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Scorching temperatures, calls to end Ethiopian aid funding : In The News for June 29


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 June 29 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

An expert says a stifling heat wave throughout much of Western Canada is unusual because of the nighttime temperatures it is bringing.

Simon Donner, a professor at the University of British Columbia's geography department, says average daytime highs for this time of the year in the province are usually around 22 degrees Celsius, but the mercury is expected to hit 34 this week.

More importantly, he says the overnight low is projected to be 24 degrees Celsius, which is two degrees higher than the usual temperature during the daytime.

"That's how unusual this is," he said in an interview. "It's going to be warmer overnight than it usually is in the middle of the day." 

Donner said warming nighttime temperatures are "like a fingerprint of climate change.”

“This is exactly a specific sort of prediction that scientists have been making. That we would have warmer nights."

He calls the heat wave unprecedented because of its magnitude and duration.

Environment Canada has warned that the heat wave won't lift for days, although parts of British Columbia and Yukon could see some relief sooner.  

Sixty temperature records fell Sunday in B-C, including in the village of Lytton, where the mercury reached 46.6 degrees Celsius — breaking the all-time Canadian high of 45 Celsius, set in Saskatchewan in 1937.


Also this ...

Ottawa should stop sending millions of dollars in aid to the Ethiopian government and push for creating a no-fly zone and delivering air-dropped food aid to the people of the Tigray region, who have been under attack from the federal military for nearly eight months, advocates say.

Azeb Gebrehiwot of the Association of Tigrayan Communities in Canada said Canadians should know their taxpayer money is funding the Ethiopian government, which has been committing atrocities in Tigray.

"We, Tigrayans in Canada, we are so, so disheartened by our Canadian government, because you have the U.S., European Union, the U.K. strongly, strongly speaking out against what's happening in Tigray," she said. 

Gebrehiwot, who immigrated to Canada 18 years ago, said the Ethiopian government completely shut off communication in the region, preventing her from reaching her family as Ethiopian and allied forces pursued a military operation in Tigray.

The conflict has led to the world's worst famine crisis in a decade, with more than 350,000 people facing starvation, according to the UN and other humanitarian groups.

Ethiopia’s government on Monday declared an immediate, unilateral ceasefire in the region. The announcement was carried by state media shortly after the Tigray interim administration, appointed by the federal government, fled the regional capital, Mekele, and called for a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds so that desperately needed aid can be delivered. 

Meanwhile, Mekele residents cheered the return of Tigray forces.

The ceasefire, which Ethiopia said will last until the end of the crucial planting season in September, could calm a war that has destabilized Africa's second-most populous country and threatened to do the same in the wider Horn of Africa, where Ethiopia has been seen as a key security ally for the West. 

Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of Canada's international aid. The East African country had received almost $2 billion in aid from Canada between 2010 and 2019, according to the Canadian International Development Platform, a data-collecting initiative that operates out of Carleton University. 

Global Affairs Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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

SAN DIEGO — The Biden administration says the number of unaccompanied migrant children housed at its largest emergency shelter has dropped by more than 40 per cent since mid-June. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told reporters Monday that 790 boys are now being housed at Fort Bliss Army base in El Paso, Texas, and all the girls have left. 

The drop in numbers comes after weeks of criticism by child welfare advocates who voiced concerns about inadequate conditions at the large-scale facility. 

Becerra said more services and staffing have been added, including case managers who connect children with family in the U.S. 

In mid-June, the administration reported about 2,000 boys and girls were at the Fort Bliss facility. In May, more than 4,400 children were housed there.

Becerra said his agency, which is responsible for caring for migrant children, is now evaluating whether some of the emergency shelters can be closed. But he declined to say whether Fort Bliss would be among them.


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

WARSAW, Poland — In its latest report on the sexual abuse of minors, Poland's Catholic Church lists 292 clergymen who allegedly abused over 300 boys and girls from 1958 though 2020. 

The report released Monday comes at a time when the Vatican is investigating reports of abuse and of a lack of reaction by church leaders in Poland. 

The cases were reported to church authorities from mid-2018 until the end of 2020. The reports came from the victims, their families, other clergymen, the media and from other sources.

At an online conference in Warsaw, the head of Poland’s Catholic Church, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, apologized to the victims and asked their forgiveness, echoing apologies he has made before.

According to church statistics gathered from all dioceses, 368 reports of abuse of people under the age of 18 were made to church authorities between July 1, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2020. They cover a period ranging from 1958 though 2020.

Of them, 144 cases have been confirmed or considered credible at an initial stage of an investigation by the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Another 186 are still being investigated and 38 have been rejected as not credible.

“What is clear to see is that we have a wave of reports” in high numbers, since the time of the previous report published in March 2019, said Monsignor Adam Zak, the official in charge of tracking down and preventing abuse.

The church’s first report, for 1990-2018, listed cases of 382 clergymen having allegedly abused 625 minors.

The current report reflects new allegations that have been made since then.

Forty-two of the alleged perpetrators' names are the same as in the previous report, church officials said.


On this day in 1927 ...

France formally transferred ownership of 100 hectares of property at Vimy to Canada. The land was the scene of one of the most celebrated battles by Canadian soldiers during the First World War. The German bastion along Vimy Ridge was assaulted by all four divisions of the Canadian Corps on Easter 1917. The Vimy memorial consists of the Canadian land, now a park, and a monument dedicated by King Edward VIII in 1936.


In entertainment ...

Pamela Anderson is returning to her roots on Vancouver Island for an HGTV Canada show that features the Canadian actor as she transforms her late grandmother's abandoned legacy property into a home for herself and her family.

Corus Studios says it has greenlit the eight-part series and it is set to debut next year. It has the working title "Pamela Anderson's Home Reno Project."

The nearly three-hectare property sits on the shore of the town of Ladysmith, B.C.

Corus says Anderson bought the rustic property from her grandmother more than 25 years ago and promised to keep it in the family. 

The media company says the TV and film star plans to project manage every aspect of the transformation, with the help of her new husband and local carpenter, Dan Hayhurst.

Also helping will be her mother, Carol Anderson, and local crew, designers and craftspeople.



CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A new study is throwing cold water on the possibility of life in the clouds of Venus. 

European and U.S. scientists reported Monday there isn’t nearly enough water vapour in the scorching planet’s clouds to support life as we know it. 

The team looked into the matter following September’s surprise announcement by other scientists that strange, tiny organisms could be lurking in the thick, sulfuric acid-filled clouds of Venus. Through spacecraft observations, the latest research group found the water level is more than 100 times too low to support Earth-like life.

“It's almost at the bottom of the scale and an unbridgeable distance from what life requires to be active,” said the lead author, John Hallsworth, a microbiologist at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland.

While the latest findings veto Venus at least for water-based organisms, they identify another planet — Jupiter — with enough water in the clouds and the right atmospheric temperatures to support life.

“Now I'm not suggesting there's life on Jupiter and I'm not even suggesting life could be there because it would need the nutrients to be there and we can't be sure of that,” Hallsworth stressed to reporters. “But still it's a profound and exciting finding and totally unexpected.”

Further studies will be needed to ascertain whether microbial life might exist deep in the clouds of Jupiter, according to Hallsworth and NASA astrobiologist Chris McKay, a co-author on the research paper published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2021

The Canadian Press

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