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Good morning,

On Thursday last week, Canada’s international pandemic surveillance and risk assessment system issued its first alert since going silent on May 24, 2019. The alert focused on signs of human-to-human spread of a novel tick-borne bunya virus.

The move follows a recent Globe and Mail investigation that reveals how the Global Public Health Intelligence Network’s (GPHIN) main mandate was shelved in favour of a domestic focus amid changing government priorities. Before going silent last spring, the system sent more than 1,500 alerts about potential outbreaks including MERS, H1N1, avian flu and Ebola over the past decade. The Globe also reported that the Auditor-General intends to investigate lapses in decision-making that curtailed GPHIN’s capacity, leaving Canada unprepared for the COVID-19 outbreak.

But this restart was not accompanied by any official announcement, and the system is not yet back to its original capacity.

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Biden, Harris make first appearance together as team

Kamala Harris appeared at her first event as Joe Biden’s vice-presidential running mate on Wednesday.

Biden and Harris have cast the November election as a referendum on President Donald Trump and his administration’s management of the pandemic, the economy and race relations. The Biden campaign said it raised US$26-million in the 24 hours after he announced Harris as his running mate.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., arrive to speak at a news conference at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020.Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press

Read more

  • David Shribman: In picking Kamala Harris, Joe Biden has answered one major question – but raised several more
  • Debra Thompson: Kamala Harris is Biden’s best bet. Will it pay off?
  • John Ibbitson: Welcome Biden and Harris, as Canada can’t take four more years of Trump

Carleton criminologists end student internships with police, prisons

Carleton University criminologists say they will stop steering their students toward internships within prisons and police forces, including the RCMP, due to the systemic racism existing within these institutions.

This pledge accompany the professors’ expression of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and Canadian Indigenous groups, which are all seeking criminal justice reforms, in an open letter published this week. Meanwhile, internships with prisoners’ advocacy groups, law firms and Crown attorneys’ offices will continue.

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Canada’s response to complaints about bullying by pro-China forces: Parliamentary hearings on Canada-China relations this week included testimony from Canadians of Hong Kong origin who described threats they’ve received on Canadian soil from pro-China forces. While Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Canada won’t tolerate such actions, Amnesty International said Canada’s response has been hapless, muddled and ineffective.

Belarus protests continue: Thousands of protesters rallied in cities across Belarus for a fourth straight night on Wednesday, as they decried an election they say was rigged and the police crackdown on demonstrations. The crackdown has drawn major criticism from abroad.

About 200 women march in solidarity with protesters injured in the latest rallies against the results of the country's presidential election in Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020.The Associated Press

Who deserves pandemic pay? Started in April and set to end today, the Ontario government’s temporary “pandemic pay” offers increase of $4 an hour to front-line health workers. But the program raised criticisms and the question of who deserves pandemic pay, as some front-line health workers found themselves not eligible for the pay increase.

Canadian parents turn to private learning pods: As the COVID-19 pandemic creates back-to-school anxiety, Canadian parents are turning to private teachers and small learning groups. But a potential exodus from public schools raise equity concerns, such as around funding, for racialized and low-income communities.

Alberta, B.C. target young people in COVID-19 messaging: Seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases involving young people, B.C. and Alberta are crafting targeted COVID-19 messaging by recruiting social media influencers and celebrities as well as holding focus groups.


European markets trade lower: World stocks’ return to record highs looked set to be delayed for another day on Thursday, as stalemate in U.S. stimulus talks, trade war angst in both Europe and China and the COVID-19 pandemic all reined the bulls back. Just before 6 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.91 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 fell 0.08 and 0.05 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei jumped 1.78 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 0.05 per cent. New York futures were modestly lower. The Canadian dollar was trading at 75.56 US cents.


Would drafting Mark Carney save the Liberals, or sink them?

Konrad Yakabuski: “Untainted by political scandal, and with more economic and financial knowledge than the entire Liberal cabinet combined, Mr. Carney could take over from Mr. Morneau without sending shock waves through the markets. ... But politics is an all-or-nothing proposition, and Mr. Carney has yet to demonstrate that he has the stomach for it.”

Learning from the life of Dr. Hawa Abdi

Sheema Khan: “Her life story offers universal lessons in using the twin lights of compassion and hope during periods of darkness. What began as a one-room clinic grew to help a generation of people.”


Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail


Eleven great literary podcasts to listen to now

The pandemic has many of us reading, walking, and listening to podcasts more than we ever have before. So why not combine all three things? Here’s a roundup of some of the best book and literary podcasts currently available.


Private M. Mc. McMurdo of Winnipeg, Private D.M. Greenwood of Vancouver, and Private L. M. Perry of Kingston, Ont., three members of the Canadian Women's Army Corps [C.W.A.C.] now in London, England, are shown above pausing to enjoy a cigarette during fire fighting drill, February 28, 1943.Capt. Frank Royal/Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada

Canadian Women’s Army Corps created

The Canadian Armed Forces allowed women to join on this day in 1941 in non-combatant roles to release more men to fight overseas. Women signed up to become secretaries, clerks, canteen workers and vehicle drivers, among other jobs. They joined to support their country but also for the adventure – many served around the world, including London, as pictured in this 1943 Blitz training photo. But the CWACs, as the women were commonly known, were paid two-thirds of what men received despite doing the same jobs. Later, that figure became four-fifths. At first, the Canadian Women’s Army Corps operated as an auxiliary organization, but that changed in March, 1942, when the Corps was officially integrated into the Canadian Forces. Their uniforms and insignia included cap badges of three maple leaves and collar badges displaying the figure of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare. It wasn’t until 1964, when women were finally incorporated into the Canadian Forces directly, that the organization disbanded for good. Today, according to Canadian government data, Canadian women represent almost 16 per cent of the regular force and primary reserve population. Meredith Wilson-Smith

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