Tag Archives: push

Explosions reported in Eritrea’s capital during push to find rebel leaders

The U.S. Embassy in Eritrea said six explosions were heard Saturday night in the capital, Asmara, as the government in neighbouring Ethiopia launched a search for leaders of a rebel group in the northern region of Tigray.

The explosions came just hours after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared victory in his government’s fighting against forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which runs the northern Tigray region bordering Eritrea. The army said it was in “full control” of the regional capital, Mekele, but the government said TPLF leaders remain on the run.

The TPLF leader earlier this month asserted that Eritrean forces were involved in the fighting in Tigray at the invitation of Ethiopia’s government, something Addis Ababa has repeatedly denied. Fears have grown that 96,000 Eritrean refugees in camps just over the border in Ethiopia are at risk.

WATCH | Thousands of refugees trapped by Tigray conflict:

Tens of thousands of refugees are trapped in the midst of a standoff between the Ethiopian government and a militant group in the Tigray region as a surrender deadline passes. 1:46

The U.S. has accused the TPLF of seeking to “internationalize” the deadly conflict in which humanitarians say several hundred people have been killed, including civilians.

The U.S. Embassy statement overnight advises American citizens to exercise caution and be aware “of the ongoing conflict in the Tigray region.” It also advises citizens to “monitor local news” in a country regarded by watchdogs as being highly repressive and having no independent media.The fighting has threatened to destabilize Ethiopia, which has been described as the linchpin of the strategic Horn of Africa, and its neighbours.

Food, fuel, cash and medical supplies have run desperately low. Nearly 1 million people have been displaced, including more than 40,000 who fled into Sudan. Camps home to 96,000 Eritrean refugees in northern Tigray have been in the line of fire.

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CBC | World News

What an Australian-style push against Chinese interference might look like

Some Australians see the country’s new powers to stop foreign interference as an overdue shift from complacency to vigilance, while others have warned of the dangers of a McCarthyite moral panic.

But all can agree that Australia’s approach to foreign meddling in its politics, universities and public debate has changed a great deal in recent years.

Last week, the Canadian House of Commons voted 179-146 for this country to adopt a plan similar to Australia’s to counter meddling by the People’s Republic of China.

Experts in Canada and Australia suggest that such a change would set Canada on a much more aggressive path in countering China’s inroads into this country’s institutions.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong’s motion requires the government to “develop a robust plan, as Australia has done, to combat China’s growing foreign operations here in Canada and its increasing intimidation of Canadians living in Canada, and table it within 30 days of the adoption of this motion.”

Chong’s motion received the support of most opposition members of the House, along with Liberals Wayne Easter, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, John McKay and Jennifer O’Connell.

Chong chose Australia as a model for Canada because of a package of laws passed in 2018 in the wake of a series of revelations that brought the issue of foreign interference and espionage to the fore.


Candidate Michael Chong addresses a Conservative Party leadership debate Monday, February 13, 2017 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson (Canadian Press)

Influence peddling 

Sam Dastyari was an up-and-coming Labor Party senator when the year 2018 began. By the end of it he had admitted to soliciting thousands of dollars from businesses affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party. Thousands of Australians signed petitions demanding he face charges of treason.

Australian media reports on Dastyari suggested he was a good investment for China. He not only supported Beijing’s claims to the South China Sea — in opposition to the official position of his Labor Party — he also worked to prevent a meeting between his party leader and a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist.

Dominique Dalla-Pozza teaches at the Centre for Military and Security Law at the Australian National University in Canberra (which itself allegedly has been a target of a massive Chinese intelligence operation). She said that for the past few years, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (the ASIO — Australia’s equivalent of Canada’s CSIS) has been sounding the alarm about unprecedented levels of foreign intrusion.

“ASIO said there were more foreign spies and their proxies operating in Australia than at the height of the Cold War,” Dalla-Pozza said.

In Canada, CSIS has been trying for years to draw Canadians’ attention to foreign interference in everything from universities to municipal governments. Then-director Dick Fadden went public with such a warning in 2010. But Canada has seen no real legislative or organizational response.

In Australia, by contrast, those warnings led the Turnbull government to introduce a new Espionage and Foreign Interference Act. 

China not named

Australia’s laws don’t single out China, the country’s largest trading partner. When he introduced the bill in Parliament, then-PM Malcolm Turnbull was careful to cite other precedents, such as Russian meddling in the U.S. and French elections of 2016 and 2017. 

But there’s no doubt in Australia about which foreign government is seen as the most active meddler. Over the last couple of months, Australia has raided the apartments of four Chinese journalists and revoked the visas of two Chinese academics.

Dalla-Pozza said the law defines foreign interference as “conduct that is engaged in in concert with a foreign principal or a person that is acting on behalf of a foreign principle” where “the person engaging in the conduct is reckless as to whether it will influence government processes, or in other ways influence a democratic political right or duty.

“Conduct has to be covert or involve deception, or involve a person making a threat to cause serious harm, or involve a person making a threat with menaces.”

The new law produced its first arrest of a suspect two weeks ago: Di Sanh Duong, a prominent member of pro-Beijing Chinese-Australian organizations.


A Chinese paramilitary policeman stands guard outside the Australian embassy in Beijing on September 8, 2020. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

Discover, track, disrupt

The Turnbull government also brought in laws banning foreigners from donating to Australian politicians, placed new requirements on telecommunications companies to block foreign interference, and created a registry of critical infrastructure assets to provide more transparency on who really owns what in the country.

And “there are other mechanisms being developed in Australia that don’t depend on the law,” such as a new national coordinator, a public information campaign and a hotline, said Dalla-Pozza.

“The act prescribes in a more focused way what is foreign interference, what is espionage, what is treason,” said Patrick Walsh, who teaches at the Australian Graduate School for Policing and Security.

Walsh said one of the most significant aspects of the law is that it allows Australia to fight back outside the courts.

“The key is operational disruption of foreign interference, not just to collect information, but to disrupt it,” he said.

“In 2019 the PM established the Counter Foreign Interference Task Force, which is an interdepartmental task force to discover, track and disrupt foreign interference. And there was $ 8.7 million given to this task force.”

The resources Australia devotes to this effort are not only centralized under a national coordinator, but are also far greater in terms of trained investigators than those available to the Government of Canada.

Thirty days 

Thirty days seems like a short time to design a full overhaul of Canada’s approach to foreign interference, but Chong said Canada has a duty to protect people within its borders from harassment and intimidation by agents of foreign powers. 

“It’s long past time for the government to deal with this. Australia has already dealt with this. Our other allies have already dealt with this,” he said. “I note that on October 28, the FBI charged eight individuals, three of whom were Chinese citizens, for interfering and threatening American citizens through operations that are taking place on American soil.”

The motion doesn’t spell out any consequences for the government if it allows the 30 days to lapse. But Chong said that would be a harmful precedent given the strong cross-party support the motion received in Parliament.

“I expect it to be carried out if the government follows democratic norms and respects the will of Parliament,” he told CBC News. “At a time when democracy is under pressure around the world, it’s more important than ever that governments respect democratic norms.”

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CBC | World News

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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CBC | World News

Canadian contingent helps Dash push past Thorns to reach Challenge Cup final

Rachel Daly scored on a header in the 69th minute and the Houston Dash advanced to the Challenge Cup title game with a 1-0 victory over the Portland Thorns on Wednesday.

The fourth-seeded Dash, the highest remaining seed in the tournament, had never been to the playoffs in seven years in the National Women’s Soccer League.

The Dash will play the winner of the late semifinal match between the Chicago Red Stars and Sky Blue in the championship game Sunday.

Canadian international Nichelle Prince had a couple of chances for Houston. She broke away in a sprint toward Portland’s goal in the opening half Wednesday but she was caught by defender Emily Menges. Daly had the lone shot on goal for the Dash in the scoreless half.

WATCH | Dash sneak by Thorns to reach Challenge Cup final:

Rachel Daly scored on a header in the 69th minute and the Houston Dash advanced to the NWSL Challenge Cup title game with a 1-0 victory over the Portland Thorns. 1:11

Prince had another great opportunity in the 62nd minute but Portland goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom punched it away.

Daly finally broke through with her rebound goal that bounced off Eckerstrom’s back and into the net. It was Daly’s third goal of the tournament and ended a three-match shutout for the Dash.

Fellow Canadians Allysha Chapman and Sophie Schmidt joined Prince in Houston’s starting 11.

Star Canadian striker Christine Sinclair is Portland’s captain.

Portland went into the tournament with an 11-2-3 advantage all-time against the Dash.

The Thorns, who won league titles in 2013 and 2017, were hampered by injuries during the Challenge Cup.

Starting goalkeeper Adrianna Franch didn’t play because of a knee injury, and defender Becky Sauerbrunn hadn’t played since the opener because of a hip injury. The Thorns on Wednesday were also without midfielder Lindsey Horan, who was questionable going into the game with a hip injury.

Portland was also down to the team’s third goalkeeper. Eckerstrom started the last two games after Bella Bixby sustained an ACL injury and headed home. As a result, goalkeeping coach Nadine Angerer, the former German national team goalkeeper and FIFA player of the year, was on Portland’s bench as a backup.

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CBC | Soccer News

Sidelined: In the push for change, this time feels different for people who are under-represented in sports

It’s been three years since Colin Kaepernick was sidelined by the National Football League for taking a knee in protest of police brutality and the systemic racism that emboldens it.

The former San Francisco quarterback was publicly vilified by even the president of the United States for daring to speak out against something he saw as wrong. 

But today, in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer in May, and the months of global protests that have followed, more and more people who are Black, Indigenous or persons of colour (BIPOC) are raising their voices against systemic racism and the institutional problems associated with it.

Many feel their message is now being heard.

“There’s still a lot of racism here. There’s still a lot of bias here. And there’s still a lot of work to be done to fix that,” said UBC Okanagan men’s basketball coach Clayton Pottinger. “I think the whole George Floyd thing is a catalyst. And you know it’s on us. People of colour and our Caucasian allies really need to roll up our sleeves and keep the momentum going so that these conversations just don’t get lost again.”


(Illustration by Alexis Allison/CBC Sports)

As part of the discussion, CBC Sports undertook an investigation into the lack of racial diversity among the leadership — presidents, general managers, coaches and other positions of authority — in sports leagues and organizations.

The numbers are stark. Out of hundreds of such positions in the North American pro leagues, including the NHL, CFL, WNBA, MLB, NBA and NFL, anywhere from 80 to 90 per cent of them are filled by white people, even though in almost all of those leagues BIPOC athletes represent a large portion of participants.

The same is true within Canada’s national sport organizations, and across the 56 athletic departments in universities who compete under the banner of U Sports, the national governing body of university sport in Canada.

WATCH | Canadian sport organizations say more must be done to address leadership inequality:

Canadian universities and national sports groups say they have to do more to diversify their coaching staff and leadership, after CBC Sports carried out a visual audit and found the vast majority of those positions are held by people who are white. 2:10

Following Floyd’s death, many organizations, companies and sports leagues began examining how the composition of their staff and leadership teams lack diversity and fail to reflect the ideals of inclusion and diversity they espouse.

The CBC was among them, releasing a statement in June addressing the issue of diversity in its own leadership positions, and acknowledging that action must be taken to improve.

Caught in the crosshairs of this accountability is sport. 


(Illustration by Alexis Allison/CBC Sports)

There is an overall admission, from the pro leagues to the Canadian Olympic Committee, from Hockey Canada and U Sports to Swimming Canada, that more work needs to be done to close the gap. 

“I think the difference-maker is going to be athlete activism,” said Dr. Richard Lapchick, founder and director of the Institute For Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. The organization was the first to begin compiling racial breakdowns of hiring practices in sports in the U.S. 

“I think athlete activism has brought policy changes in the NFL. I think if they turn their attention to hiring practices at the college and pro level, that’s going to change the game. And I think that people on the business side get that diversity is a business imperative.”

Read other stories in the series:

More and more athletes across the sports spectrum have begun to speak out against police brutality and systemic racism, and the NFL, for one, completely changed its stance on Kaepernick.

And for the few Black coaches and sports leaders in Canada, there is an urgency to not only continue the tough conversations but to actually act on them. 

“We have to do it now because two years from now people will forget about this,” said Tenicha Gittens, coach of the Concordia University’s women’s basketball team.

WATCH | ‘It’s everybody’s movement’:

Tenicha Gittens, head coach of Concordia University’s women’s basketball team, speaks about how important it is for Black coaches to be given important roles and positions to succeed. 1:21

Gittens is part of a group that just launched the Black Canadian Coaches Association with a focus on bringing more BIPOC representation into Canadian sports. 

“We’re talking about a charter,” Gittens said. “We want real change. Now is the time to do this. It’s our moment and it’s a movement.” 

While the number of Black coaches is limited, their experiences are all too similar. 

Khari Jones, head coach of the Montreal Alouettes, has been candid about facing racism as a quarterback in the CFL and the struggle to achieve the top coaching position. 


(Illustration by Alexis Allison/CBC Sports)

“It’s time. It’s time. It took a terrible thing like George Floyd to bring everything to light,” Jones told CBC Sports. “This is the right time to do this. Everybody is finally seeing what has been going on for a long time. It’s not just Black people. It’s everybody.”

Jones, who grew up in Sacramento, Calif., and played nine seasons in the CFL, is grateful for the platform that sports provides.

“It’s a good feeling to know that sport can lead that charge,” Jones said. “It always has on the field, but we have to go beyond that and look at what we can do off the field and in the front offices.” 

Jeffrey Orridge, who was the first Black to serve as commissioner of the CFL, agrees the time has come.

“I’m hopeful that those of true power, influence and wealth will also accept their responsibility to effect the change they now say they support,” Orridge said. “It’s an uncomfortable conversation … but now is the time to have it. It’s no longer enough to espouse, it is time to enact.”

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CBC | Sports News

U.S. narrows down candidates in major push for COVID-19 vaccine

President Donald Trump said on Friday the U.S. government would invest in all the top coronavirus vaccine candidates and said a list had been narrowed to 14 promising possibilities with a plan to narrow further.

At an event in the White House Rose Garden to promote what the U.S. has called “Operation Warp Speed,” Trump expressed his hope that a vaccine would be in place before the end of the year and said his administration would mobilize its forces to get a vaccine distributed once one was in place.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Fox Business Network earlier in the day the White House had narrowed down a list of “over 100 vaccine candidates.”

“What we’re doing now is we’re narrowing those down to the core group that we’re going to place huge multi-hundred-million-dollar bets on and scale massive vaccine domestic production so that we, by the end of the year, we hope, would have one or more safe and effective vaccines and hundreds of millions of doses,” said Azar.

Azar said the administration was using “the full power of the U.S. government and the private sector here to compress all of those [drug trial] timelines.”

WATCH l Vaccine development both competitive and co-operative:

Darryl Falzarano from the University of Saskatchewan is part of the worldwide push toward a COVID-19 vaccine and says a limited rollout next January remains a “possibility.” 5:26

Azar and infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, were both in attendance at the Rose Garden. Trump had expressed displeasure after Fauci said in Senate testimony on Tuesday the idea that there will be a vaccine available by the fall, when schools and universities resume classes, was “a bridge too far.”

Fauci and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin were among a number of administration officials who wore masks at the news conference, while Trump and Azar did not. The White House ordered the wearing of masks to be stepped up in the wake of positive tests last week for Vice-President Mike Pence’s press secretary as well as a valet who had spent time in the Oval Office.

Scientists are rushing to find treatments and vaccines for a disease that has killed over 300,000 people worldwide, including nearly 86,000 in the United States and over 5,570 in Canada as of early Friday. Even as nations grapple with the ongoing pandemic, experts are weighing the impact any potential vaccine may have on a disease that has already laid bare the world’s inequities and power struggles.

‘No ego’ in global vaccine competition: Trump

World leaders in April pledged to accelerate their work on COVID-19, the disease caused by the highly contagious novel coronavirus, but the United States did not participate.

The Trump administration also ignored a pledge last week by world leaders and organizations to spend $ 8 billion US to manufacture and distribute a possible vaccine and treatments.

Despite that, Trump said Friday that the world was co-operating to develop a vaccine.

“We’ve got countries that are allies — we have some countries, frankly, that are not allies — where we’re working very closely together,” Trump said. “We have no ego. Whoever gets it, we think it’s great. We’re going to work with them. They’re going to work with us. Likewise, if we get it, we’re going to be working with them.”

When asked by a reporter if the U.S. would have access to a vaccine if it was first developed in China, Trump gave a one-word answer: “Yes.”

WATCH l Canada helping develop COVID-19 vaccine from Chinese company :

Chinese company CanSino Biologics is already conducting human clinical trials for its potential COVID-19 vaccine. The National Research Council of Canada said this week it is working with CanSino to try to develop it more quickly.

It is one of a number of joint initiatives around the globe, potentially complicating how and where a vaccine would first be delivered.

“A vaccine against COVID-19 should be a public good for the world,” French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday, noting that “equal access of all” was “non-negotiable.”

Philippe was speaking after CEO Paul Hudson of Paris-based pharmaceuticals giant Sanofi told Bloomberg News on Wednesday: “The U.S. government has the right to the largest preorder because it’s invested in taking the risk.”

Hudson apologized on Thursday, saying it was vital that any coronavirus vaccine reach all regions.

Differing opinions on realistic timeline

Experts have warned that it would likely take 12-18 months or more to get a vaccine ready for the public, but the president has sought to speed up that time frame while also playing down the need for a vaccine as he encourages U.S. states to reopen their economies.

Dr. Rick Bright, the U.S. whistleblower who was removed last month as the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), told a U.S. House of Representatives committee on Thursday that he was concerned about U.S. coronavirus preparedness, including vaccination efforts.

WATCH | Health expert warns of possible ‘dark winter’ for U.S.:

Dr. Rick Bright, who was fired as the director of the agency responsible for developing drugs to fight the coronavirus, told a U.S. congressional hearing that his early warnings about the pandemic were met with indifference and the country only has limited time to improve its response. 2:01

“A lot of optimism is swirling around a 12- to 18-month time frame [for a vaccine], if everything goes perfectly,” Bright said. “We’ve never seen everything go perfectly.”

“Normally, it takes up to 10 years to make a vaccine,” he said at another point.

The World Health Organization also sounded a cautious note on Thursday.

Spokesperson Margaret Harris told a briefing in Geneva that while some treatments in very early studies seem to help, “we do not have anything that can kill or stop the virus.”

There is still no vaccine for HIV, which emerged in the early 1980s, or SARS, a coronavirus that hit Asia in 2002.


Moncef Slaoui, a former GlaxoSmithKline executive brought onboard by the White House, said he was confident after seeing some early clinical trial data, without going into specifics. (Alex Brandon/The Associated Press)

But Trump and Azar have expressed confidence that progress would be made before the end of the year, as did former GlaxoSmithKline executive Moncef Slaoui, who the U.S. president has tapped to help spearhead the U.S. vaccine effort.

“I have very recently seen early data from a clinical trial with a coronavirus vaccine. These data made me feel even more confident that we will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of a vaccine by the end of 2020,” said Slaoui.

Slaoui did not mention which vaccine, but one developed by Moderna Therapeutics with help from the National Institutes of Health recently won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to advance to the next phase of clinical trials.

In addition to supply, there are questions about vaccine price, but one expert said Friday the huge scale will help keep costs down and supply up.

Adrian Hill, director of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, which has teamed up with the drugmaker AstraZeneca to develop a vaccine, said ensuring wide distribution and low cost have been central to the project from the start.

“This is not going to be an expensive vaccine,” Hill told Reuters in an interview. “It’s going to be a single dose vaccine. It’s going to be made for global supply and it’s going to be made in many different locations. That was always our plan.”

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CBC | World News

Scheer backs Liberals’ push to see Taiwan included in WHO pandemic talks

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is backing the Liberal government’s efforts to include Taiwan in the World Health Organization’s discussions on COVID-19, a position that China opposes.

“Conservatives have long called for Taiwan to be allowed to participate in organizations like the WHO and the Civil Aviation Authority,” Scheer told reporters in Ottawa today.

Scheer said Canada enjoys a mutually beneficial trading relationship with Taiwan.

“These types of entities which provide guidance and services to focus on the health and safety of people all around the world should not be impacted by global politics and by the foreign policy positions of the [People’s Republic of China],” he said.  

“We would be very supportive of Taiwan’s participation in these types of organizations.”

Watch: Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s full news conference for Mon. May 11:

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer held a news conference and took reporter questions on Mon. May 11 in Ottawa. 25:04

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province, and while Canada does not recognize its sovereignty, the two nations do have trade and cultural relations.

Last week, Canada backed an international coalition that includes the United States, Japan, Australia and others seeking to allow Taiwan to obtain observer status at a major WHO meeting next week.

Taiwan had early success in controlling the outbreak of COVID-19. Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne has told The Canadian Press that Taiwan’s presence as a non-state observer in the World Health Assembly meeting next week would help the pandemic fight.

The move is also politically sensitive for Canada because it is in its own dispute with China over what it calls the “arbitrary” imprisonment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.  

But Canada approved a verbal demarche to two senior WHO executives during a meeting last week that urged them to allow Taiwan to be admitted as an observer to an upcoming meeting because its input would be meaningful and important. 

The World Health Assembly meets next Monday in Geneva. 

The demarche was issued jointly on Thursday by the Geneva-based ambassadors of Canada, Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Britain, Japan and the U.S. — with the envoys from Washington and Tokyo taking the lead. 

Taiwan and the WHO

Despite co-operation on health and trade since the pandemic’s outbreak, relations between Canada and China have been severely strained since the RCMP arrested Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou on an American extradition warrant in December 2018. 

China arrested Kovrig and Spavor nine days later in what is widely viewed as retaliation and has levelled accusations of spying against the men. 

Canada has marshalled a broad coalition of international support calling for their release an  that has angered Chinese leaders. 

But Canada has pushed forward at the WHO on the Taiwan issue because it takes comfort in the fact it is part of a coalition of countries making the argument, said a senior government official, who has briefed The Canadian Press on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. 

The government believes that regardless of whatever dispute exists between countries, an organization such as the WHO is supposed to work for the greater good of all people around the world, the official said. 

Taiwan is also squarely in the centre of the Trump administration’s dispute with China and the WHO. The U.S. has temporarily halted funding to the organization over its allegedly inadequate assessment of COVID-19’s early threat when the novel coronavirus was breaking out in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

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CBC | World News

Olympians should push for collective bargaining to get fair share of money, study suggests

A study of the worldwide Olympic bureaucracy’s finances concludes there’s far more money available for athletes than what they receive, and that they would be best served by the sort of collective-bargaining arrangement that’s common in pro leagues.

The study, a collaboration between the Global Athlete advocacy group and the Ryerson University Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, said the IOC — the largest and most integral cog in the Olympic system — averages $ 1.4 billion US per year in revenue and spends 4.1 per cent of it on athletes.

Even since the Olympics departed from the amateur-only model on which it was founded, the majority of athletes have been largely dependent on their own sports organizations and national Olympic committees for funding. Lucrative sponsorship deals exist for only a small percentage of top-tier Olympians.

At the same time, the study says, because the IOC receives most of its revenue (91 per cent) from TV and marketing and virtually nothing from donations, its model is more in sync with the NFL, NBA and other pro leagues than the family of non-profit organizations it is part of.

WATCH | Dr. Tam on when pro sports might return to Canada: 

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam says plans from sports commissioners would have to be examined before decisions can be made but confirms that crowded conditions and mass gatherings are not in the near future. 2:43

The study says those pro leagues return between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of their revenues to the players, while the Olympic movement gives back 4.1 per cent, the bulk of which “is mostly through scholarships, grants and awards for successful competition, numbers which athletes cannot negotiate.”

“If the IOC and its affiliates are unwilling or unable to compensate its athletes, collective bargaining will change the face of the Olympic Movement,” the report concluded, while also underscoring athletes’ chance to grab a central role in reshaping the movement in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has delayed the Tokyo Games by a year.

IOC disputes claim of low payout

The IOC called the claim that it spends 4.1 per cent of of its revenue on athletes “just plain wrong.”

“It redistributes 90 per cent of all its income generated from the Olympic Games to assist athletes and develop sport worldwide,” the IOC said. “As a result, every day the IOC distributes about $ 3.4 million around the world to help athletes and sporting organizations.”

As detailed in its annual report, among the areas the IOC sends money to are international sports federations, national Olympic committees and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

WATCH | IOC’s Dick Pound believes in Olympic movement amid tough times: 

CBC Sports’ Scott Russell spoke with International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound about the power of the Olympics and why it’s important to still hold the 2020 Games. 4:00

The IOC also sends about 28 per cent of its budget to local organizing committees for the Olympics; in 2016 and 2018, that amounted to $ 1.7 billion, the study said. Without the Olympics there would be no grand stage on which the athletes could perform. That has long been an IOC argument in defending its overall model, as well as Rule 40, which limits the amount of sponsorship-related revenue athletes can generate during the games themselves.

Over recent months, the IOC has allowed countries to relax some of those restrictions, but the study argues athletes would be much better off if Rule 40 was abolished altogether and replaced by collective bargaining.

The study outlined a complex web of Olympic finance and bureaucracy that it says is outdated. It describes a system in which the vast majority of money flows in from broadcasters and sponsors, then filters through hundreds of Olympic-related subsidiaries across the globe before, eventually, a small amount gets to the athletes themselves.

The study estimated the average Canadian athlete in 2013-14 spent about $ 15,000 more than he or she made in a year.

“If the IOC is truly against the commercial abuse of athletes, it will find a way to pay its athletes back,” the report concluded. “If not, it will be up to the athletes themselves.”

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NASA Uses InSight’s Robotic Arm to Push Heat Probe Into Mars

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NASA’s InSight lander is part of NASA’s budget-minded Discovery program, but it’s accomplishing a surprising number of “firsts” on Mars in spite of the smaller budget. It was the first mission to take seismic readings on another planet and the first to record the sound of Martian winds. Now, it’s got a shot at being the first to study the internal temperature of Mars — NASA’s plan to nudge the lander’s subsurface probe with the robot arm appears to be working

InSight landed at Elysium Planitia on Mars back in late 2018. NASA’s first order of business was to deploy the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS). NASA surveyed the area around InSight and built a model of the area here on Earth to conduct test runs before doing the real thing. That part of the mission went perfectly — InSight has been recording marsquakes since last year. Although, the intensity of those quakes is lower than the team had hoped. 

Things haven’t been as smooth for the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3). This “self-hammering nail” was supposed to burrow into the ground and take temperature readings every 10 centimeters. However, NASA quickly found the probe made little progress attempting to dig down through the Martian soil. The probe even popped back up while attempting to drive itself deeper. Scientists have speculated that the Martian soil might be so fine that it falls back in the hole ahead of the probe with each push. 

Starting last month, NASA engineers began a new and less subtle approach to getting the mole into the ground. They decided to use the shovel end of the lander’s robotic arm to push the HP3 down as it attempted to dig downward. This was something of a last-ditch effort as the probe is extremely fragile. The team worried the robotic arm would lack the finesse to help the mole downward without breaking anything. However, the HP3 is finally making progress. 

NASA posted a GIF on Twitter showing the HP3 making a few inches of progress. That’s far from the target depth of 10-16 feet, but any progress is a good thing after months of failures. The arm will only be able to help the probe along until it disappears below the surface, but the more compacted soil at that depth might allow the probe’s digging mechanism to work as intended.

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Optimism in Edmonton, angst in Calgary as final push for playoffs begins

A measly three points separate the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames in the wild NHL Pacific Division playoff race.

But massive is the difference in the collective mood among the respective fan bases, especially after Monday’s trade deadline.

In Edmonton, the long-suffering supporters are excited — bordering on elated — about the playoff prospects of the overachieving Oilers.

In Calgary, the fans are an angst-ridden bunch, not quite willing to give up just yet on their underachieving Flames.

Both reactions are a direct result of pre-season expectations failing to match reality.

“We’ve got a great nucleus,” Oilers general manager Ken Holland told reporters Monday in Anaheim after a busy day of shopping. “They’ve played hard to put ourselves in a position where we can compete for a playoff spot.”

Have they ever. The Oilers (33-22-7) sit in second place in the Pacific, three points back of first-place Las Vegas with two games in hand.

So Holland pulled the trigger and acquired the following:

  • Forwards Andreas Athanasiou and Ryan Kuffner from Detroit for two second-round picks and forward Sam Gagner.
  • Veteran defenceman Mike Green from Detroit for a conditional third or fourth-round draft pick and injured forward Kyle Brodziak.
  • Left wing Tyler Ennis from Ottawa for a fifth-round draft pick.

“No risk, no gain,” Holland said .”I can sit around and do nothing. I can puddle around, but I felt like I had a chance to help.”

The Oilers shocked everyone — likely themselves included — by storming to a 9-4-1 record in October. The pundits waited for the Oilers to eventually plummet in the standings once their lack of depth caught up to them.

WATCH | Rob Pizzo recaps trade deadline day:

Rob Pizzo tells you everything you need to know about who went where 2:43

It never happened — not even when the Oilers lost captain Connor McDavid to a quad injury on Feb. 8 in Nashville. In fact, they went 3-2-1 in his absence.

“I like that our team comes to work every day,” Holland said. “They compete. We’re playing good defence. We’re finding different ways to win, and we have different people stepping up.

“I felt like I had an obligation to try to pitch in and help out. We’re trying to build a program and certainly we’re in a real race.”

The Flames (32-25-6) are in the same race. Calgary GM Brad Treliving did his part Monday to help lift his team into the post-season.

Defenceman Mark Giordano (hamstring) has missed the past nine games going into Tuesday’s game in Boston. He is expected to return any day, but fellow rearguard Travis Hamonic is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.

Originally, the Flames wanted to add a top-six forward before the deadline. But the emergence of Andrew Mangiapane — named the NHL’s third star of the week with five goals and assist in three games — has lessened the need.

So Treliving dealt a third-round pick to Chicago for puck-moving defenceman Erik Gustafsson,  and he shipped a conditional fourth-round pick to Los Angeles for bruising blue-liner Derek Forbort.

“You know when you go to the grocery store and you have no milk, but then you get some milk before you go to the grocery store and now you run out of soup, and you only have 10 bucks to spend,” Treliving told reporters in Boston.

You buy the soup because you have the milk. We were missing players on the back end, so we had to buy some soup.– Brad Treliving

“Well, you buy the soup because you have the milk. We were missing players on the back end, so we had to buy some soup. And hopefully, the milk up front will carry us through. That’s sort of how I look at it.”

A confusing analogy? Absolutely. But Calgary’s playoff chances indeed rest on their top players — paging Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund — playing up to the numbers on the back of their hockey cards.

The Flames are maddingly inconsistent, but they’re deep up front and show flashes of the form that saw them finish first last season in the Western Conference.

“You can always look outside or you can say, ‘OK, let’s shore up, let’s give ourselves some depth, let’s put some confidence in the people you do have,'” Treliving said. “Our big bullets, in terms of draft picks, we saved in our holster.

“I’m excited. I’m excited we addressed some areas of need.”

That excitement is no match for the nervous delight in Edmonton. At age 34, Green’s best years are likely behind him but he’s still an elite power-play quarterback — vital considering minute-muncher Oscar Klefbom is out with a shoulder injury.

Clearly struggling, Athanasiou has 10 goals and 24 points in 46 games this season. But the Woodbridge, Ont., product collected 30 goals and 54 points last year.

Given his speed, Athanasiou is expected to play on the first line with McDavid.

Ennis, 30, is expected to contribute on the third line. He comes to Edmonton after scoring 14 goals and 33 points this season in Ottawa.

Holland is in no mood to waste a prime year of McDavid and Leon Draisaitl — arguably the greatest fear among Oiler fans.

“We felt that we’d like to do something to put a little buzz into our team,” Holland said. “They’ve played hard all year. They’ve battled and scratched and clawed. We’ve got ourselves in a position where we’re fighting for a playoff spot.”

And now they’re in a better position to win that fight.

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