DOJ watchdog Horowitz's report to be released, as Dems prep impeachment hearing

Horowitz report will reportedly criticize FBI leaders for handling of Russia probe

The IG report on the origins of the Russia probe will reportedly hit FBI leadership for their handling of the investigation, according to The New York Times.

The Justice Department's internal watchdog is set to release a highly anticipated report Monday that is expected to document misconduct — including the deliberate falsification of at least one key document – during the investigation into President Trump's 2016 campaign.

At the same time, the report, as described by people familiar with its findings, is expected to conclude there was an adequate basis for opening one of the most politically sensitive investigations in FBI history. It began in secret during Trump’s 2016 presidential run before then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller ultimately took it over.

The report comes as Trump faces an impeachment inquiry in Congress centered on his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate a political rival, Democrat Joe Biden — a probe the president also claimed has been politically biased. The House Judiciary Committee is expected hold a hearing Monday on the inquiry's findings.

The release of Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz's review is unlikely to quell the partisan battles that have surrounded the Russia investigation for years. It's also not the last word: A separate internal investigation continues, overseen by Attorney General Bill Barr and led by U.S. Attorney John Durham. That investigation is criminal in nature, and Republicans may look to it to uncover wrongdoing that the inspector general wasn’t examining.

Sources told Fox News in October that Durham's probe into potential FBI and Justice Department misconduct in the run-up to the 2016 election through the spring of 2017 has transitioned into a full-fledged criminal investigation — and Horowitz's report will shed light on why Durham has been leading a criminal inquiry.

Horowitz has forwarded to Durham evidence that an FBI lawyer manipulated a key investigative document related to the FBI's secretive surveillance of former Trump adviser Carter Page in 2016 and 2017 — enough to change the substantive meaning of the document, according to multiple reports last month.

"I think we'll learn part of the story tomorrow," Page told the Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo on "Sunday Morning Futures." "What I've learned from some of the leakers and one of the papers of record: a top reporter there said there's a lot of exculpatory evidence that's remaining classified, and there's been internal battles."

It is unclear how Barr, a strong defender of Trump, will respond to Horowitz's findings. He has told Congress that he believed "spying" on the Trump campaign did occur and has raised public questions about whether the counterintelligence investigation was done correctly.

The inspector general's investigation began in early 2018, and has focused in part on the FBI's surveillance of Page. The FBI applied in the fall of 2016 for a warrant from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Page's communications, flatly telling the court that Page was an "agent" of a foreign power.

DOJ OUTLINES STRZOK 'SECURITY VIOLATIONS'; FINDS 'PARANOID' CASE AGENT NOTICED STRZOK WAS SITTING ON WEINER LAPTOP

Page was never charged and has denied any wrongdoing. The ultimately successful warrant application on Page relied in part on information from British ex-spy Christopher Steele – whose anti-Trump views have been well-documented – and cited Page's suspected Russia ties.

In its warrant application, the FBI inaccurately assured the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court on numerous occasions that media sources independently corroborated Steele's claims, and did not clearly state that Steele worked for a firm hired by Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Much of the Steele dossier has been proven discredited or unsubstantiated, including the dossier's claims that the Trump campaign was paying hackers in the United States out of a nonexistent Russian consulate in Miami, and that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to conspire with Russians. Mueller also was unable to substantiate the dossier's claims that Page had received a large payment relating to the sale of a share of Rosneft, a Russian oil giant, or that a lurid blackmail tape involving the president existed.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to hear testimony from Horowitz on Wednesday, said he expected the report would be "damning" about the process of obtaining the warrant.

"I'm looking for evidence of whether or not they manipulated the facts to get the warrant," Graham, R-S.C., told "Sunday Morning Futures."

Fox News' Brooke Singman, Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The meltdown in the global financial system’s ‘plumbing’ was more disturbing than it appeared

When one of the more arcane bits of the global financial system’s plumbing seized up in September the authorities were quick to dismiss it as a one-off event. It’s now clear the meltdown in the US "repo" market was due to circumstances that were more complex and disturbing than the initial diagnosis suggested.

Significantly, the malfunctioning of the US repo market showed the policies of central banks and prudential regulators have changed the roles and diminished the capacity of banks to respond to stresses in key parts of the financial system.

What the repo experience indicates is that there have been, and could be in future, more sudden shocks to the global financial system.Credit:AP

The increased involvement of the shadow banking sector in financial markets in the post-crisis era also appears to have been a major factor in the convulsions within a market that greases the wheels of global finance.

Repo markets provide short-term liquidity to companies and institutions in exchange for high-quality collateral such as Treasury bills. The borrower "sells" the securities in exchange for cash while simultaneously contracting to buy them back in as little as 24 hours for a slightly higher price.

The difference between the price at which the securities are sold and bought back is effectively an interest rate.

In the US that is usually close to the rate the Federal Reserve Board sets for overnight interbank transactions, which was just above two per cent when repo rates shot up to as much as 10 per cent in mid-September.

The official explanation for what happened was that a US quarterly corporate payment coincided with the settlement of a large auction of Treasury bonds. A misjudgement by the Fed of the amount of liquidity available in the system saw the market caught short of the liquidity it needed and therefore the rates soared.

That may be a part of the explanation but, in the Bank for International Settlements’ latest quarterly review issued over the weekend, there is a more complex analysis that suggests structural reasons for the seizure of a market that turns over about $US1 trillion ($1.5 trillion) daily.

In commenting on that analysis Claudio Borio, head of the BIS economic department, said the turmoil in the repo market had also affected the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (set to replace the London Interbank Offered Rate as the key global benchmark for about $US400 trillion of financial transactions and foreign exchange swaps.

The analysis by BIS staffers made the point that one of the most damaging aspects of the financial crisis was a freezing of repo markets in 2008. It may be an arcane element of the financial system but it is a critical one, helping to distribute liquidity through the system between those who have excess liquidity and those who need it.

Banks get used to a protracted period of abundant excess reserves, withdrawing them may result in unpredictable and sudden market adjustments. It is as if a muscle had atrophied.

For much of the post-crisis era, as central banks bought bonds and securities as they embraced quantitative easing, commercial banks accumulated large excess reserves with their central bank.

In the US, from October 2017 the Fed started to shrink its balance sheet, allowing its hoard of Treasury securities to run down, and the interest rate it paid on banks’ excess reserves fell below the rates available in the repo market.

Banks’ excess reserves started reducing and their holdings of US Treasuries rose. The sector, which had been a supplier of collateral to the repo market previously – buying liquidity – had become the dominant lender.

By September, probably because of the post-crisis prudential reforms that demanded they hold more high-quality liquidity, the four biggest and most tightly-regulated banks owned more than half of all the US Treasury securities held by banks in the US.

So, the excess reserves of the biggest banks, from which they could provide liquidity in a crisis, have been running down and been replaced with Treasury securities even as the banks’ role in repo markets has become pivotal.

Claudio Borio, head of the BIS monetary and economic department, said the problems in the US repo market had affected key reference rates used for trillions of dollars of financial transactions.Credit:Jenny Evans

The other relevant post-crisis development has been the increased activity of shadow banks – hedge funds, private equity firms and other non-regulated players – as some bank activity has been prohibited or made less attractive by the legislative and regulatory response to the crisis.

The BIS analysis said that in the lead-up to the repo market dislocation leveraged players, like hedge funds, had increased their demand for repos to fund arbitrage trades between cash bonds and derivatives.

It appears the funds were buying Treasuries and then selling interest rate futures to generate arbitrage profits. To juice up the returns they were using the Treasury securities they had bought as collateral for cash in the repo market that they could then use to repeat the strategy in a continuous loop of transactions.

With the big banks sitting on a lot of liquidity they couldn’t deploy because of the prudential regime; the corporate tax payments and Treasury bond issue sucking liquidity out of the market and the hedge funds needing liquidity to fund their trades, the market and the Fed weren’t prepared for a cash shortage. The Fed has since made large lines of liquidity available to the market.

"The dislocations suggest that central banks’ post-crisis unconventional operations have left a profound imprint on market functioning," Borio said.

"Banks get used to a protracted period of abundant excess reserves, withdrawing them may result in unpredictable and sudden market adjustments. It is as if a muscle had atrophied."

What the repo experience says is that there have been, and could be in future, more sudden shocks to the global financial system.

The interaction between the post-crisis reforms to banking systems, changes to central bank and bank balance sheets and the surge in non-bank participation in markets creates, as the repo market showed, the potential for novel and destabilising events.

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Skechers' 'cool' value gives it room to run like Nike: Barron's

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Shoemaker Skechers USA Inc (SKX.N) is expected to post earnings growth on pace with Nike Inc (NKE.N) over the next three years, giving its relatively low valuation a chance of catching up, financial newspaper Barron’s reported in its Dec. 7 edition.

Analysts estimate Skechers’ earnings-per-share will rise 15% this year and in 2020, and 12% in 2021. Yet Nike trades at about 30 times analysts’ future earnings estimates, compared with 16 times for Sketchers, even after Skechers shares soared more than 75% this year, the paper said.

Skechers sells trainers, dress shoes, sandals and boots – a broader range than Nike – and has grown over the past 20 years to become the third-largest global footwear brand by revenue, after Nike and Adidas AG (ADSGn.DE), the paper said.

Skechers styles, often priced at $50 to $70, are perceived as “cool” and good value, an edge its bigger rivals lack, Barron’s added.

“Nike and Adidas are reluctant to identify as value brands, giving Skechers room to run,” Barron’s said.

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Decorated with butterflies, infant-sized coffins sent to measles-ravaged Samoa

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Volunteers in the New Zealand city of Rotorua are preparing two dozen white-lined coffins to be transported to Samoa at the end of the week as the measles-ravaged Pacific island nation languishes under a growing death toll that has now hit 70.

The smallest of the coffins, designed for the bodies of babies, are decorated with felt butterflies, daisies, stars and hearts. Volunteers have placed a teddy bear in each of the infant-sized caskets.

“It’s not easy. No-one is prepared to lose that many children,” said Tagaloa Tusani, a New Zealand-based volunteer who is organizing the coffin transport.

“No funeral home is prepared for that.”

The highly infectious disease has attacked Samoa’s most vulnerable, with 61 out of the 70 casualties aged four and under, the government said on Monday.

After causing devastation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Ukraine, among others, measles cases started appearing en masse earlier this year in the New Zealand city of Auckland, a hub for travel to and from small Pacific islands.

The virus then took hold in Samoa which had the lowest vaccination rates in the region.

There are now almost 4,700 reported cases of measles in Samoa’s island population of only 200,000.

The World Health Organization (WHO) last week described the global epidemic as “an outrage” given most deaths have been in children under five years old who had not been vaccinated.

“The fact that any child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease like measles is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable children,” said the WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus.

Supported by foreign governments and international aid agencies, Samoa has been conducting a vaccination drive that the government said has now covered nearly 90% of eligible people.

There are currently 16 critically ill children in intensive care in Samoa, and two pregnant women are also in hospital.

International groups have been sending medical supplies to Samoa, and providing doctors and nurses, to help combat the disease.

The volunteers in Rotorua, located south-east of Auckland, usually make coffins for New Zealand families who can’t afford them.

Volunteer coffin-maker Ron Wattam said he never imagined they’d be catering for an epidemic of this magnitude.

“The caskets are white, and white-lined inside, all made up to very suitable undertaker standards,” said Wattam.

“It’s the least we can do.”

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Tighter climate policies could erase $2.3 trillion in companies value: report

LONDON (Reuters) – Tighter government climate regulations by 2025 could wipe up to $2.3 trillion off the value of companies in industries ranging from fossil fuel producers to agriculture and car makers, an investor group warned in a report.

Rules aimed at lowering carbon emissions are expected to accelerate in the coming years as countries scramble to meet obligations under the 2015 Paris climate agreement limiting global warming.

Any abrupt policy shifts risk severely disrupting current investment strategies, U.N.-backed Principles of Responsible Investing (PRI), a group representing investors with $86 trillion of assets under management, said in a report.

“As the realities of climate change catch up, social pressure mounts, and low carbon solutions get cheaper, it’s highly improbable that governments will be allowed to let the world sleep-walk into greater rises in temperature without being compelled into forceful action sooner,” PRI Chief Executive Fiona Reynolds said.

“This poses huge threats for assets and for the wider system.”

Most exposed is the fossil fuel sector which could lose one third of its current value, the report said. Fossil fuels account for around two thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Coal firms could lose as much as 44% in value, while the world’s top oil and gas companies risk losing up to 31% of their current market share, according the report which forecasts oil demand peaking around 2027.

The analysis showed that broad index-based funds such as the iShares MSCI ACWI ETF (ACWI.O) could lose up to 4.5% or $2.3 trillion in its value under the most extreme scenario.

The shift would nevertheless also lead to winners.

Auto makers heavily invested in electric vehicles and electric utility firms using low-carbon power could more than double their values, the report said.

The report came out as world leaders meet in Madrid for the 2019 United Nations climate change conference, known as COP25.

(GRAPHIC: Climate investments – here)

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Japanification is the scourge threatening to go global in 2020

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) – First it was Japan. Then Europe. Now investors are scanning the world for the next outbreak of stagnant inflation and tumbling yields.

The malaise of “Japanification” burst into the mainstream this year, leaving in its wake a record amount of negative-yielding debt. Quantitative easing and a low interest rate regime in Europe delivered banner returns on the region’s bonds – at the expense of bank profits and retirement savings. Many say it recalls Japan’s lost decade.

It’s a scourge that threatens to spread further – perhaps even to the US. The world’s largest economy might only need a slide into a “plain-vanilla recession” to succumb to zero yields, says Jan Loeys, a senior adviser of long-term investment strategy at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

While strong labour market data last week eased concerns about an imminent US downturn, the country’s yield curve has already signaled a recession is brewing. If that comes to pass, the Federal Reserve could emulate peers in Japan and the euro area by cutting rates to zero and re-introducing QE, according to Loeys.

Add the risk of US political gridlock and excess global savings, and “we stay near zero bond yields for years,” he said.

It’s a scenario preying on the minds of central bankers. Fed governor Lael Brainard is even floating the idea of asset purchases to suppress short-to-medium term borrowing costs in a scenario of zero-rate benchmarks. That would be akin to Japan-style yield-curve control.

Fed and European Central Bank policy makers aren’t expected to take any action following meetings this week. For the Fed, it will be an opportunity to defend the status quo after three rate cuts this year.

The gangbusters November US payroll report sent Treasury yields higher but hasn’t dislodged bets the Fed will keep interest rates on hold through at least the first quarter of 2020. With inflation still tepid, chairman Jerome Powell has as good as ruled out a rate increase.

“Central banks have no choice but to be supportive of risk assets and asset prices until such time as fiscal expansion is possible,” said Nomura Asset Management’s Richard Hodges. Japanification-related bets on Europe’s peripheral bonds this year helped him outperform 98 per cent of peers.

In Italy, political risk has done little to deter investors predicting that yields may reach 0 per cent next year amid speculation the ECB could take rates down another notch. Meanwhile, bond-market pariah Greece, which faced borrowing costs of 44 per cent seven years ago, now commands rates of just 1.5 per cent.

Negative yields and a deluge of ECB cash have helped relieve stress in the euro-zone’s shakiest members, but also made it harder for the region’s banks to squeeze out a profit. Pension savings are also at risk, creating an increasingly vociferous backlash.

And yet, another two holdouts among developed markets — the UK and Australia — could also soon capitulate to zero or sub-zero yields.

“Japanification is this one big thing that will take a really long time to untangle,” said Chris Rands, a money manager at Nikko Asset Management in Sydney, which manages US$224 billion globally. “The real problem is sitting in Europe – they’re sneezing and we’re catching the cold.”

TIPPING POINT

Australia’s central bank may be set to join the ECB and Bank of Japan down the once unthinkable route of QE after cutting its benchmark to a record low of 0.75 per cent.

In Britain, the tipping point could be a no-deal exit from the European Union, according to Citigroup. While a Conservative majority at the upcoming election on Dec. 12 would likely see a divorce deal passed next year, there is still the chance of a cliff-edge exit at the end of 2020.

Volatility gauges suggest options traders are hunkering down for a long period of low rates. After a brief spike in August and September amid a multitude of trade headlines, a Merrill Lynch gauge of price swings in the European sovereign debt market is heading back to the all-time lows seen this year. In the US too, the MOVE index is falling toward the nadir seen in March.

At least the US yield curve has started steepening again on prospects of a late-cycle boost from a potential trade truce between China and the US

“If we do not get a big external event, like a fully-fledged trade war, then obviously we are much more in our baseline muddle-through scenario,” said Sonja Laud, deputy chief investment officer at Legal & General Investment Management in London.

It might not be enough to save more economies from being sucked into the negative-yield trap. Even with better jobs data, 10-year US yields have been stuck below 2 per cent since August.

Jack McIntyre, who helps oversee US$75 billion at Brandywine Global Investment Management in Philadelphia, expects US yields to cling to the same low levels next year, but isn’t ruling out the possibility the 10-year benchmark could break through the all-time low of 1.318 per cent set in 2016.

“I’m not in the camp that believes US exceptionalism is going to keep us away from secular disinflationary influences that are driving yields lower,” he said. “If I’m wrong about a recession and the Fed has limited firepower, then yields are going to get pretty close to negative.”

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UK PM Johnson's Conservatives poll lead jumps to 14 points: Survation

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party extended its lead over the Labour Party to 14 percentage points, up from 9 percentage points a week ago, an opinion poll by Survation for ITV’s Good Morning Britain showed on Monday.

The poll put Johnson’s party on 45%, up 2 points, compared to Labour’s 31%, down 2 points, before Thursday’s national election.

These headline figures are rounded to the nearest full point, which explains the discrepancy between the weekly increase in the Conservatives’ lead and the change in each party’s individual figure.

The poll also showed that 52% of respondents would consider voting tactically, versus 44% who said they would not.

The telephone poll of 1,012 respondents was conducted between Dec. 5 and Dec. 7. Respondents were read out the names of the parties and candidates that are standing in their own constituency. 

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Calgary Flames edge L.A. Kings 4-3 to remain unbeaten under interim head coach Geoff Ward

CALGARY — Dillon Dube scored the eventual game-winner and added an assist for his first career multi-point game as the Calgary Flames made it four straight victories on Saturday with a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

With the Flames up 3-2 in the third period, Dube scored his third goal in nine games this season, neatly burying a rebound of a Derek Ryan shot.

Milan Lucic, who also had an assist, Zac Rinaldo and Sean Monahan also scored for Calgary (15-12-4). The Flames have points in six-straight (5-0-1) and improve to a perfect 4-0-0 under interim head coach Geoff Ward.

Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist to lead the way for Los Angeles (11-18-2). Matt Roy also scored. The Kings are winless in their last 11 road games (0-10-1).

Cam Talbot, making his first start since Nov. 17, overcame a shaky start to record 30 saves and break a four-game losing streak. The win is his first since Oct. 20 and improves his record to 2-5-0 this season. His best stop was a glove save off Roy, looking for his second goal with just over a minute remaining.

Jack Campbell had 26 stops for Los Angeles. His record falls to 4-6-1.

Monahan gave Calgary its first lead of the night at 11:46 of the second. While Monahan’s shot was perfectly placed inside the post, all the credit goes to Johnny Gaudreau, who set it up with a beautiful individual rush up ice.

After picking up the puck inside the face-off circle in his own end, Gaudreau immediately sidestepped Michael Amadio, wove around Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli as he raced through the neutral zone, then went around defenceman Sean Walker, before sending a sneaky pass out to Monahan as he skated behind the net.

Down 2-0 late in the first period, getting the comeback started was Lucic on the power play with his second goal of the season, second in as many games and 200th of his career.

The Flames had drawn even 3:01 into the second on a slick move from Rinaldo, who cut across the top of the crease and buried his first of the season.

Rinaldo’s night would end early as he was ejected, along with Los Angeles’ Kyle Clifford, after they fought during a TV timeout late in the second period. Linesmen were quick to intervene before more than one or two punches were thrown, but both still got fighting majors also.

Precipitating the altercation was an incident behind the Kings’ net in which Rinaldo levelled Russian left-winger Nikolai Prokhorkin with a hard hit that appeared to catch him high on the chest and shook him up. There was no penalty on the play and Prohorkin returned for the third period and set up Roy’s goal at 5:24 that drew the Kings to within one.

The Kings got off to a 2-0 lead on a pair of first-period power-play goals from Kopitar and Doughty, the goals coming six and 13 seconds into their only two man-advantages of the first period.


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Trump Rages At ‘Pathetic’ Fox News For Putting Democrats On Air

President Donald Trump is again slamming his preferred network, claiming that Fox News is pandering to the left by having Democratic lawmakers on air.

The president tweeted Sunday to express his displeasure that Fox News allowed Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) ― whom he described as “losers” and “radical left haters” ― to appear on the network’s airwaves. 

Cicilline was a guest on “Fox News Sunday,” where he discussed Democrats’ forthcoming articles of impeachment with host Chris Wallace. Cicilline sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which held impeachment hearings last week.

The president criticized the network following the broadcast, tweeting, “Don’t get why @FoxNews puts losers on like @RepSwalwell (who got ZERO as presidential candidate before quitting), Pramila Jayapal, David Cicilline and others who are Radical Left Haters?”

“The Dems wouldn’t let @FoxNews get near their bad ratings debates, yet Fox panders. Pathetic!” he added.

The three representatives responded almost simultaneously about 15 minutes later, all tweeting the same selfie of the three of them, alongside Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), saying that they were busy working to protect and uphold the Constitution while he was tweeting insults.

Despite his preference for the network, the president has repeatedly gone after Fox News in recent months over unfavorable coverage during the impeachment inquiry. Late last month, he attacked the network for its decision to “waste airtime” by hosting Swalwell, a member of both the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, who spoke about the inquiry following a day of testimony from three government officials.

“Fox should stay with the people that got them there, not losers!” Trump said at the time.

Fox News host Neil Cavuto reminded the president how journalism works in November, telling Trump that reporters have an obligation to question him, even if that invites his “wrath.”

“You are free to rage. All we are free to do is report and let the viewers decide,” he said, after Trump had attacked Wallace, a veteran journalist, for a “Fox News Sunday” segment during which he called out Rep. Steven Scalise (R-La.) for “very badly” mischaracterizing some of the impeachment witness testimonies.

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Photographers worry about Saskatoon Freeway’s impact on Northeast Swale, wildlife

Night sky photographers Tara Magee and Colin Chatfield said they’re worried the proposed Saskatoon Freeway will devastate the Northeast Swale and harm the wildlife around it with light pollution.

“As the city grows out — with the urban sprawl that the city seems obsessed with — this whole area is going to be destroyed,” Chatfield said.

“And not just our night skies for us, but the wildlife and the plants that rely on the dark.”

“We’re going to lose habitat, and for what? So we can drive out cars faster?” Magee said.

“(It) seems unnecessary to me.”

Magee and Chatfield said they come to the Northeast Swale, just outside of Saskatoon, up to four times a week for night sky photography. According to the City of Saskatoon’s website, the Swale “has long been regarded as a unique environment, having ecological and hydrological characteristics.” The site says the area is home to more than 200 plant species and more than 100 animal species.

The city and the Meewasin Valley Authority have preserved a portion of the Swale, but the area where Magee and Chatfield like to come would be directly in the path of the freeway.

The freeway would also come close to Wanuskewin Heritage Park, the administration of which is currently applying to be a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The four-lane, 55-kilometre freeway would circle the city and is designed to reduce traffic in Saskatoon. Portions of the plans are completed but are still just plans — the provincial government has made no formal commitment to the project and there is no timeline for construction.

As such, there has been no study of how the freeway, and the construction of it, would affect the environment.

Geoff Meinert, a Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure senior project manager, said environmental assessments are usually done at least three years before a project begins. He said any construction on the freeway — were it to go ahead — is likely “10-15 years in the future.”

“If you (perform an environmental assessment) too soon, the information becomes stale and it’s no longer valid when you go to construction,” he said.

He said the route was determined in 2005 and was based on a number of criteria: bridge crossings, environmental impacts and the ability to tie into existing infrastructure.

He said the Ministry is still working with stakeholders, including environmental partners, to “minimiz(e) impacts to the Swale, including the Saskatchewan River crossing.”

He said that highways in Saskatchewan aren’t continuously lit and that any lighting would be dark-sky compliant, thereby minimizing light pollution as much as possible.

“There’s wildlife here that will go away. They can’t survive here if they can’t hunt in the dark, if they can’t mate in the dark,” Magee said.

The howls of several coyotes could be heard as Chatfield spoke to Global News.

“Their habitat is going to be gone,” he said.


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