The United States and the Taliban are on target to sign a peace agreement next week after a seven-day period of reduced violence, American and Taliban officials said Friday. Defence Secretary Mark Esper has said if the seven-day truce is successful and the Afghan peace talks begin, the U.S. would reduce its troop contingent "over time" to about 8,600. <a href="https://t.co/PdsQYdooT1">pic.twitter.com/PdsQYdooT1</a> —@statedeptspoxSuhail Shaheen, spokesperson for the Taliban's political office in Doha, tweeted that the Taliban expect a complete withdrawal. Neighbouring Pakistan, which has long been accused of backing the Taliban, welcomed the reduction-in-violence plan. The alliance has some 16,000 troops in Afghanistan helping to train its security forces, but it could draw down its operation to accommodate any firm peace agreement.
February 21, 2020 13:34 UTC
CALGARY - Enerplus Corp. reported a loss of $429.1 million in its latest quarter as it took a non-cash goodwill impairment charge related to its Canadian business. Enerplus says the drop in earnings was due to a $451.1-million non-cash goodwill impairment charge as a result of Canadian asset sales, the shut-in of natural gas production in Tommy Lakes and lower forecasted commodity prices. The results were also hurt by a $28.8-million loss on commodity derivative instruments in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared with a $253.7-million gain in the same period in 2018. Excluding the goodwill impairment and certain other non-cash or non-recurring items, Enerplus says it earned an adjusted profit of $34.4 million in the quarter compared with $102.2 million in the same period a year earlier. Total production in the quarter 107,436 barrels of oil equivalent per day, topping the company’s guidance range of 103,000 to 107,000 boepd and up from 97,860 boepd in the fourth quarter of 2018.
February 21, 2020 13:18 UTC
DELRAY BEACH, FLA.—Canada’s Milos Raonic downed Germany’s Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 7-5, 6-3 on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Delray Beach Open. 37 and seeded second at the tournament, fired 11 aces to Stebe’s five and won 78 per cent of his first-serve points. Raonic will face Steve Johnson in the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 tournament Friday. Johnson beat wild card Jack Sock 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 earlier in the day. Raonic made the final at Delray Beach against Sock in 2017, but the Canadian withdrew with a hamstring tear in his right leg before the match.
February 21, 2020 13:18 UTC
The 25-year-old student — who was studying tourism in Wuhan, China and flown back to Canada on the first charter flight to CFB Trenton — was released from quarantine just before 7 a.m. Friday. The evacuees will be dropped off at Pearson airport, and from there, passengers will make their own way home. “Whenever I think about all those people that are still in China and have no way out, it makes me sad,” Larouche said. Government officials say none of the evacuees has shown any symptoms of the virus during their stay at the base. The Star’s Alex McKeen has been following Larouche’s journey since early February — tracking her experience flying from China to Canada, making it to the Trenton base, and the time during her quarantine.
February 21, 2020 13:10 UTC
Among Democratic voters, 41% say they have a great deal or quite a bit of confidence in the Democratic Party’s nomination process, while 34% have moderate confidence and 25% have little to no confidence. Among Republicans, meanwhile, 61% say they have high confidence in their party’s process, and just 13% have low confidence. President Donald Trump has only nominal opposition in the GOP nomination process, and several state Republican parties have even cancelled holding a primary. Some respondents said they worry that an increasingly bitter internal battle for the Democratic nomination could weaken whomever emerges to take on Trump in November. The poll shows that Sanders gets slightly higher ratings nationally from Democratic voters compared to his nearest primary rivals, some of whom remain less well known even within the party.
February 21, 2020 13:07 UTC
KIEV — Ukraine’s Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk on Friday blamed an “information war” being waged on the country for spreading panic and mistrust over the coronavirus, a day after the arrival of evacuees from China sparked clashes outside a sanatorium. Speaking to parliament, Honcharuk said misinformation was being spread from within and outside Ukraine but did not elaborate. Health Minister Zoriana Skaletska announced she would join those in quarantine. “Our health minister has agreed to stay with the citizens in this medical institution,” Honcharuk said. “Yesterday, frankly, in some episodes it seemed that we are the Europe of the Middle Ages, unfortunately.
TOKYO — Japan faced growing questions about whether it was doing enough to stop the spread of the coronavirus on Friday, as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said it would cancel or postpone major indoor events it has sponsored for the next three weeks. Around Japan, more than 80 people have tested positive for the virus, including three more confirmed on Friday in the northern island of Hokkaido. Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo, said on Friday it had confirmed that a preschool boy was infected. The boy and his father, who has already tested positive, returned to Japan from China on a chartered flight earlier this month, the prefecture said. Both the Tokyo Marathon, which will be limited to elite runners, and the Nagoya race are Olympic qualifying events for Japanese marathon runners, deepening concern about whether the Summer Games set to start on July 24 will go ahead as planned.
We asked four authors to pick their recommended reading for Black History Month. Nadia L. Hohn, author of “A Likkle Miss Lou”“I selected two books based on ‘history’ and ‘identity,’” Hohn says. “Black Writers Matter” an anthology edited by Whitney French (University of Regina Press), features contemporary new and established Canadian writers’ essays and reflections. YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN...One book that all schools — and homes — should have is “The Kids Book of Black Canadian History” by Rosemary Sadlier, illustrated by Wang Qijun (Kids Can Press). It provides a comprehensive picture of the history of Black people in this country.
February 21, 2020 12:56 UTC
HONG KONG — Hong Kong protesters, many dressed in black and wearing surgical masks amid fears over the new coronavirus, held sit-ins in the Chinese-ruled city on Friday to mark seven months since an attack by an armed mob on anti-government demonstrators. The protesters chanted slogans on Friday including “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times” and “Hong Kong independence, the only way out!”“We will never forget what happened on July 21,” said Lily, a protester dressed in black, part of a group of a few dozens at the Causeway Bay metro station on Hong Kong island. In particular, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s refusal to seal the border with mainland China, seen by many as a move to appease Beijing, has infuriated many. A Hong Kong police officer was confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus on Friday.
Here’s the deal — it’s really cold today. But the good news is that Torontonians can looks forward to a warmer weekend, reaching up to an actual high of 6 C on Sunday. The rest of the day is expected to get increasingly cloudy and the winds are expected to become even stronger, gusting up to 50 km/h. Temperatures will reach a low of -6 C, but will feel closer to -13 C.Environment Canada is calling for more of the same for Saturday: strong winds and a mix of sun and cloud. Temperatures will climb to a high of 3 C but will feel closer to -9 C and reach a low of -2 C in the evening.
February 21, 2020 12:45 UTC
Longueuil police closed St-Georges Street, which crosses the train tracks near a rail blockade on Montreal's South Shore on Friday afternoon. Canadian National Railway (CN) obtained the injunction to dismantle a rail blockade that's been in place since about noon Wednesday. Longueuil police appear to be surrounding the protesters who have been blocking a commuter train line since Wednesday on Montreal's South Shore. Many of the protesters in Saint-Lambert are young people and students, the majority of which are not Indigenous. Picard said if police remove Saint-Lambert protesters by force, it might mobilize more groups of people to take action in solidarity.
February 21, 2020 12:37 UTC
TORONTO - Home Capital Group Inc. reported a fourth-quarter profit of $37.2 million, up from $35.8 million in the same quarter a year earlier. The alternative mortgage lender says the profit amounted to 65 cents per share for the quarter ended Dec. 31 compared with a profit of 46 cents per share for the fourth quarter of 2018. On an adjusted basis, Home Capital says it earned 72 cents per share in its latest quarter, up from an adjusted profit of 46 cents per share a year earlier. Total provision for credit losses in the quarter amounted to $3.9 million compared with $3.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Mortgage originations in the final quarter of 2019 totalled $1.62 billion compared with $1.61 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018.
February 21, 2020 12:33 UTC
JERUSALEM - One of the 11 Israelis who were flown home after being quarantined on a cruise ship in Japan has tested positive for the new virus that emerged in China late last year, the first case to be reported inside Israel, officials said Friday. The Israeli cruise ship passengers, who had all initially tested negative for the new coronavirus, arrived on a charter plane overnight. She said a woman tested positive as a carrier of the virus but is “totally healthy” and is not exhibiting any symptoms. ”Obviously the whole situation is not easy.”Another four Israelis were hospitalized in Japan after testing positive for the virus. Dozens of foreign passengers were flown back to their home countries on flights chartered by their governments.
February 21, 2020 12:17 UTC
LONDON - A British woman who supported the Islamic State group pleaded guilty Friday to plotting to bomb St. Paul’s Cathedral and a hotel in London. Safiyya Amira Shaikh, 36, from Middlesex in southeast England, admitted to the preparation of terrorist acts and dissemination of terrorist publications. A prosecution case summary said Shaikh made contact with someone who could prepare explosives and went on a reconnaissance trip to scope out the cathedral. Shaikh expressed a desire to target a church or somewhere “historical” on a day like Christmas or Easter to “kill more,” the summary said. She also shared terrorist documents through groups using the Telegram messaging app between August 2019 and October 2019 and prepared a pledge of allegiance to Islamic State, London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
February 21, 2020 12:16 UTC
NASHVILLE - Five Republican attorneys general are seeking to block an effort by three Democratic-led states to see the Equal Rights Amendment is adopted into the U.S. Constitution. All five rescinded their approvals of the ERA amendment before a congressionally mandated ratification deadline more than 40 years ago, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said Thursday. Virginia recently became the 38th state to ratify the measure designed to guarantee women the same legal rights men enjoy. “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” it says. But the ERA’s future is uncertain, in part because the ratification deadline set by Congress expired so long ago.
February 21, 2020 12:16 UTC