Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, winter could bring a whole host of new challenges — and experts say now is the time to prepare.'It's going to be very hard' »
RED DEER, Alta. — A man accused of killing a family doctor at a walk-in clinic in central Alberta appeared confused at his first court appearance Wednesday, telling a judge that he doesn't remember and is sick.Deng Mabiour of Red Deer, Alta., is charged with first-degree murder in Monday's death of 45-year-old Dr. Walter Reynolds, as well as other offences.The 54-year-old appeared via a video link but wasn't able to tell the judge if he understood the charges laid against him."Listen to me. I don't remember anything because I'm sick. I want a doctor," Mabiour, with a heavy accent, told provincial court Judge Bert Skinner."I'm telling you I didn't remember anything because I am sick."Skinner ordered the duty counsel to speak with Mabiour by phone. The charges were then read a second time."Did you understand the charges?" asked the judge."No, I didn't understand," Mabiour replied. "Because I am sick. I lost memory. Listen to me, I don't remember. I want a doctor."Mabiour continued talking as the judge and lawyers spoke.Skinner said a first-degree murder charge that goes to trial is automatically put before a jury.The case was put over to Sept. 9.RCMP have said the attack was not random and the two men knew each other through the clinic. They have not said if Mabiour was a patient, citing confidentiality.Officers received a 911 call reporting an assault in progress at the Village Mall Walk-in Clinic just after 11 a.m. Monday. Mounties arrived within minutes.One witness told media that she heard cries for help and a man in the clinic had a hammer and a machete.Mabiour was arrested at the scene. Reynolds was rushed to hospital, where he died."In 27 years of policing, I've never seen a doctor attacked like that," RCMP Supt. Gerald Grobmeier said at a news conference Tuesday.Dr. Peter Bouch works at a different Red Deer clinic but said that both he and Reynolds had moved to Canada from South Africa. He said the death is a shock to many in the medical community.A vigil for Reynolds has been planned for Friday night at city hall.This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Aug. 12, 2020Follow @BillGraveland on TwitterBill Graveland, The Canadian Press
Cars with B.C. licence plates are so rare in Blaine, Wash., these days that immigration lawyer Len Saunders does a double take every time he sees one.Saunders says the city just south of Surrey with a population of about 5,500 people has turned into a ghost town since the border closed in March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic."There are no Canadians in this town," he said. "For a town along the border that relies on Canadian customers, it's shocking to see."Prior to the pandemic, Blaine and Point Roberts, Wash., which shares a border with Tsawwassen, were both crawling with British Columbians searching for cheap gas, groceries and mail services, where they can pick up packages ordered online from American retailers.Blaine city manager Michael Jones says after five months without Canadian visitors, the municipality's finances have taken a wallop."We're forecasting about an 11 per cent reduction in our general fund revenue, which is primarily driven by tax dollars," he said."We're currently at the same staffing numbers that we were at the beginning of the year but we expect to see some very significant budget cuts next year."Point RobertsPoint to Point Parcel in Pt. Roberts was thriving before COVID-19 hit, but the border closure forced manager Beth Calder to lay off seven of her 10 employees.Calder says on a good day, she now receives about 50 packages a day, which is down from the 400 that were coming through her warehouse six days a week earlier this year."It's not something we can survive for extended periods of time," she said. "We are definitely not making enough money to cover all of our expenses."The border will remain closed for non-essential travel at least until Aug. 21 and she fears it may stretch into the holiday shopping season."Our best time of the year is from September through to the end of December," she said. "That usually helps to carry us through the next few months of the next year."ClosuresCalder says she isn't aware of any competitors that have gone out of businesses during the pandemic, but many have drastically cut their hours or closed temporarily.In Blaine, Saunders says he's aware of at least three restaurants that have gone under."You can go to a restaurant in this area and there's no waiting, even on a Saturday," he said. "It's a ghost town."Washington state has a population of 7.6 million, slightly higher than B.C.'s 5.1 million but the state has 64,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 15 times higher than in B.C.Jones says even if the border reopens, Canadians may be reluctant to travel to the U.S. if infection rates remain high."I can appreciate a Canadian perspective where you have a much lower count," he said. "It makes me wonder why would someone come visit a place with a higher risk of the virus." CBC Vancouver's Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. If you have a story for us, email email@example.com.
MADISON, Wis. — One of two Wisconsin girls who repeatedly stabbed a classmate because she believed a fictional horror character named Slender Man would attack her family if she didn’t kill the girl lost an appeal Wednesday.Morgan Geyser was 12 at the time of the 2014 attack, which Payton Leutner survived. Geyser’s attorney Matthew Pinix had argued that she should have been charged with attempted second-degree intentional homicide, which would have placed the case in juvenile court. Instead, she was charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, which put the case in adult court.But Wisconsin's 2nd District Court of Appeals found that the Waukesha County Circuit Court correctly kept the case in adult court, saying it found probable cause that she had committed attempted first-degree intentional homicide.Pinix said he planned to appeal Wednesday's ruling to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.“Morgan’s fight is not over,” Pinix said. “The court of appeals dodged serious issues in the case and admittedly struggled with some of the areas of law.”Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper, who prosecuted the case, declined to comment.Geyser pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree intentional homicide in a deal with prosecutors to avoid prison. She was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.Geyser and co-defendant Anissa Weier lured Payton Leutner from a sleepover to a nearby wooded park in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha. Geyser stabbed Leutner 19 times, as Weier encouraged her, leaving the girl for dead. All three girls were 12 at the time.Leutner recalled in a 2019 interview with ABC News how, before the stabbing, Weier told her to lay down on the ground and cover herself with sticks and leaves, as part of what Leutner believed to be a game of hide-and-seek. After the stabbing, Leutner said she eventually got up, grabbed trees for support, and made her way to a road where a bicyclist found her and called for help.Geyser was ordered to spend 40 years in a mental health institution because she was the mastermind and did the stabbing, prosecutors said. Weier was committed to a mental health facility for 25 years.Geyser's attorney argued on appeal that Geyser couldn’t really understand what rights she gave up when she agreed to speak alone with a detective while she was in custody and confessed to the stabbing.The appeals court said it didn't need to rule on whether the lower court made a mistake in allowing the comments to police.Even if the lower court was wrong, “such error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt due to the additional, unchallenged and overwhelming evidence in this case,” the appeals court said.The case drew widespread attention in part because of the girls' fascination with the Slender Man character. Slender Man was created online by Eric Knudson in 2009 as a mysterious spectre photo-edited into everyday images of children at play. He’s typically depicted as a slim, spidery figure in a black suit with a featureless white face. He has grown into a popular boogeyman and has appeared in video games, online stories and a 2018 movie.___Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sbauerAP___This story was first published on August 12, 2020. It was updated on August 12, 2020 to correct the charges involved.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
The long wooden docks at Fisherman's Wharf in Vancouver's False Creek are unusually quiet.Boats that would normally be out chasing salmon sit idle. And a smell is missing from the air — the salty tang of fresh caught salmon normally being unloaded at this time of year.One of the few fishers on hand is Stewart McDonald, who gives CBC News a quick tour of his sturdy aluminum fishing boat, the Lormax. "I don't think there's going to be a commercial salmon fishery, maybe in the fall but not in the summer," he said, referring to the bleak outlook for the salmon run in the Fraser River, British Columbia's largest salmon spawning system.The river's headwaters start near the Alberta border, meandering to the B.C. coast and connecting a huge web of tributaries in the province's Interior. It's both a fish highway and vital spawning habitat for millions of salmon during peak years.But this year is shaping up poorly for the Fraser, with few fish returning so far and fears over the impact of a huge landslide that blocked the river to salmon last year and forced the installation of a $50 million system designed to carry fish past the obstruction.Fishing for salmon has also been curtailed in the waters near Vancouver and Victoria to provide more fish for endangered southern resident killer whales.The federal Fisheries Department offered a bleak assessment Tuesday, stating the total return of Fraser sockeye this year is expected to be approximately 283,000 fish, which would be a record-low return. In peak years, it can be more than 20 million. Sockeye are one of a number of salmon species, but returns of chinook, another type, are also predicted to be low.McDonald has been fishing for more than four decades and has witnessed a troubling decline in the salmon fishery. It's been studied by numerous commissions and experts, resulting in a long list of recommendations designed to restore stocks that once help feed the world. More talk about saving salmonFishing for wild salmon remains an important part of the B.C. economy. For instance, in 2018, the value of wild caught salmon was $235 million, according to the B.C. government, but there are questions on how sustainable it is given climate change and other conservation problems.Once again, this week politicians in Ottawa are talking about the plight facing Pacific salmon at its standing committee on fisheries and oceans.McDonald doesn't expect any action, saying he's disillusioned with the way the federal government manages the fishery and the lack of action on conservation."I have zero faith. They are doing a terrible job. It all comes down to politics before science, and it used to be the other way around, but it's not anymore, and it's been a disaster."An aid program worth almost $500 million has also been promised for fisheries across the country, but it's not yet open for applications.The fish that remain are the subject of fierce battles. Indigenous people have priority to fish for food and ceremonial purposes. Sport fishing representatives point to the huge economic impact of their industry, with tourists willing to pay hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for the thrill of catching a large chinook salmon. Commercial crews, too, argue their worth, saying they're providing a top quality, wild product to eager markets.'Too many boats'"We have too many boats chasing too few fish," Dane Chauvel said from aboard his boat in an interview with CBC News. "It's been the case for 40 or 50 years now, and we really need to rationalize the industry to make it viable."Chauvel runs Richmond, B.C.-based Organic Ocean, which has its own boats and works with the B.C. fishing fleet to deliver seafood direct to consumers as far away as Ontario.Reached off Haida Gwaii on a sunny August day, he had to end the first interview as his boat went through a school of coho salmon, and he and his crew had to get to work, hauling in the lines and flipping the squirming fish into plastic tubs.Despite having some success hauling in coho, in a later interview, he talked about the late start to the fishing season due to conservation concerns, as well as the uncertainty over marketing due to the COVID-19 pandemic."It's not a big year in terms of fishing, and because of COVID-19, we don't know what kind of price our fish will fetch in the market."While the fishing docks are quiet, millions of dollars' worth of seafood is still being bought, processed and sold in B.C.WATCH | B.C. salmon fishers look for alternatives during bad year: Alternatives to salmonIn a warehouse office near the docks at Fishermen's Wharf, workers at Skipper Otto take frozen packages from a large walk-in freezer and pack it into boxes for distribution."Salmon isn't all that comes out of the water here," said Shaun Strobel, co-founder of Skipper Otto, where consumers pay upfront for a set amount of seafood before the season begins, in order to help independent fish-boat owners. The business is named after Strobel's father.Despite being a second generation salmon fisher, he sees his role as educating consumers about other types of seafood. He's excited about hake, for instance, a white fish abundant in B.C. waters but rarely seen for sale at the fish counter."We encourage people to eat, as we say, with the ecosystem. So if there's a lot of one thing, maybe we should be eating that and back off on the others."He points to a variety of seafood success stories, for instance, spot prawns, which were once exported or largely ignored and are now the centrepiece of a Vancouver festival, where people line up to buy the prawns at $20 per pound right off the boat.That kind of diversification, and the rewards, is motivating a change in the fleet. Steps away from Skipper Otto's warehouse, a small crew was busy working on a boat that was tied up to the dock. The young owner said he had just bought it and was converting it from a salmon vessel to one set up to go far offshore and chase tuna.
The head of Canada's national housing agency is asking banks and mortgage companies to stop offering higher-risk mortgages to over-leveraged first-time buyers, because they represent a threat to the economy.In a letter to officials in the federal government and representatives of Canada's banking and credit union industry, Evan Siddall, the CEO of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, asked lenders to be more strict about how much money they are willing to lend to fund home purchases, and more diligent about who they are lending to.The letter was first reported on by financial news channel BNNBloomberg before Siddall released the letter publicly on social media."I am asking you to continue to support CMHC's mortgage insurance activity in preserving a healthy mortgage sector in Canada," Siddall wrote to the banks, credit unions and other mortgage lenders that make up his customer base.While the CMHC does not directly loan out money to buy homes, it has a massive influence on Canada's housing market because it insures a big chunk of the loans that lenders give out.By law, borrowers with down payments of less than 20 per cent must purchase mortgage insurance to cover potential losses if they default on their loans. Premiums that borrowers must pay for that insurance can add thousands of dollars to the cost of the loan.CMHC recently raised its standards Earlier this summer, the CMHC announced it would raise its standards for giving out such insurance by raising the minimum credit scores it will accept, putting a cap on the gross debt ratio for an approved borrower, and banning the use of borrowed money to come up with the down payment.The goal was to make it harder to get an insured loan, in the hopes that borrowers already stretched thin would not be able to get one and thus not be able to get in even further over their heads by buying a house they may not be able to afford. But things didn't quite work out that way.CMHC is the dominant mortgage insurer, but they do compete with private companies Genworth and Canada Guaranty for business. It's impossible to downplay CMHC's outsized impact on the market, however — as of the end of 2019, the crown corporation was on the hook for $429 billion worth of Canadian real estate, by insuring the mortgages on it.The insurers often move in unison, so in the past any change at CMHC was quickly matched by the other two. But that didn't happen this time, which means the CMHC's moves had little impact beyond moving borrowers from CMHC to a competitor. Anyone who was locked out by the CMHC's higher standards simply got insurance elsewhere where the standards were lower.In his letter, Siddall pleaded with lenders to work with CMHC to make sure lending standards don't become even more lax."There is no doubt that we have willingly chosen to forego some profitable business that our competitors would find appealing," Siddall said."While we would prefer that our competitors followed our lead for the good of our economy, they nevertheless remain free to offer insurance to those for whom we would not."By not tightening lending standards, Siddall warned that the entire economy could be put at risk.The Switzerland-based Bank of International Settlements, an industry group for central banks around the world, warns that as a rule of thumb, when households have debt loads above 80 per cent of their gross income, it's bad for the economy.Canada's ratio on that front has blown past 100 per cent and is approaching 115 per cent, Siddall warns. "Too much debt not only increases risk, it therefore slows economic growth."CMHC expects house prices to fallCOVID-19 has walloped every facet of the Canadian economy, but broadly speaking, house prices have yet to fall in any meaningful way. Compared to last year, average prices were flat in March and April, before ticking higher, in May and into June.But that is unlikely to continue forever, Siddall warns.He suggests a big reason that prices are staying high is because massive government spending programs like CERB and CEWS have allowed people to keep their heads above water for now.But those are set to expire in the coming months, as will the hundreds of thousands of mortgage interest deferrals that banks have doled out. Once those programs end, bankruptcies and defaults may follow, and that is when prices may decline as new buyers are unable or unwilling to pay ever-higher prices, and sellers behind on their mortgages could become desperate to sell."The economic cost of COVID-19 has been postponed by effective government intervention," he said. "It has not been avoided."House prices could fall by about 18 per cent and the impact of COVID-19 will be felt into 2022, the CMHC said recently.Siddall said that under the current rules, there are loopholes that could allow people to buy houses with negative equity.Although rare, mortgages for 95 per cent of the home's value are allowed, and that loan would come with a four per cent capitalized insurance fee. Even a tiny fall in the housing market for someone with that loan would be onerous to withstand, as the homeowner would owe far more on their home than it is worth in reality.'Dark economic underbelly'"In the midst of an economic calamity," Siddall said, "we risk exposing too many people to foreclosure. These are individual tragedies that also create conditions for exacerbating feedback loops and house price crashes."Without naming names, Siddall accuses some in the industry of handing out too many risky loans while ignoring the long-term cost of doing so."Please put our country's long-term outlook ahead of short-term profitablility," he said."There is a dark economic underbelly to this business that I want to expose."
Monday was a tough day for Bill Morneau and a good day for those who want to speculate about whether Bill Morneau will continue to be the finance minister for much longer.First came word that Mark Carney, the highly regarded and dapper former governor of the Bank of Canada, has been advising Justin Trudeau as the Liberal government turns its attention to rebuilding the economy. Then came a report from the Globe and Mail that alleged "clashes" between Trudeau and Morneau and suggested Carney was one of several candidates to replace him as finance minister.Trudeau offered his full support for Morneau on Tuesday, but that is unlikely to discourage rumours.Speculating about a cabinet shuffle is rarely a good use of anyone's time — the number of people who are directly aware of what the prime minister is thinking about his cabinet on any given day is usually in the single digits. It's not too early to assess Morneau's time as finance minister — an era that has been as eventful and perhaps even important as it has been ungraceful. But, for Trudeau, the question is whether the finance minister of the last five years is the right finance minister for the next, pivotal year.Questions about Morneau's future had already been revived before Carney entered the scene. As the Canada student service grant crumbled under the weight of the WE affair, some of the wreckage fell on the finance minister's head and, for the second time, Morneau found himself having to explain why he hadn't managed his personal affairs in an unimpeachable fashion — reminding everyone, in the process, that he is a very wealthy man.A similar sequence played out three years ago when Morneau made a push for tax reform. The first problem in that case was the government's slow and insufficient response to the concerted campaign against the finance department's proposals. Then reporters started looking into Morneau's own financial assets.It turned out he had failed to disclose a numbered company he owned — a company that owned a villa in France, though he had disclosed the villa. Then it was discovered he hadn't put his investment holdings in a blind trust. On that issue, Morneau was ultimately found to have not breached the Conflict of Interest Act, but by then he had already divested himself of his family's business in an attempt to end questions about his ethical standing.Whatever else might be said of the finance minister, he has now twice turned out to be oblivious to his own vulnerabilities (though the same could be said of his boss).Though he has gotten more comfortable in the public square, Morneau is not a naturally gifted or exciting politician. That's not a moral failing. But it can be a problem for someone who is working in politics.In the first four years, his biggest moments came in private settings. In June 2016, less than a year into the job, Morneau got the provinces to agree to expand the Canada Pension Plan. A year later, he negotiated new health accords with the provincial governments. In 2018, he led the government team that negotiated the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline.Opinions may differ on whether any or all of those deals were particularly good or bad, but they were assuredly not insignificant. Morneau is said to be valued internally and an important voice for fiscal restraint. He is one of the few Liberals with significant experience in business. For good or otherwise, his budgets have also produced a handful of potential legacy items — from gender-based analysis to "superclusters" to the Canada Infrastructure Bank.Shifting goal postsFor all the grief directed at Morneau for the larger-than-promised deficits that the Liberal government ran between 2015 and 2019, it's also possible he has presided over a significant shifting of the goal posts on fiscal policy. In late July, the editorial board of the Globe and Mail declared that, "austerity wasn't the right path before the pandemic, and it can't be the road chosen after it."The unprecedented spending that Morneau oversaw this spring will be studied by historians and economists for decades to come. Though the marks from impartial observers have generally been favourable, there have been complaints. Morneau himself has acknowledged that the commercial rent assistance program could have been better designed. A more generous wage subsidy, launched earlier, might have also prevented some of the early job losses.That wage subsidy was reportedly one of several points of dispute between Morneau and Trudeau — with the Globe's sources casting Trudeau in a better light. One counterargument goes that debates between prime minister and finance minister are natural and healthy. Trudeau and Morneau apparently worked well enough together through the first four years, but a real clash of styles now could bode ill.Difficult decisionsThe recent damage to Morneau's credibility might be difficult to overcome — it's possible the ethics commissioner will come back this fall with a ruling that Morneau violated ethics rules on at least one count. But the act of replacing one's finance minister in the midst of an economic crisis carries some risk too.Either way, the burden on the finance minister over the next year could be significant, both internally and externally. The task of transitioning away from emergency supports and reforming employment insurance to handle a larger number of recipients will be fraught with the potential for trouble. Going into next year's budget there will be difficult decisions to make about how new spending is directed and then those choices will have to be defended — as hard as 2020 has been, the task of beginning to shape the post-2020 world might be even more profound.It's very easy to speculate that someone other than Morneau might be better equipped to deal with that.Liberals might be excited by Carney's resume and star power, but there were Liberals who were excited about Michael Ignatieff too. Chrystia Freeland might seem like a leading candidate, but she also seems to be serving the prime minister well as his official deputy. Treasury Board president Jean-Yves Duclos, a former economist, might be a policy wonk's dream — and he has increasingly come to the fore as a spokesman for the government — but it might be hard to imagine him interacting with Bay Street. It's fun to guess. But beyond the speculation and gossip, a wounded prime minister is looking to seize a unique moment and set a new agenda over the next year. His choice of finance minister will be no small part of that.
Parents of many public high school students north of Toronto are concerned that their teens will not spend much time in class face-to-face with teachers under a reopening plan created by the York Region District School Board.Shameela Shakeel, a mother of four children, said she formed a Facebook group, Families for Safe Schools in York Region, last week for parents to discuss their concerns about the reopening plan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It has more than 400 members already."There is a lot of concern," Shakeel told CBC Toronto this week. When the board unveiled its plan recently, parents were shocked, she said. High schoolers will spend what seems to be 25 per cent of their scheduled class time actually in class and she estimates students will see their teachers just nine times per course over the course of the semester. Shakeel said many parents assumed their high schoolers would spend 50 per cent of their class time attending class and 50 per cent learning online through more of a hybrid model."The reasoning behind it doesn't make sense. There's a lot of us who are now trying to advocate for change," she said. "I understand that we are in pandemic. I think everybody does. We weren't expecting to go back to normal. But we were expecting more face-to-face time for our high schoolers."Shakeel added that the board's timetables used to mirror that of the York Catholic District School Board, but this plan is different from that of the YCDSB.The YRDSB has not approached municipalities to find whether it can use public space that is not currently in use for classrooms, she added."I think our government and school board has really taken the easy road. They haven't really looked at other options as far as I know," she said. "They have had time and they certainly have a few more weeks to pull it all together. I just feel like they are taking the lazy way out. They are not making enough effort to make a solid plan."As well, she said there are issues around equity in the home environment and Internet access when it comes to online learning and these issues can cause stress for families.Board receiving calls from concerned parentsUnder the YRDSB secondary school model, students will continue with their classes through a "modified school schedule." That includes online learning, as well as both what the ministry calls both synchronous or real time and asynchronous learning or without real-time interaction, where teachers post assignments and students work on their own, during the school day.In an Aug. 8 letter to families, the board says of its secondary school plan: "In the morning, attending cohorts will be in schools for in-person face-to-face learning with their teachers. Students will leave the school and later engage in live online learning for their afternoon classes with the entire class. On non-attending days, students will engage in asynchronous and/or synchronous learning in the morning and then engage in their afternoon classes through live online learning with the entire class."The board is receiving calls from concerned parents.Plan meets education ministry requirements, board saysSteven Reid, associate director of education for the board, said the plan drawn up by the board meets the requirements set out by the Ontario education ministry for an "adaptive model" of education, maximizes the health and safety of students and meets the requirements of collective agreement of secondary teachers. "We would be providing the same amount of time, in class time, for our students as other boards of education where those boards of education have been identified that they must move forward with an adaptive model," Reid said on Tuesday. "With an adaptive model, you have to cohort your students and they attend on alternate days. When you look at other school boards that have an adaptive model, we have the same amount of time face-to-face as those boards."The model cannot be changed, for example to a quadmester system, because of the collective agreement, he said.Reid said high school students, on days when they are at school, will be in class for two and a half hours. "Right now, based on the adaptive model, we are only allowed to have upwards of 15 students within a classroom at one time," he said.The board can increase the amount of face-to-face learning or in class learning once the ministry allows it to do so, he said."We absolutely want to see our students face-to-face with teachers," he said. More information, with link to an online handbook, will be sent to families of students on Wednesday. There will be a question and answer section. The board's website will also be updated."We are looking forward to seeing students back in class," Reid said. "We strongly believe that we will be providing a safe environment for our children."Families have until the end of day on Friday to decide whether their children will attend school in person or online. Parents need to make the best decision for the safety of their children and families, he said.Ministry has list of schools that must modify schedulesUnder the Ontario education ministry's guide to reopening Ontario's school, YRDSB is considered a "designated school board," which means it will reopen with "adapted in person teaching and instruction" in September."Secondary schools in designated school boards will open on an adapted model, with class cohorts of approximately 15 students, attending on alternate schedules that would include in person attendance for at least 50% of instructional days," the ministry says in the Guide.In addition to YRDSB, Greater Toronto Area boards that are designated include Toronto, Toronto Catholic, Peel, Dufferin-Peel Catholic, York Catholic, Durham, Durham Catholic, Halton and Halton Catholic.
Recent developments:What's the latest?Ottawa's daily COVID-19 case count stays relatively stable with 13 newly confirmed cases, slightly raising its active case count and slightly lowering its five-day average.and hospitalizations.Parents in Ottawa's English-language schools have until Friday to decide whether to enrol their children in online or in-class instruction this coming year.Public health officials say they're running through a number of scenarios to prepare parents and teachers about what they can expect.WATCH | Teachers wanting more answersOntario's estimated deficit for this year has nearly doubled since March, from $20.5 billion to $38.5 billion. The province points to extra spending on education and health care, coupled with a drop in revenues.Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says it's working on opening two more COVID-19 test sites in Ottawa, including a drive-thru site.How many cases are there?There have been 2,669 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa since the pandemic began and 264 people have died of the respiratory illness.The majority of cases in the city — 2,255 — are classified as resolved.In all, public health officials have reported nearly 4,100 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with more than 3,500 cases resolved.COVID-19 has killed 102 people in the region outside Ottawa: 52 in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, 17 in other parts of eastern Ontario and 33 in the Outaouais.Experts analyzing blood tests said last week the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Ontario could be four times more than previously confirmed and in Quebec, more than twice as many.What's open and closed?Ottawa is in Stage 3 of Ontario's reopening plan, which means more businesses are open including dine-in restaurants and movie theatres.Indoor gatherings of up to 50 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 are now allowed in that province but attendees must follow physical distancing guidelines.Quebec has similar rules, with its cap on physically distanced gatherings in public venues now up to 250 people, allowing smaller festivals.The Canada Science and Technology Museum reopens Friday and the Canadian Museum of Nature Sept, 5, following other national museums.Most Ottawa Public Library branches will be open for in-person browsing and computer use next week. Elementary students in Ontario will be heading back to school full time come September, while most high school students will split their time between the classroom and online learning, depending on the board. Individual boards have started to release further guidance.Quebec updated its school plans in early August, including making masks mandatory in hallways for students Grades 5 and up.Distancing and isolatingThe novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes on another person or object. People don't need to have symptoms to be contagious.That means physical distancing measures such as working from home, meeting others outdoors as much as possible and keeping distance from anyone they don't live with or have in their circle, including when you have a mask on.Masks are now mandatory in indoor public settings in all of eastern Ontario and Quebec, where transit officials and taxi drivers are now required to bar access to users over age 12 who refuse to wear one.Masks are also recommended outdoors when you can't stay the proper distance from others.Anyone who has symptoms or travelled recently outside Canada must self-isolate for at least 14 days.Anyone waiting for a COVID-19 test result in Ontario must self-isolate at least until they know the result. Quebec asks people waiting to only self-isolate in certain circumstances.People in both provinces should self-isolate if they've been in contact with someone who's tested positive or is presumed to have COVID-19.Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health strongly urges self-isolation for people with weakened immune systems and OPH recommends people over 70 stay home as much as possible. Top medical officials say people should be prepared for the possibility COVID-19 restrictions last into 2022 or 2023.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a dry cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pinkeye. Children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:In Ottawa any resident who feels they need a test, even if they are not showing symptoms, can be tested at one of three sites.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.In the Eastern Ontario Health Unit area, there is a drive-thru centre in Casselman that can handle 200 tests a day and assessment centres in Hawkesbury and Winchester that don't require people to call ahead.Others in Alexandria, Rockland and Cornwall require an appointment.In Kingston, the Leon's Centre is hosting the city's test site. Find it at Gate 2.Napanee's test centre is open daily for people who call for an appointment.You can arrange a test in Bancroft, Belleville or Trenton by calling the centre and in Picton by texting or calling.WATCH | Inequality and back-to-schoolThe Leeds, Grenville and Lanark unit asks you to get tested if you have a symptom or concerns about exposure.It has a walk-in site in Brockville at the Memorial Centre and testing sites in Smiths Falls and Almonte which require an appointment.There are test clinics in five Renfrew County communities this week.Its residents should call their family doctor and those without access to a family doctor can call 1-844-727-6404 to register for a test or if they have health questions, COVID-19-related or not.In western Quebec:Outaouais residents now can get a walk-in test in Gatineau five days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond and at recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.They can call 1-877-644-4545 to make an appointment or if they have other questions.As of mid-August, there were longer wait times for test results here compared to some other regions of Quebec.First Nations:Local communities have declared states of emergency, put in a curfew or both.Akwesasne has had 14 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Most are linked back to a gathering on an island with a non-resident who wasn't showing symptoms at the time.It has a mobile COVID-19 test site available by appointment only. Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 80 kilometres away is asked to self-isolate for 14 days. It's 100 miles or 160 kilometres away on the American side.Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse. Face coverings are now mandatory in its public buildings.People in Pikwakanagan can book an appointment for a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259.Kitigan Zibi is planning for an Aug. 29 election with changes depending on the status of the pandemic at that time. It plans on starting to open schools and daycares next month.For more information
OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the next person to have his job must build a strong team in the Commons and for the next election campaign.Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition, as his replacement is set to be elected by the time MPs gather again later this month.In an interview with The Canadian Press, he says he doesn't regret his decision last winter to resign, and believes he gave the job his all.Scheer says the party did make notable gains in the last election and it's now up to his replacement to build on that growth.Critical to that, he says, is finding a way for the party to resonate with voters in the country's cities and suburbs.Scheer says he does intend to remain the MP for his Regina riding and will serve in whatever capacity the new leader would like.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2020.Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Federal prosecutors announced charges Wednesday against three men accused of threatening and intimidating women who have accused R&B singer R. Kelly of abuse, including one man suspected of setting fire to a vehicle in Florida.A longtime friend of the indicted singer offered to pay a victim $500,000 to keep her from co-operating in Kelly's prosecution, authorities said, while a manager and adviser of Kelly threatened to release sexually explicit photographs of a woman who sued Kelly.A Kelly defence attorney said he had “no involvement whatsoever” in any attempt to silence witnesses.“He hasn’t attempted to intimidate anyone, or encouraged anyone else to do so,” attorney Steve Greenberg said on Twitter.The Grammy-award winning musician has pleaded not guilty to dozens of state and federal sexual misconduct charges in Illinois, Minnesota and New York.The charges range from sexual assault to heading a racketeering scheme aimed at supplying Kelly with girls. Kelly also is accused of having unprotected sex with a minor in 2015 without disclosing he had herpes.Prosecutors described a third man accused of intimidating witnesses as being related to a former Kelly publicist. They said Michael Williams, 37, of Valdosta, Georgia, travelled to Florida in June and set fire to an SUV parked outside a residence where one of Kelly's victims was staying.Williams also conducted Internet searches for “the detonation properties of fertilizer and diesel fuel, witness intimidation and witness tampering and countries that do not have extradition with the United States,” authorities said in a news release.A message was sent to Williams' attorney seeking comment.“The men charged today allegedly have shown that there is no line they will not cross to help Kelly avoid the consequences of his alleged crimes — even if it means re-victimizing his accusers,” Peter Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations in New York, said in a statement.Also charged were two Illinois men with ties to Kelly. His longtime friend, Richard Arline Jr., 31, is accused of offering to pay off a woman he believed had “too much” incriminating information against Kelly.Authorities said they set up a wiretap and recorded a call in which Arline claimed he had spoken with Kelly behind bars during a three-way call.Donnell Russell, 45, of Chicago, is charged with harassing a Kelly victim and her mother after the unidentified woman filed a lawsuit against Kelly. Authorities said Russell, a manager and adviser to Kelly, sent a letter to the woman's lawyer with cropped nude photographs of her and later sent her a text warning her: "Pull the plug or you will be exposed.”It was not immediately clear whether Russell and Arline had attorneys who could comment on the charges.Jim Mustian, The Associated Press
A swimming wild boar surprised sunbathers in Germany after taking a dip in the Baltic Sea before charging through the crowded beach. (Aug. 12)
U.S. Ambassador to Britain Woody Johnson has made insensitive and inappropriate comments during his tenure, including about race, religion and sex, the State Department's inspector general has found, judging that morale in some parts of the mission has dropped. In a report published on Wednesday, the inspector general's office said it asked the relevant State Department bureau to conduct further review based on its findings and take action, a recommendation the agency disagreed with. "Offensive or derogatory comments, based on an individual's race, color, sex, or religion, can create an offensive working environment and could potentially rise to a violation of EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) laws," it said.
CHARLOTTETOWN — The five new COVID-19 cases reported by Prince Edward Island Wednesday involve foreign essential workers who arrived in the province July 30, according to chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison.All five men have been self-isolating since their arrival and are believed to have had limited contact with others, Morrison told a news conference.The men, two in their 30s and three in their 40s, work in the same industry and arrived from a country other than the United States. Morrison would not say what field they work in but said it is not health care."The detection of these five cases shows that our systems are working well," she said. "These individuals have been in self-isolation since arriving in P.E.I. They were diagnosed in routine testing and they have had very few, if any, contacts."Morrison added the five cases are not related to the Canadian Premier League, which is playing its shortened soccer season in Charlottetown, nor to seasonal residents in the province.P.E.I. has had a total of 41 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and no COVID-19 deaths. All 36 previously reported cases on the Island have recovered without need for hospitalization.She said all 41 cases have been travel-related, adding there is no indication of community transmission of the virus in the province.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2020.The Canadian Press
Rami Kassem's nephew narrowly avoided the deadly explosion that killed more than 100 people last week, and injured thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands — he was home sick from work that day."It was a nightmare for the people over there, and bad dreams and nightmares for me and my family here," said Kassem.When 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, warehoused at the capital's port — which has been stored there for six years without safety measures — exploded, it levelled the port and collapsed buildings within a three-kilometre radius.As soon as he saw the first images, Kassem phoned his loved ones 9,000 kilometres away. "The first thing you do is to call your family to make sure they are all safe, one by one, my aunts, my uncles, my brothers, my friends." Kassem, who co-owns the coffee shop Javaroma in Yellowknife, is working with the local Islamic centre to fundraise for Islamic Relief Canada. The group is on the ground providing meals, hygiene kits and health care to people sheltering in schools, mosques and churches. "You tear when you look at the destruction after they built the country. You feel very bad. You remember those bad days that Lebanon was like this, in the wartime in the 70s and 80s."All of Kassem's family are safe but their business was damaged in the explosion."I have to support my family, but nothing is enough. With this and the harbour closed, we don't know what's going to happen," said Kassem."There are people that can't even stay in their homes." Images of the city in ruin are haunting Kassem, who lived through civil war and was shot near the heart by a sniper in 1985. Kassem's parents flew from Palestine in 1948 and became refugees in Lebanon. Kassem was born as a refugee there and was "stateless" until he became a Canadian citizen in 2001.The support flowing into Beirut makes victims of the blast "feel like they are not by themselves in the whole world," he said.Someone even drove from Hay River to Yellowknife to give Kassem support to send back home, he said. "Slowly, slowly, people will overcome, so long as Lebanese people feel there is support coming from their own people, from Canadians as well, the Canadian government, it means a lot to them," he said."We are human at the end of the day."Emergency relief Even before the blast, Lebanon was grappling with hyperinflation, food insecurity, political corruption, and the COVID-19 pandemic.Hassan Husseini, a Lebanese-Canadian expert in middle eastern politics, said despite widely acknowledged corruption affecting the Lebanese government, Canadians should not be discouraged from donating to relief organizations. "The need is so great that we need people to continue to find the best and most secure, trustworthy way to get the money [to Beirut]," he said. Husseini said there are organizations like the Canadian Red Cross and Islamic Relief Canada, which has a strong network in Lebanon.The Canadian government first offered $5 million in aid, which Husseini said was "grossly inadequate and an insult.""If you look at what other countries have given so far, Canada's contribution is on the very low end," he said. Many in the Lebanese and Arab community, and the labour movement pressured Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to give more assistance to Lebanon, he said. Canada has now committed another $25-million for humanitarian aid. Husseini said shortages of necessities like food and fuel, most of which are imports, will be made worse by the badly damaged port. "This is catastrophic for a people who have gone through a terrible economic crisis," Husseini said, adding that involves 30 years of corruption.Husseini's relatives know one port worker who died, leaving behind three children and a widow. He went to work that day for 5,000 Lebanese pounds — about the equivalent of two Canadian dollars, he said.Rebuilding a 'very beautiful' cityAfter the immediate emergency response, donations received by Islamic Relief Canada will go toward long-term rebuilding, according to the group's websiteKassem, in Yellowknife, reminisces about his city when it was rebuilt after."Once they built Beirut, it became like a star — very nice, very beautiful, good businesses. Every time I go back home for a visit I walk around the area and it brings you a nice good feeling.""Are they able to build it again? That's the question right now. I hope it's going to happen, but I'm not sure," Kassem said.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 3:48 p.m. on Aug. 12, 2020:There are 120,638 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 60,813 confirmed (including 5,709 deaths, 53,270 resolved)_ Ontario: 40,289 confirmed (including 2,787 deaths, 36,590 resolved)_ Alberta: 11,772 confirmed (including 216 deaths, 10,552 resolved)_ British Columbia: 4,111 confirmed (including 195 deaths, 3,444 resolved)_ Saskatchewan: 1,484 confirmed (including 20 deaths, 1,314 resolved)_ Nova Scotia: 1,071 confirmed (including 64 deaths, 1,007 resolved)_ Manitoba: 563 confirmed (including 8 deaths, 368 resolved), 15 presumptive_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 268 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 263 resolved)_ New Brunswick: 178 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 168 resolved)_ Prince Edward Island: 41 confirmed (including 36 resolved)_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 13 resolved)_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases_ Total: 120,638 (15 presumptive, 120,623 confirmed including 9,004 deaths, 107,043 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2020.The Canadian Press
Parents are only two days away from having to decide whether to enrol their children in online or in-class instruction at Ottawa's English-language boards, but educators say the plans are still in flux.The public and Catholic boards, which both released more details of their plans Monday, are promising online learning will be more structured this fall than what previously rolled out during the pandemic, with five hours of daily learning drawn from the Ontario curriculum and clearer expectations about evaluations. The two plans differ, however, on how students will connect to their classes.The Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) said students learning from home will still be part of a classroom and get guidance from a classroom teacher at the start of the day.Tom D'Amico, OCSB director of education, said in-class teachers won't be simultaneously responsible for online students."One of the things that our teachers' union [has] indicated to us in our dialogues is they do not want the classroom teacher responsible at the same time for instructing and supervising students at home and in front of them," D'Amico told CBC's Ottawa Morning."Our distance learning won't involve the teacher teaching like you might see in a university lecture hall."Instead, students at home will have access to "a combination of educators" who may come from different parts of the district, D'Amico said.The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) plan for online classes is based on maintaining students' connections with their own schools, but the board may create "virtual classrooms" involving students from across the district if enrolment numbers are especially high.Both boards said students at home and in school will be able to interact with each other using online tools, and they'll provide Chromebooks for students who don't have access to a computer. Susan Gardner, president-elect for the Ottawa-Carleton Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (OCETFO), said while online learning is required for a safe return to school, it's also a "stop-gap" and no one's preferred option.She said the biggest question for her members is exactly who will be responsible for delivering the OCDSB's at-home version of the curriculum."Will it be the teacher who is in the classroom teaching? Is that person also going to be responsible for doing the remote learning? Or is it going to be someone else?" Gardner said.She said her understanding is the OCDSB will provide training to avoid the steep learning curve some teachers experienced during the sudden switchover to online learning in March.Both boards say remote learning will incorporate activities to avoid a full five-hour period of screen time every day.All high schoolers partially onlineThe Ministry of Education will have both boards split high school classes into cohorts that will attend class for either the first two days of the week or the last two days of the week, alternating Wednesdays.The objective is to keep class sizes in secondary schools between 12 and 17 students. In the days away from the classroom, students will have five hours of instruction and activities. "It's going to be new for everyone and challenging," said Stephanie Kirkey, interim president of the local bargaining unit for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation.Kirkey said teachers want to make sure they get adequate training on the specific suite of programs that their board wants them to adopt.She said teachers will also require more time if their lessons are meant to be relevant to students both in the school setting and at home."Our teachers really want to do the best job they can," Kirkey said."They care deeply about students and providing quality education to them. And so ensuring they have enough preparation time to deliver both in-class and remote learning opportunities to students will be really important."
LOS ANGELES — “America's Got Talent” topped the ratings last week, but it faces the absence of Simon Cowell, seriously injured in an electric bicycle accident.Cowell, the NBC talent contest's creator and linchpin of its judging panel, underwent surgery for a broken back last Saturday, just before the show kicked off its live episodes this week.Kelly Clarkson, who came to fame as the first “American Idol” winner when Cowell judged the singing contest, was to step in as his temporary replacement.Fox News Channel continued its summer ratings romp, with Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity's shows combining to hold nine of the top 20 prime-time slots among all viewers.Broadcast networks, mostly relying on scripted reruns with a sprinkling of reality and game shows, were in their usual seasonal slump.In prime-time last week, CBS topped broadcasters with an average of 3.7 million viewers. NBC had 2.7 million viewers, ABC had 2.3 million, Fox and Univision had 1.3 million, ION Television had 1.1 million and Telemundo had 930,000.Fox News Channel led among cable networks, averaging 3.09 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 1.97 million, CNN had 1.34 million, HGTV had 1.27 million and TLC had 1.22 million.ABC’s “World News Tonight” led the evening newscasts, averaging 8.4 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 7.5 million, and the “CBS Evening News” had 5.3 million.For the week of Aug. 3-9, the top 20 programs, their networks and viewerships:“America’s Got Talent,” NBC, 6.16 million.“NCIS,” CBS, 4.91 million.“America's Funniest Home Videos,” ABC, 4.41 million.“Celebrity Family Feud,” ABC, 4.4 million.“60 Minutes Presents,” CBS, 4.14 million.“Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Monday), Fox News, 4.08 million.“FBI,” CBS, 4.06 million.“Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Friday), Fox News, 4.01 million.“Hannity” (Wednesday), Fox News, 3.98 million.“Hannity” (Tuesday), Fox News, 3.97 million.“Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Tuesday), Fox News, 3.96 million.“Young Sheldon,” CBS, 3.95 million.“Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Wednesday), Fox News, 3.89 million.“Yellowstone,” Paramount, 3.83 million.“Hannity" (Thursday), Fox News, 3.81 million.“World of Dance,” NBC, 3.81 million.“Hannity” (Monday), Fox News, 3.73 million.“Great AtHome Videos,” CBS, 3.71 million.“Blue Bloods,” CBS, 3.71 million.“Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Thursday), Fox News, 3.66 million.“Big Brother” (Wednesday), CBS, 3.66 million.“The Rachel Maddow Show” (Thursday), MSNBC, 3.59 million.Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota survived a stiff Democratic primary challenge Tuesday from a well-funded opponent who tried to make an issue of her national celebrity, the latest in a string of victories by a new generation of emboldened progressive lawmakers.Omar, seeking her second term in November, easily defeated Antone Melton-Meaux, an attorney and mediator who raised millions in anti-Omar money.Omar and her allies gained confidence in her reelection chances after primary victories last week by fellow “Squad” member Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and by Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist who ousted a longtime St. Louis-area congressman. They also claimed momentum from the renewed focus on racial and economic justice after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.“Tonight, our movement didn’t just win,” Omar tweeted. “We earned a mandate for change. Despite outside efforts to defeat us, we once again broke turnout records. Despite the attacks, our support has only grown.”Melton-Meaux used the cash to paper the district and flood airwaves with his “Focused on the Fifth” message that portrayed Omar as out of touch with the heavily Democratic Minneapolis-area 5th District, which hasn't elected a Republican to Congress since 1960. He conceded defeat and acknowledged that his efforts weren't enough, while declining to speculate on why.“I'm also incredibly proud of the work that we did, that garnered at least over 60,000 votes from the district, from people who resonated with our message of effective leadership grounded in the district, and bringing people together to get things done,” Melton-Meaux told The Associated Press.Omar in 2018 became one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, building on a national profile that started when the onetime refugee from Somalia was elected to the Minnesota Legislature just two years earlier. Her aggressive advocacy on liberal issues, and her eagerness to take on Donald Trump, made her even more prominent.Omar rejected Melton-Meaux’s attacks, saying they were funded by interests who wanted to get her out of Congress because she’s effective. She also downplayed Melton-Meaux’s prodigious fundraising before the vote, saying, “Organized people will always beat organized money.”Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and Republican challenger Jason Lewis easily won their primaries in the only statewide races on the ballot. Elsewhere, in western Minnesota's conservative 7th District, former state Sen. Michelle Fischbach won a three-way Republican race for the right to challenge Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson. Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, is one of the GOP's top targets to flip a House seat in November.After entering Congress with fanfare, Omar hurt herself early with comments about Israel and money that even some fellow Democrats called anti-Semitic, and found herself apologizing. She also came under scrutiny when her marriage fell apart and she married her political consultant months after denying they were having an affair.Republicans also raised questions about continuing payments to her new husband's firm, though experts said they aren't necessarily improper.In the wake of Floyd’s death, police reform also emerged as an issue. Omar supported a push by a majority of the Minneapolis City Council to replace the city’s police department with something new. Melton-Meaux didn't support that but did support shifting some funding away from police to more social service-oriented programs. Both touched on the issue in personal ways, with Omar saying she wanted her son to grow up safely. Melton-Meaux, who is also Black, told a personal story of being detained while at the University of Virginia by police seeking an assault suspect reported to have run into his apartment building.Wendy Helgeson, 57, a consultant, backed Omar two years ago, even installing a lawn sign in her yard, and said she was “awfully proud of her being the first Black Muslim woman that we elected.” But she said she was concerned about campaign payments to Omar's husband's firm as well as her national presence, and found it easy to vote for Melton-Meaux, whom she said has been her friend for 12 years.“I admire her as a woman,” Helgeson said of Omar. “As a candidate, ehhh ... I have some reservations.”John Hildebrand, a 47-year-old teacher in Minneapolis who voted for Omar, said her national profile is an advantage.“I think just her presence encourages other Muslims and Somalis to run for office and to seek to be represented,” he said. “I think she just engages people in the political system more and more.”Blake Smith, 23, a parks worker who is Black and described himself as a leftist, also backed Omar. He's concerned about climate change, Medicare for all and getting money out of politics, and he sees her as an ally.“It's more time for radical change than like small — I don't think we have time for incremental change anymore,” Smith said.___Doug Glass contributed. Ibrahim is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.Steve Karnowski And Mohamed Ibrahim, The Associated Press
Many recent COVID-19 cases have been linked to social gatherings and parties, often involving young people.Jacques Martiquet, 24, however, says social experiences are necessary, especially for young people and there are ways it can be done safely.Martiquet is a self-proclaimed party expert and holds the title of chief celebration scientist at Vyve, a company that helps organizations plan drug-and-alcohol-free social events.Vyve has developed its own safe party plan — a plan that calls for gatherings but with plenty of social distancing and handwashing, limited numbers and no risky behaviours like sharing food and drinks."We like to call it social dis-dancing," Martiquet said. "We like to promote the message that you can still engage, you can still share joy with one another while social distancing."Martiquet said maintaining social connections during the pandemic is essential for mental well-being.His company tried to craft Zoom dance parties for companies at first, but found they just didn't stack up to the real thing.So they tried something different: physically distanced bike rides, hikes and other activities with small numbers of attendees where social connection can be had while obeying health guidelines.There's even a "safety dance marshal," he said, in bright reflective clothes and wielding a whistle to make sure distancing rules are followed."We're creating this positive emotion that actually boosts compliance," Martiquet said. "So we like to say we're an unofficial task force for promoting socially distant fun."There are no alcohol or drugs allowed at Vyve's events. The venue is always outdoors, at a beach or park. Invites and numbers are controlled. "This is not the Third Beach drum circle where it's complete mayhem," Martiquet said.Health officials have generally discouraged large gatherings but Martiquet feels telling people to stay at home all the time will lead to negative consequences over the duration of the pandemic, especially when it comes to mental health.Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, deputy chief medical health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health, said there have indeed been many cases recently of young people catching COVID-19 and large parties are a major driver of that.That said, he agrees with many of Martiquet's precautions for hosting parties responsibly: hosting outside events, controlling numbers, avoiding food sharing and avoiding drugs and alcohol are all advisable."People like getting together with other people," Lysyshyn said. "We want to find the ways to do that."Lysyshyn said he believes experienced event planners can be counted on to plan events safely.People without that experience can do it too, he said, if they follow public health guidelines. Not just some of them, he added: all of them."If you really do all those things, then yeah, we think you can have safe events," he said. "That's why we put those rules out there."
DENVER — A police department in suburban Denver faced a new set of investigations and legal problems Tuesday as scrutiny mounts over the death last year of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man put into a chokehold by officers, and other run-ins with people of colour.McClain's parents sued the Aurora Police Department and paramedics who injected their son with a sedative, saying they were seeking both accountability for the loss of a “beautiful soul” and to send a message that “racism and brutality have no place in American law enforcement.”Soon afterward, the Colorado attorney general announced a civil rights investigation into the department, the first under a new police reform law passed after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis set off global protests. The office of Attorney General Phil Weiser said it's been looking into whether Aurora officers have been depriving people of their constitutional rights for several weeks and it's separate from a probe into McClain’s death, which Gov. Jared Polis ordered in June.They are among several investigations into Aurora police, which have drawn outrage amid a national reckoning over racial injustice and police brutality.Also Tuesday, the city manager and new police chief said an outside firm would review the department, including its policies and practices on use of force and discriminatory policing. The City Council already has begun an investigation of Aurora's policies on using force and ketamine, the sedative injected into McClain.“We embrace this opportunity for change and are committed to evolve for the betterment of our profession, our community and the residents we serve," Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, who was named to the post last week, said in a statement.The city declined to comment on the lawsuit from Sheneen McClain and Lawayne Mosley, who accused police of a longstanding pattern of racism and brutality.They allege that their son was unlawfully stopped on the street and that officers later sought to justify their aggressive treatment of McClain by filing an assault charge and making a notation in a police report suggesting he was connected with a gang.McClain’s parents said their son, a massage therapist, was a creative and peaceful man who played his violin for cats at shelters to ease their loneliness and wouldn't swat a fly.On Aug. 24, 2019, police stopped McClain as he walked wearing a ski mask and headphones after getting a 911 call reporting him as “sketchy.” His family said he wore the mask because he had a blood condition that caused him to get cold easily.Police body-camera video shows an officer getting out of his car, approaching McClain and saying, “Stop right there. Stop. Stop. ... I have a right to stop you because you’re being suspicious.”In the video, the officer turns around McClain, who seems startled, and repeats, “Stop tensing up.” As McClain tries to escape his grip, the officer says, “Relax, or I’m going to have to change this situation.”Other officers join to restrain McClain, and he begs them to let go, saying, “You guys started to arrest me, and I was stopping my music to listen.”Police put him in a chokehold, and paramedics gave him 500 milligrams of ketamine to calm him down, which the lawsuit says was too much for someone weighing about 140 pounds (65 kilograms).Police say McClain refused to stop walking and fought back when officers tried to take him into custody and that they thought he was trying to take an officer's gun, which the lawsuit disputes.McClain suffered cardiac arrest and was later taken off life support. A prosecutor said last year that there wasn't enough evidence to charge the officers, which the state attorney general is now reviewing.The lawsuit says two officers reported that all three of them put their weight on McClain after a chokehold. One officer estimated the collective weight to be over 700 pounds (320 kilograms).The lawsuit comes just over a week after police faced outrage for putting four Black girls on the ground and handcuffing two of them while investigating a suspected stolen car. It was later found not to be stolen.Wilson, who was interim chief, took the permanent job last week and said she’s committed to rebuilding trust and wants to empower police to think about whether they're acting on biases.She's called McClain's death tragic and said she was “angry and disgusted” by the girls’ treatment. She's taken some steps to hold officers accountable.After the girls were handcuffed, she requested an internal investigation. A prosecutor is also reviewing the officers' actions.As interim chief, she told police in response to McClain's death that they no longer had to contact a person reported as suspicious if they weren't committing a crime.When photos surfaced of police reenacting the chokehold used on McClain, she moved quickly to fire three officers, including one involved in stopping McClain.____Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. AP reporter Thomas Peipert contributed to this report.Colleen Slevin And Patty Nieberg, The Associated Press
There is a lot riding on Quebec's back-to-school plan, the latest version of which was revealed Monday by Education Minister Jean-François Roberge. Broadly stated, it has to accomplish two things: return as many students to the classroom as possible this fall, and do this without triggering a second wave of infections that could imperil the provincial health-care system.Roberge took an initial crack at squaring this circle in June, releasing a plan that made no mention of masks and proposed keeping students in small groups to limit outbreaks.The upside of that plan was that it made clear to parents there was going to be in-class education in September, which, along with vital implications for the development of children, has significant economic and social consequences.The downside was that the plan was light on details and was quickly eclipsed by the rapidly evolving science on COVID-19.Earlier this week, after weeks of increasingly urgent questions from teachers and parents, Roberge announced major revisions to the government's strategy for mitigating the risks of returning to school.While the new plan addresses many of the major concerns of health experts, there are some holes they hope will be addressed in subsequent revisions. Landmark studyThe biggest issue about the first draft of Roberge's back-to-school plan was the absence of any mask requirements for students. Ministry officials were working from the assumption, not unreasonable at the time, that children are not potent vectors of the disease. In July, however, researchers from South Korea published an early version of a study that found children and teens aged 10 to 19 transmit the virus as much as adults do. It also found that while children under the age of 10 can spread the virus, they don't do so as much as older children.The study, which analyzed case histories of nearly 60,000 people who had been in contact with a COVID-19 patient, helped confirm numerous smaller studies that came to similar conclusions."It has really changed people's approaches, especially when it comes to wearing masks," said Dr. Earl Rubin, who heads the infectious disease unit at the Montreal Children's Hospital. The updated version of Quebec's plan, released Monday, is in line with the latest research: students in Grade 5 and up will have to wear a mask almost everywhere inside, unless they're seated at their desks.Given that infection rates are still relatively high in Quebec, some experts have suggested students should wear their masks in the classroom as well, at least for the start of the year."I think this is the time to push for maximum intervention to reduce the risk of viral transmission," said Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious disease specialist with the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal."Once we have a sense of how things are doing in school, then there can be some room for flexibility."The other big change from the June draft is doing away with the concept of "bubbles."Initially, it was thought keeping students in small sub-groups of six would limit the size of outbreaks. But many teachers worried bubbles would be a nightmare to enforce, and medical experts said their value was minimal. "Whether you have small bubbles or not, the entire class would be quarantined if there was a case in the classroom," said Dr. Caroline Quach, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist at the Sainte-Justine children's hospital in Montreal.Instead of bubbles, students will be able to interact with anyone in their class, but not with students from other classes. Positive reception, but some fuzzinessThe reaction, so far, to Roberge's updated plan has been fairly positive from teachers, administrators and opposition politicians. "When you compare it with what was presented in the spring, this one is a lot more coherent," said Josée Scalabrini, president of the Fédération des syndicats de l'enseignement, an association of 34 teachers unions.WATCH | Quebec's education minister explains back-to-school plan:Unlike in Ontario, there has been no outcry — yet — over Quebec's intention to keep class sizes at their usual pre-pandemic levels.Public health authorities in Toronto are recommending schools there reduce class size as much as possible in order to limit transmission, especially in younger grades where masks are not mandatory. The Ontario government has refused to budge from its plan to return to full-size classes in the fall, but opposition is growing. A petition demanding smaller class sizes in elementary schools has gathered more than 200,000 signatures. Quach, who has provided advice to the Quebec government over the course of the pandemic, acknowledged that more students in a classroom means a higher risk of transmission."Yes, we could decrease the size of classes, but then you would need more teachers, which I think is not possible at this point in time," she said.Quach believes full-size classes can be relatively safe if a number conditions are met, including low community transmission and rapid testing and tracing. She also suggested that having desks in rows with students facing forward, rather than toward each other, could limit their exposure to droplets, which is thought to be the main way the virus spreads outside medical settings.Quebec's guidelines, though, make no mention of how to position desks. Once inside the classroom, students will be able to remove their masks and won't be required to distance from each other, but will have to stay two metres away from their teacher.Rubin, who also advised the government on its back-to-school plan, called the absence of guidelines on class size "confusing.""Sometimes there are 30 kids in the class," he said. "What are the physical parameters of that room that will allow 30 kids to sit, and how far apart will they be from the next student?"Rubin said it will take one to two incubation periods of the virus — the equivalent of two to four weeks — before public health officials will be able determine the effect that reopening schools will have on infection rates. Like the first school plan, he said, this latest version is also likely to change, depending on what happens in those first few weeks."The thing with [COVID-19] is what we know today may be different than tomorrow and certainly different than yesterday," Rubin said. "Things are always changing and, because of that, the recommendations will change."
The announcement Tuesday by Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country was the first to approve a coronavirus vaccine did not provoke the awe and wonder of the Soviet Union’s launch of the first satellite into orbit in 1957. The first nation to develop a way to defeat the novel coronavirus will achieve a kind of moonshot victory and the global status that goes along with it. “To be the first one out of the block with a coronavirus vaccine would be a real — pardon the pun — shot in the arm for the Kremlin," said Timothy Frye, a political science professor at Columbia University who specializes in post-Soviet politics.
LONDON — Three people were killed and six others injured Wednesday when a passenger train derailed in northeast Scotland after heavy rain and flooding hit the area.The train driver was believed to be among the dead, British Transport Police said. The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said that the train conductor was also believed killed. Formal identification has yet to take place. Six people were hospitalized, but their injuries are not considered serious.Images from the scene show that several cars of the four-carriage train had left the tracks and one had tumbled down an embankment. Smoke was seen billowing from the wreck. Air ambulances and coast guard helicopters came and went as the rescue operation unfolded.Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a police investigation aims to find out what caused the derailment and ensure “nothing like this happens again.”“As I understand there was about a month’s worth of rainfall in a very short period which undoubtedly aggravated the problem there,” he added.Torrential rain had caused flooding and travel disruptions in Scotland, and on Wednesday morning Network Rail Scotland tweeted warnings of a landslip affecting services in the area.It was not clear how many people were on the train, an early morning ScotRail service from Aberdeen to Glasgow.British Transport Police chief superintendent Eddie Wylie said the derailed train was not a busy service, “and from (closed circuit television) inquiries and witness statements we believe all passengers have been accounted for.”“However, once the area has been made safe, then a full and thorough search will be conducted, which is likely to take some time," he said.Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the derailment as a “major? incident and said she would be convening an emergency response meeting.The transport police said officers were called at 9:43 a.m. (0843GMT) to the railway line near the coastal town of Stonehaven, about 100 miles (160 kilometres) northeast of Edinburgh and south of Aberdeen.Local lawmaker Andrew Bowie had been in Stonehaven surveying flood damage earlier Wednesday.“The situation was really bad this morning. The River Carron, the main river which flows through it, had burst its banks, and the heavy rain had caused flooding in the centre of Stonehaven and lots of the side streets leading off it,? he said.Bowie added that the water had receded and it was unclear if flooding was connected to the derailment.“We obviously don’t know why the derailment took place, but obviously we have suffered terrible weather here," he said.Serious train accidents are rare in the U.K. The country’s last fatal derailment was in 2007.Queen Elizabeth II sent a message of condolence, saying “it was with great sadness that I heard of the train derailment.” She added that the entire royal family joined her in sending thoughts and prayers to the families of those affected.The head of Network Rail cut short a family vacation to return to the UK. The chief inspector of railways, Ian Prosser, said inspectors were at the site and assisting in the preliminary investigation.Danica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
It looks like a possible tornado touched down in Doylestown, PA as a result of Hurricane Isaias. This is the parking lot of Doylestown Hospital. Full credit to: @KYWNewsradio on Twitter
Highlights of this day in history: Last U.S. combat troops leave Vietnam; Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. killed in World War II; N.J. Gov. McGreevey to resign after declaring he's gay; Russian sub Kursk explodes; Director Cecil B. DeMille born. (Aug. 12)