Spend software startup Airbase adds $23.5M to its Series A as it posts quick growth

Alex Wilhelm
Close up macro color image depicting an abstract view of a collection of debit and credit cards and numeric digits. Room for copy space.

This morning Airbase, a startup that sells spend and budgeting software for companies, announced a $23.5 million extension to its Series A. TechCrunch covered the company's first Series A tranche last year when it put together a $7 million round. The firm has now raised a hair under $31 million, including a founder-supplied $300,000 initial investment. Bain Capital Ventures led the company's A extension.

Why did the startup raise an A extension instead of a full Series B? Airbase CEO Thejo Kote told TechCrunch that he considers his firm "a Series A company" instead of a Series B firm because of where it is "in the lifecycle of building [its] business." Answering the same question, Bain Capital Ventures' Ajay Agarwal, who led the round, told this publication that in light of how Seed has changed in recent years, the company's Series A tranche 1 could be viewed as a Seed round itself. That would make this Series A extension more akin to the company's A.

Either way, Airbase's valuation went up sharply in the round, rising around 3x according to the CEO.

How did Airbase manage to put together a fun, if slightly atypical Series A, less than a year after its original Series investment? By growing like heck. According to Kote, Airbase expanded its annual recurring revenue (ARR) 4x in 2019 and is shooting for the same result this year. From a far-larger revenue base, it's a big goal. (Presuming that the company was at $1 million ARR or so when it kicked 2019 off, it would have landed at $4 million ARR before this round; another 4x would put it at $16 million ARR at the end of 2020. The more early-2019 ARR you guess Airbase might have had, the larger its 2020 goal becomes).

But not everything -- sadly -- is numerical. Let's talk about product, competition, and market selection.

Spending, budget, and interchange

Airbase helps companies spend money and track that spend. On the money out side of things, Airbase has virtual cards, regular corporate cards, and a method for paying bills. On the tracking side, Airbase has spend reporting and controls to help limit cash outflows. The company wants to make how a business buys goods and services easier to control and manage.

Given that there are a few companies out there which buy things, it's a big market. And one that is being served, at least in party by Utah's Divvy, which offers a similar set of tooling. I asked Kote about the competitor, and how he thinks Airbase is different. His answer was notable, and brought the two companies target markets and methods of revenue generation into the mix.

Regarding markets, Kote thinks that Divvy is targeting smaller companies while Airbase is going after mid-market firms (companies with over 100 employees). Turning to revenue, Divvy's main product is completely free (the company did recently add Divvy Capital to its product roll and will expand its services over time, it told TechCrunch in a call) and Airbase's isn't. Airbase offers a free tier, but for larger companies that spend more, it charges a SaaS fee for its software.

How is Divvy free and how does Airbase offer a free tier? Interchange, which is something that we've discussed at length in recent weeks. Interchange lets companies that issue cards collect a percentage (small, single-digit, and usually measured in bips) of transactions that go through its payment infrastructure. This is the vast majority of Divvy's revenue today; charging nothing has allowed it to quickly add customers and post impressive growth (more here). Airbase, going after larger customers, will have two revenue streams: generating incomes from interchange as well as software fees.

Fintech CAC and the Great Credit Card Craze


I might say that this method of charging a price could slow Airbase's logo (customer) growth, but given how much it expanded revenue in 2019 I'd sound absurd.

In a conversation with TechCrunch, Kote broke down how he sees the two companies' approaches and markets standing in contrast:

Time will tell if this is a good contrarian approach or a bad contrarian approach. [But] our approach is to be primarily think of ourselves as a software company. We charge for the software that we provide. And I think that also reflects in the kind of companies we go after. I think Divvy and Airbase goes after different parts of the market. I think Divvy's a little more focused on the smaller end of the market. I don't have any internal data, maybe you do, but I'm pretty sure the majority of their companies would be less than 50, or maybe even less than 100 employees. And the majority of our customers are more than 100 employees. We truly go after mid market companies because the problem we solve, and the depth we solve it with, is more aligned with that kind of group of companies.

Going against free for a more expensive product is interesting and fun for us on the outside—it sets up a bit of competition. Divvy will, I presume, add more and more tooling to its product and try to attract bigger customers (larger clients means more spend and more interchange revenue). And Airbase, with its free tier, is still in the market for smaller companies. There is room for both to survive, but I'd hazard they'll tangle in the next few years.

Certainly Airbase's investors are bullish on its choices. During a call with TechCrunch, Bain's Agarwal said that startup has a "killer product solution," and "beautiful software." Asked why he made the decision to put money into Airbase so quickly after its preceding round, Agarwal said that, apart from its business momentum and belief in Kote, the startup's problem and market size, in addition to current customer reviews, were catalysts. That's high praise.

Airbase now has lots of new capital and a big growth goal for the year. Let's see if they can reach it.

  • 'It was tough to watch...': PM Trudeau's pause when asked about Trump raises questions for Canadians
    Politics
    Yahoo News Canada

    'It was tough to watch...': PM Trudeau's pause when asked about Trump raises questions for Canadians

    At a press conference on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a long pause, hesitating to comment on U.S. President Donald Trump using the military to clear protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets during a photo opportunity.

  • 6 Atlanta officers charged after students pulled from car
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    The Canadian Press

    6 Atlanta officers charged after students pulled from car

    ATLANTA — Six Atlanta police officers were charged Tuesday after dramatic video showed authorities pulling two young people from a car and shooting them with stun guns while they were stuck in traffic caused by protests over George Floyd’s death.Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced the charges during a news conference.“I feel a little safer now that these monsters are off of the street and no longer able to terrorize anyone else,” said 22-year-old Messiah Young, who was dragged from the vehicle along with his girlfriend, 20-year-old Taniyah Pilgrim.The Saturday night incident first gained attention from video online and on local news. Throughout, the couple can be heard screaming and asking officers what is happening.Two of the officers were fired Sunday after Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and police Chief Erika Shields determined they had used excessive force. The other four have been placed on administrative leave, police spokesman Sgt. John Chafee said in an email Tuesday.Pilgrim was released without charges. Howard said Young was charged with attempting to elude the officers, and the mayor has said she's ordering his charges dropped.Body camera video from seven officers shows police taking another young man into custody in a downtown street. The man, whom Howard identified as Chancellor Meyers, tells officers he didn’t do anything.Sitting in the driver’s seat of a car stopped in the street, Young holds up his phone, shooting video as an officer approaches and pulls the driver’s door open. Young pulls the door shut and says repeatedly, “I’m not dying today.” He urges the officers to release Meyers and let him get in the car as the dark sedan advances a bit.The car gets stuck in traffic and officers run up to both sides of it, shouting orders. An officer uses a Taser on Pilgrim as she’s trying to get out of the car and then officers pull her out.Another officer yells at Young to open the window. An officer repeatedly hits the driver’s side window with a baton, and another officer finally manages to break it.As the glass shatters, an officer uses a Taser on Young and officers pull him from the car as officers shout, “Get your hand out of your pockets,” and, “He got a gun. He got a gun. He got a gun.” Once he’s out of the car and on the ground, officers zip tie Young’s hands behind his back and lead him away.Howard said no gun was found.Young suffered a fractured arm and a gash requiring 24 stitches as he was pulled from the car, Howard said. Young told Howard's investigators that an officer who escorted him away after his arrest punched him in the back more than 10 times as they walked.“I’m so happy that they’re being held accountable for their actions," Pilgrim said at the news conference.Young and Pilgrim are rising seniors at historically black colleges near downtown Atlanta. Young, from Chicago, is studying business management at Morehouse College. Pilgrim, from San Antonio, Texas, is studying psychology at Spelman College.The two officers who were fired Sunday — Investigator Ivory Streeter and Investigator Mark Gardner — were charged with four others.Streeter is charged with aggravated assault for using a Taser against Young and is also charged with pointing a gun at him, arrest warrants say.Gardner is charged with aggravated assault for using a Taser against Pilgrim, a warrant saysLonnie Hood is charged with aggravated assault against both Young and Pilgrim for using a Taser against both of them, an arrest warrant says. He is also charged with simple battery for violently pulling Pilgrim from the car and throwing her down on to the street, a warrant says.Willie Sauls is charged with aggravated assault for pointing a Taser at Pilgrim, a warrant says. He's also charged with criminal damage for repeatedly hitting and damaging the driver's side window of the car, a warrant says.Armon Jones is charged with aggravated battery for hurting Young's left arm when he dragged him from the car and slammed him onto the street, a warrant says. He's also charged with pointing a gun at Young.Roland Claud is charged with criminal damage for breaking the car's windows, a warrant says.All of the charged officers are black except for Claud, who's white. Atlanta Police Department sworn personnel is about 61% black, according to 2019 numbers provided by the department.Howard says he has asked a judge to set a signature bond of $10,000, which means they wouldn't have to pay anything unless they fail to show up for court dates. The main reasons for that are to limit the number of people in the Fulton County jail during the coronavirus pandemic and because they are police officers, Howard said.The officers have been asked to turn themselves in by Friday, he said.Kate Brumback, The Associated Press

  • Ottawa's lack of co-operation over residential school claim records 'tragic,' says Murray Sinclair
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    CBC

    Ottawa's lack of co-operation over residential school claim records 'tragic,' says Murray Sinclair

    Ongoing litigation over records from the residential schools compensation process undermines the federal government's reconciliation agenda and commitments made to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, according to Sen. Murray Sinclair, who chaired the commission.The federal government won an initial Ontario Superior Court victory in January blocking the creation of statistical reports on residential school abuse claims and the direct transfer of other records to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, which holds the records gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)."It's not indicative of any commitment to reconciliation when they start to shut down access to documents such as this," said Sinclair, who was chair of the TRC."The litigators still seem to think that this is no longer relevant to anything that Canada is obligated to or committed to do and I think they are wrong." Sinclair said he would be bringing up the federal government's position to control the fate of the records with Justice Minister David Lametti and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett."This is one situation where the legal process has to follow the government policy and government policy is to move forward on reconciliation and this is necessary to do that," said Sinclair. The TRC examined the over century-long history of residential schools which saw 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children forced to attend the institutions and resulted in the deaths — from disease, malnourishment and abuse — of thousands of students.Its findings and recommendations set the road map the federal Liberal government has said it intends to follow on its reconciliation agenda.Lametti's office referred questions on the issue to Bennett's office, which it said was the client on the case and directed the position of federal lawyers. Bennett's office did not provide a comment.The TRC was created by the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement which also established the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) to determine compensation levels for survivors who experienced abuse at the institutions.The claims process is scheduled to end in March 2021 and the body that oversaw the IAP, the Independent Residential School Adjudication Secretariat, was seeking to transfer its administrative records — excluding individuals' compensation files — to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. A 2017 Supreme Court decision forbade the archiving of information on individuals' compensation claims. Personal claim information is set to be destroyed in 2027 unless a survivor indicates they would like their file archived.Voices of survivors excluded, says SinclairThe federal government opposed the direct transfer of the secretariat's records to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, arguing the records were its property and they should be transferred to the Crown-Indigenous Relations department which would then hand them over to Library and Archives Canada.Federal lawyers also successfully argued that the creation of detailed statistical reports — called static reports — could violate the privacy of individual survivors who filed for compensation despite safeguards outlined by the secretariat. The Crown-Indigenous Relations department has previously stated that it "is concerned the release of static documents could result in a breach" of the 2017 Supreme Court decision.The secretariat's database has nearly two decades of information from over 38,000 claims filed since the compensation process began.The secretariat proposed to extract and organize information from its database into static reports that break down compensation claim statistics. Some proposed categories included which residential schools were linked to the most abuse claims. "It would appear Canada has switched horses. Initially, while the settlement agreement was in place and we were going through the TRC process … we were meeting constant assurances that the government would be co-operative in making full disclosure of documents as needed," said Sinclair. "So that assurance of co-operation appears to have disappeared and that disappearance is actually tragic because it means the information around the full and complete story of the residential school experiences… is not going to be told." Sinclair said the voices of survivors have been excluded from the ongoing legal fight."I think they have the obligation to go to the survivors or survivor representatives to say, 'We would like to be able to disclose this information, do you have any concerns?' said Sinclair."No one is asking the survivors or the families and that is a concern I have."Destroying data protects abusers, says researcherCindy Hanson, a professor and director in the University of Regina's faculty of education, is in year three of a five-year research project examining the IAP through input from survivors, judges, adjudicators, lawyers and health support workers. Hanson said records such as the static reports are key to understanding the history of residential schools and the workings of a pivotal mechanism of the settlement agreement, which was historic on an international level."We've created a mountain of data on how abuse happened, who perpetrated violence in institutions," said Hanson. "In essence, by destroying it we protect those people that were abusers. I am not saying we need to have names, I am saying we need to know patterns and data that would be reported in static reports."The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) is appealing the January ruling.

  • Farm families 'drowning' under pandemic pressures plead for child-care help
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    CBC

    Farm families 'drowning' under pandemic pressures plead for child-care help

    Katie Keddy and Amy Hill share a love of the land and both appreciate the joys and challenges of raising families, but this year both farmers are struggling to keep up with their chores while looking after their children."We're trying to get in irrigation for the year right now and getting all of our greenhouses planted up, and you can't get that done when you have a one-year-old pulling plants out behind you," said Hill."You can't get it done when you have to stop 100 times to do snacks and diaper changes and nursing and all of those things."Hill co-owns Snowy River Farms, a livestock and vegetable operation in Cooks Brook, near Shubenacadie, N.S. Her son, Ezekiel, is one and her daughter, Ayla, is six.Keddy has two boys, Charlie, 7, and Ben, 5, and is trying to deal with the planting season at Charles Keddy Farm Ltd. in Kentville, N.S., in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic."We are all going into the most important and busiest time of our years and we're going into this, this year with a reduced labour force," said Keddy.Both women understand the need to close schools during the pandemic and the decision to restrict contact to immediate family members. But neither believes the federal or provincial governments understand the full impact of those measures on farm families."The workload increased much greater than it usually, and it's already a heavy workload at this time of the year," said Hill. "We have felt like we are drowning since early March. Every days feel like you're running from a bear."Keddy, in her role as president of the Kings County Federation of Agriculture, has been calling on Premier Stephen McNeil to provide financial help to farm families so they can hire someone to mind their children.She notes P.E.I. now has a $75 a week allowance to help qualifying families with child-care costs, and in a May 19 letter to the premier she said a program is needed in Nova Scotia "so our farm families can continue to efficiently, and safely produce food for Canadian families."She wrote him again last week as part of a group of women farmers, the Maritime Ag Women's Network, after hearing McNeil talk publicly about how health-care workers had been able to find child care for their children.The premier had suggested the issue had been "organically dealt with" through support in the community or small daycares that were looking after the children of front-line health workers."While this was in reference primarily to Healthcare workers, others working in essential services, in this instance, Agriculture, are still struggling," said the letter signed by Keddy and Amy VanderHeide, who co-founded the group that represents close to 1,000 women across the Maritime region.Keddy said she's not received a response from the premier."His comments that it is being covered organically by communities, you know it is because it has to be and it's falling primarily on women," said Keddy. "For me, I had to take a step back to stay home with the kids in the beginning."Keddy said she's been informed federal aid aimed at helping farmers cannot be used to pay for child care.Hill described herself as "beyond frustrated" by the situation."I would love to see Stephen McNeil up there trying to do his press conference while he has a kid requesting snacks and somebody else saying that they're tired and, like, a Paw Patrol episode playing in the background," she said. "That's what it is to try to do a job with children."Although the provincial government is working on a plan to re-establish child-care services by mid-June, daycare is not a realistic option for many farm families who would prefer to have their children looked after in their homes."There is no organic child care in the province, especially not rurally," said Hill. "It doesn't exist."The world is stressed out, and then the agricultural community is just trying to claw their way though this season right now and it feels like the government doesn't see us."Worried about the futureKeddy is worried a second wave of the COVID-19 virus expected next fall might make a bad situation worse."We hope schools will be back to normal in September, but I have my doubts that that'll be case so then we're going into harvest with exactly the same issues," she said.And that would make what may now look like a rural issue, very much an urban one, according to Keddy."You know people are worried about our food supply and that there will be enough food coming along at harvest time, one directly affects the other."MORE TOP STORIES

  • UK warns China: do not destroy the jewel of Hong Kong
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    Reuters

    UK warns China: do not destroy the jewel of Hong Kong

    The United Kingdom warned Beijing on Tuesday to step back from the brink over an "authoritarian" national security law in Hong Kong that it said risked destroying one of the jewels of Asia's economy while ruining the reputation of China. China’s parliament last week approved a decision to create laws for Hong Kong to curb sedition, secession, terrorism and foreign interference. "There is time for China to reconsider, there is a moment for China to step back from the brink and respect Hong Kong's autonomy and respect China's own international obligations," British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told parliament.

  • Trump threatens military force and Snowbird crash investigation; In The News for June 2
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Trump threatens military force and Snowbird crash investigation; In The News for June 2

    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 June 2 ...\---American anti-racism protests ...Wielding extraordinary federal authority, President Donald Trump threatened the nation's governors that he would deploy the military to states if they did not stamp out violent protests over police brutality that have roiled the nation over the past week. His announcement came as police under federal command forced back peaceful demonstrators with tear gas so he could walk to a nearby church and pose with a Bible.Trump's bellicose rhetoric came as the nation convulsed through another round of violence over the death of George Floyd at a time when the country is already buckling under the coronavirus outbreak and the Depression-level unemployment it has caused. The president demanded an end to the heated protests in remarks from the White House Rose Garden and vowed to use more force to achieve that aim.If governors throughout the country do not deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers to "dominate the streets," Trump said the U.S. military would step in to "quickly solve the problem for them.""We have the greatest country in the world," the president declared. "We're going to keep it safe."A military deployment by Trump to U.S. states would mark a stunning federal intervention rarely seen in modern American history. Yet the message Trump appeared to be sending with the brazen pushback of protesters outside the White House was that he sees few limits to what he is willing to do.Some around the president likened the moment to 1968, when Richard Nixon ran as the law-and-order candidate in the aftermath of a summer of riots, capturing the White House. But despite his efforts to portray himself as a political outsider, Trump is an incumbent who risks being held responsible for the violence.Minutes before Trump began speaking, police and National Guard soldiers began aggressively forcing back hundreds of peaceful protesters who had gathered in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, where they were chanting against police brutality and Floyd's death in Minneapolis. As Trump spoke, tear gas canisters could be heard exploding.\---Also this ...As protesters keep up their anti-racism rallies on both sides of the border, top health officials are hoping they don't forget about the risk of COVID-19.Canadian health officials are not suggesting people avoid protests, but they are stressing the importance of hand sanitizer and masks.With physical distance being nearly impossible in some of these settings, rally-goers may have to find other ways to try to keep themselves safe.Protests have taken place in several Canadian cities in the aftermath of a black man dying last week in Minneapolis after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck.George Floyd's death has sent throngs into the streets in several U.S. and Canadian cities to decry systemic racism and police brutality.Meanwhile, House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota is scheduled today to appear at a committee on procedure and House affairs.He is expected to discuss the hybrid parliament and how it is functioning during the pandemic.The Senate finance committee also meets today with many major industry leaders set to appear.\---COVID-19 in Ontario ...Ontario is expected today to extend its state of emergency until June 30.The measure bans gatherings larger than five people.It also orders the closure of some businesses such as restaurants and bars, except if they offer takeout or delivery.If the vote passes, the measure — which had been set to expire today — will be extended for another 28 days.Ontario declared a state of emergency on March 17 as COVID-19 cases began to climb in the province.\---COVID-19 in sports ...It looks like hockey fans will be able to cheer on their favourite NHL team this summer but Canadians have issued a collective shrug about whether the Stanley Cup is hoisted on their home ice.Less than one-quarter of those who took part in a recent survey said it was very important that a Canadian city be host to some of the playoffs.The web survey, conducted by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, found 47 per cent thought it wasn't important that the puck drop in a Canadian arena.The NHL plans to resume its 2019-20 season, brought to a halt in March by the COVID-19 pandemic, with games played in two hub cities.Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are among the 10 possible locations, but Canada's mandatory 14-day quarantine for people entering the country remains in place and could scuttle the prospect of hockey north of the 49th parallel.\---Snowbird crash investigation ...Military investigators are pointing to video footage as the reason they suspect a bird strike was been responsible for last month's deadly Snowbird plane crash in British Columbia.The crash was May 18, shortly after two of the Snowbirds' iconic Tutor jets took off from the Kamloops Airport while participating in a cross-country tour aimed at boosting Canadians' morale during the COVID-19 pandemic.Video posted to social media shortly after the crash showed one of the planes climbing a few seconds after leaving the runway before rolling over in the air and plummeting into a residential neighbourhood.The crash killed Capt. Jenn Casey, the Snowbirds' public-affairs officer who was riding as a passenger, while the pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall, sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Both ejected from the plane seconds before it hit the ground.No one on the ground was seriously hurt.In a preliminary report released Monday, investigators confirmed that a close examination of video showed a bird very close to the plane's right engine intake "during the critical phase of take-off."\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2020The Canadian Press

  • Ex-ministers, ambassadors call on Trudeau to push back against Israeli annexation plan
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    CBC

    Ex-ministers, ambassadors call on Trudeau to push back against Israeli annexation plan

    Four Chretien-era cabinet ministers are among 58 former Canadian diplomats and politicians who added their names to a letter calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government to show stronger resistance to a proposed Israeli annexation of a large part of the occupied West Bank.Among the signatories are former ambassadors to Israel who served under both Liberal and Conservative governments, as well as many other diplomats who represented Canada's interests in the Middle East."We are writing to you as retired Canadian diplomats, proud of Canada's historical commitment to multilateral institutions and its reputation for supporting the rule of law," the letter begins."As you know, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced publicly his intention to 'annex' in the coming weeks a significant amount of land that Canada, and the international community, recognize as occupied Palestinian Territory ..."Territorial conquest and annexation are notorious for contributing to fateful results: war, political instability, economic ruin, systematic discrimination and human suffering."In an email response to CBC News' request for comment on the letter, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Adam Austen said "Canada remains firmly committed to the goal of achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. We have long maintained that peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties."He added: "Canada is very concerned that Israel moving forward with unilateral annexation would be damaging to peace negotiations and contrary to international law.  "This could lead to further insecurity for Israelis and Palestinians at a critical time for peace and stability in the region."Asked about Canada's position at his daily COVID-19 briefing Tuesday morning, Trudeau said his government was committed to seeing a two-state solution."I have highlighted both publicly and directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu and alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz the importance of staying away from measures that are unilateral and our deep concerns and disagreement with their proposed policy of annexation," Trudeau said. "We think that the path forward is a two-state solution reached to by dialogue between the parties involved and anything that is unilateral action by either side is unhelpful in the cause of peace."Watch: Trudeau questioned about Israeli government's plan to annex parts of the West BankJuly deadlineIsrael is currently under a unity government formed as a compromise between rivals Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, after three elections in one year failed to produce a governing coalition.Netanyahu and Gantz — the alternate prime minister and defence minister — have developed a complex formula to govern together despite the major policy differences between them.Gantz has expressed reservations about unilateral annexation, which also has been rejected by a large part of Israel's security establishment — former military generals and senior officers of the Shin Bet internal security service. But he has agreed not to stand in the way of the initiative after July 1, and Netanyahu has continued to say that he will proceed to annex about 30 per cent of the land between Israel's internationally-recognized border and the Jordan River.Netanyahu told an Israeli newspaper last week that he intends to proceed with his plan despite the opposition, saying it's in the interests of Israel.Israel, claiming historical and religious links to the land, describes the territories to be annexed as "disputed" rather than occupied, and has implanted a large number of settlements there. It has often argued that Israel needs the Jordan Valley to have more defensible borders in case of war."All the plans offered to us in the past included renouncing parts of Israel, withdrawing to the 1967 borders and dividing Jerusalem while allowing refugees to enter Israel," Netanyahu told the news publication Israel Hayom."This plan offers the opposite. We are not the ones required to give up [territories], the Palestinians are."In their letter, the former diplomats remind Trudeau that the acquisition of territory through military conquest is illegal, and that the UN Security Council voted on eight occasions between 1967 and 2016 to forbid it in the case of the occupied territories of the West Bank."We would like to urge you to publicly acknowledge Canada's commitment to multilateralism and the rule of law by issuing a statement that Canada reaffirms its position in support of all relevant UN resolutions ..." says the letter."As you are no doubt aware, many of our allies have already spoken out opposing the Israeli proposal ... As former Canadian diplomats, we urge you to protect Canada's good name in the international community by speaking loudly and clearly on this issue."'It justifies a protest'The letter follows a statement from the Prime Minister's Office on annexation that some of the former diplomats said they found weak and non-committal.The Trudeau government frequently presents itself as a champion of law and a rules-based international order. But the letter shows that many within Canada's foreign policy establishment, including former Liberals, aren't confident that the government will take action to uphold international law and UN Security Council resolutions if Israel chooses to go ahead with the annexation plan.Former Liberal foreign ministers Lloyd Axworthy and André Ouellet signed their names to the statement. So did Chretien-era justice minister Alan Rock, former minister of citizenship and immigration Sergio Marchi and former ambassador to Israel James Bartleman (who was also lieutenant-governor of Ontario), as well as more than two dozen former ambassadors.Many of the ambassadors — such as Michel de Salaberry, who served as ambassador to Iran, Egypt and Jordan — have years of experience representing Canada in the Middle East.John Allen was Stephen Harper's first ambassador to Israel, serving from 2006 to 2010. He also signed the letter."I think it justifies a protest," he told CBC News."Other important countries, especially those in the European Union, have already spoken up quite vociferously about their opposition to annexation. There really hasn't been a statement by the Canadian government, either the prime minister or the minister of foreign affairs."Allen said annexation is poses a threat not just to peace and the international rule of law, but "also to Israel and its future as a Jewish and democratic state."He said that if annexation proceeds, it is likely to provoke the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.Israeli Embassy reactsThe Trump administration has given a green light for the annexation under a Mideast "peace plan" drawn up by President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.A joint U.S.-Israeli team has been in Israel and the occupied territories working on an annexation map for several weeks.Ohad Kaynar, chargé d'affaires at the Embassy of Israel in Canada, told CBC News that "the comprehensive U.S. Peace Plan is the only viable peace initiative currently on the table trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel has accepted its foundations, despite concessions which will be required on our behalf. However, the Palestinians have rejected it outright, once again closing the door on any option to negotiate a peaceful future."While it is dismaying that diplomats would choose to attack Israel rather than try to facilitate dialogue between the two sides — or at the very least urging the Palestinians to return to direct peace negotiations – Israel will nevertheless remain committed to the U.S. peace plan, in hopes that we eventually find a way to resolve our differences."'Radio silence'Ferry de Kerchkove was Canada's ambassador to Egypt from 2008 to 2011; he also signed the letter. He said the Trump plan is unlikely to bring peace any closer."Traditionally, Canada has been in the forefront of trying to help a real peace process," he told CBC News. Under Trudeau, he said, "there's been radio silence on that issue."The former diplomat said the Trump-Kushner proposals oblige Canada to step forward to defend a rules-based international system."Now we've reached a stage where President Trump has arrogated to himself the right to legislate beyond and over international law and the international community by decreeing what Israel can have and what rump state the Palestinians can have ... it really is a call for the international community to say this is totally unacceptable," he said."We think collectively it's time for the prime minister to tell it how it is and take a much fairer approach to the Palestinians and Israel."De Kerchkove said that the difference between the Trudeau government's reaction to the proposed annexation of the Jordan Valley and its reaction to Russia's annexation of Crimea is "just a sad reality that we have to witness and deplore."

  • Chika Oriuwa named valedictorian of U of T's faculty of medicine
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    CBC

    Chika Oriuwa named valedictorian of U of T's faculty of medicine

    Chika Stacy Oriuwa has wanted to be a doctor since she was a small child.When she started medical school at the University of Toronto four years ago, she was the only black person in a class of 259 students.On Tuesday, she graduates as valedictorian. In doing so, she becomes just the second black woman valedictorian and the first woman in 14 years to receive the honour. Dr. Kristine Whitehead, who now practises in Ottawa, was co-valedictorian in 1992 alongside Dr. Gideon Cohen."I am extremely pleased to see that Dr. Oriuwa has been recognized by her peers, it is a tremendous honour," Whitehead said Tuesday in an email to CBC Toronto. Due to COVID-19, Oriuwa's  valedictory address will be posted online, and it will contain a message for black medical students who follow in her footsteps, she said."Medicine is such an incredible and beautiful profession. And it's such a privilege and a responsibility to be able to become a doctor, and … they are more than well-equipped to be able to fulfil this role."Their place in medical school as black medical students is rightly deserved and rightly earned and to never question that for even for a moment, even if other people question it." 'Overcome any adversity'Oriuwa said she recommends that black medical students have a "resounding sense" of how they define themselves as they pursue their education."Knowing who you are and what you stand for and what you will and will not tolerate will allow them to encounter any adversity and overcome any adversity," she said.Oriuwa herself has encountered adversity, including racist and sexist comments and attacks on her character that questioned her ability to be a competent physician.WATCH | Chika Stacy Oriuwa talk about overcoming challenges to become a doctor:"One thing that has really strengthened my resolve is, really, this undying sense of conviction that I have as an advocate. I know what my purpose is and what it is that I am called to do," she said."And I think that being strengthened and bolstered by the community is something that also allows me to do the work that I know is necessary."Her four years of advocacy work, speaking engagements and mentoring others has made a difference.Twenty-four black medical students were admitted to the University of Toronto's faculty of medicine for the class of 2024. It is the largest group in Canadian history.Oriuwa's valedictory address is already videotaped but will stream on Tuesday.

  • Philippines' Duterte U-turns on scrapping of U.S. troop deal
    News
    Reuters

    Philippines' Duterte U-turns on scrapping of U.S. troop deal

    The termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which is central to one of Washington's most important alliances in Asia, was due to take effect in August and was Duterte's biggest move yet towards delivering on longstanding threats to downgrade ties with the Philippines' former colonial ruler. Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said the news that the Philippines was no longer abandoning the pact was well received by the United States.

  • Hong Kong sees rush to renew UK passports as fears for future grow
    News
    Reuters

    Hong Kong sees rush to renew UK passports as fears for future grow

    When Ming Wong saw that Britain was prepared to offer extended visa rights and a "path to citizenship" for British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders in Hong Kong, she seized the moment and re-applied for her lost passport. Beijing's push to impose national security laws in the former British colony has stoked worry about its future and prompted Britain to offer refuge to almost 3 million Hong Kong residents eligible for the passport.

  • Anti-racism protests take place worldwide
    News
    Yahoo News Canada

    Anti-racism protests take place worldwide

    Across America and in countries around the world, people are taking to the streets to protest the death of George Floyd and acts of racially-motivated violence by police against members of the Black community.According to a private coroner’s report, Floyd was murdered on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, causing him to asphyxiate.Following Floyd’s death and a series of other devastating incidents this year, including a two-month delay in murder charges for the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery by two white men, and the death of Breonna Taylor after police entered her apartment with a warrant for illegal drugs and shot her, tensions between law enforcement and the Black community and allies is at a fevered pitch in the U.S. Other marginalized communities as well as white allies have joined members of the Black community in protesting the actions of law enforcement officials and are demanding respect and fairness, regardless of the colour of their skin.

  • As premier denies systemic racism, black Quebecers point to their lived experience
    News
    CBC

    As premier denies systemic racism, black Quebecers point to their lived experience

    When Verdun resident Alexandre Lamontagne saw the footage of George Floyd being killed by police in Minneapolis, Minn., he felt a pang of disappointment. Lamontagne is the lead plaintiff in a racial profiling lawsuit against the City of Montreal. He claims he was wrongfully detained by Montreal police while walking home at night in Old Montreal. "They put their knee on my neck, like they did to George Floyd," Lamontagne said.A medical examiner on Monday classified Floyd's death as a homicide, saying his heart stopped as police restrained him and compressed his neck.Following Floyd's death, protests erupted across the United States and around the world, demanding an end to systemic racism and police brutality.Lamontagne says he was walking outside a nightclub in August 2017 when police officers started yelling at him. He was ticketed as well as charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice. The charges were dropped a year later. Lamontagne recognizes the parallels between his encounter with police and Floyd's. "It's very sad — it's inhumane, killing someone for no reason," Lamontagne said. "It's time for people to wake up and protest against racism. It's not black against white, it's all of us united against racism." 'Who keeps us safe?'On Sunday, thousands of Montrealers braved the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic and took to the streets in a call to end police violence against black people.Even though the incident that sparked protests around the world took place in the United States, Robyn Maynard, author of Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present, says violent, racist policing is a pattern here in Canada, too. "That attention is only paid when something is happening in the United States is very much an insult to people living here who are undergoing violence every day," Maynard said. In the context of the pandemic, the systemic racism in our society becomes even more clear, she said. She noted the high proportion of women of colour working in essential services jobs, such as those in Quebec's long-term care facilities, where outbreaks and deaths have been most severe."These are the people being essentially sacrificed in the name of public health," Maynard said. Smaller reforms to police forces, such as increasing mental health services and sensitivity training, are no longer sufficient for activists calling for change, she said. Calls for funds to be divested from police forces into things "that would actually keep people safe," such as public housing and transit, are growing louder. "People are calling into question, what is public safety? Who keeps us safe?" she said.Premier denies there is systemic racism in Quebec Premier François Legault said Monday he "stands in solidarity with people who denounce racial violence" — though he denied, once again, that there was a systemic problem in Quebec."I think that there is some discrimination in Quebec, but there's no systemic discrimination, no system in Quebec of discrimination," he said, adding "it's a very small minority of the people who are doing some discrimination."He did, however, point out that a government committee is currently reviewing police work in the province, and racial profiling will be part of the examination. When questioned about the Sunday's protest, SPVM spokesperson Insp. André Durocher said systemic racism was present in the force and suggested the protest was fuelled by what happened to George Floyd, rather anything in Montreal.  But he acknowledged a 2019 report, which showed black and Indigenous people were four to five times more likely to be stopped by police than white people. Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante acknowledged there is systemic racism in all parts of society, including the SPVM.She also said last year's study on body cameras, which determined the policing tool would not be viable in Montreal, could be revisited.Lateef Martin, who spoke at the protest, says that in refusing to acknowledge the problem head-on, authorities are going to create more problems. "It's quite frankly embarrassing that police doesn't admit this or even acknowledge it," Martin said. "There's going to be another Fredy Villanueva because the problem isn't being addressed," he said, referring to the teen who was killed by police in Montréal-Nord in 2008.The death caused the Quebec government to reform how police shootings are investigated in the province.In 2019, Martin contested a ticket he was issued for walking on a residential street on an icy night. He claims the officers who ticketed him were motivated by race. He says acknowledging systemic racism is the first step before anything changes for the better. "This is a problem that our country has always had," Martin said. "It's so frustrating, because people don't seem to understand that it's not just a black problem — it affects everyone." Watch: Protests call out problems with policing in Canada

  • COVID-19 in Canada: Ford calls out 'totally irresponsible' Ontario MPP for protesting at Queen's Park
    News
    Yahoo News Canada

    COVID-19 in Canada: Ford calls out 'totally irresponsible' Ontario MPP for protesting at Queen's Park

    As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the world, Canadians are concerned about their health and safety.

  • Death of reality TV show star in Japan spotlights cyber bullying
    News
    Reuters

    Death of reality TV show star in Japan spotlights cyber bullying

    The recent death of Hana Kimura, a bubbly, pink-haired 22-year-old wrestler and reality TV show star, has spotlighted a rise in cyber bullying in Japan and prompted swift official pledges to do more to protect victims. Kimura, a cast member on the popular program "Terrace House", was found dead at her home on May 23 from an apparent suicide after being deluged with negative comments on her social media feeds. Acutely aware of the public debate spurred by her death, Japan's ruling party is holding hearings from this week to consider legal changes that will help cyber bullying victims seek justice.

  • Will oversanitizing weaken my immune system? Your COVID-19 questions answered
    Health
    CBC

    Will oversanitizing weaken my immune system? Your COVID-19 questions answered

    We're breaking down what you need to know about the pandemic by answering your questions. You can send us your questions via email at COVID@cbc.ca and we'll answer as many as we can. We'll publish a selection of answers every weekday on our website, and we're also putting some of your questions to the experts on the air during The National and News Network. So far we've received more than 43,000 emails from all corners of the country. Are we weakening our immune systems through excessive handwashing and disinfecting everything?With all the focus on handwashing, sanitizing and disinfecting, we're hearing from many readers like Jerry W. who is wondering if all this germ-killing is going to do a number on our immune system.The answer is probably not. Health Canada told us in an email there's "no scientific evidence" of a direct link between frequent handwashing, sterile environments and a loss of adaptive immunity.The experts we spoke with said there is much we don't know. "There are some hypotheses that exposure to different and mostly harmless pathogens can help us build up our immunity," said Alain Simard, a professor of immunology at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. "But I would not say that sanitizing our hands and keeping a certain distance weakens it in our current scenario."Steve Theriault, a virologist specializing in infectious disease in Winnipeg, said that there are "cases where people who have been away from populations and have had constantly clean areas have not shown that the immune system gets compromised."Theriault used astronauts on the International Space Station as an example.While our experts agreed that there are no studies on the impact of fastidiousness and our immunity, they agreed we're probably not hurting our immune systems by practising physical distancing and disinfection.For one, even while we're sanitizing and distancing, we're still being exposed to pathogens."Our immune system is still being challenged by what goes in our mouth, by organisms we pick up from surfaces between handwashing episodes and the people and pets we live with," said Bob Hancock, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of British Columbia.Given our present situation, Hancock said, our immune systems are not going to be harmed by excessive washing and isolating during this pandemic."Basically you cannot undermine decades of challenging your immune system simply by handwashing and social distancing for a few months." What can I do if I find it hard to breathe while wearing a mask?Masks can feel uncomfortable and difficult to wear. Sara M. wrote to say it's particularly hard for people like her who suffer from anxiety and lung disorders like asthma.So what should they do?Dr. Samir Gupta, a clinician-scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, said while there's no evidence that masks trigger underlying lung conditions, some people will find it harder to breathe through a mask — especially if they have chronic lung disease."For these people, and those with anxiety, if they can't wear a mask, they can only physically distance — but this would be a minority of people," Gupta said. Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious diseases physician at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont., agrees, and said that some people may feel claustrophobic when wearing a mask. For them, he suggested only wearing one when you need it."I've seen people going for walks, properly physically distanced, wearing a mask outside," he said. "This is unnecessary, and going mask-free here could help."Chakrabarti suggested taking the mask off for a "breather" — as long as you're away from others and you wash your hands before and after touching the mask.He also recommends trying different types of masks until you find one that's comfortable."If you choose to wear a mask, you will eventually get used to it," he said.Gupta said he thinks everyone should try to wear a mask according to the public health guidelines.If your mask is giving you anxiety or making you feel claustrophobic, Steve Joordens, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto-Scarborough, said you should practise relaxation exercises. "One cannot be both anxious and relaxed at the same time, so rather than trying to not be anxious, a person should instead learn how to formally relax."Joordens recommended listening to guided relaxation exercises you can find online and said if you practise, you can learn to get into that state quickly, which can slow your breathing and heart rate.Can my employer force me to wear PPE?Some companies are telling their employees to wear a mask on the job, which has readers like Paul T. wondering if businesses can force workers to put on personal protective equipment (PPE). Actually, they can. Richard Powers, a business professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, said the answer to this is simple because there are laws about workplace safety."The store owner or business owner has a legal obligation to create a safe work environment for employees," Powers said. "If that involves PPE, that's what they have to do. An employee would have to comply or else they wouldn't be working."Employment lawyer Samara Belitzky said that in general, if it's for health and safety reasons, "an employer can designate that employees have to wear PPE.""However, there might be exceptions to this where, for example, medical or religious accommodations are required for certain employees."Michael Bryant, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said because of human rights provisions, employees, for example, "wouldn't have to wear a mask if they had a disability or medical condition."But he said he'd be surprised to hear if employees — especially those who deal directly with customers — wouldn't want to wear a mask."Ordinarily those health and safety standards are sought by employees, and they want their employer to provide them a mask." Even in situations where you may not be interacting with customers, experts say it's important to remember that wearing a mask protects everyone in your workplace — including your co-workers. On Saturday, we answered questions about whether or not a store can force you to wear a mask to shop there.Keep your questions coming by emailing us at COVID@cbc.ca.

  • News
    Canadian Press Videos

    New York stores targeted during night of violence

    New York City imposed a late-night curfew Monday that failed to prevent another night of destruction, including arrests after a break-in at the iconic Macy's store on 34th Street, following protests over George Floyd’s death. (June 2)

  • Hong Kong leader calls out 'double standards' on national security, points to U.S.
    News
    Reuters

    Hong Kong leader calls out 'double standards' on national security, points to U.S.

    Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam accused foreign governments on Tuesday of "double standards" in their reaction to Beijing's plans to impose national security laws on the city, pointing to anti-police brutality protests in the United States. In her first public appearance after Washington said it will remove Hong Kong's preferential treatment in U.S. law in response to Beijing's plans, Lam warned countries threatening actions against the city that they may hurt their own interests. "They are very concerned about their own national security, but on our national security...they look through tinted glasses," Lam told a weekly news conference.

  • B.C. boat dealers report record-breaking sales amid COVID-19 restrictions
    Business
    CBC

    B.C. boat dealers report record-breaking sales amid COVID-19 restrictions

    Jes McFarlen, knows how to handle the ebb and flow of life as a boat salesman.A sales manager for the Parksville Boathouse, the father of two has weathered his fair share of economic disruptions since he got his start in 2005.But when the business, like so many others, decided to close indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 44-year-old felt the wind go out of his sails — albeit temporarily."There was definitely a few weeks where I was worried," he said, "until the phone just kept ringing".As other businesses struggle to stay afloat, McFarlen and other B.C. boat sellers say they have been buoyed by record sales, often running low on stock as mariners of all stripes and experience explore safe ways to get in a little recreation while following COVID-19 guidelines.With the Canadian government advising residents to avoid non-essential travel, McFarlen says families are dipping into reserves normally earmarked for all-inclusive getaways and instead are putting those savings toward a boat."It's not like going to Disneyland or to Mexico," he said. "The value is retained. At 10 years, there's still a lot of money left there when you go to resell the thing."While sales were steady at the start of the year, McFarlen says the past few weeks have been a real boon, with boats priced anywhere from $5,000 to $750,000 getting snapped up at an incredible pace.Vacation versus staycationFor a buyer like Jim Grant, 60, it was a no-brainer.The financial portfolio manager had been planning to visit his son in California over the summer. When COVID-19 curtailed those plans, he decided instead to buy a new boat — a 20 foot KingFisher."People aren't going to stop living" he said. "They're still going to have fun. They're just going to have to find different ways of doing it".Dwindling inventory, less international interestThat sort of staycation sentiment is also popping up across the Lower Mainland.West Vancouver's Thunderbird Marine, which deals primarily in used boats, had a record breaking May with 23 vessels sold, compared to 14 in the same period last year.That's roughly $700,000 in gross sales for the month, according to the company.But while senior yacht broker Cormac Okiely says he feels lucky to be busy, he's also concerned about dwindling inventory."We usually have around 55 to 55 listings around this time of year, he said. "Right now, we're down to about maybe 35 listings, and company-wide we're below 100."Industry associations, though, remain optimistic about supply as the pool for potential buyers remains constricted due to COVID-19."There are a number of U.S. purchasers that buy boats in Canada," said the B.C. Boating Association's Don Prittie."They'll come up here because of the dollar differential and the quality of product sometimes. So, with the border being closed, that activity has stopped and it stopped in both directions."Coastal communities closed to visitorsU.S. sales aren't the only thing that's slowed.High-end yacht sales are also stagnant, having slowed initially due to the drop in oil prices."It's definitely a double whammy when you talk about Alberta" said Prittie. "They were already in a doldrum, as boat sales were concerned, before COVID".The B.C. Boating Association also worries marinas reliant on tourism or transient and international moorage may not survive, as the amount of traffic to remote communities is expected to dip.In April, the Canadian Coast Guard asked mariners to avoid non-essential boat trips, reminding travellers that coastal communities may turn away non-residents.Since then, they have updated their recommendation, asking boaters to "proceed with caution and good judgment," with the knowledge that they "may not have access to fuel, supplies and other services," as coastal communities remain closed to visitors."They don't want to put undue stress on on local island resources" said Larry Thompson, president of the B.C. Yacht Brokers Association."People have to play by the rules".As he reflects on the busiest spring of his career, though, McFarlen isn't too worried about an influx of unwanted visitors."You don't have to go very far on the ocean until you feel like you're all by yourself," he said.

  • Unprecedented weekend hunt for COVID-19 shattered testing records in N.B. and elsewhere
    Health
    CBC

    Unprecedented weekend hunt for COVID-19 shattered testing records in N.B. and elsewhere

    Determined to contain an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in northern New Brunswick and to calm an anxious local community, provincial health officials unleashed testing resources in the Campbellton area over the weekend they had long claimed to possess but had never been able to demonstrate.Over three days ending Sunday, 4,293 individual samples were taken and processed from around the province, three-quarters of those in health zone 5 around Campbellton in the heart of the recent outbreak.  It was nearly triple the number of tests New Brunswick has carried out during any other three-day stretch of the pandemic and the 2,290 samples processed from tests collected on Sunday now stands as a single-day record surpassed only by Canada's largest provinces."These professionals are all doing an incredible job," said Premier Blaine Higgs during a special briefing Sunday afternoon about those involved in the unprecedented testing effort,"We are showing we can deal with these situations quickly when they do occur. That is going to be critical moving forward."People in the Campbellton area have been uneasy since the diagnosis of a new case of COVID-19 on May 21, which at the time was the region's first in more than five weeks. That was followed by 11 more cases over the next 10 days, all related to a local doctor who had contracted the virus outside the province and did not self-isolate upon return.  Testing for everyoneA large number of potential community and health care contacts made by the doctor and others convinced public health officials to open testing to anyone in the local area concerned about themselves.  "We were looking very widely," said New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell Sunday. "We had people coming out in great numbers."Nearly 3,000 people eventually appeared at makeshift testing centres at arenas in both Campbellton and Dalhousie, in addition to others being tested in nearby health care facilities. In the end more than 10 per cent of the population of Zone 5 had a test by the end of the weekend.Medical personnel, aided by reinforcements from Ambulance New Brunswick and the Extra-Mural nursing care program managed the surge of nervous locals who openly expressed appreciation for the effort being made."Everything is going fast. People are doing a great job here. We're lucky we have this here in Restigouche," said Junior Michaud, one of hundreds who lined up on Friday for his test.Significant achievementThe execution of more than 4,200 tests in three days across the province, including 3,132 from Zone 5 is a significant achievement, especially given the scarcity of evidence prior to the weekend New Brunswick could mount a testing effort that large, particularly in that zone.Previously, the most tests New Brunswick had processed in a single day was 586, back on April 17, one of what had been a string of mediocre testing achievements by the province At the beginning of the pandemic it took New Brunswick 12 days to test its first 1,000 people following the March 11 diagnosis of the first case, seven days longer than it took Nova Scotia.    In early April, Higgs warned that despite lower testing numbers than the Canadian average the province had only limited supplies left and could run out "within about five days" if testing increased to 1,000 per day.Then in May, testing in New Brunswick fell below the "minimum" threshold of 2,300 to 2,500 per week set earlier in the month by Dr. Russell, with tests particularly light in Zone 5.  Although sitting along the Quebec border, it was averaging just 80 tests per week in May prior to the discovery of that first new case in Campbellton May 21.Despite that spotty testing track record Dr. Russell had been confidently claiming for several weeks the province could handle a heavy load if necessary.Demand not seen beforeIn mid-April, when Nova Scotia processed more than 1,400 tests in one day compared to 250 in New Brunswick, Russell insisted the same could be done in the province, if circumstances required."We absolutely can test at that level, we just haven't had the demand,"  said Russell.In retrospect, that was an understatement.  The 2,290 tests collected and processed in New Brunswick Sunday, is higher than any single-day total achieved by any province in Atlantic Canada and more than some other larger provinces including Saskatchewan and Manitoba.The premier gave widespread credit for making it happen."I am grateful to all the people who have been working behind the scenes to set up additional testing sites including Extra-Mural and ambulance New Brunswick," said Higgs  "The team at Campbellton Regional Laboratory led by Mr. Yves Goudreau has been rapidly testing and co-ordinating the delivery of an unprecedented amount of samples. They are working closely with the lab team at Georges L. Dumont hospital in Moncton which is led by medical microbiologist Dr. Louise Thibault."  No member of the public who presented themselves for testing during the weekend was found to have the virus.

  • White people have to step up to identify systemic racism in Canada, labour expert says
    News
    CBC

    White people have to step up to identify systemic racism in Canada, labour expert says

    The burden of identifying systemic racism and oppression shouldn't fall on people of colour, says a Vancouver-based labour relations specialist, who adds white people need to also take responsibility."As a black woman, I know, and for many of my black [and] Indigenous friends, we are frequently required to offer our existence and knowledge as learning tools," said Natasha Tony on CBC's On The Coast. "We're rarely thanked for this work, and it becomes a question when we talk about this emotional labour: Do I self-sacrifice for the greater good of our community, our workplace, or do we now stand up and prioritize our own wellbeing?"It's a question that's received renewed importance after the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis sparked huge protests across the United States and Canada. Tony says white people need to show up to conversations about race and be prepared to listen without centring their own experiences. "It is about listening and not centring yourself in the conversation where you say, 'oh, that's never happened to me,' or 'I've never seen that happen so I don't think it could be that bad,'" she said."Admit that you don't understand."Then it's about doing your homework. Make an effort to learn about the Canadian history you weren't taught, she says, and start naming things as racism and hate.Michelle Stack, an associate professor in educational studies at the University of British Columbia, says we're taught from a very early age to privilege whiteness and look at the world through a white perspective."I didn't hear anything about Indigenous people. I was told that Canada was this great wild land with nobody rather than being told that it was actually stolen land and still is," Stack told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko. She says the reason white people may get emotionally triggered or uncomfortable when there's any discussion of racism is because of this underlying myth that Canada is a meritocracy. "The evidence is — and there's really substantial evidence on this — that white people are given privileges, a lot of them, and black people, Indigenous people aren't," she said.She says being able to look and confront these ideas — even with discomfort — is the only way to make change. "It causes a lot of discomfort. But I often say to students when they're uncomfortable [that] discomfort doesn't kill, but white supremacy does."

  • Doctor linked to Campbellton COVID-19 cluster says he made 'an error in judgment'
    Health
    CBC

    Doctor linked to Campbellton COVID-19 cluster says he made 'an error in judgment'

    The doctor at the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak in the Campbellton, N.B., area says he's not sure whether he picked up the coronavirus during a trip to Quebec or from a patient in his office.Dr. Jean Robert Ngola made the comments to Radio-Canada's program La Matinale on Tuesday morning — his first media interview since the emergence of 13 new cases in the northern New Brunswick health region starting May 21. Before then, it had been two weeks since the province had an active case.Ngola has been suspended by the Vitalité Health Network, one of the province's two regional health authorities, and the province has asked the RCMP to investigate to determine whether charges are warranted.He said he decided to speak out because he's become the target of racist verbal attacks daily and false reports to police, and he feels abandoned by public health officials.Ngola, who is also known as Dr. Ngola Monzinga, has been working as a doctor in Campbellton since 2013. He previously practised in Europe and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.He said he did not self-isolate after returning from an overnight return trip to Quebec to pick up his four-year-old daughter. Her mother had to travel to Africa for her father's funeral."What was I supposed to do?" he said in French. "Leave her there alone?"Ngola said he drove straight there and back with no stops and had no contact with anyone. He said none of his family members had any COVID-19 symptoms at the time.He returned to work at the Campbellton Regional Hospital the next day."Maybe it was an error in judgment," said Ngola, pointing out that workers, including nurses who live in Quebec, cross the border each day with no 14-day isolation period required."Who hasn't made an error in judgment?" he said. "That's why I have compassion towards everyone."What he told border officials unclearOn May 27, Premier Blaine Higgs announced a COVID-positive "medical professional" in their 50s had travelled to Quebec for personal reasons, was "not forthcoming" about the reasons for their trip upon returning to New Brunswick and "did not self-isolate as a result."The medical professional then returned to work at the Campbellton Regional Hospital for two weeks, Higgs had told reporters, describing it as "irresponsible.""If you ignore the rules, you put your family, your friends and your fellow New Brunswickers at risk," Higgs said at the time.Twelve of the province's 13 cases have been linked to the travel-related case to date, according to Public Health officials.The policy for any health-care workers who travel outside the province for any reason is to self-isolate for 14 days, New Brunswick's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell has said. "It is mandatory."Ngola did not say during the morning interview what he told officials at the New Brunswick border about his reason for travel, or what they told him about requirements to self-isolate upon entering the province.Nor did he indicate what, if any, followup he had from border officials.When reached by phone later to clarify, Ngola said he was on the other line with his lawyer and hung up. Repeated subsequent calls went straight to voicemail, which was full before the end of the day.The Department of Health declined to respond to Ngola's comments or offer any additional information, citing privacy and the ongoing investigation.'How many people are unwitting carriers?'Ngola said he received a call from a public health official on May 25 informing him one of his patients had tested positive for the coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19.He has about 2,000 patients at his clinic, about 1,500 of them active.Ngola had seen the man May 19 for a prescription renewal or something that did not require any touching or a physical exam. He said the man had no COVID-19 symptoms and was wearing a mask.Ngola said he immediately called the patient, who had cold-like symptoms and was doing OK.He said he cancelled his shift that night at the hospital and got a test for himself and his daughter. Neither of them were showing symptoms, but they both tested positive.Ngola said he still doesn't know how they were infected."Who can say? … The virus is circulating everywhere. … How many people are unwitting carriers?"Hate messages pour in, doctor saysHe said one hour after he spoke with hospital and public health officials about his contacts to facilitate the investigation and protect the public, his name, face and address were being advertised all over the internet as "the bad doctor who brought the virus to kill people."Ngola said that's not who he is."I only have compassion towards sick patients … the role of doctors is to care, to heal, to help … not to spread viruses."There are 13 active in cases in the province — all in the Campbellton health region, known as Zone 5, including a new confirmed case announced on Tuesday.The person in their 80s is a resident at the Manoir de la Vallée, the long-term care facility in Atholville where four other residents in the Alzheimer's unit and a staff member have also tested positive.The staff member, a female personal attendant, had social contact with Ngola on May 20, according to the facility's owner, Dr. Guy Tremblay.Five people are now in hospital, one of whom is in intensive care.Public Health officials have said more cases are expected to emerge in the coming days. The incubation period for the coronavirus is roughly up to 14 days.About 300 people identified as close contacts are self-isolating and monitoring for symptoms.Accusatory calls from U.S., Africa, EuropeNgola said he's been looking into the people making hateful posts, and most are from outside the region. He said he feels they are trying to incite violence against him because he is black.He said he's been getting accusatory calls from people in the United States, Africa and Europe, and people are also making false reports about him to local police. Ngola said he is not pleased with the way he's being treated by public officials."I'm a patient. I have a right to confidentiality, to protection from the system."Health authority CEO appeals for calmGilles Lanteigne, the chief executive officer of the Vitalité Health Network, said he was aware of Ngola's public statements, but could not comment on human resources matters, citing privacy."We understand that the situation is difficult for all parties involved and we sympathize with the people who are affected by this affair, either directly or indirectly," he said in an emailed statement."I would like to appeal to everyone to remain calm in these difficult times.  It is more important than ever to show respect, tolerance and compassion for one another. This is how we will get through this crisis and come out of it stronger."The New Brunswick Medical Society is "deeply concerned" to learn Ngola has been the victim of racism, said president Dr. Chris Goodyear."This is disheartening and disgraceful. Racism cannot and should not be tolerated," he said in a statement.Although it's understandable citizens are concerned and upset about the COVID-19 outbreak, there is "no excuse for the dissemination of [Ngola's] personal information or the racist verbal attacks and false reports to police that he has endured."The outbreak prompted mass testing in the region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Village of Belledune, including Tide Head, Atholville, Campbellton, Dalhousie, Eel River Dundee, Eel River Bar First Nation, Balmoral and Charlo.Nearly 3,000 people were tested last Friday through Sunday — more than 10 per cent of the population.A total of 30,666 tests have been completed provincewide since the pandemic began in March.The Campbellton region has been pushed back into a stricter phase of pandemic recovery, known as the orange phase.Area residents are being told to stay home as much as possible, to avoid any close contact outside their two-household bubbles, and not travel outside the region.Personal services, such as hair dressers and spas, and non-regulated health professionals, such as acupuncturists and naturopaths, which had just reopened under the yellow phase, cannot operate until further notice.ER remains closedThe Campbellton Regional Hospital ER remains closed until further notice and ambulances are being diverted to the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst — about an hour southeast.All surgeries and non-urgent health-care services have been put on hold, no admissions are being accepted and visitors are prohibited except for patients nearing end of life, those in pediatrics, intensive care and obstetrics, where only one designated visitor is allowed per patient.Meanwhile additional loosening of restrictions for the rest of the province under of the yellow phase have been delayed until June 5.These include allowing outdoor public gatherings of up to 50 people, instead of 10, with physical distancing, and religious services, weddings and funerals with of up to 50 people. The reopening of gyms and start of low-contact sports have also been postponed.The legislature has also adjourned until June 9 to ensure the politicians don't contribute to the spread of the virus and to allow the all-party COVID cabinet committee to continue to respond to the outbreak.Ngola said he remains devoted to serving the community."I have a family. I have a right to live. Please, I'm not a criminal."

  • Amid protests, Trump talks of war  -  and reelection
    Politics
    The Canadian Press

    Amid protests, Trump talks of war - and reelection

    WASHINGTON — Embracing the language of confrontation and war, President Donald Trump on Monday declared himself the “president of law and order” and signalled he would stake his reelection on convincing voters his forceful approach, including deploying U.S. troops to U.S. cities, was warranted in a time of national tumult and racial unrest.Trump made his Rose Garden declaration to the sound of tear gas and rubber bullets clearing peaceful protesters from the park in front of the White House. It created a split screen for the ages, with his critics saying the president was deepening divisions at a time when leadership was crucial to help unify a fractured country.The president’s forceful turn to a partisan posture was reminiscent of the us-vs.-them rhetoric he has often used when under pressure, including in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. He has responded to the violence with a string of polarizing tweets, one starkly laying out the political stakes by underscoring the approach of Election Day.“NOVEMBER 3RD,” was all it said.Trump vowed to deploy the U.S. military to America’s own cities to quell a rise of violent protests, including ransacking stores and burning police cars. He offered little recognition of the anger coursing through the country as he demanded a harsher crackdown on the mayhem that has erupted following the death of George Floyd.Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him down and pressed his neck with his knee as the man pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. Violent demonstrations have raged in dozens of cities across the nation, marking a level of widespread turmoil unseen for decades.The political ground beneath Trump has greatly shifted in the spring of this election year. He was supposed to be running on a strong economy, but now he’s facing a pandemic, an economic collapse and civil unrest not seen since the 1960s.Indeed, some around the president likened the moment to 1968, when Richard Nixon ran as the law-and-order candidate in the aftermath of a summer of riots and captured the White House. But Trump is the incumbent and, despite his efforts to portray himself as a political outsider, he risks being held responsible for the violence.Trump emerged after two days out of public view in the White House to threaten to deploy “thousands and thousands” of U.S. troops. Then he made a surprise walk through Lafayette Park to a Washington house of worship known as “The Church of the Presidents” that suffered fire damage in the protests.That brought a quick condemnation from Episcopal Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde.“The president just used a Bible and one of the churches of my diocese as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our church stands for," she said. But he had his campaign moment.In a video teleconference Monday morning, Trump scolded governors.“Most of you are weak,” he said. “It’s like a war. And we will end it fast. Be tough.”“You have to dominate” and “if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time,” Trump said, demanding the protests be swiftly crushed, even as some warned that such an aggressive law enforcement response could lead to an escalation of violence.The president urged governors to make more use of the National Guard, which he credited for helping calm the situation Sunday night in Minneapolis. He demanded that similarly tough measures be taken in cities that also experienced spasms of violence, including New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.“You’re going to arrest all those people and you’re going to try them. And if they get five years or 10 years, they have to get five years or 10 years,” the president said. “So I say that, and the winners dominate.”Trump’s exhortations came after a night of escalating violence, with images of chaos overshadowing largely peaceful protests. The disturbances grew so heated Friday night that the Secret Service rushed the president to an underground White House bunker previously used during terrorist attacks.Some West Wing officials and political advisers have acknowledged that some of the president’s tweets have not been helpful, and they have been pushing Trump to acknowledge the pain of the peaceful protesters without lumping them in with the agitators he says are responsible for the violence.But another faction within the administration, including longtime law-and-order proponent Attorney General William Barr, has encouraged Trump’s instincts to focus on the group violence. The hope is such a posture can help Trump draw a contrast with Democrats who have been less vocal in their condemnation of the unrest.The West Wing had been mostly empty over the weekend. Many staffers were told to stay home to avoid the protests, chief of staff Mark Meadows was out of town celebrating his daughter’s wedding and senior adviser Jared Kushner was marking a Jewish holiday.Among the options being discussed in the White House: a new criminal justice reform package, a task force that would include Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and a listening tour of African American communities, according to people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity because nothing had been finalized.Democrats hammered Trump, accusing him of stirring the unrest.“Hate just hides. It doesn’t go away, and when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate under the rocks, it comes out from under the rocks,” said the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, former Vice-President Joe Biden, speaking at a church in Wilmington, Delaware.Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump “struggles to summon even an ounce of humanity in this time of turmoil.”“The president has reacted to the pain and anger in the country by playing politics and encouraging police to be tougher on protesters by bragging about his reelection prospects and his personal safety inside the White House,” Schumer said.Long drawn to displays of strength, Trump and his advisers believe that the combative rhetoric and promises to send the military into cities will reassure voters, including senior citizens and suburban women, concerned by the lawlessness.Eager to change the narrative of the election, just five months away, from a referendum on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump and his aides see a cultural war issue that could captivate his base.Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and a close ally of the president, said, “In the same way that he became the unlikeliest of champions for evangelicals and the faith community, he has it in him to do the same thing for the minority community.”Much as he has with the pandemic, Trump has tried to scapegoat the nation’s Democratic governors and mayors, much to their dismay.During the teleconference, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker bluntly told Trump that “the rhetoric that’s coming out of the White House is making it worse.”___Lemire reported from New York. Suderman reported from Richmond, Virginia. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Darlene Superville, Kevin Freking and Michael Balsamo contributed reporting from Washington.Jonathan Lemire, Jill Colvin And Alan Suderman, The Associated Press

  • Windsor police constable says officers need to declare stance against racism, police brutality
    News
    CBC

    Windsor police constable says officers need to declare stance against racism, police brutality

    Windsor police constable Arjei Franklin admits he can't bring himself to watch the bystander video of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of 46-year-old George Floyd, killing the unarmed black man in the process."I didn't want to see it. I heard the details. I've seen the images. My heart broke and I felt sick to my stomach," said Franklin.Franklin — a former CFL player who joined the force in 2018 — posted his thoughts about the incident on Facebook, amassing more than 1,100 reactions and more than 400 shares."It's sometimes hard being a black police officer. I feel as though I may be viewed as a 'sell out' in the black community especially if I don't publicly speak out against the injustice," the post read."George Floyd was murdered, and it makes me so angry as both a black man and a police officer."Speaking with CBC News, Franklin said he felt a responsibility as a police officer to share his opinion on a public platform. That's because he always wanted to know what police officers thought about incidents like this, before he became an officer himself."I think it's exactly what we need. As a member of the black community, I know any time this has happened in the past, we've always looked to the police to hear their thoughts on what happened." said Franklin, adding he "couldn't be silent" on the incident."It is very encouraging for myself as a very junior police officer, for the black community and for people in general to know that what happened was wrong and the police organization does not stand for it."Franklin said it was important for him to present the incident for what it was — an example that "racism still exists in this world." He added that it was very encouraging to see people of all races come together in peaceful demonstrations to stand against "hatred of any type.""You can't be a good police officer and be OK with what happened to George Floyd. Seeing the police officers and the protesters walking side-by-side declaring that that they are together in this are the images that I will remember for a very long time," he said."I think it's important for us as police officers to declare that we don't stand for racism. We don't stand for police brutality. We want to do our jobs in a professional, caring, loving way, still enforcing the law still with justice — but to do it professionally.Abiola Afolabi, co-founder of Black Canadians for Cultural, Educational and Economic Progress, said black people have been repeatedly discriminated against in the U.S. for far too long, but Floyd's death was "the final drop.""I would say that the experience of the black people in the hands of the police is totally different from the other races — especially, the white people — in the hands of the police," Afolabi said.She added it's important that people have a safe space where people can talk about their experiences."People need to be free to say, 'This happened to me. It upset me. I don't like it,'" said Afolabi. "I think we'd be making a mistake by addressing police brutality, or relationships with the police force, and forget the systemic racism. The systemic racism is there.""I'm hoping that we can have a forum where members of the community can say, 'That was a day where this happened to me and I know if I had not been a black person, it would not have happened."

  • At long last, new carbon capture project launches in Alberta
    News
    CBC

    At long last, new carbon capture project launches in Alberta

    After more than a decade in the works, a new carbon capture project in Alberta is now operational with lofty goals of sequestering large amounts of emissions, while also helping to revitalize the oil industry in the central part of the province.The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL) was awarded provincial and federal funding back in 2009 and startup was expected in 2012, but the project has faced several delays including one caused by the oil price crash in 2014.The system is described as the world's largest capacity pipeline for CO2 from human activity and its capacity represents about 20 per cent of all current oilsands emissions, according to officials with the project.The $1.2-billion project will take emissions from the Redwater Fertilizer factory and the Sturgeon refinery near Edmonton to aging oil reservoirs in central and southern Alberta.The project will change how business is done in Alberta, according to Kevin Jabusch, CEO of Enhance Energy, in a statement as part of the project's announcement on Tuesday.Enhance Energy is part of a consortium of companies that own and operate the ACTL system. The company is injecting the CO2 from the pipeline into its oilfields near Clive, Alta.  Jabusch said the project will help produce low-carbon energy, while also reinvigorating a part of the province's rural economy."We went through a few business cycles, we went through a few political cycles, but like all good projects, it's one that had to be done, and it's an amazing feeling to have worked so hard to get something done and feels better as a result," he said in an interview.Initially, ACTL is expected to capture and sequester up to 1.8 megatonnes (Mt) of CO2 each year, the equivalent of taking 339,000 cars off the road, with the long-term potential of up to 15 Mt of CO2 annually. The CO2 travels down a 240-kilometre pipeline to an area near Red Deer, where it is injected into the ground to produce more oil and natural gas.The pipeline has excess capacity, so in the future, more facilities and storage reservoirs can be added to the system."This is an industrial-scale solution, which is what we need if we are going to make a dent in carbon [emissions]. I feel very good about the outlook for the growth of this business," said Jeff Pearson, with Wolf Midstream, which operates the pipeline.The project initially gained publicity when it was promised $63 million from the federal government under then-prime minister Stephen Harper and $495 million from the provincial government under former Conservative premier Ed Stelmach.Since then, governing parties in the province have varied in their support for carbon capture projects: * In 2011, Alison Redford said Alberta should find "better initiatives and opportunities" to reduce emissions than expensive gambles with CCS. * In 2014, Jim Prentice dismissed it as a "science experiment." * In 2015, Rachel Notley said she would continue funding the projects only because the government was trapped in contracts. * In 2019, environment minister Jason Nixon described CCS as an example of  "innovative, game-changing technology."Critics of carbon capture projects argue the funding would be better spent on renewable energy to tackle climate change, while others say such projects may make people and industry complacent about reducing emissions.There are three other large carbon capture projects in the country: * Boundary Dam, a coal-fired power plant operated by SaskPower that started capturing carbon in 2014. * Quest, an oilsands project run by Shell Canada that started capturing carbon in 2015. * Weyburn, which captures CO2 from a North Dakota-based coal gasification and power plant, and transports it by pipeline to the Weyburn oilfield in Saskatchewan.There are some other projects in development, including Carbon Engineering's direct air capture plant in Squamish, B.C., and the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre in Calgary, where five of the XPrize finalists will be testing their ideas.In addition, some smaller scale projects also exist such as Canadian Natural Resources' sequestering of CO2 to treat tailings ponds in the oilsands.The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change, the world needs to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050— that is, one molecule of CO2 has to be sequestered for every molecule emitted.Global use of fossil fuels isn't expected to dry up for decades and that's why some experts say carbon capture projects have the potential to ensure the oil and gas industry can be part of a net-zero world.

  • Duterte's 'draconian' anti-terror bill alarms activists in Philippines
    News
    Reuters

    Duterte's 'draconian' anti-terror bill alarms activists in Philippines

    Lawyers and human rights activists in the Philippines have raised the alarm over a new anti-terrorism bill pushed by President Rodrigo Duterte, warning of draconian and arbitrary provisions that could be abused to target his detractors. Duterte, who has drawn international criticism for his war on drugs and his human rights record, is trying to expedite the passage of a law that expands the definition of terrorism and bolsters police powers of surveillance, arrest and detention. Opponents of the bill fear it could be used to suppress free speech and harass those who challenge Duterte, who commands a legislative majority and influence within the judiciary and state institutions.