A call for repatriation and slices of pandemic life; In The News for June 29

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 June 29.

What we are watching in Canada ...

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OTTAWA — An international human rights group is calling on the federal government to repatriate dozens of Canadian men, women and children who are being detained in squalid camps in northeastern Syria.

Human Rights Watch says in a scathing report this morning that Ottawa is failing to live up to its international obligations by refusing to help the detainees because of their suspected links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

While the detainees include several high-profile ISIL members, the New York-based rights group says there are also at least 26 Canadian children in the camps, where food and water are in short supply and disease and abuse are rife.

One of those children is a five-year-old orphan known as Amira who was found on the side of a road last year after her family was reportedly killed in an airstrike.

Human Rights Watch says other countries have started to repatriate their citizens from the camps and is calling on Ottawa to do the same, with an immediate priority on bringing back children and their mothers.

The organization also says repatriation is the only way to hold Canadian ISIL members to account as there is no process in Syria to investigate and prosecute those suspected of crimes.

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Also this ...

A 17-year-old B.C. student says she's been documenting the personal experiences of strangers around the world during this pandemic one photograph at a time.

Asalah Youssef of Langley Fine Arts School says the Screenshots of Home project came about from a yearning to create and connect with people who are united in isolation.

She says she was seeing people connect virtually, which got her thinking about photography in a different way.

She reaches out to people through Instagram and, after an initial conversation, leads them through lighting, posing, and where to position their phone, then takes a screenshot.

Since April, Youssef say has photographed 45 people from different parts of the world including Lebanon, United States, London, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Ecuador, France, Mexico and Israel.

She says the project has given her a personal experience of how people are coping with this pandemic.

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ICYMI (in case you missed it) ...

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are calling for an investigation into the Liberal government's decision to have an international charity administer a $900-million program designed to help students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to Auditor General Karen Hogan today, the Conservatives say the decision to "outsource" the Canada Student Service Grant to WE Charity undermines Parliament's ability to monitor the program.

They also note Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's previous links to the organization.

Trudeau defended employing WE Charity to administer the program last week despite the group's ties to the prime minister and his wife, who hosts one of the organization's podcasts.

Trudeau said the decision to use WE was made by the non-partisan public service, not by him.

The grant provides eligible students with up to $5,000 for volunteer work with non-profit organizations helping to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she's asking for a report to Congress after news reports cited U.S. intelligence from months ago that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing American troops in Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump denies being briefed and says he's now told the intelligence wasn't credible.

Pelosi tells ABC's "This Week" that she hasn't been informed about the reported bounties.

She says "this is as bad as it gets" and yet Trump won't confront Russia.

A senior administration official says the White House plans to brief select members of Congress on Monday.

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

KARACHI, Pakistan — Militants have attacked the stock exchange in the Pakistani city of Karachi, killing at least two security guards and a policeman.

Police said special police forces were quickly deployed to the scene of the attack and in a swift operation secured the building, killing all four gunmen.

The attackers were armed with grenades and automatic rifles and police said they launched the attack by opening fire at the entrance of the Pakistan Stock Exchange in the southern port city, the country's financial centre.

A police official at the scene, said that after opening fire, the gunmen entered the high-walled stock exchange grounds.

A separatist militant group later claimed responsibility for the attack.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 29, 2020.

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