Number of new coronavirus cases spike in China; In The News for Feb. 13

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 Feb. 13 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

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Via Rail has extended train cancellations on major routes in Ontario and Quebec as protests against a pipeline in northern B.C. stretched into a sixth-day on Wednesday.

Passenger and freight rail services have been hit particularly hard by the protests as demonstrators erect barricades on lines in different parts of the country.

Via Rail is cancelling service on its Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto routes until at least the end of the day on Friday because of a blockade near Belleville, Ont.

Via has also said a blockade near New Hazelton, B.C., means normal rail service is being interrupted between Prince Rupert and Prince George.

In Manitoba, Premier Brian Pallister said the Justice Department will seek an injunction to end a rail blockade west of Winnipeg and have it enforced within a few days.

Meanwhile, two hereditary chiefs from the British Columbia First Nation that is getting support from protesters across the country have launched a constitutional challenge of fossil fuel projects.

The challenge calls on the Federal Court to declare that Canada is constitutionally obliged to meet international climate change targets, which the chiefs contend would cancel approvals for a natural gas pipeline that runs through traditional Wet'suwet'en territory in northern B.C.

Blockade organizers across Canada have said they're acting in solidarity with those opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation near Houston.

The blockades were erected after the RCMP enforced a court injunction last week against Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and their supporters, who had been blocking construction of the pipeline, a key part of a $40-billion LNG Canada liquefied natural gas export project.

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Also this ...

A funeral is set to take place today for a four-year-old girl whose body was found next to her father's at the base of an escarpment in southwestern Ontario.

Keira Kagan's family says the funeral is open to anyone who wants to attend.

The girl and her father, Robin Brown, went missing Sunday afternoon after they went hiking in Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area in Milton, Ont.

Police launched a massive search of the area during a snow and freezing rain storm.

Kagan's mother and stepfather believe the deaths were a murder-suicide that took place in the middle of a lengthy custody battle.

Halton regional police say they are not investigating the deaths as homicides "at this point."

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What we are watching in the U.S. ...

A 9-year-old boy has been charged with trying to kill his 5-year-old sister by stabbing her with a kitchen knife inside their Florida apartment last month, officials said.

The boy was charged Tuesday with attempted first-degree murder and appeared in court on Wednesday in the central Florida city of Ocala, prosecutors said.

The mother of the children told police she left the apartment to get the mail and to get some candy for her children from a neighbour. When she returned, she said she found the boy stabbing his sister with a kitchen knife in a bedroom.

The child told investigators he thought of killing his sister two days before the Jan. 28 stabbing, Ocala police said.

The girl was released last Friday from the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

The boy remains detained and is being represented by the public defender's office, which did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

The public defender's office is awaiting results of a competency examination that will determine whether the boy understands the charges, the Ocala Star-Banner reported.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

China has reported 254 new daily deaths and a spike in new daily virus cases of 15,152, after new methodology was applied in the hardest-hit province of Hubei as to how cases are categorized.

The total deaths from the more than 2-month-old outbreak as reported on Thursday stood at 1,367, with the total number of confirmed cases mounting to 59,804. The change in categorization appeared to push forward the process to a doctors' on-the-spot diagnosis rather than waiting for the results of laboratory tests.

China on Thursday replaced its top officials in the central province of Hubei and its capital, Wuhan, the epicenter of a viral outbreak that has infected more than 45,000 people worldwide.

Former Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong succeeds Jiang Chaoliang as the ruling Communist Party's chief in the beleaguered province, the Xinhua state news agency reported, while Wang Zhonglin will take over from Ma Guoqiang as the party secretary in Wuhan.

The high-level appointments follow the sacking earlier this week of two leaders of the provincial health commission. State media also reported that a slew of others were expelled from the party for transgressions related to the epidemic.

The public has widely criticized local officials for their handling of the outbreak of a new form of coronavirus. The virus first surfaced December in Hubei's capital, Wuhan, and has since spread to more than two dozen countries.

Many countries have implemented travel restrictions on recent visitors to China, which has more than 99% of the world’s reported infections.

In Vietnam, official media reported that a commune of 10,000 residents northwest of the capital Hanoi was put in lockdown due to a cluster of cases there.

The online newspaper VN Express cited a senior official of Vinh Phuc province as reporting an increase in cases in Son Loi commune. Vietnam has confirmed 16 case of the diseases, most of them in the province.

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ICYMI (In case you missed it) ...

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri says a lawsuit filed against him by a northern California sheriff's deputy is "malicious."

Alan Strickland alleges in the lawsuit filed Friday in a northern California district court that he suffered injuries "which caused and continue to cause great mental, physical, emotional and psychological pain and suffering" after a shoving match with Ujiri.

The incident occurred June 13, after the Raptors won the deciding Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at Oakland's Oracle Arena.

Ujiri went onto the court to join his celebrating team, when Strickland stopped him because the Raptors executive didn't provide the proper on-court credential, leading to a shoving match that was partially captured on video.

"It's malicious in a way," Ujiri said Wednesday in Dakar, Senegal.

"To me it's incredible that things play out like that. I think something incredible was taken away from me and I will never forget it. It is one of the things that drives me to win another championship because I want to be able to celebrate a championship the right way. This thing will be settled. The truth will come out. The truth will come out of this."

Strickland and his wife, Kelly Strickland, are seeking US$75,000 in general damages, as well as other compensation including punitive damages, lost wages, current and future medical expenses and legal costs.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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Weird and wild ...

BERLIN — A German man's marriage proposal got a bigger audience than he had planned, after it showed up on an aerial picture used by Google Maps.

The German news agency dpa reports that 32-year-old part-time farmer Steffen Schwarz used a machine to plant a field of corn in such a way that the gaps spelled out the words "Do you want to marry me?"

Schwarz says he got his girlfriend to fly a drone over the field last May in Huettenberg, central Germany, revealing the romantic message. She said yes.

He told dpa he hadn't intended or expected the image to appear on Google's popular mapping service until an aunt in Canada pointed it out to him.

Schwarz and his fiancee plan to marry in June.

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Know your news ...

A defibrillator was needed to revive St. Louis Blues defenceman Jay Bouwmeester after he collapse on the bench during a NHL game this week. Bouwmeester once held one of the longest ironman streaks in NHL history when he played 737 consecutive regular-season games. What was the injury that ended that streak in 2014?

(Keep scrolling for the answer)

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On this day in 1947 ...

An oil well dubbed Imperial Leduc No. 1 became the biggest oil strike in Canadian history when it began producing near Edmonton. The discovery touched off a drilling boom across Alberta and led to the establishment of the province's oil and natural gas industry.

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Entertainment news ...

TORONTO — The Tragically Hip bassist Gord Sinclair says he hopes to meet with Canada's new heritage minister to discuss ways to better "preserve and protect" the country's live music industry.

Sinclair says he believes Steven Guilbeault, named to the federal position last November, should hear from Canadian musicians on the importance of protecting smaller live venues, often the spots where young artists cut their teeth.

He says it's those places across Canada where his own Kingston, Ont., band got their start.

The Hip is often held as a prime example of an act that benefited from a strong foundation of artistic resources in the 1990s, including federal content regulations that stipulated radio stations play a certain percentage of homegrown music.

The bassist says he doesn't know how those regulations translate to a world increasingly reliant on streaming services, but he believes it's a conversation that needs to be stoked at all levels of the industry.

Sinclair will release his solo debut "Taxi Dancers" on Feb. 28.

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Know your news answer ...

A lower-body injury suffered in a 3-2 win over Ottawa ended the streak. At the time, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Bouwmeester was hurt when he stepped in a crack in the Ottawa ice.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 13, 2020.

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