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On the campaign trail and August inflation numbers : In The News for Sept. 15

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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 Sept. 15 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

The three main party leaders are in Eastern and Central Canada today, a day after a new poll suggested the already close race is getting even tighter.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau kicks things off with a morning announcement in Halifax.

Erin O'Toole of the Conservatives is spending his day in Quebec, starting with a morning announcement in Jonquière, followed by an evening supporter event in Orford.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is in Ontario, first with a morning announcement in Essex on long-term care, then visiting with supporters in a number of communities before taking part in a Twitch stream event in the evening. 

Yesterday, a poll conducted by Leger in collaboration with The Canadian Press indicated the Liberals and Tories are tied with the support of 32 per cent of decided voters ahead of the election on Monday.

A similar poll conducted two weeks ago had the Conservatives ahead with 34 per cent compared with 30 per cent for the Liberals.

The Leger poll suggested New Democrats support was at 20 per cent of decided voters, down from the 24 per cent of respondents from the earlier poll.

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Also this ...

Statistics Canada will say this morning what reading the consumer price index registered for August.

The country's headline inflation barometer clocked in at 3.7 per cent in July, which was the highest year-over-year increase since May 2011 as price growth accelerated from June.

Part of the elevated inflation reading for July was because prices are being compared to the lows seen one year ago during the early months of the pandemic, particularly gasoline and food.

BMO's Benjamin Reitzes says although August is seasonally a weak month for the consumer price index, that may not hold true this year as he expects an annual inflation rate of 4.1 per cent in the month.

In a note, he says rising restaurant prices may push up food prices that tend to dip in August and early fall.

He also says the annual inflation rate could be pushed up in August by hot housing prices. 

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

WASHINGTON — Fearful of Donald Trump’s actions in his final weeks as president, the United States’ top military officer twice called his Chinese counterpart to assure him that the two nations would not suddenly go to war. 

A senior defence official acknowledged the conversations after they were described in excerpts from the forthcoming book “Peril” by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. 

The book says Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army that he would warn his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack. 

Trump said Milley should be tried for treason if the report was true.

According to the defence official, Milley’s message to Li on both occasions was one of reassurance. The official questioned suggestions that Milley told Li he would call him first, and instead said the chairman made the point that the United States was not going to suddenly attack China without any warning — whether it be through diplomatic, administrative or military channels.

Milley also spoke with a number of other chiefs of defence around the world in the days after the Jan. 6 riot, including military leaders from the United Kingdom, Russia and Pakistan. A readout of those calls in January referred to “several” other counterparts that he spoke to with similar messages of reassurance that the U.S. government was strong and in control.

Trump responded with a sharply worded statement insisting he never considered attacking China.

Still, he said that if the report was true, “I assume he would be tried for TREASON in that he would have been dealing with his Chinese counterpart behind the President’s back and telling China that he would be giving them notification ‘of an attack.’ Can’t do that!”

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

LONDON — The U.K. plans to offer a third dose of coronavirus vaccines to everyone over 50 and other vulnerable people to help the country ride out the pandemic through the winter months. 

The booster shots will be rolled out beginning next week. They were approved a day after the government backed plans to offer one dose of vaccine to children from 12 to 15 years old.

Booster shots are aimed at protecting against a modest waning in immunity among those who have received two jabs. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday “the result of this vaccination campaign is we have one of the most free societies and one of the most open economies in Europe.”

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, which advises the government, recommended that booster shots be offered to everyone over 50, health care workers, people with underlying health conditions and those who live with people whose immune systems are compromised. They will be given no earlier than six months after a person received their second dose of vaccine.

Around 30 million people will be eligible for the booster shots, which aim to protect against a modest waning in immunity among those who have received two jabs.

Although the number of people now contracting COVID-19 is way higher than this time last year — over 30,000 new infections a day — the British government has opted not to re-introduce further virus restrictions for England, as the vaccine drive this year has reduced the number of people requiring treatment for COVID-19 and subsequently dying.

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On this day in 1773 ...

The ship "Hector" arrived at Brown's Point, near Pictou, N.S. Hector carried 178 Scottish immigrants — the first large wave of immigration that made Scots the predominant ethnic group in Nova Scotia. A replica ship was later built to commemorate the voyage and is on display in Pictou harbour.

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In entertainment ...

TORONTO — Neil Macdonald says his brother Norm lived by the maxim that comedy should always surprise and never pander, preferring that a joke be met with boos than to stoop for the cheap laugh. 

Macdonald died in Los Angeles from leukemia Tuesday, Neil said. While his diagnosis was never made public, Macdonald had been dealing with cancer for "a long time," and his condition took a turn for the worst last month, he said.

Macdonald was devoted to the craft of comedy, Neil said, and never aspired to make the transition from the stage to the big screen.

"If you speak to his friends like Adam Sandler, David Spade or Tim Meadows — the people he came up with at 'SNL' — they would all agree that Norm was the purest amongst them," Neil said by phone from Los Angeles. "He was the comic's comic."

The Quebec City-raised standup was best known for his tenure on "Saturday Night Live" from 1993 to 1998 where he manned the "Weekend Update" desk and became known for impressions including a mischievous Burt Reynolds as a contestant on "Jeopardy!"

News of Macdonald's death sparked an outpouring of grief on social media, with Steve Martin, David Letterman, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Jon Stewart and Bob Saget among the comedy heavyweights paying tribute.

"In every important way, in the world of standup, Norm was the best. An opinion shared by me and all peers. Always up to something, never certain, until his matter-of-fact delivery levelled you," tweeted Letterman.

"I was always delighted by his bizarre mind and earnest gaze. (I’m trying to avoid using the phrase, "twinkle in his eyes"). He was a lifetime Cy Young winner in comedy. Gone, but impossible to forget."

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ICYMI ...

O'FALLON, Mo. — A Missouri cave containing Native American artwork from more than 1,000 years ago has been sold at auction, a sale that disappointed leaders of the Osage Nation who had hoped to buy the land to protect and preserve a site that's sacred to them. 

A bidder agreed to pay $2.2 million to private owners for what’s known as “Picture Cave,” along with the 17 hilly hectares that surround it near the eastern Missouri town of Warrenton. The winning bidder was not named. 

The cave was the site of sacred rituals and burying of the dead. It also has more than 290 prehistoric hieroglyphic symbols used to represent sounds or meanings.

A St. Louis family that's owned the land since 1953 has mainly used it for hunting.

Researcher Carol Diaz-Granados opposed the sale. She and her husband, James Duncan, spent 20 years researching the cave and wrote a book about it. Duncan is a scholar in Osage oral history, and Diaz-Granados is a research associate in the anthropology department at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Auctioning off a sacred American Indian site truly sends the wrong message,” Diaz-Granados said. “It’s like auctioning off the Sistine Chapel."

The Osage Nation, in a statement, called the sale “truly heartbreaking.”

“Our ancestors lived in this area for 1300 years,” the statement read. “This was our land. We have hundreds of thousands of our ancestors buried throughout Missouri and Illinois, including Picture Cave.”

The cave features drawings of people, animals, birds and mythical creatures.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2021

The Canadian Press