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Federal measures for COVID-19 and an upside down house; In The News for March 11


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 March 11 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans today to announce federal funding to help provincial health-care systems cope with the increasing number of new coronavirus cases and to help Canadian workers who are forced to isolate themselves.

Business and labour groups say they want the federal government to loosen restrictions on employment insurance payments for people who are off work due to illness.

This would also make it easier for people with more precarious jobs to stay home and avoid infecting others.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Monday that the government was "looking at taking some initiatives this week" to help workers, employers and provincial health systems.

There are few confirmed instances of community transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 in Canada, but the number of cases continues to grow.

So far, there have been 94 confirmed cases of the illness in Canada.


Also this ...

OTTAWA — Lawyers for a woman accused of espionage will try to persuade a judge today she did not spy for Russia.

Elena Crenna is asking the Federal Court in Ottawa to reverse an immigration adjudicator's decision to bar her from Canada over events that unfolded a quarter-century ago.

The tale began in 1994 when Canadian David Crenna hired Elena — whom he would later marry — as an interpreter and public-relations representative on a humanitarian housing project in Tver, Russia.

An agent from a Russian security agency contacted her to ask questions about the project and David gave her permission to speak with him in the interest of being transparent and forthcoming. 

Immigration officials gave Elena the go-ahead to live in Canada in 2018, but the federal government successfully appealed the decision last year on grounds her meetings with the Russian agent amounted to espionage.

Elena Crenna has left Canada while the legal proceedings play out, but her husband plans to attend court today.


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

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden had another big night Tuesday in the U.S. Democratic presidential primary, capturing four more states, including Michigan.

The former vice-president's victory in Michigan dealt a serious blow to contender Bernie Sanders and his 2020 aspirations.

Biden also won Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho, showing strength with working-class voters and African American voters.

His message, post win was aimed squarely at U.S. President Donald Trump, saying he needed to be voted out of the White House.


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

KABUL, Afghanistan — After a series of delays, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has agreed to release 1,500 Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture to get intra-Afghan negotiations started.

That's despite the fact that a recent peace deal signed by the United States and the Taliban calls for freeing up to 5,000 prisoners ahead of the much sought-after negotiations.

There was no immediate response from the Taliban.

Wednesday's decree came as the U.S. State Department issued a statement saying the level of violence is "unacceptable."

It said that while the Taliban have stopped attacks against the U.S.-led coalition forces and in Afghan cities, the violence in the countryside remains too high.



OTTAWA — U.S. and Canadian fighter jets have intercepted and escorted two Russian reconnaissance planes flying off the coast of Alaska, only days after Canada's top general described Russia as the greatest immediate threat to North America.

Canadian CF-18s and American F-22s were scrambled Monday after the North American Aerospace Defence Command spotted the two Russian Tu-142 Bear aircraft approaching the Alaskan coast, Norad said in a statement.

The Russians remained in international airspace over the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska for about four hours before departing, according to Norad. They approached within 50 nautical miles, or 92 kilometres, of the Alaskan coast, but did not enter U.S. or Canadian airspace.

The Tu-142 is a long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine aircraft, though one version of the plane can be used to communicate with Russian ballistic submarines.

The appearance of Russian aircraft off North America's coast comes less than a week after Canadian military officials, including chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance, called Russia the greatest military threat to North America today.

"The most immediate state-sponsored military threat, if I could caveat it that way, that we face right now and today in physical space is Russia. I would say that China poses a more credible threat in cyberspace right now," Vance told a defence conference in Ottawa last week.


Weird and wild ...

HARTEBEESTPOORT, South Africa — With its roof on the ground and its floor in the air, an upside down house is attracting tourists who want to see the world from different perspective.

Located near Hartebeestpoort, about 75 kilometres north of Johannesburg, the house is inverted on the outside and inside.

Visitors take pictures of themselves in rooms that have sofas and chairs hanging from the ceiling.

The kitchen is also upside down with appliances appearing to defy gravity.


Know your news ...

Organizers have postponed the Chinese tour of "Come From Away" in light of concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak. The Tony Award-winning musical is set in what Newfoundland town?

(Keep scrolling for the answer)


On this day in 1835 ...

The first formal police force in Canada was established in Toronto.


Your money ...

TORONTO — Sara McIntyre started her side business by accident.

The Toronto-based law clerk had been making soaps in her spare time as a hobby. After crafting a few for a coworker, she realized they would sell — so in 2016, she invested a bit of spare money into supplies and launched Sara's Soaps and Candles.

She began trading her products on Bunz, a Toronto-based online bartering platform, but eventually McIntyre built enough of a following to sell them through her own website and at markets. Though she has shifted from soap to candles, McIntyre says she sells hundreds of the $25 items per month: all on top of her day job.

For McIntyre, monetizing her creative output was an empowering way to fill her time, build her network in Toronto and earn spare income. She's one of a growing number of Canadians taking on "side hustles," thanks in part to the ever-growing gig economy.

"I've never stopped loving what I'm doing, and I enjoy it, and it's kind of de-stressing in a way, too," she says.

In a December 2019 report on the gig economy, Statistics Canada found the share of gig workers grew to 8.2 per cent in 2016 from 5.5 per cent from 2005, driven in part by those who combined this type of work with other wages or salaries. Canadians ages 34 and younger made up more than a quarter of gig workers.


Entertainment news ...

LOS ANGELES — "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune" will tape without studio audiences in response to the ongoing virus outbreak.

A person close to the shows tells The Associated Press that the move is being taken out of an abundance of caution given the spread of the new coronavirus in numerous communities in the United States and abroad.

The popular game shows tape episodes months in advance, so the change will not be immediately apparent to viewers.

The “Dr. Phil” daytime talk show will also tape without a studio audience for roughly two weeks as a precaution.


Know your news answer ...

Gander. The musical tells the story of when the small community welcomed more than 7,000 stranded airline passengers after 9/11.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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