B.C. mudslides, call to end ban on gay men donating blood: In The News for Nov. 16 | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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B.C. mudslides, call to end ban on gay men donating blood: In The News for Nov. 16

Search and rescue personnel help evacuees disembark from a helicopter in Agassiz, B.C. on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 16 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Rescue crews will spend Tuesday searching for people who may have been trapped in debris from mudslides on a British Columbia highway, after helicopters ferried out 275 people from a slide site on Highway 7 on Monday.

The mudslides rolled over the highway during an "atmospheric river" that brought a deluge of rain and flooding to the southwest and central parts of the province.

The torrential rain closed highways, overwhelmed rivers and creeks and caused the wastewater treatment plant in Merritt to break down, forcing the evacuation of the city of 7,000.

More than 20 emergency centres have been activated to help house stranded travellers.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is ready to help British Columbians affected by flooding and extreme weather, urging people to stay safe.

There have been no reports of any fatalities.

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Also this ...

An end to the ban on gay and bisexual men from donating blood is set to be recommended within weeks in favour of new screening criteria based on sexual history and behaviour.

Canadian Blood Services is preparing to ask Health Canada to allow it to scrap questions about gender or sexuality, basing screening on higher-risk sexual behaviour instead.

Potential donors could be asked if they have had multiple sexual partners, and about their sexual behaviour instead of their sexuality and gender.

Currently men volunteering to give blood are asked if they have had sex with a man in the last three months.

Canadian Blood Services spokeswoman Catherine Lewis says sexual behaviour, not sexual orientation, determines risk of sexual transmission of HIV.

The proposed criteria will aim to precisely and reliably identify people who may have had an infection regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

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And this ...

In a country intent on helping to slow global warming without destroying its economy, Canada's latest natural resources minister says his department can no longer be thought of mainly as the ministry for fossil fuels.

Jonathan Wilkinson is three weeks removed from the cabinet shuffle that made him the fourth natural resources minister in the last six years.

Now after helming the environment department tasked with combating climate change, he's in charge of the department that regulates and promotes many of the products that cause it.

But when the 56-year-old former clean tech CEO took over Natural Resources Canada, some saw it as a signal the department is going to evolve to prioritize clean technology in a way it hasn't yet done.

Wilkinson agrees with that interpretation of his appointment, telling The Canadian Press that natural resources must be defined more broadly to include renewable energy, hydrogen and biofuels, not just oil and gas and mining.

Wilkinson denies that his government is unfairly targeting oil and gas sectors in its climate change plan, arguing that any industry that is contributing to the problem has to become part of the solution.

What we are watching in the U.S. ...

HOUSTON _ Calls for an independent investigation into what led to 10 deaths at the Astroworld music festival went unheeded Monday, as Houston-area officials instead chose to direct a county administrator to conduct a review with other governmental entities.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo -- the top elected official in Harris County, which includes Houston -- had proposed a third-party probe of the planning and execution of the festival founded and headlined by rap superstar Travis Scott.

The Harris County administrator instead will work with other city and county entities to review security, fire and other safety plans at the county-owned NRG Park, where the festival was held.

Other members of Harris County's governing body, known as a commissioner's court, were concerned Hidalgo's investigation could lead to legal liabilities for the county.

Dozens of lawsuits have already been filed over injuries and deaths at the Nov. 5 concert. Over 300 people were treated on site for injuries at the show, and at least 25 were hospitalized.

Houston police are conducting a separate criminal investigation into what happened at the festival. No one has been charged.

Police have said they are reviewing surveillance video provided by concert promoter Live Nation, as well as dozens of clips of the show shared on social media. Investigators also planned to speak with Live Nation representatives, Scott and concertgoers.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

KAMPALA, Uganda _ Two loud explosions were heard in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, early Tuesday, sparking chaos and confusion as people fled what is widely believed to be co-ordinated attacks.

One blast happened near a police station and another along a street near the parliamentary building, said witnesses. That blast near parliament appeared to target a building housing an insurance company, and the subsequent fire engulfed cars parked outside. Some lawmakers were seen evacuating the precincts of the parliamentary building nearby, according to national broadcaster UBC.

An eyewitness video posted online showed a plume of white smoke rising from the blast scene near the police station.

Police did not immediately comment, and it was not clear if the explosions were bomb attacks. There was no immediate word on casualties.

Ugandan officials have been urging vigilance in the wake of a string of bomb explosions in recent weeks.

One person was killed and at least seven others wounded in an explosion at a restaurant in a suburb of Kampala on Oct. 23. Another explosion two days later on a passenger bus killed only the suicide bomber, according to police.

Even before those attacks, the U.K. government had updated its Uganda travel advisory to say extremists ``are very likely to try to carry out attacks'' in this East African country.

The Allied Democratic Forces, an affiliate of the Islamic State group in central Africa, claimed responsibility for the attack on the eatery.

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On this day in 1976 ...

The Canadian political landscape underwent a major upheaval. Rene Levesque led the separatist Parti Quebecois to a stunning victory in a Quebec general election. The PQ won 69 of 110 seats in the National Assembly, ousting Robert Bourassa's Liberals after six years in power.

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In entertainment ...

LOS ANGELES _ Film industry crew members have narrowly voted to approve a pair of contracts with Hollywood producers after a standoff that came within days of a strike that would have halted productions across the U.S., union leaders said Monday.

The agreements passed 56 per cent to 44 per cent among delegates from the 36 local unions of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees in the voting system that resembles the U.S. Electoral College.

But in the popular vote, 50.3 per cent said yes and 49.7 per cent no to the two contracts combined of the 45,000 members who cast a ballot in voting held from Friday through Sunday. And the larger of the two contracts, which primarily covers film and TV production on the West Coast, actually lost the popular vote by a narrow margin.

The razor-thin totals stood in contrast to the last vote from union members, in which 98 per cent approved giving union leaders the authority to call a strike.

A victorious ``no'' vote would have reopened negotiations and brought back the possibility of a work stoppage.

There was relief among many members when the three-year deal was reached with producers on Oct. 16, two days before a strike deadline.

But many others were disillusioned with the details, saying the contracts didn't go far enough to address issues like long workdays that may lack breaks or lunch, and the debilitating fatigue it causes.

IATSE represents about 150,000 behind-the-scenes workers, including stagehands, cinematographers, costumers and others employed in all forms of entertainment, from movies and TV to theatre, concerts, trade shows and broadcasting.

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ICYMI ...

A Conservative senator has begun a petition pushing for a review of Erin O'Toole's leadership of the party within six months — the latest rumbling of discontent over losing the recent federal election.

Sen. Denise Batters, a vocal critic of O'Toole, says he cannot lead the party to victory in the next election campaign.

"This campaign was not lost because of Mr. O'Toole's mistakes or inexperience," she said in a video accompanying the online petition. "It was lost because of what Canadian voters perceive as his character flaw, that he is not trustworthy. You can't come back from that."

Batters, who backed the socially conservative Andrew Scheer in the party's 2017 leadership contest and veteran politician Peter MacKay in the most recent one, said a rift among party members is growing.

O'Toole has watered down, and even entirely reversed, the party's policy positions on guns, carbon pricing and conscience rights without input from caucus members, Batters said.

She accused O'Toole of running a failed election campaign that was almost indistinguishable from Justin Trudeau's Liberals despite winning the party leadership claiming to be "true blue."

"Erin O'Toole lectured our party members on election night, telling us we need to have the courage to change — into what he hasn't yet said. But members deserve to have a say on this change and the future direction of this party, including our leadership."

O'Toole lost the October election, in which the Liberals were held to a second consecutive minority government, by every measure, Batters said.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 16, 2021.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2021
The Canadian Press

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