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Transport minister testifies, handgun import ban kicks in: In The News for Aug. 19

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People wait in line to check in at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra will testify today before the House of Commons transport committee on airport and airline delays that have wreaked havoc on travellers over the past several months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

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 Friday, August 19, 2022.

What we are watching in Canada ...

Flight cancellations, baggage delays, and lengthy airport lineups have beset Canadian travellers for months.

Now, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra will testify before the House of Commons transport committee about the recent chaos across major Canadian airports and airlines.

The committee voted unanimously last week to hold a hearing on the delays and invite Alghabra to testify.

He is set to appear via videoconference on Friday after recently testing positive for COVID-19.

Airlines and airports have been grappling with a surge in travel this summer, compounded by staffing shortages affecting both carriers and federal agencies.

Critics say airlines aggressively ramped up flight schedules as customer interest picked up, without due consideration of those labour shortages.

Transport Canada says in a recent statement that it has been working with industry partners to improve conditions at airports.

In its statement, the department cited fewer cancellations and delays in the first week of August compared to a month ago.

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Also this ...

The federal government's import ban on restricted handguns kicks in Friday.

With limited exceptions, individuals and businesses are no longer able to import restricted handguns into Canada.

The measure, announced earlier this month, looks to expedite a key pillar of the federal effort to cap the number of handguns in the country.

The Liberal government announced a plan in May to implement a freeze on importing, buying, selling or otherwise transferring handguns to help quell firearm-related violence.

The measure is part of a broader firearms-control package that would allow for the automatic removal of gun licences from people committing domestic violence or engaged in criminal harassment, such as stalking, as well as increased maximum penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking to 14 years from 10.

The import ban is expected to last until a permanent freeze is passed in Parliament and comes into force.

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

A federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to put forward proposed redactions as he committed to making public at least part of the affidavit supporting the search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s estate in Florida.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart on Thursday gave prosecutors a week to submit a copy of the affidavit with proposed redactions for the information it wants to keep secret.

It comes a little more than a week after the FBI seized classified and top-secret information during a search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last week.

A prosecutor said the investigation into whether Trump illegally stored classified records is still “in its early stages.”

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

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says her country will never accept South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s “foolish” offer of economic benefits in exchange for denuclearization steps, accusing Seoul of recycling rejected proposals from the past.

Kim Yo Jong said the president would have done better to “shut his mouth” rather than talk nonsense.

She also questioned the sincerity of South Korea's calls for improved bilateral relations while Seoul holds military drills with the United States and lets activists fly propaganda leaflets across the border.

Yoon has expressed hope for meaningful dialogue with the North over his aid-for-disarmament proposal.

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On this day in 1942, about 6,000 Canadian and British soldiers launched a disastrous raid against the Germans at Dieppe, France, suffering more than 50-percent casualties.

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In entertainment ...

R. Kelly’s legal team will get its chance to question the government’s star witness on Friday after she gave what jurors could see as damning testimony against Kelly at his federal trial in Chicago on charges that include the production of child pornography.

Jane, the pseudonym used for her during the trial, has been central to Kelly’s legal troubles for more than two decades. She testified for over four hours Thursday, telling jurors it was her and Kelly in a videotape that was at the heart of his 2008 child pornography trial, at which he was acquitted.

Jane, now 37, paused, tugged at a necklace and dabbed her eyes with a tissue as she said publicly for the first time that the man in the video was Kelly and the girl was her at 14 years old.

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Did you see this?

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have uncovered what they call a "weak spot" in the virus that causes COVID-19, a potential breakthrough in the effort to develop new treatments effective against all strains.

The key vulnerability, researchers say, is found in all major variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Exploiting that weakness could lead to new ways of fighting the illness that has killed millions across the globe since it was identified more than two years ago, says the study, published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Communications.

The team at UBC studied the virus at an atomic level to find the weak spot and identify an antibody fragment that can attach to it across the virus's many mutations, including the surging Omicron subvariants.

The weak spot on the spike protein, researchers say, is constant in all seven major variants of the virus, meaning one antibody could act as a "master key" capable of overcoming extensive mutations.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 19, 2022.

The Canadian Press