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Federal party support holds steady, pandemic homelessness : In The News for August 3.

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 August 3. What we are watching in Canada ...
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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 August 3.

What we are watching in Canada ...

The federal Liberals remain ahead as a new poll suggests Canada's political parties are holding relatively steady in terms of voter support only weeks before a possible election call.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents in the survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they would vote for the Liberals if an election were held today, which was only one point more than two weeks ago.

The Conservatives saw a similar bump to place second at 24 per cent, while the NDP was down slightly with only 16 per cent of respondents indicating they would cast their ballot for the New Democrats.

The Bloc Quebecois and Greens held steady at seven and four per cent of decided voters respectively, while the People's Party of Canada had three per cent.

The results suggest there has been little movement as many observers anticipate Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling an election this month, which Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque says could be a problem for the Tories and New Democrats.

“If you're the Conservatives, the concern would be that if the writ really is dropped in mid-August, you're coming into it without any momentum,” he said.

“Usually parties like to come into an election campaign with a little bit of wind at their back. But that's not happening right now for the Conservatives nor for the NDP. That's why the Liberals are holding steady.”

Yet Bourque also noted that the Liberals are not soaring high despite what appears to be relative satisfaction over how the government has handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You’d think they would be a lot stronger at this point,” he said of the Liberals. “So, there might be a few things holding them back. Other elements about their record maybe for some people, the prime minister's personality for some others.”

The Liberals also remained ahead among the 1,737 respondents who identified as decided voters, with 36 per cent saying they would cast their ballots for the governing party – a two per cent increase from mid-July.

That slight bump appears to have come at the expense of the New Democratic Party under leader Jagmeet Singh, which sank by the same amount to 20 per cent of decided voters.

The Conservatives under Erin O'Toole were holding steady at 29 per cent, unchanged from two weeks ago.

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Also this ...

A federally funded project designed to forecast the path of homelessness in Canada says there could be an extra 1,236 people living on city streets next year if the pandemic has a small impact on social and economic need.

The growth is expected to be fastest in Ontario, which would grow at five times the national rate, followed by British Columbia at three times the national rate.

The computer program that produced the modelling uses 3,000 variables to forecast different social and economic impacts in the provinces and in 62 cities for homelessness, suicides and domestic abuse.

Alina Turner, who heads the group Helpseeker that received the funding through the federal superclusters program, says the numbers should help policy-makers decide on where to put resources.

As is, much of the money the federal governments gives to cities or provinces is based on how many people live in a given jurisdiction.

Turner says that funding may not accurately reflect the need or the nuances between provinces and communities.

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And this ...

Researchers say there was "no unusual change" in the rate of preterm or stillbirths in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to previous years stretching back to 2002.

A study from Sinai Health in Toronto published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal looked at more than 2.4 million hospital births in the province over nearly two decades to see whether pandemic conditions overall — not COVID-19 infections in pregnant people — impacted rates of preterm births or stillbirths.

The mean preterm birth rate ranged from 7.32 per cent to 8.59 per cent during the pre-pandemic period (2002-2019), compared to 7.87 per cent during 2020, the study said. 

The mean stillbirth rate was 0.56 per cent, while the 2020 rate was 0.53 per cent.

Dr. Prakesh Shah, pediatrician-in-chief at Mount Sinai Hospital and co-author of the study, said the research was spurred by conflicting reports of preterm and stillbirth rates that arose earlier in the pandemic. 

Some parts of the world, including the United States, Ireland and the Netherlands, reported a decrease in preterm births, while other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Italy, reported increases in stillbirths.

Shah said most of those studies were small, with some focusing on specific hospitals and others only looking at small periods of time rather than a whole year.

Shah and his team looked at birth outcomes in public health units where positivity rates for COVID-19 infections were high, including Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and Ottawa, as well areas where the prevalence of the virus was lower. They also looked at urban and rural births and those in neighbourhoods with different average income levels.

The study analyzed data from pregnant people aged 13 to 59 years who delivered in any hospital in Ontario, with some of the 2020 cases including pregnant people with COVID-19.

The study defined preterm birth as delivery before 37 weeks, and defined stillbirth as a fetal death after 20 weeks.

The cause of many stillbirths remain "a big mystery," Shah said, adding that while rates have decreased over the years, it still strikes doctors "without warning."

For preterm births, Shah said about one-third of cases are caused by infection, while another third is linked to medical complications, including high blood pressure, that might make a doctor act to deliver a baby early. The other third of cases don't have a known cause.

Stress during pregnancy can contribute to one of those causes of preterm births, Shah said, adding that's likely the reason parts of the world reported fluctuations during the pandemic.

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

NEW YORK _ Investigators conducting an inquiry into sexual harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo questioned him for eleven hours when he met with them last month, The New York Times reported Monday.

The Times spoke to five people who had been briefed on the meeting, and who recounted some details on the condition of anonymity.

The Times reported that at points, the videotaped interview was tense, with Cuomo challenging one of the investigators on his fairness and independence. When the investigators were done, they left through an exit away from the building entrance where photographers were, the paper said.

Asked about his meeting with investigators at a press conference on Monday, Cuomo declined to say anything.

"I said I would co-operate with it and at the appropriate time I will comment on the review," he said. "But this is not the appropriate time yet."

State Attorney General Letitia James hired the investigators to conduct the probe after several women accused Cuomo of subjecting them to inappropriate kisses and touching or inappropriate sexual remarks.

Cuomo has denied the allegations.

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

ATHENS, Greece _ A heat wave baking southeast Europe has fuelled deadly wildfires in Turkey and threatened the national power grid in Greece as governments scrambled Monday to secure the resources needed to cope with the emergency.

Temperatures reached 45 C in inland areas of Greece and nearby countries and are expected to remain high for most of the week.

Battling deadly wildfires along its coastline for a sixth day, Turkey broadened an appeal for international assistance and was promised water-dropping planes from the European Union. The fires have been blamed for the deaths of eight people in recent days.

In Greece, an emergency was declared in fire-hit areas on the island of Rhodes, which is near the Turkish coast. Workers with health conditions were allowed to take time off work, while Greek coal-fired power stations slated for retirement were brought back into service to shore up the national grid, under pressure due to the widespread use of air conditioning.

Pregnant and other vulnerable workers in North Macedonia were told to stay home.

Dann Mitchell, a professor of climate science at the University of Bristol, said the heat wave in southeast Europe "is not at all unexpected, and very likely enhanced due to human-induced climate change."

"The number of extreme heat events around the world is increasing year on year, with the top 10 hottest years on record all occurring since 2005," Mitchell told The Associated Press.

"This year, we have seen a number of significant events, including a particularly dramatic heat wave in Western Canada and the U.S., that was extreme even for current levels of climate change," Mitchell said. "These black swan events have always happened, but now they sit on the background of a hotter climate, so are even more deadly."

As hot weather edged southward, Italy and Croatia were experiencing storms as well as wildfires. A small tornado in Istria, on Croatia's northern Adriatic coast, toppled trees that destroyed several cars, hours before a large wildfire erupted outside the nearby resort of Trogir, threatening homes and the local power supply.

Some 30 people were treated for light smoke inhalation in Italy's coastal city of Pescara after flames tore through a nearby pine forest. Beach-goers nearby had to be rescued by sea Sunday from that wildfire.

Cyprus, recovering from a major wildfire last month, kept water-dropping planes on patrol to respond to fires as they broke out.

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On this day in 1583 ...

The first English settlement in North America was founded at St. John's, after Sir Humphrey Gilbert proclaimed England's authority over Newfoundland. On his return voyage home, Gilbert and his ship were lost at sea.

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In entertainment ...

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Rapper DaBaby offered another apology Monday while facing heavy backlash after he made crude and homophobic remarks at a recent Miami-area music festival.

The Grammy-nominated performer said he was misinformed for his comments about HIV/AIDS in the post, which came a day after the rapper was cut from Lollapalooza's lineup in Chicago.

On Monday, New York City's Governors Ball and Day N Vegas in Las Vegas each announced the rapper had been dropped from their lineups.

Da Baby, whose real name is Jonathan Kirk, apologized to the LGBTQ+ community for his "hurtful and triggering" comments.

"Social media moves so fast that people want to demolish you before you even have the opportunity to grow, educate and learn from your mistakes," he wrote. "As a man who has had to make his own way from very difficult circumstances, having people I know publicly working against me - knowing that what I needed was education on these topics and guidance - has been challenging."

It's the second time DaBaby has apologized following his remarks at Miami's Rolling Loud Festival.

While on stage, the rapper used crude language and asked attendees who weren't gay men or people not affected by HIV or AIDS to raise their cellphone flashlights. He then incorrectly said the disease would "make you die in two or three weeks."

DaBaby's remarks caused an immediate firestorm for the rapper, whose song "Rockstar" was one of the biggest hits last year. He was nominated for a Grammy for record of the year.

In recent days, several artists including Madonna, Questlove and Elton John have denounced his remarks. Dua Lipa, who collaborated with DaBaby on the popular remix of her song "Levitating," said she was "surprised and horrified" by his comments.

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ICYMI ...

TOKYO _ While Belarus sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya was seeking a humanitarian visa to leave the Tokyo Olympics safely, she also was waging a legal fight to be allowed to run in the 200 meters.

She won the first but lost the second, the Court of Arbitration for Sport revealed Tuesday.

Sports' highest court has detailed the legal steps Tsimanouskaya took Monday in the hours after she sought protection in Japan during an airport standoff to avoid returning to Belarus, where she believes her life would be in danger.

CAS said in a statement that it denied Tsimanouskaya's request for an interim ruling Monday to overturn Belarus Olympic officials' refusal to let her race in the 200.

The heats were held Monday morning and the semifinals in the evening session at the Olympic Stadium.

Tsimanouskaya "was not able to prove her case to get an interim relief," the court said in a statement, without giving details.

The decision to deny the 24-year-old runner an urgent interim ruling clearing her to compete was made solely by the head of the Games-time Olympic court, CAS said. That judge is American lawyer Michael Lenard, vice president of the CAS management board who represented the United States in handball at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Later Monday, Tsimanouskaya went to Poland's embassy in Tokyo and was successful in getting a visa to enter that country. Poland is a member of the European Union and Belarus is not.

Tsimanouskaya sought and got protection from Japanese authorities at Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Sunday evening to avoid returning to Belarus.

She had been fiercely criticized in the autocratic country for using social media to criticize Belarus track officials in Tokyo. She said they entered her in the 4x400 relay team, a distance she does not run, without her consent.

Tsimanouskaya competed in the Olympic 100 heats on Friday. She placed fourth and did not advance.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published August 3, 2021.

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