Serious injuries after train derails in Scotland


A number of people were seriously injured in a passenger train derailment on Wednesday morning on the east coast of Scotland, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said, as she declared a major incident.

Television footage showed dark smoke billowing from a woodland area near Stonehaven, just south of the oil city of Aberdeen, after the ScotRail train derailed following heavy rain overnight.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was saddened to learn of the “very serious incident” in Aberdeenshire and his thoughts were with all those affected.

One media report cited by Sky News said one person had died, however that has not been confirmed.

“Although details are still emerging I am afraid to say there are early reports of serious injuries,” Sturgeon said.

“This is an extremely serious incident. I’ve had an initial report from Network Rail and the emergency services and am being kept updated. All my thoughts are with those involved.”

A number of people were seriously injured in a passenger train derailment on Wednesday morning on the east coast of Scotland. (Reuters )

Police received reports of a train derailing near Stonehaven, a town 15 kilometres south of Aberdeen, at 9:40 a.m. local time on Wednesday.

“Emergency services are currently in attendance and the incident is ongoing,” a Police Scotland spokeswoman said.

TV footage showed two air ambulances in a field near the scene, alongside about 25 police vehicles and ambulances.





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Whatever happened to Ottawa’s planned tweak to the mortgage stress test?


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While that change may be in limbo, the Canadian housing market is picking up steam after a slow period during the earlier days of the pandemic.

Five of Canada’s Big Six banks have also lowered their “posted” five-year fixed mortgage rates to 4.79 per cent as of Tuesday afternoon, according to RateSpy.com. Given the Bank of Canada’s benchmark is the mode — or most frequently used — of those six rates, the floor is likely to fall to 4.79 per cent from 4.94 per cent on Wednesday, when the central bank is due to update the figure.

Bank towers in Toronto’s financial district. Peter J. Thompson/National Post files

If the stress test’s floor was set the way the government had proposed, as of Monday it would be around 4.09 per cent, according to Dan Eisner, CEO of Calgary-headquartered brokerage True North Mortgage Inc.

“It was initially thought using bank posted rates would be a close approximation of market rates in general,” Eisner wrote in an email. “However, this has proven not to be the case.”

But for now, with people and businesses still recovering from the pandemic’s effects, and with hundreds of thousands of borrowers having deferred mortgage payments because of COVID-19, Ottawa has decided against adding fuel to the housing market. 

“If they did make go ahead with that change today, it would be a pretty big adjustment,” said James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub.ca and president of CanWise Financial mortgage brokerage. “And that might be why they’re hesitating, to be honest with you. They might not like the magnitude of the drop in the stress test because of the historically low rates.”

Financial Post

• Email: gzochodne@nationalpost.com | Twitter:





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Red Lake residents ordered to evacuate area as forest fire burns nearby


Residents in a northern Ontario municipality were told to leave Monday night as a nearby forest fire burned closer.

Red Lake residents were told to evacuate the municipality after a nearby fire that sparked Monday afternoon quickly grew to about 420 hectares in size.

“All residents must evacuate the Municipality as soon as possible and we ask that you leave this evening if you can,” reads a notice posted Monday evening.

“All vulnerable populations are asked to leave the community immediately. If you are unable to leave tonight, we are coordinating air transportation with Emergency Management Ontario (EMO).”

The province said Highway 618 and Highway 105 north at Birch Drive are closed to traffic.

The fire near Red Lake.

The fire near Red Lake.


Ontario.ca

The municipality said overnight that flights would likely commence Tuesday for those who can’t leave.

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“We ask that those still in the community … check in with their friends, family, and neighbours,” it said.

“For those travelling by vehicle, please check in at the Ear Falls Municipal office and/or the Dryden Memorial Arena. Beds are available at the Dryden Memorial Arena and we continue to work at securing other locations in Kenora, Ignace, and Fort Frances.”




© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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Rangers win 2nd phase of NHL draft lottery for right to choose Alexis Lafreniere


TORONTO —
The New York Rangers were the first team to see their NHL restart bubble burst.

They got a pretty nice consolation prize Monday.

The Rangers won the second phase of the league’s draft lottery, all but assuring star winger and presumptive No. 1 pick Alexis Lafreniere will be heading to the Big Apple.

“Leaving the bubble first hurts,” Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton said. “There’s still seven teams in the hotel and you’re walking by them all. They’re all getting coffee and you’re getting on your bus. Usually you lose, you walk out of the rink, you fly home.

“This one year, you’re right in there with all these teams and you’re the first one out.”

Now they’ll be the first to the microphone when the draft, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 9 and 10, is held at the conclusion of the pandemic-delayed season.

New York had a 1/8 shot — or 12.5 per cent — of grabbing the top pick after a placeholder secured the No. 1 slot back in June.

Swept by the Carolina Hurricanes three straight in the best-of-five qualifying round, the Rangers were one of the eight clubs eliminated from the 24-team restart included in the second phase of the lottery.

“It’s been really long the last couple months,” said Lafreniere, who’s played three seasons with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Rimouski Oceanic. “But really fun to know who won the lottery.

“It’s pretty good news and I’m really happy.”

New York selected Finnish winner Kaapo Kakko in 2019 after jumping from No. 6 to No. 2 in the draft order, and has lots of firepower up front, including Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad.

The Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets were the other franchises in the mix for this year’s top pick.

Lafreniere said he let his mind wander as players like Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews were eliminated from the qualifying round over the last number of days, narrowing where he might end up.

“The lottery had a couple of really good teams,” he said. “It was a really exciting.”

The placeholder — designated as Team E — that won the lottery back in June to set the stage for the Rangers’ ball being selected Monday had just a 2.5 per cent shot at the No. 1 pick. The league went with a modified format after the season was halted in mid-March because of COVID-19, with the seven teams not included in the restart and eight placeholders representing franchises that would eventually be eliminated before the usual 16-slot playoff bracket.

New York has been in the middle of a rebuild that was accelerated by drafting Kakko and signing Panarin in free agency last year. Getting to add another talent of that calibre should speed the process up even further.

“You’re trying to gather as much talent as you can,” Gorton said. “If you look through some of the best players in the league, some of the star players in this league, it’s not a huge secret where the teams are getting them.

“It’s lottery picks, it’s the very high-end parts of the draft.”

The Los Angeles Kings will choose second, while the Ottawa Senators own the third — as part of the Erik Karlsson trade — and fifth selections. The Detroit Red Wings, who had the best singular odds at winning the lottery the first time around, possess the fourth pick.

Selections nine through 15 are based on the regular-season points percentage of the other seven losers in the qualifying round at the time the league’s suspended play March 12. Minnesota will pick ninth followed by Winnipeg (10th), Nashville (11th) and Florida (12th).

Carolina owns Toronto’s selection — which was part of the Patrick Marleau trade, but top-10 protected — and will choose 13th, followed by Edmonton at No. 14. Pittsburgh currently holds the 15th pick, but has seven days to decide whether or not it will keep the selection or give it to Minnesota as part of the Jason Zucker deal. If the Penguins hold onto the selection, the Wild will get their first-rounder in 2021.

The next 16 spots in the first round of the draft will be determined by the reverse order of playoff results.

The NHL was originally scheduled to hold the 2020 draft at the Bell Centre in Montreal, not far from Lafreniere’s hometown of St-Eustache, Que.

“It was really disappointing,” said Lafreniere, who is set to become the first Quebec-born player to go No. 1 since Marc-Andre Fleury in 2003. “It’s gonna be different.”

The six-foot-one, 193-pound forward and NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater, the 18-year-old is the two-time Canadian Hockey League player of the year. Lafreniere had 35 goals and 112 points in 52 games before the QMJHL season was cancelled because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Lafreniere, who said he might start next season in Rimouski since the NHL won’t get going until at least December, was also named MVP of the 2020 world junior hockey championship in the Czech Republic after leading Canada to gold.

Gorton, who didn’t want to tip his hand even though Lafreniere is viewed as a slam-dunk No. 1, said he hasn’t spoken to the player, but that process — over video conferencing — will commence in short order.

“We didn’t want to jinx ourselves and do our interview with Alexis until we had the good fortune of winning the lottery,” he said. “I didn’t want to waste his time.”

The Rangers have picked first overall just once, when they took Andre Veilleux in 1965, but that was before all junior players were eligible.

“It’s huge excitement for an organization to get the first pick on any year,” Gorton said. “And I think this one’s even more special.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2020



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Lebanese explosion fallout continues with government resignations, finger-pointing


Lebanon’s cabinet faced mounting pressure on Monday to step down after a massive explosion that has ignited anti-government protests and resignations by several ministers, with the justice minister the latest to go.

The Aug. 4 port warehouse detonation of more than 2,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate killed 158 people, injured more than 6,000 and destroyed a swathe of the Mediterranean city, compounding months of political and economic meltdown and prompting furious calls for the entire government to resign.

The cabinet, formed in January with the backing of the powerful Iranian-backed Hezbollah group and its allies, was due to meet on Monday, with many ministers wanting to resign, ministerial and political sources said.

The information and environment ministers quit on Sunday, as well as several lawmakers. Justice minister Marie-Claude Najm resigned on Monday, citing the catastrophic explosion.

“The entire regime needs to change. It will make no difference if there is a new government,” Joe Haddad, an engineer, told Reuters. “We need quick elections.”

WATCH l Resignations begin in Lebanon as donors make pledges:

Protesters took to the streets of Lebanon again Sunday, demanding top officials resign following the Beirut explosion that killed at least 158 people. 10:35

Prime Minister Hassan Diab said on Saturday he would request early parliamentary elections.

Lebanon’s president had previously said that the deadly blast was the result of explosive material that had been stored unsafely for years at the port. Diab later said the investigation would consider whether the cause was external interference as well as negligence or an accident.

Beirut’s governor said many foreign workers and truck drivers remained missing and were assumed to be among the casualties, complicating efforts to identify the victims.

Anti-government protests in the last two days have been the biggest since October, when demonstrators took to the streets over an economic crisis rooted in endemic corruption, waste and mismanagement. Protesters accused the political elite of exploiting state resources for their own benefit.

‘It’s a mafia’

Eli Abi Hanna’s house and his car repair shop were destroyed in the blast.

“The economy was already a disaster, and now I have no way of making money again,” he said. “It was easier to make money during the civil war. The politicians and the economic disaster have ruined everything.”

Some Lebanese doubt change is possible in a country where sectarian politicians have dominated since the 1975-90 conflict.

“It won’t work, it’s just the same people. It’s a mafia,” said Antoinette Baaklini, an employee of an electricity company that was demolished in the blast.

Workers picked up fallen masonry near the building where wall graffiti mocked Lebanon’s chronic electricity crisis: “Everyone else in the world has electricity while we have a donkey.”

“It will always be the same. It is just a political game, nothing will change,” said university student Marilyne Kassis.

An emergency international donor conference on Sunday raised pledges worth nearly 253 million euros ($398 million Cdn) for immediate humanitarian relief.

The sister of a Lebanese army corporal mourns as she is lifted behind his coffin during a funerary procession for him in his hometown in northern Lebanon on Monday after he died in the Aug. 4 blast. (Ibrahim Chalhoub/AFP via Getty Images)

But foreign countries are demanding transparency over how the aid is used, wary of writing blank checks to a government perceived by its own people as deeply corrupt. Some are concerned about the influence of the Shia movement Hezbollah, which is designated as a terrorist group by the United States.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told a televised news conference on Monday that countries should refrain from politicizing the Beirut port blast. He called on the U.S. to lift sanctions against Lebanon.

The Lebanese, meanwhile, are struggling to come to terms with the scale of losses. Entire neighbourhoods were destroyed.

“It is very sad. We are burying people every day,” said a priest.



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New race-based data shows visible minorities in Canada disproportionately impacted by COVID recession


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But it will take months before we have a true picture of the real cost of the pandemic on different racialized groups, Macdonald believes, because there is still insufficient jobs-focused data by race.

“It is not new that visible minorities face higher unemployment rates and lower income, because we can already see that in the census data,” he said. “What’s new is that during this pandemic, we can now see who is hit harder.”

Armine Yalnizyan, an economist and Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers, pointed out that Canada’s story on race and jobs is much more nuanced than that of its southern neighbour.

“In the U.S., their labour force survey has always tracked three big buckets — white, Hispanic and Black,” she said. “But what we can see here is that South Asians and Chinese Canadians have been most impacted in the last one year and the groups that are seeing the most continued increase in unemployment are South Asians, Arabs and Blacks — our situation does not mirror the U.S.”

Beyond race, July’s unemployment numbers were “somewhat of a good news story,” according to Brendon Bernard, an economist at Indeed Canada, a jobs site. 

“In the grand scheme of things, the reopening of the economy has brought a lot of people back to work, which is why we’re seeing a pretty solid pace in employment growth,” he said. “However, there were signs that further progress might not be as rapid, as a return to work among those temporarily laid off was the prime source of job gains.” 



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Today’s coronavirus news: Brazil tops 3 million coronavirus infections; Germany sends children back to school


The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Saturday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

8:51 a.m.: U.S. President Donald Trump has bypassed the nation’s lawmakers as he claimed the authority to defer payroll taxes and replace an expired unemployment benefit with a lower amount after negotiations with Congress on a new coronavirus rescue package collapsed.

Trump’s orders on Saturday encroached on Congress’ control of federal spending and seemed likely to be met with legal challenges. The president cast his actions as necessary given that lawmakers have been unable to reach an agreement to plunge more money into the stumbling economy, which has imperiled his November reelection.

8:18 a.m.: The Ohio governor’s positive, then negative, tests for COVID-19 have provided fuel for skeptics of government pandemic mandates and critics of his often-aggressive polices.

“I’m sure the Internet is lighting up with ‘Well, you can’t believe any test,’ ” Mike DeWine said in a WCOL radio interview Friday, after a whirlwind of events the day before when the initial positive showing forced the Republican to scrub a planned meeting with President Donald Trump.

The conflicting results come as Americans have grown frustrated about access to testing and by slow results.

8:12 a.m.: As Germany’s 16 states start sending millions of children back to school in the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic, the country’s famous sense of “Ordnung,” or order, has given way to uncertainty, with a hodgepodge of regional regulations that officials acknowledge may or may not work.

“There can’t, and never will be 100% certainty,” said Torsten Kuehne, the official in charge of schools in Pankow, Berlin’s most populous district where 45,000 students go back to school Monday. “We are trying to minimize the risk as much as possible.”

Germany has won plaudits for managing to slow the spread of the coronavirus quickly, efficiently and early, but the opening of schools is proving a new challenge as the country struggles to balance the concerns of anxious parents and children, skeptical scientists, worried teachers and overtaxed administrators.

6:16 a.m.: The prospect of starvation looms for carriage horses and other animals normally used in Morocco’s tourist mecca. Visitors have vanished during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad, or SPANA, says hundreds of Morocco’s carriage horses and donkeys are threatened amid the collapsing tourism industry. They are among the estimated 200 million horses, donkeys, camels and elephants worldwide providing various livelihoods for over a half-billion people.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. on Aug. 9, 2020:

There are 119,221 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 60,367 confirmed (including 5,692 deaths, 50,886 resolved)

_ Ontario: 39,967 confirmed (including 2,784 deaths, 36,131 resolved)

_ Alberta: 11,430 confirmed (including 208 deaths, 10,097 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,934 confirmed (including 195 deaths, 3,353 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,433 confirmed (including 20 deaths, 1,245 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,071 confirmed (including 64 deaths, 1,005 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 492 confirmed (including 8 deaths, 351 resolved), 15 presumptive

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_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 267 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 263 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 176 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 168 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 36 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 119,221 (15 presumptive, 119,206 confirmed including 8,976 deaths, 103,566 resolved)

8:14 p.m.: Brazil topped 3 million coronavirus infections as the disease flares up in parts of the country it had spared, spreading misery from the beaches of Bahia to the soybean fields of the vast interior.

The milestone comes less than a month after Brazil hit the 2 million-case mark and as the disease sweeps into more remote regions were access to health care was precarious even before the pandemic. So even as the virus recedes in some of the locations where it first hit —richer, densely populated urban centers like Sao Paulo —the country’s curve has yet to flatten.

The country reported 49,970 new cases Saturday and added 905 new deaths, bringing with the total fatality count to more than 100,000.

Read Satruday’s rolling file





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Possible COVID-19 transmission at Regina Walmart


The Saskatchewan Health Authority issued an advisory about possible COVID-19 transmission at a Regina Walmart.

On Saturday, the SHA said the Grasslands Walmart in Harbour Landing was potentially exposed to the novel coronavirus on Aug. 5 from 11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

The health authority says the risk of transmission to the general public is presently considered low. However, those who visited the Grasslands Walmart during the period of possible exposure are asked to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for two weeks from the last day they visited the business.

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The SHA says contact tracing is currently underway.

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However, anyone who wants to get tested for the novel coronavirus can do so anytime by calling public health at 811.






Coronavirus: Should Walmart, other big-box stores make its customers wear masks?


Coronavirus: Should Walmart, other big-box stores make its customers wear masks?



© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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Survivors of deadly India crash say plane swayed violently


The plane swayed violently as it approached a hilltop runway drenched in monsoon rain, and moments later the special return flight for Indians stranded abroad by the pandemic skidded off, nosedived and cracked in two, leaving 18 dead and more than 120 injured.

Among the injured on Friday night, at least 15 were in critical condition. The dead included both pilots of the Air India Express flight while the four cabin crew are safe.

The 2-year-old Boeing 737-800 flew from Dubai to Kozhikode, also called Calicut, in Kerala, India’s southernmost state. A passenger says after the plane hit the runway, it nosedived followed by a big noise and people screaming. The runway is on a flat hilltop with deep gorges on either side.



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