 

Now he’s unsure of when he’ll get to leave. 

“We think maybe Tuesday will be possible, but we’re still waiting on a response from Marine Atlantic,” he said. 

According to Marine Atlantic’s website, ferry crossings on Thursday could also be impacted by the storm. The company said the forecast will continue to be monitored and customers will be advised of any schedule changes.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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Courts block two Biden administration COVID vaccine mandates

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The Biden administration was blocked on Tuesday from enforcing two mandates requiring millions of American workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a key part of its strategy for controlling the spread of the coronavirus.

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty in Monroe, Louisiana, temporarily blocked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from enforcing its vaccine mandate for healthcare workers until the court can resolve legal challenges.

Doughty’s ruling applied nationwide, except in 10 states where the CMS was already prevented from enforcing the rule due to a prior order from a federal judge in St. Louis.

Doughty said the CMS lacked the authority to issue a vaccine mandate that would require more than 2 million unvaccinated healthcare workers to get a coronavirus shot.

“There is no question that mandating a vaccine to 10.3 million healthcare workers is something that should be done by Congress, not a government agency,” wrote Doughty.

Separately, U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove in Frankfort, Kentucky, blocked the administration from enforcing a regulation that new government contracts must include clauses requiring that contractors’ employees get vaccinated.

The contractor ruling applied in the three states that had filed the lawsuit, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, one of at least 13 legal challenges nationwide against the regulation. It appears to be the first ruling against the contractor vaccine mandate.

The White House declined to comment.

The legal setbacks for President Joe Biden’s vaccine policy come as concerns that the Omicron coronavirus variant could trigger a new wave of infections and curtail travel and economic activity across the globe.

Biden unveiled regulations in September to increase the U.S. adult vaccination rate beyond the current 71% as a way of fighting the pandemic, which has killed more than 750,000 Americans and weighed on the economy.

Republican state attorneys general, conservative groups and trade organizations have sued to stop the regulations.

Tuesday’s rulings add to a string of court losses for the Biden administration over its COVID-19 policies.

The most sweeping regulation, a workplace vaccine-or-testing mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees, was temporarily blocked by a federal appeals court in early November.

In August, the U.S. Supreme Court ended the administration’s pandemic-related federal moratorium on residential evictions.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Additional reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney)

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Putin hits back as NATO warns Moscow against attacking Ukraine

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Russia would pay a high price for any new military aggression against Ukraine, NATO and the United States warned on Tuesday as the Western military alliance met to discuss Moscow’s possible motives for massing troops near the Ukrainian border.

President Vladimir Putin countered that Russia would be forced to act if U.S.-led NATO placed missiles in Ukraine that could strike Moscow within minutes.

Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that now aspires to join the European Union and NATO, has become the main flashpoint between Russia and the West as relations have soured to their worst level in the three decades since the Cold War ended.

“There will be a high price to pay for Russia if they once again use force against the independence of the nation Ukraine,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed Stoltenberg, saying: “Any escalatory actions by Russia would be a great concern to the United States…, and any renewed aggression would trigger serious consequences.”

Tensions have been rising for weeks, with Russia, Ukraine and NATO all staging military exercises amid mutual recriminations over which side is the aggressor.

Putin went further than previously in spelling out Russia’s “red lines” on Ukraine, saying it would have to respond if NATO deployed advanced missile systems on its neighbour’s soil.

“If some kind of strike systems appear on the territory of Ukraine, the flight time to Moscow will be 7-10 minutes, and five minutes in the case of a hypersonic weapon being deployed. Just imagine,” the Kremlin leader said.

“What are we to do in such a scenario? We will have to then create something similar in relation to those who threaten us in that way. And we can do that now,” he said, pointing to Russia’s recent testing of a hypersonic weapon he said could fly at nine times the speed of sound.

EU and other Western leaders are involved in a geopolitical tug-of-war with Russia for influence in Ukraine and two other ex-Soviet republics, Moldova and Georgia, through trade, cooperation and protection arrangements.

U.S. BRIEFING

NATO foreign ministers began two days of talks in the Latvian capital Riga to debate what they say is the growing Russian threat, with Blinken due to brief his 29 alliance counterparts on Washington’s intelligence assessment.

Blinken, speaking at a news conference with his Latvian counterpart, said he will have more to say on Wednesday on how to respond to Russia after holding talks with NATO allies.

“We will be consulting closely with…allies and partners in the days ahead…about whether there are other steps that we should take as an alliance to strengthen our defences, strengthen our resilience, strengthen our capacity,” he said.

Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmygal accused Russia https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/exclusive-ukraine-pm-says-russia-absolutely-behind-coup-attempt-2021-11-30 of trying to topple the elected government in Kyiv, which the Kremlin denies, after Ukraine’s president last week unveiled what he said was a coup attempt.

Shmygal also said Ukraine would seek more weapons from the United States – precisely the course of action that Putin has warned against.

The Kremlin annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and then backed rebels fighting government troops in the east of the country. That conflict has killed 14,000 people, according to Kyiv, and is still simmering.

In May, Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders numbered 100,000, the most since its Crimea takeover, Western officials say. Ukraine says there are more than 90,000 there now.

Moscow has dismissed as inflammatory Ukrainian suggestions that it is preparing for an attack, said it does not threaten anyone and defended its right to deploy troops on its own territory as it wishes.

Britain and Germany echoed the NATO warnings.

“We will stand with our fellow democracies against Russia’s malign activity,” said British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said: “NATO’s support for Ukraine is unbroken…Russia would have to pay a high price for any sort of aggression.”

 

(Additional reporting by John Chalmers in Brussels; writing by Gabriela Baczynska, Robin Emmott and Mark Trevelyan; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Jazz singer Josephine Baker first Black woman honoured at France’s Pantheon

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Josephine Baker, the famed French American singer and dancer, was inducted on Tuesday into the Pantheon mausoleum in Paris – one of France’s highest honours – at a ceremony attended by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Baker, who also served in the French Resistance during World War Two and was a prominent civic rights activist after the war, is the first Black woman and sixth woman to enter the Pantheon, a Paris landmark dominating the city’s Latin Quarter.

She was “a Black person who stood up for Black people, but foremost, she was a woman who defended humankind,” Macron said during a speech.

He spoke shortly after Baker’s most famous song, “J’ai deux amours, mon pays et Paris” (“I have two loves, my country and Paris”), was played at the ceremony.

Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1906 but went on to find much of her fame after arriving in Paris in the 1920s, as many Black Americans stayed on in the French capital after World War One and brought over with them American jazz culture.

Baker, who became a French citizen in 1937, died in 1975 and is buried in Monaco.

In accordance with her family’s wishes, Baker’s remains have not been moved to the Pantheon. To represent her presence there, a symbolic coffin was carried into the mausoleum by six pallbearers containing handfuls of earth from four locations: St. Louis, Paris, Monaco and Milandes, in the Dordogne department of France, where Baker owned a castle.

Baker’s empty coffin will lie alongside other French national icons in the mausoleum such as authors Emile Zola and Victor Hugo, the philosopher Voltaire and politician Simone Veil.

 

(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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