Smoke rises from a deadly explosion outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Wali Sabawoon

Canada’s Afghan troops pull out and Biden vows to avenge: In The News for Aug. 27

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 Aug. 27 …

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA — Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan ended Thursday, leaving an unknown number of Canadians and their families trapped just hours before suicide bombers staged a “complex attack” on crowds at the airport in Kabul, killing more than a dozen U.S. soldiers and nearly 100 local Afghans.

The withdrawal occurred as Canada and its military allies were bracing for imminent attack and to allow for the American-led mission to eventually meet its Aug. 31 deadline for departure.

U.S. officials said 13 U.S. service members were killed in the attack, which began with a pair of blasts near a crowded entry gate, followed by gunmen opening fire on the crowd. At least 90 local Afghans — all of them hoping to escape the country — were also killed. Another 18 U.S. military members were injured.

An unknown number of Canadian military personnel stayed behind to assist the American withdrawal, and all were “safe and accounted for” after the Thursday bombing, the Canadian Forces said on Twitter.

Gen. Wayne Eyre, the acting chief of the defence staff, said Canadians were among the last to leave Afghanistan, that military personnel are taking the withdrawal personally and many will feel guilty that they had to leave people behind.

He noted Canada brought roughly 3,700 people out of the country, which fell to the Taliban earlier this month.

Eyre said the airport was under constant threat of attack and Canada and its allies acted admirably.

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Also this …

The Liberal and NDP leaders are expected to be in Ontario for Day 13 of the federal election campaign, while the head of the Conservatives is to spend time in two Atlantic provinces.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is to make an announcement in Mississauga, Ont., before meeting with supporters in Bolton, Ont.

New Democrat boss Jagmeet Singh will be in the northern Ontario community of Thunder Bay, where he will make a health-care announcement in the morning.

Later in the day, he’s scheduled to meet with regional First Nations leaders, then visit supporters at a local bakery before going to the Thunder Bay-Rainy River campaign office.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is to make an announcement in Corner Brook, N.L., and then head to Sydney, N.S., to attend an event with supporters.

On Thursday, the crisis in Afghanistan, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, dominated the campaign agendas of the party leaders.

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And this …

Todd Lewis considers himself lucky.

The farmer lives in a part of Saskatchewan that received enough rain to yield an average crop, which is the best he could hope for on a day in late July. This summer was marked by some of the worst drought seen in decades, which came after a winter where not much snow fell, leaving fields with little soil moisture.

“It’s not even hot and windy, it’s just hot,” said Lewis, sitting on the deck of his house about a half-hour drive south of Regina, where he is the fourth generation of his family to farm that land,growing canola, durum and canary seed.

Like most everyone in farming, the president of the Agricultural Producers of Saskatchewan is used to changing skies and tough seasons. But experts warn climate change means extreme weather events are set to become more common in the years to come.

For environmental leaders, this summer’s deadly heat wave and wildfires in British Columbia, combined with drought across the Prairies, could shape how voters think about the issue in the Sept. 20 federal election.

“Climate change has been completely broken out of its environmental pigeonhole,” said Rick Smith, president of the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices.

“For many more Canadians than before, climate change is about the health and well-being of their families right now, as opposed to some distant concern at some point in the future.”

The Climate Action Network reported around 63 per cent of voters cast a ballot for federal parties with “strong climate platforms” in the last election.

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What we are watching in the U.S. …

A closely watched forecasting model in the United States is projecting the country will see nearly 100,000 more COVID-19 deaths between now and Dec. 1. But health experts say that toll could be cut in half if nearly everyone wore a mask in public spaces.

Experts agree: What the coronavirus has in store this fall depends on human behavior. And early signs suggest behavior changes may already be flattening the curve in a few places where the virus raged this summer.

“Behavior is really going to determine if, when and how sustainably the current wave subsides,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. “We cannot stop Delta in its tracks, but we can change our behavior overnight.”

That means doubling down again on masks, limiting social gatherings, staying home when sick and getting vaccinated. “Those things are within our control,” Meyers said.

The U.S. is in the grip of a fourth wave of infection this summer, powered by the highly contagious Delta variant, which has sent cases, hospitalizations and deaths soaring again, swamped medical centers, burned out nurses and erased months of progress against the virus.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world …

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says the United States will complete its evacuation of Americans and others from Kabul, despite the attack that killed at least 13 U.S. service members and many Afghan civilians.

He vowed Thursday to avenge the deaths, saying the U.S. has some idea of who perpetrated the attack and will hunt them down.

Speaking with emotion from the White House, Biden said the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate was to blame for the attacks that killed the Americans and many more Afghan civilians. He said there was no evidence they colluded with the Taliban, who now control the country.

He asked for a moment of silence to honor the service members, bowing his head, and ordered U.S. flags to half-staff across the country.

As for the bombers and gunmen involved, he said, “We have some reason to believe we know who they are … not certain.” He said he had instructed military commanders to develop plans to strike IS “assets, leadership and facilities.”

The IS affiliate in Afghanistan has carried out many attacks on civilian targets in the country in recent years. It is far more radical than the Taliban, who seized power less than two weeks ago.

Biden said U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan had told him it is important to complete the evacuation mission. “And we will,” he said. “We will not be deterred by terrorists.”

As many as 1,000 Americans and many more Afghans were still struggling to get out of Kabul.

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On this day in 2002 …

Struggling Nortel Networks said it would slash 7,000 more jobs.

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In entertainment …

LOS ANGELES — Pop star JoJo Siwa will compete as part of the first same-sex pairing on “Dancing With the Stars” for the show’s upcoming 30th season.

Olympic gymnastics champion Suni Lee also is joining the cast, the rest of which will be announced on Sept. 8. ABC says the celebrities will find out which pro dancer they’ll partner with on the season premiere Sept. 20.

Siwa, an 18-year-old who has said she identifies as gay and queer, said the same-sex pairing signals to viewers that it’s OK to be your true self. She named Lindsay Arnold, Jenna Johnson and Britt Stewart as among the show’s regular pros she’d like to be paired with.

“I think it breaks a wall that’s never been broken down before,” she told an online gathering of the Television Critics Association. “It’s normal for a girl to dance with a guy, and I think that’s really cool, but it’s really special that now not only do I get to share with the world that you get to love who you love, but also you get to dance with who you want to dance with.”

Siwa noted that among the things to be worked out with her partner are who leads, how do they dress and what shoes do they wear.

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ICYMI …

CALGARY — A study has found that the number of Albertans hospitalized for an alcohol-related liver disease almost doubled during the first wave of COVID-19, and patients admitted for alcoholic hepatitis were also younger.

Dr. Abdel-Aziz Shaheen, an assistant professor at the Cumming school of medicine at the University of Calgary, says patients admitted for the disease had an average age of 43, compared with 48 before the pandemic.

The study found hospitalization rates for the condition — an inflammation of the liver as a result of excessive drinking —

increased to 22.1 per 10,000 admissions, up from 11.6 per 10,000 admissions before the pandemic.

Shaheen says the findings are concerning on many fronts, including how young the most affected age group was and that the disease is preventable.

“There is no treatment, like a drug, or quick fix for this condition. This condition needs lowered drinking habits or consumption,” he said Thursday.

“We can prevent this. We can give information. We can identify anyone who needs help early on and we can support them.”

Shaheen suggests there may have been more cases that were not captured by the study.

“Due to the restrictions in place during the first wave of COVID-19, people suffering from alcoholic hepatitis may have chosen not to go to the hospital,” he added.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2021

The Canadian Press