Five of the top stories making headlines this afternoon.
Polio outbreak declared international public health emergency. Outbreaks of polio in Asia, Africa and Middle East have lead the World Health Organization to call for an international response. The outbreak is being blamed on Pakistan, where vaccination campaigns have been disrupted by militant attacks. Residents in Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon are being warned to travel with their vaccination records if they intend to leave their country. There is talk of vaccinating those at airports who are not able to produce records. However, the mass exodus of Syrian refugees into neighbouring countries further complicates the situation. Polio is transmitted through food or water. It mainly affects children and causes paralysis in one in 200 cases. It can also be fatal. Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Somalia and Nigeria are also countries at risk of another outbreak, says the WHO.
Fighting gets more intense in Russian-held Slaviansk. Fighting between Ukraine and pro-Russian militants continues in the eastern-Ukraine city of Slaviansk Monday. Five Ukrainian policemen were reportedly killed and the militants said four of their fighters were killed. Though violent clashes in Odessa over the weekend, that left 40 dead, are now over, there are fears that tensions could flare again as Friday approaches and as Russians celebrate the anniversary of U.S.S.R.’s victory in WWII.
Harper meets with NATO supreme commander. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with NATO’s U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and Gen. Tom Lawson were also in the meeting. Harper, Nicholson and Lawson did not take questions about the meeting with Breedlove. Canada has already committed six fighter jets and rerouted a frigate to the eastern Mediterranean Sea to aid NATO in eastern Europe. Last week, Harper announced that 50 soldiers from Edmonton would travel to Poland for military exercises.
What to do now that Shawn Atleo is gone? The regional chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations will meet in Ottawa this week to discuss how to replace former chief of the Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo, who stepped down unexpectedly Friday afternoon. Atleo stepped down over his position on a controversial federal bill to reform First Nations education. Atleo supported the bill, but many others did not and Atleo said he didn’t want his leadership to distract from the very important bill. Still, Atleo’s decision to step aside is affecting the bill. The First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, as its known, will be put on hold until the AFN decides what to do about its leadership, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said.
Canada Post in the red, again. Canada Post announced Monday that it lost $29 million last year, which isn’t all that bad compared with its $83-million loss in 2012. But, the difference between 2012 and 2013 is attributed mainly to the sale of a large plant in downtown Vancouver. Looking at the actual operations, the Crown corp did even worse last year than in 2012—with a loss of $193 million for 2013, compare to $106 million in 2012. The dismal numbers are no surprise as Canada Post struggles to reorganize in a digital age. In 2013, it announced the impending end of door-to-door mail delivery and a rise in the price of postage.