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Raonic becomes latest Canadian upset by Hurkacz at Miami Open

Canada’s Milos Raonic is out of the Miami Open after losing a close match in the round of 16.

The 12th-seeded Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., lost 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) to No. 26 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland on Tuesday.

It was the second upset in a row against a Canadian for Hurkacz, who knocked off No. 6 seed Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., on Monday, and his third against a North American opponent after downing American Denis Kudla in the second round.

“Just the way it worked out this week so far,” Hurkacz said. “Very happy with my performances.

“Obviously pumped to play another match here in Miami. Just trying my best.”

WATCH | Raonic upset by Poland’s Hurkacz at Miami Open round of 16:

Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont. loses to Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) in the round of 16 at Miami Open. 3:06

Raonic fell one win short of making the quarterfinals at the ATP Masters 1000 event for the fourth time.

Hurkacz will face the winner of a match later Monday between No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and No. 24 seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy.

Hurkacz got a mini-break on the first point of the third-set tiebreak and never trailed. Raonic fought off three match points before Hurkacz finished him off.

Raonic saved 10-of-11 break points he faced in the match, while converting on one-of-two.

Raonic’s big weapon — his serve — wasn’t as effective as his opponent’s. The Canadian won 75 per cent of his points when he got his first serve in, while Hurkacz was good for 81 per cent.

Hurkacz had 14 aces, two more than Raonic.

“I think I served very well and that helped me to stay in the game and be competitive against Milos … He’s a very dangerous player,” Hurkacz said.

“I’m pretty happy with my serve today, and I felt I was returning pretty good. In the middle of the first set he was serving bombs and I was just trying to hold my serve to be there.”

In a women’s doubles quarterfinal Tuesday, Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Giuliana Olmos of Mexico beat Americans Coco Gauff and Caty McNally 6-4, 7-6 (4).

In women’s singles, eighth-seeded Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., will face unseeded Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain in a quarterfinal Wednesday night.

Korda upsets Schwartzman

20-year-old Sebastian Korda of the United States stunned fifth-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 for the biggest win of his career to date. And it’ll make for an interesting Thursday for the Korda family: he’ll be in the Miami quarterfinals that day while his sisters, Jessica and Nelly, will be playing in the first round of the first women’s golf major of the year, the ANA Inspiration.

Korda, whose father Petr Korda reached No. 2 in the world during his stellar career, put on a show to delight the evening crowd. He was broken at 5-4 in the third to give Schwartzman hope, then responded by breaking the Argentine right back and finally serving out the match.

WATCH | Korda advances to quarters after upsetting Schwartzman:

Sebastian Korda, ranked 87th in the world, earns his 1st victory over top-10 player by beating Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 4-6, 7-5. 1:14

Barty unfazed by humidity

The heat and humidity this time of year in South Florida remind Ash Barty of what conditions can be like in her native Australia. She loves it.

The world’s top-ranked player didn’t wilt in the conditions Tuesday at the Miami Open, winning the final nine points to finish off No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3 in a quarter-final matchup — her third three-set win in four matches in this tournament.

The temperature reached the mid-80s Fahrenheit (upper 20s Celsius) on Tuesday and the humidity made it feel even hotter, especially so without any shade on the court. Barty and Sabalenka got a 10-minute heat break before starting the third set, though the defending Miami champion from when the event was last held two years ago looked like she didn’t need much downtime.

Ashleigh Barty of Australia returns a shot during her quarter-finals win over Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus at the Miami Open on Tuesday. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Barty faced seven break points in the match and saved them all. She’ll meet No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina in Thursday’s semifinals; Svitolina eased past Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-2 on Tuesday night to make the final four in Miami for the first time.

Barty is now 18-3 in her last 21 three-setters, 10-1 in her last 11 quarter-final matches and 12-3 in her last 15 meetings against fellow top-10 players.

Meanwhile, Roberto Bautista Agut didn’t take the easiest route to the Miami quarter-finals.

The No. 7 seed from Spain fought off a match point before ousting former Miami champion and No. 18 seed John Isner of the U.S. 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7) — his second three-set win in as many matches so far in the tournament.

Bautista Agut will face top-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the quarter-finals.

Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain defeated John Isner of the United States on Tuesday to advance to the quarter-finals of the Miami Open. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Medvedev reached the quarters with a straight-set win over Tiafoe, achieving 11 aces and showing no signs of wear, two days after cramping in the heat during a third-round win.

Bautista Agut lost the first point of the third-set tiebreaker on his serve, giving the big-hitting Isner the early edge. Isner lost the mini-break by putting a forehand into the net five points later, then gave himself match point after a 138 mph ace for a 6-5 edge.

Bautista Agut wasn’t fazed, won three of the last four points and escaped.

“He makes always difficult matches playing against him,” Bautista Agut said. “He has a very big serve and a lot of power from baseline with the forehand. It makes it always difficult, no?”

It was Isner’s earliest Miami exit since 2017, when he lost in the third round. He won the tournament in 2018 and lost the final in 2019 to Roger Federer in straight sets.

Another American man bowed out when No. 32 seed Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan downed 22nd-seeded Taylor Fritz 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4. Bublik will face No. 21 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy in the quarter-finals; Sinner advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland.

“The serve was going well today,” Bublik said.

All eight of the men’s round-of-16 matches were set to be played Tuesday. Isner and Fritz were two of the four U.S. men to reach that round.

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CBC | Sports News

Denmark latest European soccer side to call for workers’ rights in World Cup host Qatar

Denmark became the latest European soccer team on Sunday to use World Cup qualifying games to direct attention to workers’ rights in Qatar, which hosts the 2022 tournament.

Denmark players wore red T-shirts with the slogan “Football supports change” for the team photo before kickoff against Moldova. The Danes won 8-0 to extend a strong start in Group F.

The Danish soccer federation said the shirts will be signed and auctioned to raise money for projects with Amnesty International that help migrant workers in Qatar.

Denmark followed the Netherlands team on Saturday which wore T-shirts with the same slogan.

Players from Norway and Germany also wore T-shirts during their respective pre-games to draw attention to human rights issues in Qatar. The Norwegian national team made a point about rights again ahead of its game against Turkey on Saturday.

Germany’s players made a more subtle gesture in the team photo Sunday in Romania. They wore shirts reversed with each name and number facing the front in a photo published on official social media accounts with the message “We are for 30” and the hashtag “HUMANRIGHTS.”

Qatar facing renewed scrutiny

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer confirmed to German broadcaster RTL it was reference to the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“We are all in favour of fair play, both on the field and off the field too, and we stand for these 30 articles,” Neuer said.

Since winning the World Cup hosting vote in 2010, Qatar has faced scrutiny for living and working conditions of migrant workers helping to build stadiums, transport and other construction projects ahead of the tournament, which starts next November.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino defended Qatar this month, saying that becoming the World Cup host had accelerated social progress in the emirate.

Although FIFA’s disciplinary code states players and federations can face disciplinary action in cases of “using a sports event for demonstrations of a non-sporting nature,” it said after the first Norway protest that no investigation would be opened.

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CBC | World News

Kidnappers release hundreds of schoolgirls in latest Nigeria abduction

Hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls abducted last week from a boarding school in the northwestern Zamfara state have been released, the state’s governor said Tuesday.

Zamfara state governor Bello Matawalle announced that 279 girls have been freed.

Gunmen abducted the girls from the Government Girls Junior Secondary School in Jangebe town on Friday, in the latest in a series of mass kidnappings of students in the West African nation.

An Associated Press reporter saw hundreds of girls dressed in light blue hijabs and barefoot sitting at the state Government House office in Gusau.

After the meeting, the girls were escorted outside by officials and taken away in vans. They appeared calm and ranged in ages from 10 and up.

“Alhamdulillah! (God be praised!) It gladdens my heart to announce the release of the abducted students of GGSS Jangebe from captivity. This follows the scaling of several hurdles laid against our efforts. I enjoin all well-meaning Nigerians to rejoice with us as our daughters are now safe,” Matawalle said in a post on Twitter early Tuesday.

At the time of the attack, one resident told AP that the gunmen also attacked a nearby military camp and checkpoint, preventing soldiers from responding to the mass abduction at the school.

One of the girls recounted the night of their abduction to the AP.

“We were sleeping at night when suddenly we started hearing gunshots. They were shooting endlessly. We got out of our beds and people said we should run, that they are thieves,” she said. “Everybody fled and there were just two of us left in the room.”

‘I was really afraid of being shot’

The attackers held guns to the girls’ heads, she said.

“I was really afraid of being shot,” she said, adding that they asked for directions to the staff quarters and the principal. “We said we don’t know who she is. They said the principal is our father and they will teach us a lesson.”

Police and the military had since been carrying out joint operations to rescue the girls, whose abduction caused international outrage.

President Muhammadu Buhari expressed “overwhelming joy” over the release of the girls.

“I join the families and people of Zamfara State in welcoming and celebrating the release of these traumatized female students,” he said in a statement. “Being held in captivity is an agonizing experience not only for the victims, but also their families and all of us.”

An official embraces a girl who was kidnapped from a boarding school in Nigeria as she heads for a medical check-up after her release Tuesday. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

The president called for greater vigilance to prevent bandits from carrying out such attacks.

He urged police and military to pursue the kidnappers, and warned that policies of making payments to bandits will backfire.

“Ransom payments will continue to prosper kidnapping,” he said.

The terms of the female students’ release were not made immediately clear.

Police and the military had since been carrying out joint operations to rescue the girls, whose abduction caused international outrage.

String of school kidnappings

Nigeria has seen several such attacks and kidnappings in recent years. On Saturday, 24 students, six staff and eight relatives were released after being abducted on February 17 from the Government Science College Kagara in Niger state. In December, more than 300 schoolboys from a secondary school in Kankara, in northwestern Nigeria, were taken and later released. The government has said no ransom was paid for the students’ release.

The most notorious kidnapping was in April 2014, when 276 girls were abducted by the jihadist rebels of Boko Haram from the secondary school in Chibok in Borno state. More than 100 of those girls are still missing. Boko Haram is opposed to western education and its fighters often target schools.

A team of security experts tour the JSS Jangebe school, a day after hundreds of school girls were abducted. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

Other organized armed groups, locally called bandits, often abduct students for money. The government says large groups of armed men in Zamfara state are known to kidnap for money and to press for the release of their members held in jail.

Experts say if the kidnappings continue to go unpunished, they may continue.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said last week the government would not “succumb to blackmail by bandits and criminals who target innocent school students in expectation of huge ransom payments.” He called on state governments to review their policy of making payments, in money or vehicles, to bandits, saying such a policy has the potential to backfire.

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Lenovo’s New Legion Gaming Laptops Sport Latest AMD, Nvidia Hardware

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There’s no in-person CES this year, but companies are still rolling out new products for the virtual event. Among them is Lenovo, which has unveiled a complete revamp of its Legion gaming laptops. The new machines combine AMD’s latest CPUs with Nvidia’s new mobile GPUs. The price tags won’t be in the budget range, but they’re much lower than some competing gaming laptops. 

The Lenovo Legion 7 (above) is at the top of Lenovo’s new lineup. This computer has a 16-inch display with a less-common 16:10 ratio. That gives you a little more vertical space compared with 16:9 displays. The IPS panel is 2560 x 1600 with a 165Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, 500 nits of brightness, HDR 400 with Dolby Vision, and Nvidia G-Sync. 

The display alone puts it in the upper echelon of gaming laptops, but the Legion 7 doesn’t stop there. It will also have the latest 5000-series AMD Ryzen mobile processors. On the GPU side, the laptop will have RTX 3000 cards, but Lenovo hasn’t specified which models. The Legion 7 comes with up to 32GB of RAM and 2TB of NVMe storage. Lenovo expects to launch the Legion 7 in June with a starting price of $ 1,699.99. That’s an expensive laptop, but we regularly see gaming laptops that cost much more. 

If you’re looking to keep your mobile gaming machine a little more mobile, there’s the Legion Slim 7. This laptop will weigh just 4.2 pounds, making it the thinnest and lightest Legion laptop ever. This laptop will have both 4K and 1080p display options, but the 165Hz refresh rate is only available on the 1080p model. Again, this laptop will have the latest AMD and Nvidia parts. However, we don’t have a price or release date yet. 

The Legion 5 Pro.

The next step down is the Legion 5, which comes in three variants: A 16-inch Legion 5 Pro, a 17-inch Legion 5, and a 16-inch Legion 5. The Legion 5 Pro will start at just $ 1,000 with a 16-inch 165Hz LCD at 2560 x 1600 (another 16:10 ratio). This computer will max out with a Ryzen 7 CPU (instead of Ryzen 9 in the Legion 7) and 16GB of RAM, but it’ll still have an RTX 3000 GPU. 

The non-pro versions of the Legion 5 will start at just $ 770, but the cost will depend on which of numerous screen and CPU configs you choose. The displays are stuck at 1080p, but you can get a super-fast refresh rate. All these devices will have next-gen Ryzen CPUs and Nvidia 3000-series GPUs as well. That could make even the base model an appealing gaming machine.

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The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for Jan. 11

  • Coronavirus tracker: Follow the spread of COVID-19 as cases rise in much of Canada.
  • CBC obtains documents revealing gap in early pandemic information gathering between Canadian health, military officials.
  • Calgary pastor defiant despite fine for COVID-19 infractions.
  • Ontario’s cabinet meets after presentations on worrisome ICU modelling.
  • Read more:  Experts say regional travel helps seed COVID-19, but there are few good tools to prevent it beyond persuasion; another hospital executive has paid the price for pandemic travel, fired after 5 trips to the U.S.

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden receives his second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Monday at the ChristianaCare Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., just over one week before he takes office. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

RCMP launches criminal probe into COVID-19 death at Cargill plant in Alberta

Teenager Ariana Quesada walked into the RCMP detachment in High River, Alta., last week and filed a formal complaint asking police to investigate potential criminal negligence in the death of her father.

Benito Quesada, a 51-year-old immigrant from Mexico supporting a wife and four children, was hospitalized with COVID-19 in mid-April, one of hundreds of workers at the town’s Cargill meat plant infected with the coronavirus. He died on May 7, 2020.

“I spent Christmas with one less person to hug,” she said. “And all the executives and general managers, everyone at Cargill got to spend Christmas with their loved ones. And I did not get that.”

At least 950 staff at the Cargill plant — nearly half its workforce — tested positive for COVID-19 by early May in what remains the largest workplace outbreak in Canada. The company also saw deadly outbreaks at its U.S. facilities.

“It’s not going to be your routine investigation, certainly,” Staff Sgt. Greg Wiebe, the detachment commander, told CBC News. “There’s probably a lot of moving parts to it.”

Cargill spokesperson Daniel Sullivan said in an email this weekend that safety is a top priority for the company and that since the beginning of the pandemic, it has worked closely with provincial health and occupational health and safety officials.

Cargill is also facing a proposed class-action lawsuit on behalf of individuals who had close contact with the company’s employees.

Read more about the criminal complaint and the questions about safety at Cargill and food processing plants.

Click below to watch more from The National

Police handed out dozens of fines, but say most Quebecers complied with the new 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. ET curfew aimed at decreasing the number of COVID-19 cases in the province. 1:58


Military medical intelligence warnings gathered dust as public health struggled to define COVID-19

Public health officials failed to cite early warnings about the threat of COVID-19 gathered through classified military intelligence as the pandemic crisis emerged a year ago, CBC News has learned.

A small, specialized unit within the Canadian military’s intelligence branch began producing warnings about COVID-19 in early January 2020, based largely on classified allied intelligence. Those warnings generally were three weeks ahead of other open sources, say defence insiders. But documents show that the COVID-19 rapid risk assessments of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) — which politicians and public servants used to guide their choices in the early days of the pandemic — contained no input from the military’s warnings, instead relying almost exclusively on World Health Organization information gathering.

In contrast, the National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI) in the U.S. was not only gathering raw intelligence through various classified means, but also producing comprehensive assessments of the trajectory of the virus.

Dr. Jonathan Clemente, an American physician who has researched and written extensively about the history of medical intelligence, said there’s an important distinction between the types of information health and intelligence officials can gather.

“It’s important to know that this is different from, say, the World Health Organization because the NCMI has access to all-source intelligence, meaning they have access to the most secret levels of intelligence, including clandestine human reporting, satellites, signals intelligence and … open [source] reporting.”

The fact that PHAC didn’t track what the military medical intelligence branch was seeing, coupled with changes to the federal government’s own Global Pandemic Health Information Network (GPHIN), represents “a terrible failure,” said Wesley Wark, a University of Ottawa professor who studies intelligence services and national security.

Wark said Canada’s public health system was redesigned almost two decades ago with the aim of preventing “strategic surprise,” but many of initiatives planned or implemented following the SARS outbreak were allowed to wither away and die.

The auditor general is reviewing what went wrong with the country’s early warning system, including the risk assessments, while a second, separate independent review of Canada’s early pandemic response has been ordered by Health Minister Patty Hajdu.

Read more about the situation

Calgary pastor defiant despite fine for COVID-19 infractions

Police and Alberta Health Services responded to a southeast Calgary church on Sunday, after the pastor continued to encourage congregants to break public health rules following a fine and health inspection order.

Alberta Health Services in a previous inspection found that only two of approximately 75 attendees at the Fairview Baptist Church were wearing masks, that the pastor and church staff were unmasked and that rows in the auditorium were full, with people sitting side-by-side in rows less than two metres apart.

AHS issued orders to the church that included the mandating of masks, physical distancing and to submit a detailed COVID-19 mitigation plan to the health authority.

But Pastor Tim Stephens wrote in an emailed newsletter to congregants last week that despite a $ 1,200 fine from Calgary bylaw officers for violating public health orders, he would not be following the restrictions and reducing capacity to ensure physical distancing or enforcing mask use within the church.

“I addressed the regulations theologically, scientifically, legally and politically. I knew that receiving a fine would be a real possibility,” said Stephens. “Having received one now, the course is unchanged.”

Police confirmed they were called to assist AHS with enforcement at the church on Sunday. The spokesperson did not say if additional fines or orders were levied against the church, but said that places of worship that don’t follow orders are at risk of closure orders or additional fines.

Calgary pastor defiant despite fine for COVID-19 infractions 

Ontario modelling reveals sobering intensive care scenarios by February

Ontario’s latest COVID-19 modelling will project the province’s intensive care units to be filled beyond capacity by early February, sources tell CBC News.

According to sources who saw the new modelling, it projects nearly 800 coronavirus patients in ICUs by early February if the daily growth in cases is at three per cent, and nearly 1,000 in intensive care if cases grow by five per cent daily.

Either scenario would pose a risk of Ontario’s hospitals having more ICU patients than they can currently handle. The province has the capacity for around 2,000 ICU patients in total, but there are also limits on the availability of doctors, nurses and other health staff trained in intensive care.

Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet is to meet Monday evening to decide on further pandemic restrictions, but a senior government official told reporters that the province’s health advisers are not recommending a curfew.

“We worked all weekend, right until late hours last night,” Ford said Monday as he arrived at his office in the provincial legislature. “We’ll be going to cabinet with recommendations, and we’ll make an announcement [Tuesday].”

Information presented to cabinet about the potential effect of a more transmissible coronavirus variant first reported in the United Kingdom is based on research by Queen’s University mathematician Troy Day.

Day’s research shows, based on evidence of how the virus is currently spreading in Britain, that Ontario could, by late February, see the overall number of new daily cases doubling in a stretch of just 10 to 15 days, twice as fast as the recent growth rate.

Read more about what’s happening in Ontario 

Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data.


What’s driving the virus to evolve, and what we can do about it

The spread of COVID-19 and concern about potentially more transmissible variants of the virus from the U.K. and South Africa, and possibly Japan, have scientists concerned about whether or not vaccines will hold up against these strains.

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security, told Quirks & Quarks host Bob McDonald she’s not surprised to see more transmissible variants arise because viruses mutate all the time.

“Once more people are vaccinated, there will be potentially a selection pressure on the virus to evolve antigenically, meaning that we could see variants emerge that are more capable of evading immune responses induced by vaccination,” said Rasmussen.

Mutations give the virus the ability to spread more easily. The U.K. variant contains 23 mutations and the South African variant has at least 21 mutations, with some overlap between the two.

“The South African variant does have a mutation that is associated with some antibody escape, but it doesn’t appear that it’s total,” said Rasmussen.

The variants so far don’t appear to make the virus more pathogenic, or likely to cause serious illness or death. But, Rasmussen cautions, occasionally a mutation can incidentally affect some aspect of the immune system that can result in more serious disease, as happened historically with some HIV strains.

As well, in one study yet to be peer-reviewed, scientists described a 45-year-old patient who — five months later — had been reinfected with a coronavirus variant that contained the mutation, and whose second infection was more severe.


NHL players realize not everyone is thrilled they’re embarking on a new season

The Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid, left, says hockey games can serve as a needed diversion for fans in stressful times. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

NHL players, most of them millionaires, will soon travel between provinces or states for games as the winter wave of the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks personal and financial havoc across North America, especially in the U.S., which is regularly seeing more than 3,000 deaths per day so far in 2011.

Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid, for one, is aware of the dichotomy. But he wants critics of the league’s desire to begin a new season in current circumstances to know that it could bring some normalcy for fans in otherwise stressful times.

“It’s unprecedented times,” McDavid said. “We’re not blind to understand that we’re very lucky to be able to come into work to play the game that we love.”

But, he said, “people are stuck at home and they need something to do.”

The NHL pulled off the restart to its pandemic-delayed 2019-20 season in August and September thanks to tightly controlled bubbles that resulted in zero positive tests in Toronto and Edmonton. While the upcoming campaign will have plenty of measures in place, it’s not the same level of protection.

“We are in the entertainment business, but it’s a business, and money needs to be made,” said Montreal Canadiens Brendan Gallagher. “Hopefully we can get through this thing and everyone can stay safe, but we have a job to do and we’ve been asked to do it. We’re happy to oblige. “

There have been bumps early on in the effort to mount a regular season, something also seen in Major League Baseball and the NFL. The Vancouver Canucks cancelled practice on Sunday over a potential COVID-19 exposure, as have Columbus and Pittsburgh. More seriously, the Dallas Stars have a number of positive cases.

McDavid, who contracted COVID-19 a few months back, points out that players themselves are adding health risk to the usual injury concerns inherent in a typical season.

The NHL’s shortened 56-game season is set to begin Wednesday.

Read more about the NHL’s COVID-19 challenges 

Find out more about COVID-19

For full coverage of how your province or territory is responding to COVID-19, visit your local CBC News site.

To get this newsletter daily as an email, subscribe here.

Still looking for more information on the pandemic? Reach out to us at covid@cbc.ca if you have any questions.

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CBC | Health News

In latest legal defeat, Trump loses bid to throw out more than 221,000 Wisconsin votes

U.S. President Donald Trump lost a Wisconsin lawsuit Friday seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots and overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, the latest in a string of legal defeats.

Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek ruled against every argument Trump made challenging ballots in the state’s two largest counties, saying the election was properly administered and that there was no wrongdoing as the president alleged.

“The bottom line here is that the court should do everything to ensure that the will of the voters prevail,” the judge said.

Trump quickly appealed the ruling and his attorney Jim Troupis said he would ask the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case from the lower appeals court. Trump also has a federal lawsuit in Wisconsin where the judge could rule as soon as Friday.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court court previously refused to hear Trump’s state case before it went through the lower courts. A majority of justices have also openly questioned whether disqualifying the ballots, as Trump wants, would be appropriate.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is seen during a virtual hearing on Nov. 16. (Wisconsin Supreme Court/Zoom via AP)

Trump has urged lower court judges to rule quickly in the cases so he can file appeals before the electoral college meets on Monday and casts Wisconsin’s 10 votes for Biden. That set up the possibility of a rare weekend ruling from the state Supreme Court.

Biden won Wisconsin by about 20,600 votes, a margin of 0.6 per cent that withstood a Trump-requested recount in the state’s two largest counties, Milwaukee and Dane. Trump did not challenge any ballots cast in the counties he won.

Trump wanted to disqualify absentee ballots cast early and in-person, saying there wasn’t a proper written request made for the ballots; absentee ballots cast by people who claimed “indefinitely confined” status; absentee ballots collected by poll workers at Madison parks; and absentee ballots where clerks filled in missing information on ballot envelopes.

Trump’s attorney Troupis argued that clerks in Milwaukee and Dane counties were wrong to rely on guidance from the Wisconsin Elections Commission on absentee ballots. He argued that guidance, some of which had been in place for years or was modified in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic to make it easier for indefinitely confined people to cast ballots, contradicted state law.

Election workers count absentee ballots into the early morning in Milwaukee at a central counting facility on Nov. 4. (Stephen Groves/The Associated Press)

Biden attorney John Devaney argued that everyone who voted in the presidential election did so “in full compliance of the laws that were in effect at the time of the election.” There is no evidence of fraud or illegal activity, he said. Devaney also said Trump “cynically” targeted ballots cast in Wisconsin’s two most urban, non-white counties for disqualification.

Devaney noted that no one challenged the laws that had been in place prior to this election, including Trump when he won the state in 2016.

The judge agreed with Biden’s attorneys that Wisconsin law was followed during the election and recount.

Trump and his allies have suffered a series of defeats in Wisconsin and across the country in lawsuits that rely on unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud and election abuse. A Trump-appointed federal judge in Wisconsin said Thursday that the president’s lawsuit was “incredible,” “bizarre” and “very odd,” and that overturning the results would be “the most remarkable ruling in the history of this court or the federal judiciary.”

U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig promised to issue his ruling as soon as Friday.

Also Friday, Republican-controlled committees in the state legislature held an invitation-only public hearing to accept testimony about the election. Republicans asked mainly conservative partisans to speak, including a Milwaukee talk radio host, but not the state’s top elections official or the head of elections in the city or county of Milwaukee. Democrats decried the hearing as a farce and stopped participating after about three hours of testimony.

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Forge FC heads to Honduras in latest attempt to secure CONCACAF Champions League berth

Hamilton’s Forge FC is headed to Honduras for another attempt to secure a berth in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the confederation’s top-tier club competition.

The Canadian Premier League champion plays CD Marathon in a play-in match next week. Both teams lost their quarterfinals Tuesday in the CONCACAF League, a 22-team feeder tournament that sends six teams to the elite Champions League.

Date and venue in Honduras have yet to be announced.

Forge lost a penalty shootout to Haiti’s Arcahei FC following a 1-1 tie in regulation time in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Marathon was beaten 2-0 by Costa Rica’s Deportivo Saprissa, the defending CONCACAF League champion, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Marathon will be a formidable opponent. Founded in 1925, it currently tops its group in the Honduran Premier Division at 7-3-2.

Forge, meanwhile, has played just three times since winning the Island Games, which represented the CPL’s truncated season, on Sept. 19 in Charlottetown.

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One of Trump’s closest advisers latest in his circle to test positive for COVID-19

One of U.S. President Donald Trump’s most trusted advisers has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Corey Lewandowski recently travelled to Pennsylvania to assist Trump’s efforts to contest the state’s election results. He said Thursday he believes he was infected in Philadelphia and he’s not experiencing any symptoms.

Lewandowski appeared with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani at an event last Saturday outside a landscaping company and lobbed unfounded accusations of voter fraud as the race was called for Trump’s challenger, now-president-elect Joe Biden.

Republican and Democratic election officials nationwide have said publicly the election went well. International observers confirm there were no serious irregularities.

Lewandowski was also at the election night party at the White House last week that’s been linked to several virus cases.

Watch: Lewandowski speaks to crowd in Philadelphia 7 days before testing positive for COVID-19:

Amid pro-Trump and pro-Biden protests outside the Philadelphia Convention Center Thursday, Trump campaign advisers, including Pam Bondi and Corey Lewandowski, obtained a temporary court ruling to halt vote counting to allow them in to observe. Vote counting resumed after Democrats challenged the ruling. 0:43

Dozens in White House previously infected

Numerous White House and campaign officials have tested positive in this latest wave of infections, including Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows. News of his infection came less than two weeks after Marc Short, Vice-President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, and other aides tested positive for the virus.

Trump himself, Melania Trump, and at least two dozen others tested positive for the virus in early October, after Trump held large gatherings of people not wearing face masks, including the ceremony announcing the nomination of now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Georgia official in isolation

Meantime, Georgia’s top elections official, Brad Raffensperger, plans to quarantine after his wife tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said Thursday.

The news came as Georgia counties prepare for a hand tally of the presidential race. 

An audit of one race is required before election results are certified by the state, and Raffensperger announced Wednesday that he had selected the presidential race. Because of the tight margin in that race — Democrat Joe Biden leads Trump by about 14,000 votes — Raffensperger said the audit would result in a full hand recount.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is self-isolating after his wife tested positive for COVID-19, as the state prepares for a recount of ballots in the presidential race. (Brynn Anderson/The Associated Press)

Raffensperger’s wife, Tricia, tested positive on Thursday, deputy secretary of state Jordan Fuchs told The Associated Press. Raffensperger was to get tested and plans to self-quarantine as a precaution even if his test is negative, Fuchs said.

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Belarusians strike nationwide in latest push to oust president

Factory workers, students and business owners in Belarus on Monday began a strike to demand that authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko resign after more than two months of continuing mass protests following a disputed election.

Most state-run enterprises continued to operate despite the strike, which was called by opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. But analysts said it helped mobilize opposition supporters for a new round of confrontation with authorities, posing a significant challenge for Lukashenko, who has run the country for 26 years and until recently has been able to successfully stifle dissent.

Students in some universities refused to attend lectures and marched in Minsk in protest. Hundreds of small private companies declared Monday a nonworking day, and shops and cafes closed, with their owners and employees forming human chains all over the capital.

Several divisions of large plants in Minsk said they were halting work, and employees of two plants in the western city of Grodno gathered in front of buildings there.

The authorities responded by detaining protesters in the streets and outside factories, threatening workers with jail or being fired if they went on strike, said Alexander Yaroshuk, leader of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Unions, an association of independent labour unions.

A worker flashes a V-sign in support of those striking in Minsk on Monday. (AFP via Getty Images)

Several thousand retirees also marched in Minsk in their regular Monday protest to demand Lukashenko’s ouster. They chanted for him to “Go away!”

“We don’t see, hear or run well, but we understand perfectly well that Lukashenko lost,” read one of the banners carried by the pensioners.

In the evening, large crowds marched in Minsk as well. Protests also continued in Grodno, Brest and other cities. Police broke up the rallies in the capital, detaining and injuring dozens. The Viasna human rights centre said more than 300 people were detained in different parts of Belarus throughout the day.

Near-daily protests were unleashed in the former Soviet country of 9.5 million after officials said the Aug. 9 election gave Lukashenko a landslide victory over Tsikhanouskaya, whose supporters refused to recognize the results. Early in the turmoil, authorities detained thousands and violently dispersed the crowds, but the marches and rallies have continued.

Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to Lithuania for fear of her safety, urged the strike if Lukashenko did not resign, release political prisoners and stop the police crackdown by Monday. She gave the go-ahead for the strike to begin in a statement Sunday night after police in Minsk and other cities once again dispersed demonstrators with stun grenades and tear gas.

Opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya is seen in Copenhagen on Friday. (Emil Helms /Ritzau Scanpix 2020 via AP)

Sunday’s rally in Minsk was one of the largest in weeks and drew nearly 200,000 people. Smaller protests also took place in other cities, and the Interior Ministry said it detained over 500 people across Belarus.

“A strike is the next step towards freedom for Belarusians, towards the end of violence and new elections,” Tsikhanousksaya said in a statement Monday. “The main goal is to show that no one will work for the regime.”

Government officials said that all state-run plants, factories and enterprises continued to operate as usual.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko takes the oath of office during his inauguration ceremony in Minsk on Sept. 23. (Andrei Stasevich/BelTA/AFP/Getty Images)

In August, the government stemmed a strike at dozens of plants and factories in several cities. Lukashenko, who at one point was booed by workers when he visited a plant, is trying to avoid a repeat through repressions against plant workers, Yaroshuk said.

“People have things to lose, so the majority remains intimidated and continues to work under pressure,” the activist added.

Still, the opposition managed to mobilize its active supporters, said Minsk-based political analyst Valery Karbalevich.

Protesters rally in Minsk on Monday. Demonstrations also took place in Grodno, Brest and other cities. (Reuters)

“Even the threat of a strike makes Lukashenko nervous, and growing mass rallies show that the protest is not dying down, and the pressure on the authorities and officials within the country will continue to mount,” he said.

In a statement later Monday, Tsikhanouskaya thanked Belarusians for their solidarity and encouraged them to keep protesting. “We have irrevocably defeated the fear that the regime might suppress the protest,” she said.

“The protest will be over only when we achieve our goal. We’re together, there are many of us, and we’re prepared to go all the way to victory,” she said.

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Azerbaijan says at least 10 killed in latest rocket attack, blames Armenia

Rescuers raced against time early on Saturday to find survivors of a fresh missile attack in Azerbaijan’s second largest city of Ganja, which the country says killed at least 10 people and wounded 40 others.

Azerbaijan accused Armenia of the attack that destroyed residential homes, in the latest sign that a Russian-brokered ceasefire, agreed to last Saturday to allow the sides to swap detainees and the bodies of those killed, had all but broken down.

More than 10 people were killed and 40 others were wounded, Azerbaijan’s presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev said in a tweet.

Armenian and Azeri forces fought new clashes on Friday, defying hopes of ending nearly three weeks of fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

The worst outbreak of violence in the South Caucasus since Armenia and Azerbaijan went to war over the enclave in the 1990s, the fighting risks creating a humanitarian disaster, especially if it draws in Russia and Turkey.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but populated and governed by ethnic Armenians.

Armenia and Azerbaijan has been accusing each other of launching new attacks in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.

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