Iran says it begins 20% uranium enrichment amid US tensions

TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian government spokesman says Tehran has begun enriching uranium up to 20% at an underground facility. The state-run IRNA news agency on Monday quoted Ali Rabiei saying President Hassan Rouhani had given the order for the move at the Fordo facility. Enrichment at 20% is a short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%. Iran’s decision to begin enriching to 20% a decade ago nearly brought an Israeli strike targeting its nuclear facilities, tensions that only abated with the 2015 atomic deal. A resumption of 20% enrichment could see that brinksmanship return. The move comes after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. unilaterally from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018. In the time

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Ontario students return to virtual school as part of lockdown measures

Students across Ontario will return to the virtual classroom Monday as part of a provincewide lockdown. The measure ends for all students in northern Ontario and elementary students in southern Ontario after the first week back from winter break. High schoolers in southern Ontario will continue online learning until Jan. 25. RELATED: Back to virtual learning The move is part of a provincial lockdown that began on Boxing Day and is set to last until Jan. 9 in northern Ontario and Jan. 23 in southern Ontario. It comes after a long weekend that saw record-breaking COVID-19 case counts. The province logged 3,363 new cases on Saturday, up from Thursday’s record of 3,328. On Sunday, it recorded 2,964 new cases and

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Hope fades in Norway landslide that left 7 dead; 3 missing

COPENHAGEN — Norwegian officials insisted Monday that there was “still hope” in finding survivors in air pockets five days after a landslide killed at least seven people as it carried away homes in a village north of the capital. Three people are still missing. Police spokesman Roger Pettersen said search efforts in the landslide-hit village of Ask, 25 kilometres (16 miles) northeast of Oslo, are still considered “a rescue operation.” But only bodies have been found in the last few days. The region’s below-freezing temperatures are “working against us, but we have been very clear in our advice to the (rescuers) that as long as there are cavities where the missing may have stayed, it is possible to survive,” said

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UK judge to rule on US extradition bid for Julian Assange

LONDON — A British judge will decide Monday whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to the United States to face espionage charges over the site’s publication of classified American military documents a decade ago. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser is due to give her ruling at London’s Central Criminal Court, following a three-week extradition hearing in the fall. U.S. prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison. Lawyers for the 49-year-old Australian argue that he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech for publishing leaked documents that exposed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq

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COVID-19 pandemic an opportunity to reform Quebec’s devastated long-term care homes

MONTREAL — The COVID-19 pandemic in Quebec was marked by images from long-term care homes: isolated seniors peering out from windows, bodies in zippered bags on stretchers exiting imposing brick buildings. The pandemic tore a destructive path through Quebec’s provincially run seniors facilities, killing thousands and exposing systemic flaws in a network long understaffed, under-resourced and undersupervised. But the health crisis also provided an opportunity to re-examine Quebec’s approach to long-term care and to re-evaluate models that might work better, two health experts told The Canadian Press. “(The pandemic) was a catastrophe, but it was revelatory and it can help us to move forward,” Francine Ducharme, a geriatrics researcher and nursing sciences professor at Universite de Montreal, said in a

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Bail hearing scheduled today for teens accused in death of Calgary police officer

CALGARY — Two teens charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Calgary police officer are due in court today for a bail hearing.  The accused — 19-year-old Amir Abdulrahman and a 17-year-old boy — were arrested on Friday afternoon after turning themselves in.  They had been wanted in the death of 37-year-old Sgt. Andrew Harnett, who was killed while conducting a traffic stop on New Year’s Eve.  Calgary police have said Harnett pulled over an SUV, which then struck and killed him.  They’ve alleged the younger of the two accused was behind the wheel, while they say Abdulrahman was a passenger.  The pair had their first court appearance on Saturday.  This report by The Canadian Press was first

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The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Monday, Jan. 4, 2021

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 4, 2021. There are 601,663 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 601,663 confirmed cases (80,822 active, 504,976 resolved, 15,865 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 6,578 new cases Sunday from 50,584 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. The rate of active cases is 215.01 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 48,389 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,913. There were 41 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 757 new reported deaths.

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Tick-Tock: The Tokyo Olympics hit the 200-days-to-go mark

TOKYO — Tick-Tock-Tick. The countdown clock for the postponed Tokyo Olympics hit 200 days to go on Monday. Tick-Tock-Tick. Also on Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he would consider calling a state of emergency as new coronavirus cases surge to record numbers in Tokyo and neighbouring prefectures. Japan has never had a lockdown for COVID-19, attempting to juggle the economy and health risks. Tick-Tock-Tick. It’s nearing deadline time for Tokyo Olympic organizers, the International Olympic Committee, and various Japanese government entities as they try to pull off the Games in the middle of a pandemic. Officials have promised to announce concrete plans early in the new year about how to get 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes into Japan;

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China’s manufacturing recovery weakens in December

BEIJING — China’s manufacturing activity improved in December but at its weakest rate in three months as the economy recovered from the coronavirus pandemic while its trading partners struggled with rising infections, according to two surveys. A monthly purchasing managers’ index issued Monday by a business magazine, Caixin, slipped to 53 from November’s 54.9 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity expanding. A separate PMI by an official industry group, the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing, declined to 51.9 from the previous month’s 52.1. China is the only major economy on track to record positive economic growth in 2020 while the United States and Europe struggle with rising case numbers that have prompted governments to

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Nigerian scientist studies country’s coronavirus variant

LAGOS, Nigeria — A Nigerian scientist has spent the holiday season in his laboratory doing genetic sequencing to learn more about the country’s COVID-19 variant, as cases increase in the country. Virologist Sunday Omilabu says the information he gathers about the variant will help battle the spread of the disease in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 196 million people. Nigeria has confirmed 89,163 COVID-19 cases, including 1,302 deaths, according to the figures Sunday from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The variants discovered in the U.K. and South Africa, they are distantly different from the variants discovered in Nigeria,” said Omilabu, who said it is not unusual for viruses to mutate and cause variants. Nigeria is seeing

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