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 Sept. 17 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

CALGARY —As an emergency alert blared across the province notifying Albertans of another round of public health restrictions, some felt a range of emotions: anger, confusion, exhaustion.

Edmonton mother Amanah Khursheed remembers looking at her husband.

"Here we go again," she said as her phone lit up Wednesday evening.

The notification told her that Alberta has declared a state of public health emergency to protect the health-care system.

New restrictions — including gathering limits and a proof of vaccination program for non-essential businesses — began Thursday, as Alberta's health system nears collapse during a fourth wave of the pandemic.

"Every few months we go into lockdown and we're hearing false promises from our leaders," Khursheed said in an interview.

"The whole pandemic ... I don't think, from the beginning, was managed right."

Medical experts had warned the United Conservative government about potential for the Delta variant to spread exponentially, when Premier Jason Kenney celebrated his "Open For Summer" plan.

Since the reopening on July 1, COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased more than fivefold, with intensive care admissions reaching record highs.

Khursheed said a close friend contracted COVID-19 and was put on a ventilator.

"It's nerve-racking every single day when you're sending your children to school, and then you're hearing a close friend was in (intensive care)."

Calgarian Jake Hughes, a 28-year-old business development representative, said he's "exhausted and demoralized" after 19 months of poor provincial leadership.

He has thought about leaving Alberta for another province.

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Also this ...

With just three days now until the federal election, the main party leaders will be keeping the campaign throttle wide open today as they chase any still undecided votes in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is to begin his day with a scheduled announcement this morning in Windsor, Ont.

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole is also in southwestern Ontario. He'll be making an announcement in London, Ont., early this afternoon before moving on to St. Catharines, Ont., for an event with supporters this evening.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has a packed agenda which begins this morning in Sherbrooke, Que., where he'll talk about the Trudeau government's record on climate change. Singh will then head east to Sackville, N.S. to visit a local business this afternoon before moving on to Halifax to meet with supporters.

Much of yesterday's campaigning was dominated by the leaders pointing fingers and firing broadsides of blame at each other over the spiralling COVID-19 crisis in Alberta.

As the clock ticks down to Monday's election the latest polling suggests the race between the Liberals and Conservatives is still too close to call.

It remains to be seen whether the high level endorsements Justin Trudeau and Erin O'Toole received this week — Trudeau from former U.S. president Barack Obama and O'Toole from former prime minister Brian Mulroney — will help tip the scales.

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And this ...

Heartbreak and guilt are all Zakia Zarifi has been feeling since she returned to her home in Ontario from Afghanistan.

"I'm happy to see my family here, but it's torture for me because I couldn't bring my parents with me," the real estate agent from Brampton said over the phone.

"It was the hardest goodbye ever, but deep down I have hope that I can bring them here."

The single mother says she was beaten, shot at and barely dodged a bomb outside Kabul airport during the chaotic journey. All she thinks about now is helping the people left behind.

"(A) genocide ... is happening right now in Afghanistan and no one is talking about it. That's why I'm here but my mind is always there."

Zarifi, 50, arrived this week to tears and warm hugs from her three grown children. They frantically worked to bring their mother home after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in August. She had gone there to try to get her aging parents out of danger.

Before she got out herself, Zarifi was critical of Canada's evacuation of its citizens from the region.

She told The Canadian Press while she was stuck in Afghanistan that she twice tried to escape before the U.S.-led military mission's Aug. 31 deadline, but was beaten by Taliban members and pushed away from the airport's gates.

She was angry Canadian officials told her and others to meet at dangerous locations, while other countries helped their citizens get to military planes using safer routes.

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

THREE RIVERS, Calif. — Firefighters wrapped the base of the world’s largest tree in a fire-resistant blanket as they tried to save a famous grove of gigantic old-growth sequoias from wildfires burning in California’s rugged Sierra Nevada.

The colossal General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest, some other sequoias, the Giant Forest Museum and other buildings were wrapped for protection against the possibility of intense flames, fire spokeswoman Rebecca Paterson said.

The aluminum wrapping can withstand intensive heat for short periods. Federal officials say they have been using the material for several years throughout the U.S. West to protect sensitive structures from flames. Near Lake Tahoe, some homes that were wrapped in protective material survived a recent wildfire while others nearby were destroyed.

The Colony Fire, one of two burning in Sequoia National Park, was expected to reach the Giant Forest, a grove of 2,000 sequoias, at some point within days, fire officials said.

However, the fire didn’t grow significantly Thursday as a layer of smoke reduced its spread in the morning, fire spokeswoman Katy Hooper said.

It comes after a wildfire killed thousands of sequoias, some as tall as high-rises and thousands of years old, in the region last year.

The General Sherman Tree is the largest in the world by volume, at 1,487 cubic meters, according to the National Park Service. It towers 84 meters high and has a circumference of 31 meters at ground level.

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

BEIJING — A trio of Chinese astronauts returned to earth Friday after a 90-day stay aboard their nation’s first space station in China’s longest mission yet.

Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo landed in the Shenzhou-12 spaceship just after 1:30 p.m. (0530 GMT) after having undocked from the space station Thursday morning.

State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of the spacecraft parachuting to land in the Gobi Desert where it was met by helicopters and off-road vehicles. Minutes later, a crew of technicians began opening the hatch of the capsule, which appeared undamaged.

After launching on June 17, mission commander Nie and astronauts Liu and Tang went on two spacewalks, deployed a 10-meter mechanical arm, and had a video call with Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.

While few details have been made public by China’s military, which runs the space program, astronaut trios are expected to be brought on 90-day missions to the station over the next two years to make it fully functional.

China has sent 14 astronauts into space since 2003, when it became only the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to do so on its own.

China embarked on its own space station program after being excluded from the International Space Station, largely due to U.S. objections to the Chinese space program's secrecy and military backing.

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On this day in 1949 ...

The Canadian Steamship Lines passenger vessel "Noronic" caught fire at her dock in Toronto, killing 119 people. The fire broke out at midnight while most of the 542 passengers were sleeping. The "Noronic," which was the largest Canadian passenger vessel ever put into service on the Great Lakes, was destroyed by the blaze.

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In entertainment ...

LONDON — British presenter Piers Morgan will join News Corp and Fox News Media and host a TV show that will air in the U.S., Britain and Australia, the company said Thursday.

News Corp executive chair Rupert Murdoch said Morgan, 56, is “the broadcaster every channel wants but is too afraid to hire.” Murdoch added in a statement: “Piers is a brilliant presenter, a talented journalist and says what people are thinking and feeling.”

The show is billed as the primetime draw on the new channel talkTV, expected to launch in the U.K. in early 2022. It will also air on the video streaming service FOX Nation in the U.S. and on Sky News Australia.

Morgan left Britain’s ITV in March after sparking a record 50,000 viewer complaints with controversial comments about Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. He said he didn't believe Meghan’s claims -- made during a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey -- about how the monarchy allegedly ignored her struggles with mental health.

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Also this ...

Jane Powell, who starred in Hollywood golden age musicals, has died.

A longtime friend said Powell died Thursday in Wilton, Connecticut, of natural causes.

Powell sang with Howard Keel in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and danced with Fred Astaire in “Royal Wedding,” among other 20th-century films.

Shel performed virtually her whole life, starting at age 5 as a singing prodigy on radio in Portland, Oregon.

She made her first movie at 16 and graduated from teenage roles to costarring in lavish musical productions through the mid-1950s.

Jane Powell was 92.

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ICYMI ...

Angelina McLeod spent most of her life in Shoal Lake 40 First Nation watching her uncles and her father, Alfred Redsky, a former chief, fight for clean drinking water and a better way of life.

The moment came Wednesday when, for the first time in nearly 25 years, the water flowing through the community's taps was deemed safe to drink.

"It was like I was there seeing it for them," McLeod said in a phone interview.

McLeod's father died in 2013. She kept up his fight as a documentarian and eventual councillor for the Anishinaabe community on the Manitoba-Ontario boundary.

On Wednesday, the First Nation celebrated the opening of its long-anticipated water treatment plant with a special event, which included a tour of the facility.

A long-term boil-water advisory for the community, which was issued in 1998 and was one of the longest in Canada, was also lifted.

"It's the end of years of struggles trying to get the basic necessities of life, clean drinking water," said McLeod.

Numbers from Indigenous Services Canada from Aug. 28 show there were 51 long-term drinking water advisories in 32 communities. Some 109 advisories had been lifted since November 2015.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 17, 2021

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