Novak Djokovic exits Tokyo Olympics without medal after Golden Slam bid ends

World number one Novak Djokovic exited the Tokyo Games on Saturday without a medal for the third Olympics in a row, withdrawing from his mixed doubles contest with a shoulder injury shortly after losing the men’s singles bronze to Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.

Carreno Busta triumphed 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3 over a listless Novak Djokovic, a day after the Serbian was stopped in his bid to complete a historic “Golden Slam.”

Read more:
Novak Djokovic loses to Zverev at Olympics, ending bid for Golden Slam

The world number one had arrived in Tokyo aiming to become the first man to win all four majors and an Olympic gold medal in the same calendar year, after securing victories at the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon.

But that quest came to an end after he was beaten by fifth-ranked German Alexander Zverev in Friday’s semi-final.

Djokovic’s withdrawal, along with partner Nina Stojanovic, on Saturday resulted in an automatic bronze for Australian pair Ash Barty and John Peers, the first tennis medal for their country since 2004.

“I do have a regret for not winning a medal for my country and opportunities missed both in mixed doubles and singles and, yeah, I just didn’t deliver yesterday and today,” Djokovic told reporters.

“The level of tennis dropped also due to exhaustion, you know, mentally and physically.”

Saturday’s loss to Carreno Busta marks Djokovic’s third appearance and second defeat in a singles bronze medal match. He won the bronze at the Beijing Games in 2008 before losing to Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro in London four years later.

Del Potro beat him again in the first round at the Rio Games in 2016.

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On Saturday, Carreno Busta claimed the opening set as the Serbian struggled to start the match, missing five break point opportunities.

The second set was a much closer affair as Djokovic’s levels improved, saving one match point and edging out the Spaniard in a roller-coaster tie-break.

But 11th-ranked Carreno Busta came back strong, taking the first three games in the decider. Djokovic fought off four more match points but could not hold on as the Spaniard served out the victory.

Pablo Carreno Busta, of Spain, reacts after defeating Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, in the bronze medal match of the tennis competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.

Pablo Carreno Busta, of Spain, reacts after defeating Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, in the bronze medal match of the tennis competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

‘Giant-killer Carreno Busta’

Carreno Busta’s win capped a giant-killing week for the 30-year-old, after he took down world number two Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals. He lost to Karen Khachanov of the Russian Olympic Committee in the following round.

“This has been an exceptional match… This is even more incredible than winning a tournament. I have won the Davis Cup, gone far in other tournaments but winning an Olympic medal is amazing. Words fail me.” said Carreno Busta.

Read more:
Olympic athletes battle sweltering heat in Tokyo: ‘I didn’t feel like I could carry on’

“When Novak also lost (in the semis) and I saw that I had to play the world number one for the medal, I had my doubts. But I slept like I haven’t slept this past week in Tokyo.”

His victory also extends Spain’s remarkable record in the Olympics Games, having secured a tennis medal at every Games since 1988 apart from London 2012.

In the women’s doubles, Brazilians Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani saved four match points against Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Vesnina of the Russian Olympic Committee to snatch the Olympic women’s doubles bronze medal. It was Brazil’s first medal in tennis.

— Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Christian Radnedge

© 2021 Reuters

Calls for action, more data after Statistics Canada reports increased loneliness for immigrants

WATCH ABOVE: A Toronto doctor is hoping to help seniors suffering from loneliness. An ailment he says has been exacerbated by the pandemic. As Jamie Mauracher reports, it’s a feeling that’s killing thousands of Canadians each year.

A new report by Statistics Canada about increased instances of self-reported loneliness among immigrants is sparking calls for additional data and action to address the issue.

In a recently released article by the federal agency, researchers examined data gathered during the 2018 general social survey as well as information through other sources to assess the loneliness among immigrants and those who were born in Canada.

“Recent and long-term immigrants reported higher levels of loneliness than the Canadian-born. Moreover, loneliness did not appear to be alleviated by the length of stay in Canada,” researchers noted in the document.

READ MORE: ER doctor aims to fight loneliness ‘epidemic’ amid COVID-19

“Considering the mental and physical health ramifications of loneliness, the finding that immigrants report higher levels of loneliness pre-COVID-19 justifies continued attention in the coming years as Canada recovers from the pandemic.”

When assessing the information gathered looking at loneliness, researchers found comparable self-reported instances among newer (10 years or less in Canada) and longer-term immigrants — and both groups reported more loneliness than those between the ages of 15 and 64 born in Canada.

“These overall differences between immigrants and the Canadian-born were statistically significant, and similar in magnitude to the differences between the Canadian-born with low ($39,999 or less) and middle ($40,000 to $99,999) household incomes,” the report said.

READ MORE: What loneliness does to our mental health

“Differences in self-reported loneliness by immigration status changed little when group differences in age, marital status, mother tongue, education, employment status, and family income were taken into account.”

According to the report, it was found those who were separated, divorced or widowed reported being lonelier than those who are single or with a partner. Researchers also said those who had higher levels of education had higher instances of loneliness, which is the opposite for those who were born in Canada.

Aaliya Hakak is in her 20s and recently graduated with her Master’s in civil engineering at the University of Toronto. After coming to Canada two years ago from the Kashmir region of India, that has meant she spent most of her time in Toronto throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — something, she said, has weighed on her heavily.

“I was so lonely that I would go to the grocery store just to have that 15-second chat with the cashier,” Hakak told Global News while reflecting on the past year-and-a-half.

“I literally would not speak to a real human for days, and when I spoke to them it was an actual human interaction, I actually spoke words to a real human … I didn’t have a human to speak to.

“Even just speaking those words that I was going to take this and I require those many plastic bags, it just made me feel human at that point in time because I didn’t speak those words to anyone.”

With in-person classes being largely cancelled during the pandemic, Hakak said it was challenging to form bonds with classmates as fellow students stuck to regimented Zoom and Skype schedules.

“Everybody came for that 15-minute to discuss work and once the work was done, everybody went back to their own life. It never went beyond work,” she said.

Hakak said she lived in downtown Toronto and moved to Scarborough during the pandemic and even within the city, she said geography also factored into the interactions she was having. She said she generally found those downtown were less likely to engage in conversation compared to the area in Scarborough she is living now, but even so, the ability to make new connections has been limited.

“If I go to a coffee shop, the cashier would have those extra two seconds to greet me. I didn’t necessarily find that in downtown. In my downtown apartment, I didn’t meet my landlord but here I call them and send them greetings during festivals,” Hakak said, adding that even among her five former roommates who were all from different countries, they only communicated occasionally through Facebook.

“At this point, I am still am contemplating going back home because I don’t find this country probably has a lot to offer to me. I’m not talking about career-wise, I could get a rewarding career, but then the social life and the community life I haven’t found it here.

“So even if I spend a lot of money I can spend that on decorating my house or buying fancy stuff, but then there are no people to enjoy life with. I haven’t found them yet.”

Sadia Zafar, the manager of language and skills development programs with The Neighbourhood Organization — a social services agency that provides settlement services for immigrants, said she agreed with the high-level findings contained in the Statistics Canada report.

“If someone asks newcomers what is required to settle in Canada, most of the time things like getting a job, learning English, paying rent come automatically to our mind. But I think there’s a lot of focus on loneliness which is faced by immigrants, and the fact that they are facing it in their mental health,” she told Global News.

“It’s really stressful because even when you look back home when you were living together with your family and support system, sometimes we take it for granted and we don’t realize the importance unless we are in a new country when we don’t even know who is living next door to you.”

Read more:
Many seniors struggle with loneliness. The pandemic has only made it worse

Zafar went on to describe how mental health stigma here and abroad is potentially causing people to block out the indicators that people might need help.

“It impacts their economic stability as well as their overall life,” she said.

When asked about the general feelings described by Hakak and if others have expressed similar sentiments, Zafar quickly agreed.

“Yes, it’s a very common experience. Generally when you are new to the country, making those connections and developing a network already requires a lot of effort. But during the pandemic, it became more and more (difficult) because now you’re completely isolated,” she said.

“Definitely there is a big social impact.”

As for what should be done next, the report said there was a lack of sufficient samples — particularly in seniors, who researchers said are more prone to have higher levels of loneliness. While there were no specific recommendations stemming from the report, they called for additional data examining the issue as well as a broader awareness in order to potentially put in place measures to address loneliness.

“Self-perceived loneliness is an important indicator of well-being,” the report said.

“Loneliness is associated with stress, depression, anxiety, and has other mental health consequences. Loneliness is also associated with various physical ailments such as cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and increased morbidity and mortality.”

READ MORE: Canadians are feeling lonelier than ever

Meanwhile, Hakak and Zafar both called for additional in-depth data as well as renewed community engagement efforts and increased opportunities for those experiencing loneliness to get together in a supportive way.

“It does seem like a small thing, but it’s very important to interact with people in real life,” Hakak said.

“I want places where people would be welcomed not based on who they are, just that people are allowed to sit together, explore and talk to each other about their cultures and make friends. It seems like such a big thing right now.”

— With files from Shifa Naseer

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

'Mayhem': Severe wildfires could threaten water supply for communities, expert warns

WATCH: 49% of Canadians believe climate change must be urgently addressed: Ipsos poll

There is more to learn about the consequences of intensifying wildfires on community watersheds across Canada, but a large, severe fire followed by heavy precipitation could seriously affect drinking water, says a wildfire research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service.

An intense fire can burn through vegetation and soil that serve to absorb and more evenly distribute precipitation or melting snow, and also naturally filter sediment and toxins before the water even reaches a community’s drinking-water source, Francois-Nicolas Robinne said in an interview from Edmonton.

Read more:
Canada’s wildfires could cost billions, kill thousands if nothing is done: report

“This kind of sponge effect that the forest has, that the vegetation has, goes away. So you have more water running off earlier in the season,” he said.

In a worst-case scenario that could lead to flash floods and flowing debris and it’s likely to affect how much drinking water is available to a community and when, said Robinne, with drought compounding the potential impact of wildfire.

“You already have less water, it’s already stretched pretty thin, and you have suddenly this huge input of water, but of pretty bad water quality, usually, after a large and severe fire,” said Robinne, adding any drinking water would be treated to Canadian standards but it’s costly to purify water polluted by wildfire.

It could be “mayhem” to go though a cycle of drought, wildfires, heavy rains and drought again, said Robinne, “because the pressure on the water resource would become so high that I can’t even imagine what it would mean in terms of water supply for communities.”

Water supply downstream is generally expected to be affected when about 20 per cent of a watershed is burned. That threshold has been met in nine B.C. community watersheds so far this year, said Robinne, with two of those burning up entirely.

Canada needs more data and analysis of the historical and ongoing effects of wildfires on watersheds, said Robinne, noting his work at the forest service involves looking at drinking water intakes and fire risk around communities countrywide.

Read more:
Severe drought in Western Canada will pressure food industry, raise prices: Expert

In the long term, the most intense scorching may resemble “some form of desertification,” he said. “We’re not there yet, but it’s definitely a cause for concern.”

In general, Robinne suggests that communities in fire-prone areas undertake fuel management, or reducing the vegetation susceptible to fire in their watershed.

Communities may also consider updating older drinking water treatment systems to ensure water quality in the event their source is affected by wildfire, he said.

British Columbia government mapping shows the eight-kilometre square Brenda Creek fire burning out of control west of Peachland overlaps with that community’s watershed. It shows numerous other “wildfires of note,” which are either highly visible or pose a threat to public safety, are burning in or very close to other watersheds.

All of Vancouver Island, the south coast and stretches of the southern Interior are classified as drought level four out of five, with many municipalities and regions implementing measures to conserve water through the rest of the summer.

Environment Canada has also issued heat warnings that stretch from parts of Vancouver Island to the south coast and across the southern Interior, as well as the inner central and north coast all the way up to B.C.’s boundary with Yukon.

The hot, dry conditions have helped fuel more than 1,250 wildfires sparked since the start of B.C.’s fire season on April 1, charring over 4,500 square kilometres of land. The 10-year average is 658 fires and about 1,060 square kilometres burned over the same time period, officials with the BC Wildfire Service said last week.

 

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Here’s what employers in Canada are offering workers during the labour shortage

Canadian business sectors have struggled with staffing, and as provinces reopen from COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, employers are going to extra lengths to find and keep their workers.

A July survey by staffing firm Robert Half suggests that employers are, in fact, pulling out the extra stops to attract talent. Forty per cent of respondents said they’re offering extra paid vacation, 37 per cent hope to persuade new hires with better job titles, while more than one-in-three are offering signing bonuses.

Read more:
Some salaries up ‘drastically’ as Canada feels impact of labour shortages

Thirty-year-old Ian Blechta’s first foray into homeownership is a three-bedroom, 1,550 square-foot house in Stayner, Ont. The plan is to move in, with his girlfriend, in September. Ian purchased the house pre-construction for about $500,000 and he says similar units now go for $640,000.

The engineer-in-training tells Global News he’s “excited” and “grateful” to reach this milestone that he’s dreamed about, thanks to the home purchasing program announced by his employer, land development firm Crozier and Associates.

The company offers up to $20,000 to employees who have been with Crozier for at least a year and requires them to commit to the firm for three years.

“We needed to prove to the bank that we could have 20 per cent down and it was the money from Crozier that made it possible,” Blechta said.

 

Engineering in training Ian Blechta stands in front of his pre-construction house

Engineer-in-training Ian Blechta in front of the home he purchased with the help of his company's First-Time Home Buyer's Assistance Program.

Photo credit: John Knox Photography

This is a significant incentive for residents, like Blechta, who live in the Collingwood, Ont., area, which has seen home prices climb 40 per cent from May 2020 to May 2021, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

Cash for homes is just one example of the creative lengths that employers are willing to go to keep workers and attract new hires during a labour shortage. Recruitment experts say the balance of power has shifted to workers in high-demand industries such as technology, food services and retail, who have plenty of job options to choose from.

Read more:
Most of Canada’s job losses are in part-time work. Why that may lead to labour shortages

Crozier President Nick Mocan told Global News his firm wanted to offer something that would make a meaningful difference.

“I was hearing stories of struggles, of frustration and the leadership team put our heads together to figure out how we can help our employees in their personal lives and solidify their ability to come to work day to day and really focus on their career,” he said.

Lazer Technologies employees pose with Toronto's CN Tower in the background

Lazer Technologies' flexible hybrid work model is designed to appeal to digital nomads around the world

Photo supplied.

The co-founder of Toronto-based software firm Lazer Technologies says it has to offer something unique to stand out in the tech world because there’s a global labour shortage for the types of workers it hopes to attract.

“It’s one of the toughest labour markets to hire great engineers and what makes it tougher for us is we’re looking for the top one per cent within that pool,” Arif Bhanji told Global News. “Our team of 60 people get multiple offers from Square, Shopify, Facebook, constantly, with numbers that are astronomical. But beyond that, what they really care about is flexibility.”

Read more:
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Bhanji says Lazer’s hybrid work model allows employees to work remotely from anywhere in the world, while also having the option to work in a “traveling office.” The plan is to keep the company headquartered in Toronto but move its secondary office to a new location four times a year.

“Our first country is Costa Rica, because we have a couple of team members that live there today. In addition, we’re planning on Uruguay, the U.A.E. and several other places in the U.S.,” he said.

FILE - In this Saturday, March 14, 2020 file photo, an Apple logo adorns the facade of the downtown Brooklyn Apple store in New York.

FILE - In this Saturday, March 14, 2020 file photo, an Apple logo adorns the facade of the downtown Brooklyn Apple store in New York.

AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File

He said employees in high-demand fields are looking for companies that offer more than just more money.

“At a certain level, the extra $30,000 to $50,000 that you give an engineer is not going to be a strong enough factor for them to move,” he said.

According to Bhanji, flexible work arrangements, a strong work culture and the ability to learn from more experienced co-workers on the job are paramount.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Halifax researcher part of team behind black hole discovery that proves Einstein right

A researcher at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax was part of a team of scientists that observed light coming from behind a black hole for the very first time, confirming a prediction from famous physicist Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

While scientists have seen X-ray emissions around black holes before, it’s the first time light has been spotted behind a black hole – and the new discovery could lead to a better understanding of what’s still largely considered to be an astronomical mystery.

Luigi Gallo, a professor of astronomy at Saint Mary’s University who’s been studying black holes for 20 years, worked on the data analysis and interpretation for this research project, led by Stanford University astrophysicist Dan Wilkins.

“They’re my favourite objects, but I think I’m biased a bit,” Gallo said of black holes. “It’s the most extreme object in space, right? We don’t know a lot about them.”

Read more:
Nova Scotia professor studies light at the edge of supermassive black holes

Gallo’s research focuses on supermassive black holes – the regions in space where gravity is so strong that not even light can escape. Supermassive black holes are 10 million times larger than the sun.

Because of their very nature, black holes themselves can’t be seen. Scientists are only able to observe the objects around them.

As materials in space fall into a black hole, they form what’s called an “accretion disk,” where they spiral around before falling into the black hole.

The flares echo off of the gas falling into the black hole, and as the flares were subsiding, short flashes of X-rays were seen corresponding to the reflection of the flares from the far side of the disk, bent around the black hole by its strong gravitational field.

The flares echo off of the gas falling into the black hole, and as the flares were subsiding, short flashes of X-rays were seen corresponding to the reflection of the flares from the far side of the disk, bent around the black hole by its strong gravitational field.

ESA/S. Poletti

On top of a black hole is a primary light source known as a “corona,” which illuminates the material. When the light shines onto the accretion disk, it bounces off and creates X-ray emissions or flares.

“It’s not exactly like a reflection in a mirror. What happens is that light comes back with different colours and it comes back at different times,” Gallo explained.

Proving Einstein right

What the five-person research team observed was a big flare coming from a supermassive black hole in a galaxy 800 million light-years away known as I Zwicky 1, using two space-based X-ray telescopes from NASA and the European Space Agency.

Shortly after seeing the big flare, Gallo said they observed a smaller flare in a different colour – an “echo” of the first flare.

“We were able to interpret that as light coming from the other side of the black hole,” said Gallo. “Which is really kind of cool, we haven’t ever been able to isolate exactly where light is coming from on the accretion disk … but in this instance, we’re actually able to say, ‘Oh, this light is coming from behind the black hole.’”

That echo could be seen because the black hole was warping space by bending light around itself. Thus, Einstein’s century-old prediction was proven right, Gallo said.

“This is basically confirming how the space-time around a supermassive black hole is shaped,” he said.

“That’s why we can see light coming from behind the black hole, it’s because it’s taken this curved path around the black hole and landing now on us, so that we can see it … Because space is bent, which is a prediction of general relativity, we’re able to see what’s behind the black hole.”

This research, published earlier this week in Nature, opens the door a little further for scientists studying black holes.

Read more:
Astronomers observe collision of 2 black holes — 7 billion years later

Gallo said it will allow them to eventually draw a 3D picture of what the region around the supermassive black hole looks like. As well, he said they will continue to study “coronas” to better understand them, which was actually the driving motivation behind this discovery.

Gallo took note of the “incremental” nature of science and said there are decades of other discoveries that led them to this point.

“The telescopes that we work on get better and better with time, and the techniques that we develop get better and better,” he said.

“The discovery made today … is based on decades of work of many, many other scientists that brought us here.”

Read more:
New ‘black neutron star’ stuns astronomers with its spectacular death

He added that it’s important to study black holes, since their formation and evolution is “tightly linked” to the formation and evolution of galaxies.

“Galaxies are stars, and then the stars are forming planets, and planets are where we are,” he said. “All this is kind of tied in understanding the origins of where we come from.

“So it is an important field of research, but it’s fun. So it’s kind of easy for me to justify doing this kind of work.”

— With a file from The Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

While you were sleeping: How Canada performed at Tokyo Olympics Friday, Saturday

Canada won its latest swimming medal at the Tokyo Olympics Saturday, while athletes managed to advance to future rounds in multiple track and field events.

Here’s what you may have missed from the day’s events.

Read more:
Olympics medal count: Here’s who won the most medals during the Tokyo Games

Swimming

Kylie Masse won her second silver medal of the Tokyo Games in the women’s 200-metre backstroke, adding to her medal in the 100-metre backstroke.

Taylor Ruck, also swimming for Canada in the backstroke, managed a sixth-place finish.

On the men’s side, Brent Hayden tied for fourth in the 50-metre freestyle semifinal with Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov — and tied his personal best time — but it wasn’t enough to the final.

Athletics

Sage Watson made it through to Monday’s semifinal of the women’s 400-metre hurdles after finishing fourth in her heat. Noelle Montcalm wasn’t so lucky, placing sixth, although she managed a new season best performance.

Marco Arop won his heat in the men’s 800-metres, sending him to the semifinals on Sunday. Brandon McBride won’t join him after finishing sixth in his heat.

Defending bronze medal winner Andre De Grasse finished first in his 100-metre heat, clocking a season best time of 9.91 to qualify for the semi-finals.

Canada's Andre De Grasse wins the men's 100m heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 31, 2021.

Canada's Andre De Grasse wins the men's 100m heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 31, 2021.

Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, sprinters Crystal Emmanuel and Khamica Bingham were unable to qualify for the women’s 100-metre final. Bingham finished fifth with a time of 11.22 in the first semi-final, while Emmanuel came in sixth place in the second semi-final, with a time of 11.21.

Diving

Jennifer Abel finished third in the women’s three-metre springboard semifinal, guaranteeing her a spot in the final on Sunday. Abel will be seeking her first medal in the event after finishing fourth at the 2016 Games in Rio.

Pamela Ware, who had been ranking just behind Abel in the first four rounds of the semifinal, fell to 18th place after failing her fifth dive and did not qualify for the final.

Rugby Sevens

The women’s team defeated Kenya 24-10 in its final match of the Games, securing a ninth-place finish in the overall rankings.

Triathlon

The team of Amelie Kretz, Matthew Sharpe, Joanna Brown and Alexis Lepage managed a 15th-place finish in the mixed triathlon, nearly three-and-a-half minutes behind gold medallists Great Britain.

Golf

Mackenzie Hughes and Corey Conners both bumped themselves up to a tied 17th-place finish after the third round of play, which started for both men at the 10th hole.

Hughes finished with a score of 65, while Conners scored 66.

Sailing

Tom Ramshaw managed a second-place finish in the day’s first race of the men’s one-person heavyweight finn dinghy event, later placing ninth in the second race. He’ll sail his final two races on Sunday.

The men’s 49er skiff team of William Jones and Evan DePaul placed 13th in their first race of the day, 18th in the second and PLACE in the third, ending their run at the Games.

Alexandra Ten Hove and Mariah Millen’s final three races in the women’s 49er FX skiff event saw the team place 13h in the first and 17th in the second and third.

Boxing

Tammara Thibeault lost all five of her rounds in the women’s middleweight quarterfinal to Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands, ending her run at the Games.

Archery

Crispin Duenas was defeated by Germany’s Florian Unruh 6-2 in the men’s individual elimination round — the last round of play before the quarterfinal.

Equestrian

Colleen Loach and her horse Qorry Blue D’Argouges finished 42nd in third session of the team and individual dressage event.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

12-year-old boy seriously injured after shooting at Toronto apartment park

A 12-year-old boy has been taken to a Toronto hospital in serious condition after officials say he was shot multiple times at a playground at a North York apartment complex.

Emergency crews were called by several residents to the playground area on Falstaff Avenue, east of Jane Street and just south of Highway 401, at around 10:50 p.m. on Friday after hearing gunshots.

“A few shooters on foot … in the playground area did discharge a few rounds and subsequently they left in a vehicle,” Insp. Andy Singh told reporters early Saturday.

Read more:
An in-depth look at how Toronto’s paramedics work to save victims of gun violence, trauma

Singh said the victim was found by officers a short time later. A Toronto Paramedics spokesperson said the boy sustained serious, but non-life-threatening injuries. Singh said in his update that the boy was stabilized after being treated for gunshot wounds.

He said police investigators and Toronto Community Housing security were working to pull surveillance video and speak with witnesses to get a more fulsome description of the suspects involved and where they might have gone.

“We have officers from 12 Division and the surrounding divisions not only canvassing for video and witnesses but also checking the area to see if they can find any pieces of evidence,” Singh said.

Read more:
Toronto man dies after being shot while attempting to drive into underground garage

“It’s a very nice night. People might have been on their balconies, might have seen what might have transpired here, so we ask those people to come forward.

“We’re lucky there’s not more injuries because this did happen near a playground, so that really drives it home the senseless nature and really the brazen nature of what these suspects have done and that’s where we need the assistance from the community.”

Anyone with information was asked to call police at 416-808-1200 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Off-duty Saskatchewan RCMP officer charged with impaired driving

A Saskatchewan RCMP officer with 15-years of service is charged with impaired driving following back-to-back incidents near Swift Current.

According to a press release, his first run-in with officers happened at around 10 p.m. on July 27.

Swift Current Rural RCMP responded to a call for an impaired driver in the Village of Waldeck, about 18 kilometres east of the city.

Kevin Granrude was arrested at the scene, held overnight, and released the next day with conditions and a suspended licence.

Read more:
Saskatchewan RCMP officer charged with murder resigns from force

Early in the afternoon on July 28, the detachment was called about an erratic driver on Highway 1. Officers pulled the vehicle over near Rush Lake, about 16 km east of Waldeck.

Saskatchewan RCMP said Granrude was driving the vehicle. He failed a roadside test and was taken and held in custody.

He faces three charges, including two for impaired driving. According to a press release, Swift Current RCMP is actively investigating the second incident and more charges are pending.

Granrude, a constable with Swift Current Combined Traffic Services and 15 years of experience, is suspended with pay while the national police service reviews disciplinary options.

He was not on duty at the time of either incident and was not using a police vehicle, according to the Saskatchewan RCMP.

Read more:
Saskatchewan Mountie makes court appearance on first-degree murder charge

“I understand hearing about incidents like this is very concerning to the public,” Saskatchewan RCMP Commanding Officer Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore, said. “I too share these concerns. These are not the standards we hold our police officers and employees to. The Saskatchewan RCMP will ensure these matters are thoroughly investigated.”

Granrude was in court on July 29 and will appear again on Aug. 18.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Alberta Medical Association head concerned over province lifting COVID-19 protocols

WATCH ABOVE: Some recent videos about Alberta's COVID-19 situation.

The head of the Alberta Medical Association says he has significant concerns with the province’s decision to suspend almost all of its COVID-19 public health protocols.

In an open letter to members, Paul Boucher says the pace at which the United Conservative government is ending restrictions is troubling.

READ MORE: Albertans protest ending mandatory COVID-19 isolation, masking and testing changes 

He says the government should release the data on which the decision was made.

Boucher adds the government’s planned reliance on hospitalization data and monitoring wastewater for viruses isn’t likely to provide enough information on the spread of COVID-19, especially as new variants take over.

The letter says easing back restrictions more slowly would be safer, easier on the health care system and cause less public worry.

Boucher says Alberta will eventually have to move away from pandemic measures, but concludes the government is doing so too quickly.

“The pace at which public health measures are ending is troubling,” he writes.

“I do not disagree that moving from pandemic state to endemic state is the future but would strongly advocate for a less precipitous approach.”

READ MORE: Alberta COVID-19 policy shift raising concerns for parents, teachers before school year 

Boucher says he has shared his concerns with the province.

This week, Alberta announced that close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19 are no longer legally required to isolate, nor are they notified by contact tracers.

READ MORE: Canada’s top doctors say Alberta’s COVID-19 plan could have ripple effects across the country 

As of Aug. 16, infected individuals won’t need to isolate. Testing will also be curtailed.

The moves come as the province’s active case numbers and infection rate increases.

The lifting of Alberta’s restrictions has been viewed with concern by other top doctors.

Canada’s chief medical officer of health Theresa Tam has warned against opening too quickly. The Canadian Pediatric Society has written to her Alberta counterpart Dr. Deena Hinshaw urging her to reconsider.

Watch below: (From July 29, 2021) Alberta is pushing forward with the province’s pandemic recovery plan, removing nearly every public health order despite a surge in COVID-19 cases. Heather Yourex-West explains the strategy, and how health-care experts strongly disagree with it.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

U.S. Treasury sets new sanctions against Cuba as Biden meets with Cuban-Americans

WATCH ABOVE: Thousands of Cubans continue to take to streets to push for global action

The Biden administration announced new sanctions on Friday against Cuba’s national revolutionary police and its top two officials as the U.S. looks to increase pressure on the communist government following this month’s protests on the island.

The Police Nacional Revolcionaria and the agency’s director and deputy director, Oscar Callejas Valcarce and Eddie Sierra Arias, were targeted in the latest sanctions announced by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. The police are part of Cuba’s interior ministry, which was already the subject of a blanket designation by the Trump administration back in January.

Read more:
Cuban president admits government failings but urges protesters to not be ‘hateful’

“We hear the cries of freedom coming from the island. The United States is taking concerted action to bolster the cause of the Cuban people,” President Joe Biden said at the start of a White House meeting with Cuban Americans not long after Treasury announced the sanctions.

The administration says it is considering a wide range of additional options in response to the protests, including providing internet access to Cubans, and has created a working group to review U.S. remittance policy to ensure that more of the money that Cuban Americans send home makes it directly into the hands of their families without the government taking a cut. Biden added that more sanctions were in the offing.

The White House meeting comes almost three weeks after unusual July 11 protests in which thousands of Cubans took to the streets in Havana and other cities to protest shortages, power outages and government policies. They were the first such protests since the 1990s.

The Cuban regime deployed the PNR to attack protesters, the Treasury Department said in a statement. The police were photographed confronting and arresting protesters in Havana, including members of the Movement of July 11 Mothers, a group founded to organize families of the imprisoned and disappeared, according to Treasury.

In Camaguey, a Catholic priest was beaten and arrested by the PNR while he was defending young protesters, according to Treasury. PNR officers also beat a group of peaceful demonstrators, including several minors, and there have also been documented instances in which the PNR used clubs to break up peaceful protests across Cuba, Treasury said.

“The Treasury Department will continue to designate and call out by name those who facilitate the Cuban regime’s involvement in serious human rights abuse,” said Andrea Gacki, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. “Today’s action serves to further hold accountable those responsible for suppressing the Cuban people’s calls for freedom and respect for human rights.”

Among the Cuban American activists meeting with Biden was Yotuel Romero, one of the authors of the song “Patria y vida!” which has become a kind of anthem for the protests, said an official.

Others present included L. Felice Gorordo, CEO of the company eMerge Americas; Ana Sofia Pelaez, founder of the Miami Freedom Project, and Miami’s former mayor, Manny Diaz, and Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

White House officials said Biden would discuss the new sanctions as well as ways to potentially establish internet access for the Cuban people.

Internet access is a sensitive issue in Cuba. In the days before the recent protests, there were calls on social media for anti-government demonstrations. Cuba’s government said anti-Castro groups in the United States have used social media, particularly Twitter, to campaign against it and blamed Twitter for doing nothing to stop it.

Read more:
Cuba protest: 1 dead after clash with police

Internet service was cut off at one point during the July 11 protest, though Cuban authorities have not explicitly acknowledged that they did it.

Some U.S. leaders, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have said the White House should do something to maintain internet service in Cuba, including using balloons as Wi-Fi access points for the population.

The Biden administration is also considering proposals put forward by U.S. advocates of trade with Cuba that would restore ways for Cuban-Americans to send money to relatives on the island.

Biden and others have rejected the outright restoration of remittances because of a percentage fee of the transaction paid to the government. But under one proposal being considered, the transfer agents would waive that fee until the end of the year, according to proponents.

The proposal would have to be cleared by the Cuban government, however, and it is not at all clear it would agree.

Last week, the U.S. government announced sanctions against the minister of the Cuban armed forces, Alvaro Lopez Miera, and the Special Brigade of the Ministry of the Interior — known as the “black berets” — for having participated in the arrest of protesters.

International organizations have harshly criticized the Cuban government, which has said that while people affected by the country’s crisis participated in the protests there were also “criminals” who took advantage of the situation to create disturbances. At times, the protests turned into vandalism with looting, robbery and confrontations with the police.

Government sympathizers also took to the streets to defend the authorities and the revolution.

So far it is unclear how many people were detained, although the judicial authorities have said there have been 19 trials involving 59 people.

___

Castillo reported from Mexico City. Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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