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Suncor Energy to lay off up to 2,000 people


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“Suncor shares have underperformed peers and crude oil prices in 2020 following the 55 per cent cut to its dividend and third quarter operating challenges in its oilsands business,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Randy Ollenberger said in an Oct. 1 research note.

Ollenberger said he believed the shares offer “under appreciated value” and could recover as the company’s refining business improves.

The company has integrated operations with refineries in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Colorado.

Refineries have been hit hard during the coronavirus outbreak as commuters have stayed home and air travel has been severely curtailed since March.

In addition, Suncor is one of the higher cost oilsands mining companies and the cuts announced Friday should help bring the company’s operating costs per barrel into line, said New York-based Eight Capital analyst Phil Skolnick.

“How permanent are those cuts? If oil were to come back to $55 or $50, and we’re out of the pandemic, then how much of those come back?” Skolnick said, adding that the market and investors are looking for permanent cost reductions.

He said it’s not clear yet how a 15 per cent staff reduction would drive down break-even operating costs.

The Suncor Energy Centre building in downtown Calgary.
The Suncor Energy Centre building in downtown Calgary. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

RBC Capital Market analysts expectSuncor to re-establish momentum onseveral fronts in the quarters ahead, and maintained its outperformrecommendation on the company stock with a one-year price target of $25 pershare.

“Suncor has no plans to leap into renewables on a grandscale,’ RBC analyst Greg Pardy said in a note, after hosting a virtual roadshow with Suncor CEO Little for European investors. “Rather, the company is likely to emerge as a niche player, targeting ESG (environmental, social and governance) investments, which generate at least mid-teen returns. These are likelyto include biofuels, hydrogen, C02sequestration, and select wind projects.”



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‘I want to see young people writing about nature’ – Channel 4 News


His writing has been praised by nature writers and naturalists alike and he’s been described as the young star of the Conservation movement.

Autistic teenager Dara McAnulty is the youngest ever winner of a major literary prize. He won the Wainwright Prize about an hour ago for his moving and heartfelt chronicle, reflecting on nature and the world’s changing biosphere.

Here is Dara reading an extract from his book, Diary of A Young Naturalist.



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Meghan Markle’s five pals who gave explosive interview to People mag could be named TODAY in High Court battle


MEGHAN Markle’s five pals who gave an explosive interview to People magazine could be named TODAY in a High Court battle.

The Duchess of Sussex is suing Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, after a “private” letter she sent to her estranged father Thomas Markle was revealed.

⚠️ Read our Meghan and Harry blog for the latest news on the Royal couple.

Meghan Markle is suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday for revealing the contents of a letter she sent to her estranged father

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Meghan Markle is suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday for revealing the contents of a letter she sent to her estranged fatherCredit: AFP or licensors

But the publisher has argued that the existence of the letter had been discussed in an anonymous interview given by five of the former actress’ pals to People Magazine.

Meghan’s lawyers last week applied for the duchess’ friends to remain anonymous as part of the proceedings – something the paper’s legal team has opposed.

The 39-year-old says her friends gave the interview without her knowledge, and denies a claim made by ANL that she “caused or permitted” the People article to be published.

In the article published by People in February of last year, the friends spoke out against the bullying Meghan said she has faced, and have only been identified in confidential court documents.

In a written submission to the court, Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the duchess, said it would be “cruel irony” for the friends to be identified in the privacy case.

However, Antony White QC, acting for ANL, said the unnamed friends are “important potential witnesses on a key issue”.

“Reporting these matters without referring to names would be a heavy curtailment of the media’s and the defendant’s entitlement to report this case and the public’s right to know about it,” he said.

“No friend’s oral evidence could be fully and properly reported because full reporting might identify her, especially as there has already been media speculation as to their identities.”

Mr Justice Warby is due to deliver his ruling on the duchess’s application at 10.30am today.

Meghan Markle wrote a letter to her father after he missed her wedding

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Meghan Markle wrote a letter to her father after he missed her weddingCredit: Splash News
Thomas Markle was not at the 2018 wedding of the couple

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Thomas Markle was not at the 2018 wedding of the coupleCredit: PA:Press Association
The interview with People magazine is at the centre of the legal battle

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The interview with People magazine is at the centre of the legal battle

ANL, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, won the first skirmish in the legal action on May 1, when Mr Justice Warby struck out parts of Meghan’s claim.

This included allegations that the publisher acted “dishonestly” by leaving out certain passages of the letter.

Court papers have since shown Meghan has agreed to pay ANL’s £67,888 costs for that hearing in full.

Meghan is suing ANL over five articles, two in the MoS and three on MailOnline, which were published in February 2019 and reproduced parts of a handwritten letter she sent to her father in August 2018.

The headline on the article read: “Revealed: The letter showing true tragedy of Meghan’s rift with a father she says has ‘broken her heart into a million pieces’.”

The duchess is seeking damages from ANL for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.

ANL wholly denies the allegations, particularly the duchess’s claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says it will hotly contest the case.

Meghan and Harry now live in the US

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Meghan and Harry now live in the USCredit: Getty Images
Meghan Markle turns 39: Her year in review





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Abu Dhabi permits people with negative COVID-19 test to enter emirate


Abu Dhabi will allow people to enter the emirate if they have tested negative for COVID-19 in the previous 48 hours, the local government media office said on Monday, Trend reports citing Reuters.

Abu Dhabi, the largest and wealthiest member of the United Arab Emirates federation, has had a ban on people entering since June 2. It eased some restrictions a week ago to allow movement between its cities for residents.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates will partially reopen mosques across the country starting July 1, with a reduced capacity of 30%, the spokesperson of the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority said on Monday.

Saif Al Dhaheri said that mosques will remain closed for Friday prayers, but some will be open at other times while those located in industrial areas, shopping malls and public parks will stay closed for now.



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Coronavirus: New advice for people shielding in NI


SHieldingImage copyright
PA Media

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80,000 people received shielding letters in Northern Ireland

Thousands of letters giving updated advice on shielding have begun arriving in homes in Northern Ireland.

They are for those who have been judged to be the most vulnerable to Covid-19 – about 80,000 people.

They received a similar letter three months ago advising them to shield for 12 weeks.

The 12 weeks run out later this week and the new guidance is valid until the end of June.

In the letter, Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer says he knows it has been “a very challenging time”.

Dr Michael McBride explained “the Covid-19 virus still poses a high risk” but that “infection levels are now falling” so the “risk of exposure is significantly less”.

However, the letter also states that people shielding should continue to practise social distancing of 2m and wash their hands regularly.

The updated guidance from the chief medical officer states:

  • If you wish to spend time outdoors (though not in other buildings, households, or enclosed spaces) you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping 2m apart
  • If you choose to spend time outdoors, this can be with members of your own household. If you live alone, you can spend time outdoors with one person from another household (ideally the same person each time)
  • You should remain vigilant when leaving home, washing your hands regularly, maintaining social distance and avoiding gatherings of any size
  • You should not attend any gatherings, including gatherings of friends and families in private spaces, for example, parties, weddings and religious services
  • You should strictly avoid contact with anyone who is displaying symptoms of Covid-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, the sense of taste or smell)

Belfast woman Issy McManus has rheumatoid arthritis and takes regular medication which suppresses her immune system.

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Issy McManus said she had found following the shielding advice difficult

She received an initial shielding letter.

Mrs McManus recently remarried and lives with her new husband, Gerry.

She said she found following the shielding advice difficult.

“The only people that came to see me were my nieces – it was talking to them through the patio doors really, and it absolutely wrecked my nerves,” she said.

“I couldn’t cope with it. I’m very sociable, and I just found it impossible. We’re only newly married and so it’s been a poor baptism of fire for Gerry as well, so it was hard work.”

Her new letter with updated guidance arrived on Monday of this week.

Mrs McManus said she initially feared it would tell her to stay indoors.

“I just thought ‘I can’t cope with this really; I can’t go through all that again’. I really need to be outside in my garden… but to think I should be back in the house and doing that, completely locked down, no, I can’t do it.”

Dr Ursula Brennan, a Belfast GP and GP lead for the Belfast Covid Centre, said she is hopeful that with the reduction in the number of cases of Covid-19 in the community there will be a further relaxation of the rules in the coming weeks.

“We know it’s been very difficult for those who’ve been shielding over the 12 weeks, particularly with regards to their mental health and their emotional wellbeing,” she said.

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Dr Ursula Brennan said the new advice was good news for those shielding

“But this is good news, that it allows those people now to spend time outdoors either with their own family, but being particularly careful with social distancing, the two metre gap between individuals outside.

“Those individuals who have been living alone – they can spend time outdoors with one other person not from their household preferably the same person and again being sure to maintain social distancing and hand washing and those are really key features of Covid and they need to continue.”

Dr Brennan advises people who’ve received a letter to seek clarification from their GP or hospital specialist if they are unclear about anything.



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Obama urges George Floyd protesters to push for change, ‘make people in power uncomfortable’


Former President Barack Obama, in a virtual town hall hosted by his foundation Wednesday, called on demonstrators to channel their anger over George Floyd’s death into an opportunity to make leaders “uncomfortable” and pressure them into making real policy changes.

The town hall was hosted by the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, which supports young men of color. During the event, Obama said he rejected a debate that emerged in “a little bit of chatter on the internet” about “voting versus protests, politics and participation versus civil disobedience and direct action.”

“This is not an either-or. This is a both,” he said. “And to bring about real change, we both have to highlight a problem and make people in power uncomfortable, but we also have to translate that into practical solutions and laws that could be implemented and monitored and make sure we’re following up on.”

ANGELA STANTON-KING SAYS OBAMA, BIDEN SHOULD HAVE DONE ‘MUCH MORE’ TO COMBAT RACISM

Former President Barack Obama speaks June 3, 2020, during virtual town hall event with young people to discuss policing and the civil unrest that has followed the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. (My Brother's Keeper Alliance and The Obama Foundation via AP)

Former President Barack Obama speaks June 3, 2020, during virtual town hall event with young people to discuss policing and the civil unrest that has followed the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. (My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and The Obama Foundation via AP)

Obama also urged “every mayor in the country to review your use of force policies” with their communities and “commit to report on planned reforms” before prioritizing their implementation. During a virtual roundtable discussion, he compared current protests to the unrest of the 1960s and said polls show a majority of Americans support the current demonstrations taking place nationwide, despite some “having been marred by the actions of a tiny minority that engaged in violence.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Last week, Obama said the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died in Minneapolis police custody May 25 after a white officer kneeled on his neck for more than 8 minutes, “shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America.” He laid out plans for change in a post on Medium and countered the argument made by some protesters that demonstrations will facilitate more societal change than voting.

“I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time,” he wrote. “I couldn’t disagree more.”

While the former president said that the current protests stem from a “legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices,” he condemned the vandalism, looting and violence that has, in part, overshadowed the more peaceful aspects of the protests in many cities.

Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Crime Rates Drop Across the Globe as Pandemic Keeps People Inside



Crime rates across the globe have dropped significantly as more people stay inside to avoid becoming infected with the coronavirus.

“In Chicago, one of America’s most violent cities, drug arrests have plummeted 42% in the weeks since the city shut down, compared with the same period last year,” according to the AP.

“Part of that decrease, some criminal lawyers say, is that drug dealers have no choice but to wait out the economic slump,” the article read.

March 26, police in Durham, England, reported that the area’s crime rate had dropped 20 percent with officers recording about 130 crimes per day as opposed to an average of 165 the week before.

“Some people rely on shoplifting to fund their drug habit. That’s harder as the shops are closed,” said Durham’s Acting Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen White.

Even though police in Toronto, Canada, recently saw a drop in major crimes such as assault and robbery, officers were busy “slapping charges on those finding novel ways to profit, scam a few days off work or flout public safety regulations,” the Toronto Star reported.

“We want to deter people from taking advantage of the situation for a few days off of work,” said Const. Kyle Villers, adding that in general, the police had their hands full.

“The situations themselves just seem to be changing,” he noted.

In Latin America, crime has sunk to levels not seen in decades.

“Killings are down, and the gangsters aren’t harassing so much,” said 47-year-old Eduardo Perdomo, who is a construction worker in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Last month, the country reported an average of two killings per day, which was down from a peak of 600 a day a few years prior.

“I think they’re afraid of catching the virus, and they aren’t going out,” Perdomo stated.

In California, San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia said he hoped the downward trend would continue once the pandemic is over but added that his officers were preparing for the worst.

“The longer we’re in a lockdown, the more we’re playing with fire,” he concluded.



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Ontario boosting COVID-19 capacity to test almost 20,000 people a day by mid-April


Ontario plans to be able to run 5,000 COVID-19 tests a day by the end of this week and aims to perform almost 20,000 tests a day by April 17, provincial health officials say.

That’s a big step up from the roughly 2,500 tests Ontario has been processing each day. This is all part of a plan to both clear a massive testing backlog and to prepare for the expected strain on the system as the pandemic spreads in the province.

“In Ontario we have taken immediate and important steps to increase our provincial testing capacity,” said Helen Angus, Ontario’s deputy health minister and chair of the COVID-19 Command Table. She said partnerships with hospital and community laboratories will help ramp up capacity. By April 17, Angus said labs across Ontario will be performing 18,900 tests a day.

Instead of the majority of COVID-19 swab samples going to the provincial lab — as they now do — samples will be sent to private and hospital labs that have the capacity, starting immediately. Other geographical areas in the province, particularly the North, will have added capacity under the new plan.

Despite that increased capacity, there are no plans to test everyone who is sick.

“It is not feasible and it is not desirable,” said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s deputy chief medical officer of health. “I know people are worried and there is a lot of fear and concern out there and somehow getting a test result could make you feel better, but it may give you a false sense of security.”

Ontario is prioritizing health-care workers and others who by the nature of their job or where they live (residents and workers in nursing homes and homeless shelters as an example) are at risk of infection, and also the very sick who are hospitalized with severe respiratory symptoms. Others are encouraged to stay home, self-isolate, and if they develop severe respiratory symptoms, chest pains or extreme lethargy go to a hospital emergency.

And not everyone at the site of an outbreak needs to be tested, officials said. Using long-term-care facilities as an example, health officials who briefed the media Thursday said that if three people on a nursing home floor test positive, and others are sick on that floor, there is no need to test them as they are presumed to have the virus and will be treated as if they do.

As of Thursday morning, Ontario had increased its daily testing capacity to 2,439, although officials overstated that during the briefing, saying Ontario was currently at “3,000 to 4,000 tests a day.” Provincial data showed that as of Thursday morning the testing backlog — number of samples taken but not processed — was 10,965, a number that has been steadily growing but with a slower growth rate in the past few days.

Scientists are learning with each day’s experience. Officials at the briefing said the testing protocol and testing sensitivity has grown as scientists in Canada and around the world learn more and more about the novel coronavirus. “Lab tests are now so sensitive that even the smallest trace of COVID-19 can be detected,” Angus said.

Starting Thursday, Ontario is reallocating COVID-19 tests that would normally have been done at the Public Health Ontario laboratories to hospital and private labs. Angus said Ontario has had strong response from private labs that want to help out.

Officials reiterated Thursday that Ontario continues to prioritize health-care workers, people in long-term-care facilities and homeless shelters, patients hospitalized with severe respiratory symptoms, and people in “remote First Nations reserves,” and returning travellers with symptoms.

“We recognize that not everybody at this point can be tested quickly and not everybody really needs to be tested in terms of the clinical treatment they would get,” said Yaffe, the associate chief medical officer of health.

“The ones we are prioritizing are where there is an impact on a lot of other vulnerable people and so the result needs to be done quickly,” Yaffe said.

As to how many the province is missing due to this testing protocol, Yaffe said they do not know. “Many, many thousands of people” have used the province’s online assessment tool, she said.

“As we expand the number of tests we will have a better sense of the prevalence in the population,” said deputy health minister Angus.

Officials said doctors still have leeway to determine who will be tested, along with the provincial priorities.

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Matt Andersen, president and CEO of Ontario Health, said the province estimates it can add 4,000 additional completed tests each week, growing to a capacity of close to 20,000 by the middle of April.

A big concern provincial health officials have is Ontario residents returning from winter vacations. “There’s real concern about the snowbirds coming back and make sure we are looking at them and pulling out all the stops to get them to stay home” and self-isolate, said Angus.

Kevin Donovan





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Some people 70+ should be barred from boarding cruise ships, industry proposal says


A proposal submitted to the White House Tuesday by the leading cruise trade organization would deny cruise boarding to any person over 70 unless they present a doctor’s note verifying their fitness for travel.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) submitted a plan to Vice President Michael Pence proposing enhanced measures across the industry as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, forcing two ships of passengers into quarantine and escalating fears on others.

According to the proposal, boarding should be denied to any person over the age of 70 years unless they are able to present a doctor’s note verifying their fitness for travel on a cruise ship, according to a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly. 

Similarly, any person with a chronic medical condition who could be at an increased risk if they were to contract COVID-19 should be barred from getting on a cruise ship. 

At a briefing Tuesday night, Pence confirmed he had received CLIA’s proposal. “We’ll be reviewing that in the next 24 hours,” he added. “The President’s objective is for us to make cruise lines safer, even as we work with the cruise lines to ensure that — that no one in our particularly vulnerable population is — is going out on a cruise in the near future.”

The group also proposed additional restrictions based on where cruise passengers have traveled.

The Grand Princess cruise ship passes beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in this view from Sausalito, Calif., March 9, 2020.
The Grand Princess cruise ship passes beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in this view from Sausalito, Calif., March 9, 2020.

The recommendation from CLIA to the White House suggests that Japan and Italy should be added to the list of countries whereby passengers and crew will be denied boarding if they have traveled there within 14 days prior to embarkation.

South Korea, Iran, China, Hong Kong, Macau and affected areas of Italy are already on that list of countries. 

Additionally, CLIA added initial embarkation temperature screenings over the weekend. Anyone with a temperature at or higher than 100.4 will be denied boarding. Before the new policy was instituted, that would have resulted in a secondary medical assessment.

As of Wednesday, coronavirus had infected more than 121,500 people and killed 4,373 globally, according to Johns Hopkins data. 

The passengers of two of Princess Cruises’ ships, Diamond Princess and Grand Princess, have been quarantined abroad and in the U.S. Nearly 700 people contracted coronavirus after being quarantined on board the Diamond Princess and at least 21 people have tested positive after being on Grand Princess. 

Other ships have been turned away from ports for fear of the virus, including Holland America’s MS Westerdam, which found itself in limbo in February.

Since the outbreak began, CLIA has issued increased screening measures and updated them on a few separate occasions. 

CLIA is the largest cruise trade industry and the voice and “leading authority” for the global cruise community. Its member ships make up 95% of ocean-going cruises. 

‘They’re getting pummeled’: Travel industry reeling from coronavirus concerns, anxiety

Amid coronavirus, will they be welcome? Cruise ships will bring 100K people to US ports this week

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Proposal to White House: Cruise industry to bar people 70+ from ships



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Madagascar floods kill at least 12 people, with more missing


ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – Floods across the island of Madagascar has killed at least 12 people this week, with 18 missing, after unseasonably heavy rain, the national disaster office said on Thursday.

Parts of Africa have experienced heavy rain in recent months because the Indian Ocean is warmer than usual, partly as result of a cyclical weather phenomenon and partly because oceans are warming everywhere.

Floods, landslides and a cyclone killed more than 1,200 people across East and Southern Africa last year, according to a Save the Children count based on U.N. and government figures.

Flooding also displaced nearly half a million people in Southern Sudan, 200,000 in Ethiopia and at least 370,000 in Somalia last year, the United Nations said.

(Reporting by Lovasoa Rabary; Writing by Duncan Miriri; editing by Nick Macfie)



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