A look at what’s In The News for Oct. 13

In this  photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, A live Asian giant hornet with a tracking device affixed to it sits on an apple in a tree where it was placed, near Blaine, Wash., in an Oct. 7, 2020, handout photo. Washington state officials say they were again unsuccessful at live-tracking an Asian giant hornet while trying to find and destroy a nest of the so-called murder hornets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Karla Salp, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

In this  photo provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, A live Asian giant hornet with a tracking device affixed to it sits on an apple in a tree where it was placed, near Blaine, Wash., in an Oct. 7, 2020, handout photo. Washington state officials say they were again unsuccessful at live-tracking an Asian giant hornet while trying to find and destroy a nest of the so-called murder hornets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Karla Salp, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

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 Oct. 13.

What we are watching in Canada …

The federal government says technical difficulties that thwarted some Canadians’ efforts to apply for new financial supports have been solved.

The Canada Revenue Agency reported the issues hours after applications for the benefits — meant for those who have missed work due to the COVID-19 pandemic — opened.

The agency says it regrets any impact this may have had on would-be applicants.

The new benefits come into effect as concerns rise about increasing job losses, with Ontario and Quebec imposing targeted restrictions on restaurants, bars and fitness centres to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Applications for the new Canada Recovery Benefit, which will pay $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, can be made through the Canada Revenue Agency.

A new caregiver benefit also comes into effect today, after numerous calls since the start of the pandemic for added support for parents and others who are forced to miss work to care for a dependent due to COVID-19.


Also this …

Canadian Security Intelligence Service employees see the spadework needed to obtain a judicial warrant as “a necessary evil” that detracts from more valuable activities, says an independent review that calls for a cultural shift inside the spy agency.

The review, obtained by The Canadian Press, finds that ineffective training, excessive secrecy and a generally poor understanding of responsibilities contributed to CSIS failing to meet its obligation of full and frank disclosure to the Federal Court when seeking investigative warrants.

The problems have prompted judges to criticize CSIS for falling short of its “duty of candour” to the court, including a recent case in which the spy agency neglected to disclose its reliance on information that was likely collected illegally in support of warrants to probe extremism.

In September 2019, CSIS director David Vigneault asked Morris Rosenberg, a former federal deputy minister of justice, to conduct an independent review with the aim of addressing the ongoing difficulties.

Rosenberg, who had access to CSIS documentation and employees, examined spy service policies, procedures and operational files, as well as Federal Court transcripts relating to warrant applications.

He also consulted Justice Department lawyers, including those assigned to CSIS, and officials from the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, a spy agency watchdog.


What we are watching in the U.S. …

Defiant as ever about the coronavirus, President Donald Trump on Monday turned his first campaign rally since contracting COVID-19 into a full-throated defence of his handling of the pandemic that has killed 215,000 Americans, joking that he was healthy enough to plunge into the crowd and give voters “a big fat kiss.”

There was no social distancing and mask-wearing was spotty among the thousands who came to see Trump’s return to Florida. He held forth for an hour, trying to get his struggling campaign back on track with just weeks left before Election Day.

Though he was hospitalized battling the virus only a week ago, Trump’s message on COVID-19 was unaltered since his diagnosis: a dubious assessment that the pandemic was just about a thing of the past. Hundreds of people in the U.S. continue to die of the virus every day.

“Under my leadership, we’re delivering a safe vaccine and a rapid recovery like no one can even believe,” Trump insisted. “If you look at our upward path, no country in the world has recovered the way we have recovered.”

His voice was perhaps a touch scratchy but otherwise, Trump was, well, Trump.

Boisterous and bellicose, he thanked the audience for their well-wishes and declared he was no longer contagious as he embarked on a frenetic final stretch of the campaign.


Also this …

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is set to face senators’ questions during a second day of confirmation hearings.

The mood is likely to shift to a more confrontational tone as the appellate court judge is grilled in 30-minute segments by Democrats gravely opposed to President Donald Trump’s nominee.

Barrett’s approach to health care, legal precedent and even the presidential election are expected topics.

Republicans are rushing her to confirmation before Election Day to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Democrats are virtually powerless to stop her confirmation, which could lock in a conservative court majority for years to come.


What we are watching in the rest of the world …

A top U.S. envoy speaking in New Delhi has calls China “an elephant in the room” and says Washington is keen to advance India’s interests across the Indo-Pacific region.

Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun says the U.S. was exploring ways to empower India without altering what he called New Delhi’s “strong and proud tradition of strategic autonomy.”

Biegun spoke Monday in New Delhi at the opening session of the India-U.S. Forum as his three-day visit to India kicked off.

“India has a strong and proud tradition of strategic autonomy, and we respect that. We do not seek to change India’s traditions,” he said. “Rather we want to explore how to empower them and India’s ability to defend its own sovereignty and democracy and to advance Indian interests, across the Indo-Pacific region.”

Biegun’s visit follows a meeting last week between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterparts from India, Japan and Australia in Tokyo, who together make up the four Indo-Pacific nations known as the Quad.

The Quad is seen as a counterweight to China, who critics say is flexing its military muscle in the South China Sea, East China Sea, Taiwan Strait and along its northern border with India. Beijing also faces criticism over its handling of the initial outbreak of the coronavirus as well as its human rights.


Also this …

The British government has carved England into three tiers of coronavirus risk in a bid to slow a resurgent outbreak, putting the northern city of Liverpool into the highest risk category and shutting its pubs, gyms and betting shops.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the three-tier national system was designed to “simplify and standardize” a confusing patchwork of local rules over what residents can and cannot do. Johnson says shops, schools and universities would remain open in all areas.

He told lawmakers in the House of Commons that the goal was to save lives and prevent hospitals becoming overwhelmed without “shuttering our lives and our society” through a new national lockdown.

But pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses pushed back, arguing that they are not to blame for rising infections.

After falling during the summer, coronavirus cases are rising in the U.K. as winter approaches, with northwest and northeast England seeing the steepest increases. Liverpool has one of the country’s most severe outbreaks, with about 600 cases per 100,000 people, even more than the hard-hit European cities of Madrid and Brussels.

Under the new measures, areas in England are classified at medium, high or very high risk, and placed under restrictions of varying severity.

Areas in the lowest tier will follow existing national restrictions, including a 10 p.m. curfew on pubs and restaurants and a ban on more than six people gathering. In areas at high risk, members of different households are barred from meeting indoors.

The “very high” risk tier will face restrictions including closing pubs — apart from those that serve meals — and, if local authorities want, other venues such as gyms and casinos.


On this day in 1866 …

Fire destroyed 2,500 buildings in Quebec City.


ICYMI …

Washington state officials say they were again unsuccessful at live-tracking a “murder” hornet while trying to find and destroy a nest of the giant insects.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture says an entomologist used dental floss to tie a tracking device on a female hornet, only to lose signs of her when she went into a forest.

The hornet was captured on Oct. 5 and kept alive with strawberry jam, which she seemed to enjoy, says Sven Spichiger, a department entomologist.

Scientists then tied a tracking device onto her body and released her two days later onto an apple tree. They lost track of her after she went through some blackberry bushes, though officials believe the tracker was still attached at the time of its last signal.

“This one was a lot feistier,” Spichiger says.

A total of 18 hornets have been found in the state since they were first seen last year near the U.S.-Canadian border, the agriculture department says.


Oct. 13, 2020.