Canada adds extra C$691 mln to agriculture sector, cuts timeline for dairy farmers’ aid


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Canada’s government said on Saturday it will pump an additional C$691 million ($531.87 million) to support the country’s dairy, poultry and egg farmers, and also reduced the timeline for payment promised to dairy farmers last year.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the government slashed its initial eight-year schedule and will deliver the remaining C$1.405 billion from a total of C$1.75 billion promised in August 2019, directly to farmers in only three years.

The package for dairy farmers also build on a $250 million CETA on-farm investment program, Bibeau said in a statement https://www.canada.ca/en/agriculture-agri-food/news/2020/11/government-of-canada-announces-investments-to-support-supply-managed-dairy-poultry-and-egg-farmers.html.

The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, sets out the removal of tariffs on 99% of all goods types traded between the EU and Canada, some over a period of up to seven years.

The government’s compensation payments recognize business dairy and poultry farmers have lost out after trade pacts were struck with the European Union and Pacific nations.

Bibeau last year promised that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government will make no further dairy market-access concessions in other trade negotiations. (https://bit.ly/2VfvS6I)

Dairy Farmers of Canada President Pierre Lampron welcomed the compensation plan.

Lampron said the latest move will place the dairy farmer group in a better position to compete with increased imports of dairy products made from foreign milk. ($1 = 1.2992 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru Editing by Alistair Bell)



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Dow advances, S&P ekes out gain as vaccine timeline comes into focus



FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange, September 30, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

October 16, 2020

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 posted a nominal gain on Friday as further clarity regarding the timeline for the development of a coronavirus vaccine and much better-than-expected retail sales data and brought buyers back to the market.

The Dow also joined the S&P in positive territory, both indexes snapping a three-day losing streak driven by halted vaccine trials and continued wrangling in Washington over a new pandemic relief package. But the Nasdaq ended the session lower.

Even so, they all posted gains on the week.

Pfizer Inc announced it could apply for U.S. authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with German partner BioNTech in November. Pfizer’s stock gained 3.8%.

“The two highest-level market movers are the vaccine timeline and stimulus optimism,” said Ross Mayfield, investment strategist at Baird in Louisville, Kentucky. “Sometimes the market gets a reality check that even if we get a vaccine early next year that’s an incredibly aggressive and optimistic timeline.”

Retail sales in September blew past analyst expectations and consumer sentiment for the current month surprised to the upside, according to two separate economic reports. But with previous stimulus having run its course, the outlook is uncertain unless Washington can reach an agreement on a fresh round of fiscal aid.

“It’s important from the retail sales data to see that the consumer is not just limping a long but exceeding expectations,” Mayfield added. “I don’t know how long this can continue without stimulus but it’s heartening to see the consumer has held up pretty well despite some dire expectations.”

On the stimulus front, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that President Donald Trump would “weigh in” with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell if an agreement is reached on a new pandemic relief package. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, however, said he does not expect an agreement to be reached ahead of the Nov. 3 election as long as Pelosi is involved.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 112.11 points, or 0.39%, to 28,606.31, the S&P 500 gained 0.47 points, or 0.01%, to 3,483.81 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 42.32 points, or 0.36%, to 11,671.56.

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, seven ended the session in the black. While utilities had the largest percentage gain, energy suffered the biggest loss.

Third-quarter reporting season burst from the starting gate this week, with 49 of the companies in the S&P 500 having reported. Of those, 86% have cleared the low bar set by expectations, according to Refinitiv.

Oil services company Schlumberger NV posted its third straight quarterly loss due to falling crude prices and plunging demand. Its shares dropped 8.8%.

Railroad operator Kansas City Southern shed 2.7% and transportation and logistics company J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc tumbled 9.7% after the companies’ quarterly results were hit dropping shipping demand.

The Dow Jones Transport index, considered a barometer of economic health, fell 1.3%.

Shares of fitness company Peloton Interactive Inc lost 3.7% after announcing a recall of faulty pedals on its popular exercise bikes.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.30-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.07-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 50 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 98 new highs and 20 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 8.82 billion shares, compared with the 9.31 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

(Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Marguerita Choy)





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Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation schedule: A timeline


Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is, if Republicans have their way, less than a month away from being confirmed as the next justice on the high court.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge was officially nominated by President Trump late last month, and Senate Republicans hurried to set a hearing date for the nominee and vowed to confirm her before the presidential election. They are aiming for a floor vote before October is out.

Out of the 53 Republican senators, only two — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have said they want the Senate to wait until after the presidential election to move on a Supreme Court nominee. That means Republicans, barring any unexpected defections, almost certainly have the votes to move Barrett’s nomination on their own terms.

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Democrats have vowed to do everything they can do stop Barrett’s confirmation. But unless they can convince any more Republican senators to oppose the Republican-nominated judge it is unlikely they have the votes to do anything more than protest loudly and potentially force Republicans into some uncomfortable protest votes.

Here is the likely timeline for Barrett’s confirmation effort as hearings begin and a final floor vote nears.

Oct. 12-14: Hearings

Monday, Oct. 12 will mark the first day of Barrett’s confirmation hearings, including opening statements from Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. The rest of the senators will then give 10-minute opening statements followed by 5-minute introductions for Barrett and then the judge’s opening remarks.

This hearing, and all others, will be hybrid in-person and virtual, with senators having the option to join by teleconference. This will be especially important as Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, tested positive for the coronavirus last week and are likely to still be under quarantine by the start of the confirmation hearings.

Tuesday, Oct. 13 is when senators will have their first real opportunity to grill Barrett on national television. Democrats will likely ask Barrett about past comments she’s made that have been critical of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that bans states from making abortion illegal, and NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court ruling that initially upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as constitutional. There is another Supreme Court case scheduled for oral arguments about the ACA’s constitutionality just days after the presidential election, making the ACA a timely issue for this confirmation hearing that’s coming right in the middle of a presidential election.

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Republicans, meanwhile, are likely to spotlight Barrett’s strong academic record and praise she’s received for her time on the federal bench since she was first confirmed as a circuit judge in 2017. Expect a lot of questions about “originalism,” the judicial philosophy to which late Justice Antonin Scalia, one of Barrett’s mentors, subscribed.

Senators on Tuesday will have 30 minutes each to question Barrett. Then on Wednesday hearings will continue with 20-minute rounds of questioning. For any questioning after that point senators will each get 10 minutes.

Oct. 15: Markup and outside panel

The Judiciary Committee will convene in a hearing again on Thursday, Oct.15, this time with an outside panel. It is unclear at this point exactly how that panel will work.

But also on that Thursday Graham has said that he plans to begin the markup, or internal debate, on Barrett’s nomination. It is possible that Democrats may try to hold over the Barrett nomination for a week at that meeting, but Republicans, holding the majority in the committee, could change those rules to prevent Democrats from taking that action.

By this point, Tillis has said he plans to be back and attending committee meetings in person, predicting that he will have recovered from the coronavirus by this time.

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Oct. 22: Committee vote

Graham has said that he plans on Oct. 22 to vote Barrett out of committee. It is likely that Democrats will try procedural tactics to make the vote more difficult for Republicans, but by this time there is a strong chance both Lee and Tillis will both have returned and will be working in person. If that is the case there is little, if anything, Democrats can do to prevent Republicans from advancing Barrett’s nomination.

Oct. 23 or later: Floor vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said that he will hold a floor vote on Barrett’s nomination shortly after she is voted out of committee. McConnell has not committed to a specific day and it is nearly certain that there will be time for general floor debate on Barrett in the Senate before the vote, so it is not clear it will be on Oct. 23 or even the one or two days thereafter.

In the immediate lead-up to the vote, there will be intense pressure on moderate Republican senators and Republicans in tough reelection fights on how they will vote. A more certain vote count will emerge as senators who have said they are in favor of advancing the Barrett nomination but have not yet committed to voting a certain way announce how they will vote. It appears unlikely at this point that Republican senators will suddenly oppose a Republican-nominated judge after having said they are behind the process.

Some senators will likely make the announcement of how they will vote in their floor speeches as Collins did in 2018 when she announced she would vote for Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“Susan Collins, in I think one of the most effective and memorable speeches in the history of the Senate, walked through absolutely everything from beginning to end and given the nature of her very blue state cast a very courageous vote for Brett Kavanaugh and that basically determined the outcome,” McConnell recalled at a 2019 speaking engagement.

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Barrett, if she is successfully confirmed, will shortly thereafter be sworn in as the newest justice on the Supreme Court in what will likely be a private ceremony led by Chief Justice John Roberts.

As the new justice gets up to speed on the cases of the October 2020 Supreme Court term that’s already underway, she’ll also replace Kavanaugh in the traditional job held by the most junior justice on the court: She’ll serve on its cafeteria committee.

Late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose seat Barrett is filling, according to the Wall Street Journal, once called the position “a truly disheartening assignment.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report. 



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NT court sets timeline for case against Zachary Rolfe, who is charged with murder over death of Kumanjayi Walker


A court has agreed on a timeline for lawyers to file witness lists in the murder case of a Northern Territory police officer charged over the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker.

Constable Zachary Rolfe is charged with one count of murder over Mr Walker’s death in the remote Aboriginal community of Yuendumu, about 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs, in November 2019.

He appeared in the Alice Springs local court today by video link from Canberra and intends to plead not guilty.

Judge John Birch told defence counsel he was concerned about future delays in the matter.

“I note the matter first came before the court on December 12 last year,” he said.

“The more delay there is, the longer it will be in the future that an appropriate amount of time can be set aside to undertake a preliminary examination, if that’s the way the matter is to proceed this year.”

He ordered the defence to provide its witness list before July 3, and the prosecution to respond with its own list by July 17.

Additional witnesses will need to be filed by the defence by July 24.

A hard copy of evidence will be provided to the court by August 5, ahead of an August 14 court date.

The remote NT community of Yuendumu is about 300km north-west of Alice Springs.(ABC News: Hamish Harty)

‘Substantive’ evidence served to defence

Prosecutor Collette Dixon told the court that “substantive” evidence had been served to Mr Rolfe’s lawyers, and that there had been requests made for further materials to be obtained by police.

The court also heard the defence was seeking a non-publication order, a move which was consented to by the prosecution.

That matter will be heard in court on July 1.

Ned Hargraves from the Justice for Walker campaign said the delays were frustrating.

“We are so anxious, we can’t wait — this will make something out of it and help [put] us at ease,” he said.

“It’s a stress really for us … I think it’s too long, but slowly, slowly it’s getting to a place where we will get what we want.

“All those times it’s pushed back … we as yappa [Warlpiri people] , we want to get it over and done with because the Kartia [non-Indigenous] system is not our system, and we have to go along with it.”



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National cabinet to discuss timeline for lifting coronavirus restrictions across Australia


Coronavirus restrictions will dominate a crucial meeting of federal and state leaders as Australia maps the road out of the pandemic.

National cabinet will meet on Friday morning to discuss easing restrictions in response to the squashing of infection rates across the country.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will chair the meeting, but states get the final say on what measures might be eased.

The national cabinet meeting will discuss how to lift major coronavirus restrictions across Australia.

Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Mr Morrison is more eager than premiers and chief ministers for businesses to get going again.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton warned the road back to normality would be long.

“There are tough months to come,” Mr Dutton told Nine on Thursday.

He said there would still be outbreaks, which meant it would be important to slowly ease Australia back to normal.

Victoria is retaining the most hardline approach, while NSW has signalled it will also move cautiously, with outbreaks in those two states still active.

Queensland is allowing groups of five to visit other houses from Mother’s Day, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk framing it as a reward for achieving good infection results.

The NT, WA and SA are among the least restrictive jurisdictions, while Tasmania and the ACT are yet to wind rules back significantly.

There is a split among states on the timeline for lifting major restrictions.

There is a split among states on the timeline for lifting major restrictions.

AAP

Health Minister Greg Hunt said state governments would make decisions about relaxing restrictions based on their circumstances.

“What we hope comes out of national cabinet, and what I expect, is a clear roadmap out, with clear stages,” he said.

The devastating economic impact of coronavirus is being felt across the country, with unemployment soaring as major sectors bear the brunt of the shutdown.

National Australia Bank believes employment has reached 11 per cent based on one million people having unemployment claims processed.

But there are also fears of a second infection wave when restrictions are lifted.

Health officials are confident Australia is well placed to handle further outbreaks, along with a strong testing and tracing regime to counter the fresh spread.

Leaders are facing the delicate balance between saving livelihoods and protecting lives.

Mr Dutton said state and federal leaders were trying to strike the right settings.

“Ultimately, we want to take the advice of the medical officers as well as frankly of the Reserve Bank governor, the secretary of Treasury and others,” he told 2GB radio.

“Having no cases but people literally watching their lives collapse around them if they’ve got a small business, for example – that is not the outcome we want.”

There have been 97 deaths from coronavirus in Australia, while more than 6000 of the 6897 people infected have recovered.

An outbreak at a Melbourne abattoir has been linked to 62 cases but no deaths, while a cluster at a Sydney nursing home has claimed 16 lives.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. The federal government’s coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone’s app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.





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Canadian police encourage tipsters while working on timeline of mass shooting



A man staples a heart to a utility pole at the the makeshift memorial, made in the memory for the victims of Sunday’s mass shooting in Portapique, Nova Scotia, Canada April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Tim Krochak

April 23, 2020

By Tim Krochak and Moira Warburton

PORTAPIQUE, Nova Scotia (Reuters) – Canadian police on Thursday worked to piece together the timeline of a shooting spree that started in a rural hamlet in the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia and ended 13 hours later when the gunman, who killed 22 people, was shot dead.

Police set up a tip line and on Thursday encouraged people who had information to call.

“Anything you know – no matter how small or insignificant it might seem – could help us piece the puzzle together,” Darren Campbell of the Nova Scotia Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), said in a statement.

On Saturday night, police could not track down the gunman, 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, and only picked up his trail the next day after he had gone on to kill more people, including a veteran Mountie, in the worst mass shooting in the country’s history.

Investigators are now analyzing 16 crime scenes and trying to plot Wortman’s movements overnight and during his flight the following morning.

One of the reasons Wortman may have slipped away is that he was driving a vehicle that looked identical to a RCMP cruiser and he was dressed in an RCMP uniform.

Police have yet to determine the gunman’s motive. On Wednesday, the RCMP faced criticism for poor communication with the public to alert them that an active gunman was on the loose.

A recording between a first responder and dispatcher showed confusion on Saturday night as to whether a suspect had been caught, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Thursday.

And during the pursuit on Sunday morning, police officers shot at a firehouse where people who left their homes due to the gunman’s rampage had taken refuge. It is not clear why the shots were fired, according to a provincial civilian police watchdog, because the suspect was not in the area.

No one was injured in the police shooting and the incident is under investigation.

After three Mounties were killed and two were severely wounded by a gunman in Moncton, New Brunswick, in 2014, the RCMP commissioned an independent review to determine how the situation could have been better managed.

The review recommended the RCMP examine how supervisors are trained to command in critical situations and to enhance training. In 2017, the RCMP said the recommendations had been implemented.

Brian Sauve, president of the National Police Federation, said there still is not enough training.

“One of the challenges in our organization has always been finding the time to do that training, because we’re so short staffed we can’t even afford to have people go on training,” Sauve said.

(Reporting by Tim Krochak in Portapique and Moira Warburton in Toronto; editing by Steve Scherer and Tom Brown)





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