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Newfoundland and Labrador's travel ban and dinosaur cancer: In The News for Aug. 4

Last Updated Aug 4, 2020 at 4:24 am EDT

Canadian researchers who included specialists from surgeons to paleontologists have identified what they say is the first known cancer in a dinosaur. A cast of a cancerous dinosaur fossil is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Georgia Kirkos, McMaster University, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Aug. 4.

What we are watching in Canada …

A challenge of Newfoundland and Labrador’s COVID-19 travel ban is scheduled to be heard before the province’s supreme court beginning today.

Halifax resident Kim Taylor and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association filed a claim in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Supreme Court in May, claiming the restrictions violate the charter and fall outside provincial jurisdiction.

The provincial government passed legislation banning anyone but permanent residents and asymptomatic workers in key sectors from entering the province.

Taylor was denied the opportunity to travel to Newfoundland after her mother died suddenly.

The association says it is also challenging changes to the province’s Public Health Protection and Promotion Act which allows police officers to detain and remove individuals to “points of entry” to the province, and authorizes increased search powers.

The case is scheduled to be heard through Friday.

Also this …

Alberta has signed an agreement with the federal government that makes major cuts to environmental monitoring of the oilsands.

The deal, a copy of which has been obtained by The Canadian Press, lays out research plans for this year’s field season under a federal-provincial program that oversees all monitoring of the area outside of company leases.

Signed July 7 by top bureaucrats in Ottawa and Edmonton, it cuts funding by at least 25 per cent. The budget has been cut to no more than $44 million this year. It was $58 million last year and $60 million in 2018.

The deal says no fieldwork is to be done on the main branch of the Athabasca River. That means the program won’t fund monitoring downstream of the oilsands even as the province considers proposals to allow the water from oilsands tailings ponds to be released into the river. 

The deal also says there’ll be no field studies on wetlands, fish or insects.

A pilot project gauging the risks posed by tailings ponds has been dropped. Water quality assessment in Wood Buffalo National Park — part of a response to international concerns about environmental degradation at the UNESCO World Heritage Site — is gone.

ICYMI (in case you missed it) …

It’s a diagnosis that took 75 million years.

Canadian researchers who included specialists from surgeons to paleontologists have identified what they say is the first known cancer in a dinosaur. The conclusion not only sheds light on the history of what is still one of humanity’s most feared diseases, but also hints at how the ancient lizards may have lived with — and protected — each other.

“Dinosaurs might seem like these mythical creatures, larger than life and powerful,” said the Royal Ontario Museum’s David Evans, one of the co-authors of a paper on the finding published in The Lancet.

“But they were living, breathing animals that were afflicted with some of the same injuries and diseases that we see in animals and humans today.”

The Centrosaur fossil was originally collected in the 1970s from a bone bed in Alberta’s badlands. The area has provided hundreds of samples of the horned dinosaur.

Paleontologists originally assumed a growth on a leg bone was evidence of a break. That’s where it stayed until a chance conversation between Evans and Mark Crowther, chairman of McMaster University’s medical faculty and a dinosaur enthusiast.

The two got talking about evidence of dino diseases. That led to an expedition to Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum, which has hundreds of fossils that show signs of injury.

The team eventually focused its attention on one fossilized leg bone.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

A New York City prosecutor fighting to get President Donald Trump’s tax returns told a judge he was justified in demanding them because of public reports of “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. is seeking eight years of the Republican president’s personal and corporate tax records, but has disclosed little about what prompted him to request the records, other than part of the investigation related to payoffs to two women to keep them quiet about alleged affairs with Trump.

In a court filing Monday, attorneys for Vance, a Democrat, said the president wasn’t entitled to know the exact nature of the grand jury probe, which they called a “complex financial investigation.”

They noted, though, that at the time the subpoena for the tax filings was issued to Trump’s accountants, “there were public allegations of possible criminal activity” at the president’s company “dating back over a decade.”

They cited several newspaper articles, including one in which the Washington Post examined allegations that Trump had a practice of sending financial statements to potential business partners and banks that inflated the worth of his projects by claiming they were bigger or more potentially lucrative than they actually were.

Another article described congressional testimony by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who said the president would overstate the value of his business interests to impress people or lenders, but then deflate the value of assets when trying to reduce his taxes.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Authorities clamped a curfew in many parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Tuesday, a day ahead of the first anniversary of India’s controversial decision to revoke the disputed region’s semi-autonomy.

Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, a civil administrator, said the security lockdown was clamped in the region’s main city of Srinagar in view of information about protests planned by anti-India groups to mark Aug. 5 as “black day.”

Police and paramilitary soldiers drove through neighbourhoods and went to people’s homes warning them to stay indoors. Government forces erected steel barricades and laid razor wire across roads, bridges and intersections.

The curfew will be enforced Tuesday and Wednesday, Choudhary said in a government order.

“A series of inputs have been received suggesting that separatist and Pakistan-sponsored groups are planning to observe August 5 as Black Day and violent action or protests are not ruled out,” he said.

Last year on Aug. 5, India’s Hindu-nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi downgraded Jammu-Kashmir state and divided it into two federally governed territories. Since then, New Delhi has brought in a slew of new laws which locals say are aimed at shifting the demographics in the Muslim-majority region, many of whom want independence from India or unification with Pakistan.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 4, 2020.

The Canadian Press