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Abe visiting flood-hit western Japan as deaths reach 176

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  • HIROSHIMA, Japan — Residents shovelled mud and debris to clear streets so they could get out for food and other supplies Wednesday in areas of western Japan hard hit by landslides and flooding that still swamped some areas.

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited an evacuation centre in the city of Kurashiki in Okayama prefecture, where more than 40 of the 176 victims died. He ducked in front of an elderly woman sitting on the floor, and pledged to her that his government will do its utmost to bring back her ordinary life as soon as possible. About 200 residents were taking refuge at the shelter he visited.

    Tens of thousands of rescue and recovery workers and volunteers were searching for people still missing.

    In areas where search-and-rescue operations had ended, construction workers and residents worked in neighbourhoods to clear mud and debris and restore vehicle access to the outside and get supplies and food.

    In Hiroshima’s Asakita ward, resident Nobuaki Hyuga walked to a neighbourhood convenience store but could only find ice cream and juices, so he had to go further to find bread and other foods. “We are cut off from the road and we can’t go anywhere by car,” Hyuga said.

    Construction worker Fukuyoshi Doi volunteering to get that done, and supervised other volunteers who gathered to help.

    “Mud and dirt is still blocking our local bus route, so we are trying to get that out of the way, so the road can be reopened for buses and cars,” he said. “Once we get the mud out, I believe the rest of the work would pick up.”

    The government said 176 people have been confirmed dead after the record-setting rainfall last week caused severe flooding and landslides. Most of the deaths were in Hiroshima and the surrounding area, but the damage was widespread.

    The government has mobilized 75,000 troops and emergency workers and some 80 helicopters for the search and rescue effort, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

    Delivery companies Sagawa Express Co. and Yamato Transport Co. and cargo service Japan Freight Railway Co. said some of their shipments to and from the flooded areas have been suspended or reduced. Supermarkets have closed stores or shortened hours due to delivery delays and supply shortages.

    Thousands of homes were still without clean water and electricity. Residents lined up for water under a scorching sun as temperatures rose to 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), raising the risk of heat stroke.

    Suga said earlier the government was spending 2 billion yen ($18 million) to hasten deliveries of supplies and other support for evacuation centres and residents.

    Abe cancelled a planned trip to Europe and the Middle East this week to oversee the emergency response.

    ___

    Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo.

    Haruka Nuga And Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press










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    Freeland says Khashoggi case not closed; but Trump says facts may never be known

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  • OTTAWA — Canada will use the upcoming G20 summit to push for answers in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says.

    Freeland said Tuesday Canada considers his murder to be very much an open case, a contrast to a statement by U.S. President Donald Trump that the facts surrounding Khashoggi’s death might just never be known.

    “Canada very much does not consider the Khashoggi affair to be closed,” Freeland said, hours after Trump released a statement that attempted to bring the controversy to a close for the U.S.

    Freeland said she expects the Khashoggi case to be an issue during the talks among leaders of the world’s 20 top economies in early December in Argentina, and says Canada will persist with its push for a transparent international investigation.

    “It is very clearly Canada’s position that those responsible for this horrendous murder must face full responsibility for it,” she said.

    “We certainly imagine that the Khashoggi murder will be an issue, which we discuss with many of the partners who we will be meeting with.”

    The kingdom is a member of the G20, and the Saudi-owned television station Al-Arabiya says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto leader, will attend the summit.

    U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that bin Salman ordered the Oct. 2 killing of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

    “Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said in a written statement.

    “That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi.”

    Regardless, Saudi Arabia remains a “steadfast” partner of the U.S. and has helped keep oil prices stable, Trump said. He also said he doesn’t want to jeopardize US$450 billion in Saudi investment in the U.S., including $110 billion to buy American-made military hardware.

    Trump said the U.S. has already sanctioned 17 Saudi individuals under its Magnitsky Act, and isn’t planning any further action.

    Freeland, meanwhile, has said Canada is contemplating similar sanctions, but she gave no indication why that has yet to happen or what is taking so long.

    A senior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the deliberations, said any decision on sanctions will be made by federal cabinet, and will be part of a larger process that will see Canada working in co-ordination with its allies.

    The process includes a consideration of sanctions, a co-ordinated push for an international investigation and an assessment of the Turkish recording of Khashoggi’s death, the official said.

    Freeland has not heard the recording, but has been briefed on its contents by the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, who travelled to Turkey to hear it, said the official.

    Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press



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    Ride-hailing group says B.C. model looks a lot like expanded taxi industry

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  • VANCOUVER — A coalition of businesses and interest groups advocating for ride-hailing in British Columbia says legislation introduced yesterday will just create an expanded taxi industry, not the ride-hailing services that customers expect.

    Ian Tostenson of Ridesharing Now for BC says members are “bewildered” that the future of ride-hailing in the province remains uncertain and the government hasn’t committed to a start date for the service.

    Tostenson, who also represents the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, says the coalition is especially concerned that the Passenger Transportation Board would have power to limit the number of drivers on the road, where they can drive, and also set rates.

    He says the organization was expecting to see legislation that more closely matched the customer-driven supply and demand model that exists in other jurisdictions.

    Tim Burr of ride-hailing company Lyft says the company sees legislation introduced Monday as a “procedural step forward” but the regulation and rule-making process will come next.

    He says the company is used to rolling up its sleeves to work with legislators and regulators in many jurisdictions and remains committed to working with the B.C. government to bring the service to the province.

    The Canadian Press


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