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Afghan refugee plan lagging and Train to Banff sparks concern: In The News for Aug.15

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 Monday, August 15, 2022 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
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Taliban fighters stand guard in the Shiite neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

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 Monday, August 15, 2022 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

A year after the Taliban seized control of Kabul, Canada's resettlement efforts have lagged behind official targets and the efforts to help those fleeing the war in Ukraine. 

More than 17,300 Afghans have arrived in Canada since last August compared to 71,800 Ukrainians who have come to Canada in 2022 alone, according to government statistics. The federal government has promised to resettle 40,000 Afghans.

Canadian activists and MPs accuse the Liberals of not doing enough to help people who worked with the Canadian Forces in the country, including as interpreters. 

New Democrat MP Jenny Kwan, who has been in contact with many Afghan refugees who worked with the Canadian Forces, says "We owe them a debt of gratitude. We cannot abandon them."

Vincent Hughes, a spokesman for immigration minister Sean Fraser, says "Our commitment of bringing at least 40,000 vulnerable Afghans to Canada has not wavered, and it remains one of the largest programs around the world."

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Also this ...

Conservation advocates and experts are concerned a proposal for a Calgary-to-Banff passenger train is chugging along without addressing some key environmental issues in and around the national park.

Liricon Capital Inc., the lead private-sector proponent, is touting it as a hydrogen-powered transportation solution with lower greenhouse gas emissions than driving.

The company says it has received support from municipalities and the tourism industry, but the Alberta government has told the Globe and Mail it won't invest in the $1.5-billion train as it stands because the financial risks are too high.

Environmental organizations including Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Yellowstone to Yukon and Bow Valley Naturalists, and some scientists say the proposal also has environmental risks.

Concerns include wildlife deaths along the rail line, particularly grizzly bears, which have been hit and killed on the existing track, and the fragmentation of wildlife habitat in Alberta's already busy Bow Valley.

"This is one of the most important conservation landscapes in North America," Tony Clevenger, a senior wildlife research scientist with the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University, said from Banff, Alta. "It also happens to be one of the busiest in terms of transportation infrastructure.

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

Americans are less concerned now about how climate change might impact them personally and about how their personal choices affect the climate than they were three years ago. 

That's according to a June poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that shows a wide majority still believe climate change is happening. 

Many climate scientists told the Associated Press that those shifts are concerning but not surprising given that individuals are feeling overwhelmed by a range of issues, which now include an economy plagued by inflation after more than two years of a pandemic. 

In addition to being outpaced by other issues, climate change or the environment are mentioned as priorities by fewer Americans now than just a few years ago, according to the poll.

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

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is offering “audacious” economic assistance to North Korea if it abandons its nuclear weapons program. 

In a speech celebrating the end of Japan's colonization of the Korean Peninsula, Yoon avoided harsh criticism of the North days after it threatened “deadly” retaliation over a COVID-19 outbreak it blames on the South. Yoon also Monday called for better ties with Japan, calling the two countries partners in navigating challenges to freedom and saying their shared values will help them overcome grievances linked to Japan’s colonial rule. 

South Korea’s relations with Japan have declined to post-war lows over the past several years as the countries allowed their grievances over history to affect areas including trade and military cooperation.

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On this day in 1919 ...

The Prince of Wales, who abdicated before his coronation as King Edward VIII, arrived in Canada for an official tour. His duties while in Canada included the official opening of a bridge in Quebec and placing the cornerstone for one of the towers in Canada's new Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

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In entertainment ...

Anne Heche, the Emmy-winning film and television actor whose dramatic Hollywood rise in the 1990s and accomplished career contrasted with personal chapters of turmoil, died of injuries from a fiery car crash. She was 53.

Heche was "peacefully taken off life support," spokeswoman Holly Baird said in a statement Sunday night.

Heche had been on life support at a Los Angeles burn centre after suffering a "severe anoxic brain injury," caused by a lack of oxygen, when her car crashed into a home on Aug. 5, according to a statement released Thursday by a representative on behalf of her family and friends.

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Did you see this?

The president of the Dominican Mining Corporation says the recent rescue of two miners was made possible with support from the international community, including assistance from the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Cormidom president Paul Marinko says it was "heartwarming" to see the global response to the incident, which saw two men trapped 31 metres underground at a mine in the Dominican Republic for 10 days.

They were rescued on August 9 after Canadian military aircraft brought over specialized equipment from a company based in Quebec that was eventually used in the rescue operation.

Marinko says company officials were able to establish a whole early on in the men's ordeal to deliver food, water, entertainment and a light source.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 15, 2022

The Canadian Press