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Trade deal with Canada becomes U.S. impeachment football – CBC.ca

November 20th, 2019

Canada’s most important new trade agreement has turned into a political football in Washington’s all-consuming impeachment clash.

Republicans and Democrats have both seized upon the not-yet-ratified Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) on trade to try to win the argument over who’s properly conducting the nation’s business amid the impeachment fight.

Hanging in the balance of this partisan scrum: A new trade agreement that would govern more than three-quarters of all Canada’s exports.

To Republicans, the continuing failure to ratify CUSMA is evidence their opponents are do-nothing, president-tormenting partisans who deserve to lose their House majority in next year’s election.

“What’s going on is a disgrace,” President Donald Trump said Tuesday of the impeachment hearings. 

“It’s an embarrassment to our nation. And in the meantime we can’t get [CUSMA] approved because [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi is grossly incompetent.”

The Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement on trade is being pulled into the ongoing impeachment proceedings south of the border. 1:12

At the same time, Republicans are using the moment to push for the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to approve the deal. 

Approval in that chamber would pave the way for the agreement’s enactment in all three countries, replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 

Democrats have been talking to the administration about adjustments to the pact that would satisfy their critical allies in the labour movement — but there’s no deal yet.

Administration officials blanketed the airwaves with their messaging Tuesday. Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence and cabinet officials conducted 17 local radio and TV interviews to push the NAFTA 2.0 message to millions of American households.

At the impeachment hearings, the trade deal keeps coming up — Republicans frequently mention it as Exhibit A of what Congress should really be working on. 

And at a White House event on drug costs last week, Trump said: “Canada keeps calling me: ‘When is this deal going to happen? Is this deal going to happen?'”

White House official Marc Short told reporters Tuesday that despite recent claims from Democrats that they’re close to a deal on ratification, there’s been little progress — on it, or anything else, in this Congress.

“Can any of you name any substantive legislation [Democrats] have passed that’s come to the president’s desk? There’s not a thing,” Short said.

He noted that Democrats won their House of Representatives majority thanks to gains in nearly three-dozen districts that also voted for Trump.

Now these swing-district Democrats are urging their party leadership to pass the deal — so they have a bipartisan accomplishment they can show voters back home.

Democrats must ‘show that they can govern’

Some supporters of the agreement remain optimistic it will be adopted.

The head of one prominent business group predicted weeks ago, immediately after hearing Pelosi announce the impeachment investigation, that this would, perhaps counter-intuitively, make it more likely that CUSMA will be adopted.

She’s sticking with that prediction.

“House Democrats need to be able to show that they can govern,” said Maryscott Greenwood, head of the Canadian American Business Council.  

“They need to be able to prove to voters that giving them a majority matters, and that they will use their majority wisely. This means they need to be able to legislate while they litigate.”

Democrats argue that’s exactly what they’re doing.

In an off-camera exchange with journalists Tuesday, a senior Democrat, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, ticked through a list of real and potential accomplishments in this congressional session.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, seen here on Capitol Hill in October, told reporters his fellow Democrats are still getting legislative work done despite the impeachment proceedings. (Jose Luis Magana/The Associated Press)

Some items were routine: Hoyer’s list of potential bills in the works include spending measures to avoid a government shutdown, as well as annual funding for the Pentagon.

Other items stand little chance of passing the Republican Senate, including a clean-government reform package, a wide-ranging ethics bill that introduces scores of changes to the political process, such as new disclosure rules for campaign contributions, new controls prohibiting foreign donations and helping states create non-partisan redistricting bodies. It was the Democrats’ first priority in this Congress but has gathered dust in the Senate. 

Hoyer’s list did include one notable example of a potentially significant new law, which both parties could conceivably agree on in this Congress.

It was the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement.

Hoyer said lots of work has been done to strengthen the agreement’s labour provisions. He said his party wants to get to “yes” on the pact, and get it passed sooner rather than later.

He finished the exchange with reporters in his office by returning to his central point: that Democrats are getting things done.

“So I hope all of you would convey to the American people, when the Republicans say we are dissuaded by impeachment, that that is not accurate,” Hoyer said.

Primary season looming

Supporters of the trade pact hope to see it ratified before the holidays. 

However, one Canada-U.S. trade lawyer said he sees the harder deadline being around February 3. That’s the date of the Iowa Democratic caucuses. 

Dan Ujczo, of the firm Dickinson Wright, said it will become harder for Pelosi’s team to push the trade deal forward later in the winter, if her party’s presidential candidates start bashing it during primary season.

Democratic presidential candidates have systematically opposed new trade deals in recent campaigns, and several progressive candidates in this cycle have already come out against the new NAFTA. While Democratic voters tell pollsters they like free trade, the unions that provide valuable organizational strength during campaigns do not usually support trade deals.

Democrats have closely consulted with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) throughout this process, and gauged its support for the deal; after a meeting on Capitol Hill with leader Richard Trumka on Tuesday, it was clear that the country’s largest labour federation is still not onside.

If Democratic presidential hopefuls get vocal in their opposition to CUSMA, “You’re going to have some terrible optics,” Ujczo said.

“To me that’s the real clock — the presidential campaign.”

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Microsoft Teams passes 20 million daily users, up more than half in 4 months – VentureBeat

November 20th, 2019

(Reuters) — Microsoft said on Tuesday its workplace messaging app, Teams, has more than 20 million daily active users, up from 13 million in July.

The software maker offers the app as part of some Office365 business packages, as well as a free version. Teams allows users to chat, share files, make calls and hold web video conferences.

Microsoft Teams, used by companies such as General Electric and SAP, competes with Slack.

Slack, whose customers include Electronic Arts and Nordstrom, reported more than 10 million daily active users in the second quarter ended July 31.

Slack’s shares fell 8.4% following the news, to $21.18. They are down 45% from the close of their first day of trade in June.

Microsoft Teams also competes with Workplace by Facebook and Cisco’s Webex Teams.

(Reporting by Ambhini Aishwarya in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Clarence Fernandez)

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Effort better in Vegas but Leafs lose sixth in row – Toronto Sun

November 20th, 2019

LAS VEGAS — What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, the saying goes.

The Maple Leafs can only hope they’ve left their losing streak behind in Sin City.

It’s six games now without a win, the longest skid since Mike Babcock’s first season behind the Toronto bench, when the club twice had six-game losing streaks in 2015-16.

A 4-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday at T-Mobile Arena featured a better effort from the Leafs, though one would hope so, considering the dismal ethic the team had in Pittsburgh against the Penguins in its previous game on Saturday, followed in the ensuing days with a players-only meeting.

Fact is, a loss is a loss, and the underachieving Leafs fell to 9-10-4. We understand it’s tight throughout the National Hockey League standings, but it’s jarring to see the Leafs with 22 points, just five more than the Detroit Red Wings, who sit last overall with 17.

Five points is all that separates the Leafs from last place. Think about that.

“We need to get a win here, it doesn’t matter how it is,” Jason Spezza said. “If it’s ugly, we’ve got to find a way to get a win.”

Another couple of losses on this trip, with stops in Phoenix and Denver coming up, and few could successfully argue that Babcock continue as coach.

In their past 16 games, the Leafs have won two in regulation.

A loss in Phoenix on Thursday would give the Leafs their first seven-game losing streak since January/February 2015, when they lost 11 in a row.

General manager Kyle Dubas must bear some responsibility. The Leafs have a backup goalie situation envied by no team in the NHL, and players who were added via trade, specifically Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci, have been disappointments.

Wouldn’t the soft Leafs love to have Nazem Kadri now, eh?

On Tuesday, the Leafs got back to within 3-2 in the third on a power-play goal by Zach Hyman at 12:47. With under four minutes to play, Marc-Andre Fleury made an astounding diving glove save on Nic Petan, who had an open net before the Vegas netminder appeared out of nowhere.

Toronto could not score on a late power play and Cody Eakin got the fourth Vegas goal, into an empty Leafs net with 21 seconds remaining.

“When you’re losing, it’s hard to stay the course, but I think that we played really well,” Hyman said. “We didn’t quit. We stuck with it.

“You go down 3-1, you can pack it in. We were strong throughout that third period, really pushed back. Fleury made a big save on Petey, Mickey (llya Mikheyev) hit the post. These aren’t excuses. Just reality.

“They won the game, but I think we had a chance to win. We didn’t quit. I think that’s really important and something to build off moving forward.”

After a couple of days of insisting they knew the effort had to be better — frankly, it didn’t have to be said, especially after the lopsided loss in Pittsburgh on Saturday — the Leafs had a lot more enthusiasm in the first period.

That waned in the second, when Cody Glass scored the only goal of the period, omn the power-playm to put Vegas up 1-0.

Spezza tied the game in the third, only to have Tomas Nosek score 42 seconds later at 8:08 when he stole the puck from Tyson Barrie in the neutral zone and beat Frederik Andersen on a breakaway.

“It’s tough,” said Barrie, enduring a personal season from hell. “I think we were playing a really good game to that point and then I make a bad turnover. That’s on me. Seems to be when it rains it pours right now. It’s going to take some mental toughness to get through that.”

Mark Stone gave Vegas a 3-1 lead, again on a power-play, at 10:22 of the third.

Babcock kept a stiff upper lip afterward.

“I’ve been around a long time. You’re in lots of situations where you don’t win for a while and you end up having a real good year,” Babcock said. “Just keep grinding.

“It’s disappointing but I’m always about the process and how hard guys play. We played way harder so I thought that was good.”


Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save against Toronto Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman (11) during the third period at T-Mobile Arena. (Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports)

GAME ON

Glass’ goal marked the 18th time in 23 games the Leafs have been down 1-0. No team in the NHL has given up the first goal more than Toronto … The Leafs’ penalty-killers have allowed at least one power-play goal in 13 of the past 16 games, including two on Tuesday. Said Babcock: “We’ve got to keep it out. I didn’t think we were that bad tonight on it, to tell you the truth, but they got two so that’s not good enough. Maybe early in the year, when we didn’t skate as much in the pre-game skates, we should have spent more time doing it. We did that because we were trying to keep our guys fresher and the science part of it, but, in the end, you’ve got to execute on those things so that’s on me.” … Pierre Engvall, in his first NHL game, had the puck bounce over his stick on a good chance midway through the first. Engvall was on the left wing on the fourth line, taking the place of healthy scratch Dmytro Timashov, with Nick Shore and Frederik Gauthier. More often than not, the group had trouble clearing the zone, a problem that helped lead to Justin Holl taking a cross-checking minor. Holl was in the box when Glass scored … Alex Kerfoot joined the team during the day and watched from the press box. The centre, who had facial surgery last week, will take part in practice on Wednesday … Andersen said he “got a little bit outplayed by Fleury.” Vegas outshot Toronto 37-33.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun

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Fleury’s big saves in 450th win help Golden Knights edge skidding Leafs – Sportsnet.ca

November 20th, 2019

LAS VEGAS — Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves for his 450th win, including a diving stop late in the game, and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on Tuesday night.

Fleury is three wins behind New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist for sixth place on the career list.

Mark Stone, Cody Glass, Tomas Nosek and Cody Eakin scored for Vegas. But for the second consecutive game it was Fleury who kept the Golden Knights in it with outstanding saves — particularly when the Maple Leafs turned up the pressure in the third period.

With 14:59 left, the 16-year veteran netminder stopped William Nylander on the doorstep. Then with 11:21 remaining, he stymied Toronto captain John Tavares’ first shot of the game, tipped the puck with the paddle of his stick to himself and snared it with his glove.

It was that kind of night for Fleury.

Moments later, with the heat still on, he robbed Nylander by sliding across the crease and stretching out his left pad at the right moment to prevent the puck from sneaking into the corner of the net.

The biggest save came with 3:43 to go, when Nic Petan’s backhand toward a wide-open net was thwarted as Fleury dove back to his left and with his body outstretched snatched the puck before it hit twine, sending 18,292 fans into a frenzy — even some wearing Maple Leafs jerseys.

Jason Spezza and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto. Frederik Andersen, who has lost his last four starts, made 33 saves.

Vegas scored on both power-play opportunities and outshot the Maple Leafs 37-33.

After Max Pacioretty’s shot trickled through Anderson’s pads into the crease, Glass was there to clean up for a man-advantage goal that gave Vegas a 1-0 lead midway through the second period.

Toronto tied it when Ilya Mikheyev entered the zone and dropped the puck off for Spezza, who fired it past Fleury early in the third.

Vegas answered immediately when Nosek stole the pick in the neutral zone, raced in on a breakaway, put a filthy deke on Andersen and backhanded the puck into the net to make it 2-1 just 42 seconds after Spezza’s goal.

Stone extended the lead to 3-1 with a power-play drive from the right dot at 10:22. Hyman cut Vegas’ lead to one with his first goal of the season at 12:47, but Eakin put the game away when he scored into an empty net with 21 seconds left.

NOTES: After the Maple Leafs placed forward Trevor Moore on injured reserve, forward Pierre Engvall was called up Monday and made his NHL debut for Toronto. … Pacioretty has at least one point nine of his last 11 games, and Vegas defenceman Nate Schmidt has six points in the last four games — including five assists in the past two.

UP NEXT

Maple Leafs: Continue a six-game road trip, their longest of the season, Thursday at Arizona.

Golden Knights: Host division rival San Jose on Thursday.

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11 reported killed after Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria – CBC.ca

November 20th, 2019

The Israeli military said it struck dozens of Iranian targets in Syria in Wednesday, carrying out a “wide-scale” strike in response to rocket fire on the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights the day before.

A Britain-based war monitoring group said the Israeli airstrikes killed 11 people, including seven non-Syrians who are most likely Iranians. Syrian state media only reported that two civilians were killed.

The Israeli military said its fighter jets hit multiple targets belonging to Iran’s elite Quds force, including surface-to-air missiles, weapons warehouses and military bases. After the Syrian military fired an air defence missile, the Israeli military said a number of Syrian aerial defence batteries were also destroyed.

The death toll of 11 was reported by Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group with a network of activists across Syria.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a damaged building targeted by Israeli missile strikes is seen in the Qudsaya suburb, west of the capital Damascus on Wednesday. (SANA via AP)

The Observatory said the airstrikes targeted arms depots belonging to the Quds Force in the Damascus suburbs of Kisweh and Qudsaya. Abdurrahman added that several other areas were targeted in Wednesday’s strikes, including the Mazzeh airbase in western Damascus where air defence units are stationed.

Syria’s state SANA news agency said the two civilians were killed by shrapnel when an Israeli missile hit a house in the town of Saasaa, southwest of Damascus. It said several others were wounded, including a girl in a residential building in the suburb of Qudsaya, also west of the Syrian capital.

It claimed that Syrian air defences destroyed most of the Israeli missiles before they reached their targets.

Long shadow war

The strikes further burst into the open what’s been a long shadow war between Israel and its archenemy Iran. The two foes have increasingly clashed over what Israel says is Iran’s deeper presence along its borders.

“Yesterday’s Iranian attack towards Israel is further clear proof of the purpose of the Iranian entrenchment in Syria, which threatens Israeli security, regional stability and the Syrian regime,” the military said in a statement, adding that it would “continue operating firmly and resolutely” against Iran in Syria.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said the significance of the operation was the “multitude of targets” hit.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We will continue to aggressively protect Israel’s security.” (Gali Tibbon/Associated Press)

Several important targets were struck, he said, including what he described as the Iranian headquarters at Damascus airport where senior Iranian officials are based and which is used to co-ordinate shipments from Iran to its allies in Syria and beyond. He added that Israel also holds Syria responsible for hosting the Iranians.

6th failed attempt at Israeli targets

Tuesday’s rocket fire on the Golan was the sixth attempt by Iran to attack Israeli targets since February 2018, and all have been thwarted, Conricus said.

While Israel faces tensions with Iranian proxies along its borders, Iran’s regional influence is also being challenged by unprecedented, economically-driven mass protests in Iraq and Lebanon — two countries where Tehran wields major influence. The protests are creating unrest that Tehran fears would spark a backlash against Iran-backed proxy militias in those countries.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a series of warnings recently about Iranian aggression throughout the Middle East and has vowed to respond firmly.

“I made it clear: whoever harms us, we will harm them. That’s what we did tonight,” he said early Wednesday. “We will continue to aggressively protect Israel’s security.”

‘The rules have changed’

Israel’s new hard-line defence minister, Naftali Bennett, issued an equally firm statement.

“The rules have changed: whoever fires on Israel during the day will not sleep at night,” he said. “Our message to the leaders of Iran is simple: you are no longer immune. Any place you dispatch your tentacles, we will chop them off.”

The rare rocket fire comes a week after an Israeli airstrike against a top Palestinian militant based in Syria. Akram al-Ajouri, a member of the leadership of the militant Islamic Jihad group who is living in exile, survived the attack but his son and granddaughter were killed.

Israel frequently strikes Iranian interests in Syria. But last week’s airstrike appeared to be a rare assassination attempt of a Palestinian militant in the Syrian capital. It came the same day as another Israeli airstrike killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza, settling off the fiercest round of fighting there in years.

Iran has forces based in Syria, Israel’s northern neighbour, and supports Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. In Gaza, it supplies Islamic Jihad with cash, weapons and expertise.

Netanyahu also has claimed Iran is using Iraq and far-off Yemen, where Tehran supports Shiite Houthi rebels at war with a Saudi-led coalition backing the government, to plan attacks against Israel. Hamas also receives some support from Iran.

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3 suspects deported from Canada after series of Surrey assaults – CBC.ca

November 20th, 2019

Surrey RCMP say three individuals will be deported from Canada as a result of their involvement in a series of assaults involving large groups of youths over the past several months.

Police say they have been looking into the crimes, which circulated on social media, since March and have investigated 50 individuals connected to the groups.

The most recent incident involved video of an assault with a weapon and vandalism to property which occurred in a Newton parking lot on Nov. 11.

An earlier video showed a fight taking place in the parking lot of a strip mall in Strawberry Hills in August.

“These deportations were as a direct result of some of the investigation that was done into that fight,” said Surrey RCMP Cpl. Elenore Sturko.

Mayor responds to videos

Sturko said police were working in conjunction with the Canada Border Services Agency. The status of three other individuals is still being reviewed.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum recently referred to the two videos circulating online that showed groups of men attacking each other and vandalizing cars, saying police need to take strong action.

In a Tuesday news release, police say they have been making progress on the cases that have been described as mob violence.

“We want to assure the community that our Community Response Unit has been actively engaged in this issue for the past eight months,” said Superintendent Shawn Gill.

The release says not all of the violent incidents involved international students, but police also issued a reminder that individuals visiting Canada on a visa can be removed from the country if they engage in any criminal activity.

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Maple Leafs continue to spiral under slow starts, bad special teams – Sportsnet.ca

November 20th, 2019

LAS VEGAS — At this stage you have to wonder if we were the ones who miscalculated.

Those of us who looked at the Toronto Maple Leafs heading into the season and believed they were worthy of the Stanley Cup expectations that got placed on them.

In dropping a sixth straight game here Tuesday, there were things to like about their play. They tightened up considerably after the debacle in Pittsburgh and didn’t roll over after falling behind to the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 in the third period. The Leafs certainly didn’t look like a team trying to get their coach fired.

And yet … well, they didn’t generate very much offensively until they got chasing the game in the third period. They’ve now gone more than 427 consecutive minutes (and counting) since playing with a lead.

A dire situation grew just a little more desperate with Tuesday’s 4-2 loss.

“Definitely a much better effort. It was a good hockey game,” said Jason Spezza, who finished with a goal and an assist. “We lost the special teams battle and that ends up being the game. It’s something to build off of, but it’s frustrating.

“We need to get a win here; it doesn’t matter how it is. If it’s ugly, we’ve got to find a way to get a win.”

No matter how you slice it, they can’t keep playing from behind. They’ve allowed the first goal in 18 of 23 games, and they’ve trailed at some point in an astounding 21 of them.

That is just not the mark of a good hockey team.

Forget the names, forget some of the gaudy individual numbers, forget all of those market-recalibrating contracts. The Leafs have been so much less than the sum of their individual parts through 23 games that you have to question the roster construction as critically as Mike Babcock’s decisions behind the bench.

It was not the coach, we have to assume, that decided to trade their best-value contract in Nazem Kadri to Colorado for Tyson Barrie and Alexander Kerfoot. Barrie has not been able to replace what the Leafs lost with Jake Gardiner’s off-season departure, and cruelly he was the one who made the most egregious error in Tuesday’s defeat.

Not even a full minute after Spezza ripped a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to tie up a tight game in the third period, Barrie skated the puck into the neutral zone and had it stolen by Tomas Nosek.

That left the Vegas fourth-liner with a clear breakaway — his second of the game — and he stuffed it behind Frederik Andersen to restore a lead the Golden Knights wouldn’t squander.

“It seems to be when it rains it pours right now,” said Barrie. “It’s going to take some mental toughness to get through that. … I just kind of saw an opportunity to jump and I just went to go to my left and he got a good stick on it and then it just obviously gave him a breakaway.

“Not what you want to do as a defenceman and the last guy back. Yeah, that’s on me. It’s disappointing.”

Andersen also shouldered some blame by saying he was outplayed by Fleury, who delivered a save-of-the-year candidate by diving across his crease to snare a high Nic Petan backhander that looked destined to hit the back of the net.

That would have tied the score 3-3.

Instead it stayed out, the Leafs failed to create the tying goal on a power play inside the final three minutes and Cody Eakin scored into an empty net to put this one on ice.

Toronto’s much-maligned penalty kill checked in with an 0-for-2 night — giving up a Cody Glass tap-in after twice failing to clear the puck 200 feet before seeing Mark Stone beat Andersen clean to make it 3-1 — and, my goodness, stop me if you heard this before.

The Leafs power play is now ranked 18th while its penalty kill is 27th.

This group arrived here needing to atone for a flat performance in Pittsburgh — holding a players-only meeting, plus some individual sitdowns with Babcock. They took some steps while generating a healthy share of the scoring chances and high-danger chances, and still fell short.

“The bottom line is we’ve got to stick with it and just keep grinding,” said Babcock. “We had a chance on the power play at the end there and we didn’t execute on that. It’s disappointing but I’m always about the process and how hard guys play.

“We played way harder so I thought that was good.”

Still, it’s tough not to shake the feeling this season is sliding off the rails.

The Leafs — once considered the Cup favourite by bookies here in Vegas — are now five points from the bottom of the NHL. The list of teams in the Eastern Conference with a worse points percentage is alarmingly short: Ottawa, New Jersey and Detroit.

It’s Nov. 20 and it’s no time to search for silver linings from performances like this one.

“The talk is the talk. Like everyone talks, right?” defenceman Jake Muzzin said this week. “Address what needs to be addressed but then you’ve got to, honestly, you’ve just got to … get to work. It’s what you’ve got to do.

“I mean it’s not X’s and O’s it’s playing with passion and playing with heart. That’s what we need to do.”

They need to become the team we thought they were before it’s too late.

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Hong Kong students’ sewer escape thwarted as China feuds with U.K., U.S. – CBC.ca

November 20th, 2019

Some anti-government protesters trapped inside a Hong Kong university on Wednesday tried to flee through the sewers, where one student said she saw snakes, but fireman prevented the escape by blocking a trapdoor into the system.

Reuters witnesses said fewer than 100 protesters remained inside the Polytechnic University, ring-fenced 24 hours a day by riot police and barricades, after more than 1,000 were arrested since late on Monday.

Some surrendered while others were grabbed in escape attempts that included trying to clamber down ropes to waiting motorbikes.

Some protesters, wearing waterproof boots and carrying torches, resurfaced inside the campus on Wednesday after unsuccessfully probing the sewers — where fast-rising water levels are also a hazard — for a way out during the night.

It was unclear if any had managed to escape that way.

Firefighters, who the students let onto the campus, were in place to stop any further such attempts to flee, blocking the only feasible entrance into the sewer system in an underground car park.

‘Many cockroaches, many snakes’

“The sewer was very smelly, with many cockroaches, many snakes. Every step was very, very painful,” said Bowie, 23, a student at Hong Kong University who was forced to turn back.

“And the flow of water was strong. Hong Kong is a very developed city. I’d never thought that one day I would need to hide in a sewer or escape through sewers to survive…. The most unforgettable feeling is the fear when I was inside.”

A rescue diver enters the sewer to search for anti-government protesters who tried to escape from the besieged Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Tuesday. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

She said she and friend were in the dirty water for about an hour, only to find they were no closer to escape.

“When we reached the end, we found we were still in the poly,” she said.

5,000 arrests

Police searched for any escapees during the night with spotlights, without resorting to the tear gas and rubber bullets, that marked clashes in recent days.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has called for a humane end to a siege that saw the most intense clashes since the protests escalated more than five months ago.

Riot police gather near a Louis Vuitton store during a demonstration in the financial district in Hong Kong on Wednesday. (Kin Cheung/The Associated Press)

They also tightened security in the streets around the university, making them safe enough for a late Tuesday visit by the force’s new commissioner, Chris Tang, at the end of his first day on the job.

Tang earlier urged the support of all citizens to end the unrest triggered by fears that Beijing is stifling the former British colony’s freedoms and extensive autonomy guaranteed in its handover to Chinese rule in 1997.

New police motto

Tang is under pressure to restore police morale as well as public confidence in a force that has come in for widespread criticism for increasingly violent tactics to suppress the protests. Police deny accusations of using excessive force.

The police quietly rolled out a new, harder-edged motto on Tang’s first day, replacing “We Serve with Pride and Care” with “Serving Hong Kong with Honour, Duty and Loyalty.”

Police have made more than 5,000 arrests in connection with the protests since June.

Chinese leaders say they are committed to the “one country, two systems” formula put in place in 1997 and have accused foreign countries, including Britain and the United States, of stirring up trouble.

Britain ‘shocked’ by treatment of consulate employee

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned China’s treatment of a former employee of Britain’s Hong Kong consulate who told a newspaper Chinese secret police beat him seeking information about the protest movement.

Simon Cheng, a Hong Kong citizen who worked for the British mission’s business-development team when he was detained, told the Wall Street Journal that he was questioned repeatedly about the role his interrogators presumed Britain was playing in fomenting the unrest.

Protesters sleep on the floor of a parking lot inside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Wednesday. A dwindling number of exhausted pro-democracy protesters barricaded inside the Hong Kong university defied warnings on Tuesday to surrender. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images)

“Simon Cheng was a valued member of our team. We were shocked and appalled by the mistreatment he suffered while in Chinese detention, which amounts to torture,” Raab said, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In Washington, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act,” which would require the secretary of state to certify at least once a year that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to qualify for special U.S. trading consideration and would impose sanctions against officials responsible for rights violations.

The bill must be reconciled with similar legislation approved by the House of Representatives. Senate aides said they expected it to move forward eventually as an amendment to a defense bill expected to pass Congress this year.

‘Big fight’

China’s foreign ministry condemned the legislation, saying the United States should stop interfering in Hong Kong and Chinese affairs. The Hong Kong government expressed “deep regret” over it.

The unrest marks the most serious popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

Protesters are escorted out of the main entrance to the Polytechnic University campus, the site of a multi-day standoff between demonstrators and police. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)

Some protesters emerged as the sun rose above the campus to express a range of feelings, from defiance to uncertainty.

They still have stocks of petrol bombs, bows and arrows and other makeshift weapons after a weekend of fiery clashes.

‘We’re not going to give up now’

One protester practiced firing arrows at a campus tower while others considered hiding in the maze of campus buildings, as they said a teacher had advised them to do.

Two protesters in body armour, wielding metal rods, were going to get some sleep after a night on guard, watching police movements outside.

“We need some energy to get ready for the big fight. Now that there’s not many of us left they may want to come in,” said a former student named Marc, 26.

“We know this place, it’s our home and it’s a maze, and we have weapons. We’re not going to give up now, it’s too late for that.”

The university on the Kowloon peninsula is the last of five that protesters had occupied to use as bases from which to disrupt the city over the past 10 days, blocking the central Cross-Harbour Tunnel outside and other arteries.

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Options fade for last Hong Kong campus protesters as U.S. bill angers China – CBC.ca

November 20th, 2019

The last band of anti-government protesters trapped inside a besieged Hong Kong university were weighing a narrowing range of options early on Wednesday as police outside appeared ready to simply wait them out.

Reuters witnesses said fewer than 100 protesters remained inside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University after more than 1,000 were arrested since late on Monday.

Some surrendered, while others were nabbed in escape attempts that included trying to clamber down ropes onto waiting motorbikes. Some protesters resurfaced inside the campus after unsuccessfully probing the sewers for a way out during the night. It was unclear if any had managed to escape that way.

Police searched for potential escapees with spotlights rather than using the tear gas and rubber bullets that had marked clashes in recent days, heeding calls from Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam for a humane end to a siege that saw the most intense clashes since the protests escalated more than five months ago.

They also tightened barricades in the streets surrounding the university, making them secure enough to be visited late on Tuesday night by the force’s new commissioner, Chris Tang, at the end of his first day on the job.

Tang earlier urged the support of all citizens to end the unrest triggered by fears that China’s central government is stifling the former British colony’s freedoms and extensive autonomy guaranteed in its handover to Chinese rule in 1997.

Police roll out new motto

Tang is under pressure to restore police morale as well as public confidence in a force that has come in for widespread criticism for increasingly violent tactics to suppress the protests. Police deny accusations of using excessive force.

The police quietly rolled out a new, harder-edged motto on Tang’s first day, replacing “We Serve with Pride and Care” with “Serving Hong Kong with Honour, Duty and Loyalty.”

Chinese leaders say they are committed to the “one country, two systems” formula and have accused foreign countries, including Britain and the United States, of stirring up trouble.

In Washington, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would require the secretary of state to certify at least once a year that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to qualify for special U.S. trading consideration and would impose sanctions against officials responsible for human rights violations.

China condemns U.S. bill

The bill must be reconciled with similar legislation approved by the House of Representatives. Senate aides said they expected it to move forward eventually as an amendment to a massive defence bill expected to pass Congress later this year.

China’s foreign ministry condemned the passage of the bill, saying the United States should stop interfering in Hong Kong and Chinese affairs and move to stop the latest bills on Hong Kong from becoming law.

Protesters are escorted out of the main entrance to the Polytechnic University campus, the site of a multi-day standoff between demonstrators and police. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)

The Hong Kong government expressed “deep regret” over the bill’s passage.

The unrest that has lasted five months marks the most serious popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

‘I already know where I will hide’

Some protesters emerged as the sun rose above the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus after a night spent sleeping on yoga mats to express a range of feelings, from defiance to uncertainty.

Others mulled hiding in the maze of campus buildings, as they said a teacher had advised them to do.

A dwindling number of exhausted pro-democracy protesters barricaded inside the university defied warnings to surrender on Tuesday. (Achmad Ibrahim/The Associated Press)

“I already know where I will hide,” a 19-year-old student, who gave his name only as Paul, said as he emerged in a hoodie, shorts and slippers to ask about breakfast in the canteen.

“I have enough food for at least a week and then will see what happens,” he said.

‘We’re not going to give up now’

Two protesters in full body armour, wielding metal rods, were going to get some sleep in the library after their night shift watching police movements outside.

“We need some energy to get ready for the big fight. Now that there’s not many of us left they may want to come in,” said a former student named Marc, 26.

WATCH: See protesters leave the campus

Hong Kong police and pro-democracy protesters have been in a standoff for days. 0:18

“We know this place, it’s our home and it is a maze. And we have weapons. We’re not going to give up now, it’s too late for that,” he said.

Protesters still have stocks of petrol bombs, bows and arrows and other makeshift weapons after a weekend of fiery clashes.

‘Many of us feel desperate and unhappy’

One protester practiced firing arrows at a campus tower shortly after dawn.

The university on the Kowloon peninsula is the last of five that protesters had occupied to use as bases from which to disrupt the city over the past 10 days, blocking the central Cross-Harbour Tunnel outside and other arteries.

“It’s still incredible we defended it for such a long time,” said Ricky, a 21-year-old student. “Since the police have taken control, many started to feel afraid and left and now many of us feel desperate and unhappy because we lost some support.”

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Google Stadia Founders are furious over “first come, first served” mishap – SlashGear

November 19th, 2019

Stadia is supposed to represent the future of gaming, or at least one possible future that revolves around streaming. You buy, not rent, a game to play, run it on Google’s massive data centers, and have it streamed to almost any device, with some AI and machine learning magic to help cut back on natural latency from this back and forth process. In reality, however, the launch of Google first formal foray into the gaming market under its own name is turning out to be quite the mess and the harshest words are coming from the platform’s earliest believers who now feel they have been deceived by the company’s sugary words and promises.

This very vocal group is made up of “Founders”, the term given to early adopters who put their money where their mouths are by pre-ordering the game or, in this case, a subscription. Google made it clear that not only would these Founders get dibs on Stadia when it launches, they will also be treated to a “first come, first served” queue. That applies not only to getting access codes before anyone else but also to registering their unique names on the service.

That has apparently not happened in the most ideal situation that Google planned. Many Founders still don’t have their access codes while others do, breaking that processing order that Google promised. That, in turn, has resulted in these early adopters being unable to reserve the name they would have wanted, even if, by pre-order sequence, they should have been first.

To its credit, Google did respond but it is as much as you would expect from a PR response. An issue was discovered and has been addressed and that’s pretty much it. No course of action or compensation has been mentioned.

This is, sadly, just the latest in a growing list of issues with Google Stadia that started with a paltry list of launch titles and has also included performance concerns. Google did mention that Stadia would be growing and improving over time as the platform matures but that’s never an excuse not to put your best foot forward. Especially when you’re asking “Founders” to believe in that promise and invest in your business.

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