A man who killed 10 people and injured 16 others by deliberately driving a van down a Toronto sidewalk in 2018 has been found guilty on all counts at his trial.The judge's reasoning »
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan is looking to follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says information from that province as well as from Quebec and the United Kingdom suggests that a first shot effectively protects against the novel coronavirus. He says he hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. Shahab says if that were to happen, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. He says all adults in the province could be vaccinated with a first dose by June. Premier Scott Moe says such a shift would be a game-changer for how long public-health restrictions would stay in place. "What that (would) look like over the course of the next number of weeks as opposed to having that conversation over the course of the next number of months," Moe said during a briefing Tuesday. The province said when it first outlined its vaccine rollout that it would wait between 21 and 28 days between shots as recommended by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. The province says about 80,000 vaccinations have been given across the province. It says at least one of the approved vaccines to fight COVID-19 has made its way into every long-term care home. Health officials say 91 per cent of residents opted to get their first shot of the two-dose vaccination. Second doses have gone into the arms of long-term residents in about 53 per cent of facilities. The province says it expects to receive about 15,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot approved by Canada last week. Shahab says Saskatchewan will follow advice from a national panel of vaccine experts that it be used on people under 65. The vaccine's effectiveness in people older than that hasn't been sufficiently determined because there were not enough seniors in clinical trials. Another 134 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday as well as two deaths. Shahab and Moe say daily case numbers and hospitalizations have stabilized and continue to decrease — signs they say could lead to some public-health measures being relaxed. Moe said he would like to see some way for people to have visitors in their homes. That hasn't been allowed under public-health orders since before Christmas. The current health order is to expire March 19. Moe said his government could provide details as soon as next week on what restrictions might be eased. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra's office says the government has no plans to change the name of Montreal's airport, despite an online petition calling for the removal of Pierre Trudeau's name. "Our government's priority remains the health and safety of Quebecers and all Canadians during these difficult times, and that is exactly what we are focusing on," spokesperson Allison St-Jean told CBC News in an email. "It is not our government's plan to change the name of Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport." That response comes after an online petition calling for the international airport to be renamed after former PQ Premier René Lévesque collected thousands of signatures. The petition, launched Monday morning, says new reports about Trudeau's response to the PQ's election in 1976 make him unworthy of the honour. The petition was signed by PQ Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon and Marie-Anne Alepin, president of the nationalist Societé St. Jean Baptiste, along with other sovereignist and labour leaders. It lists multiple reasons for pulling Trudeau's name from the airport, from his handling of the October Crisis to his approach to the repatriation of the Constitution. It also cites a recent CBC News story about a telegram written by former U.S. ambassador Thomas Enders in which he said Trudeau had suggested to Montreal businessman Paul Desmarais that he make things as tough as possible for the fledgling PQ government and move jobs out of Quebec. Quebec Premier Rene Levesque (R) shrugs his shoulders and walks away from Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (L) after a chat prior to the beginning of the second day of the Constitution Conference Sept 9, 1980. Petitioners want Montreal's airport to be renamed after Levesque.(Drew Gragg/Canadian Press) "Regarding the betrayals and the harm that he inflicted on Quebec, Pierre Elliott Trudeau absolutely does not merit that we set him up on such a pedestal - the result of a unilateral decision Ottawa made 20 years ago," reads the petition. The petition has an initial target of 20,000 signatures but had collected more than 20,800 by 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Julien Coulombe-Bonnafous, spokesperson for the sovereignist Bloc Québécois, said his party supports the petition but didn't have enough time to consult its caucus after it was approached by the Societé St. Jean Baptiste on Friday. "We think it would effectively be a good thing to re-baptize the airport in honour of a personality who is the subject of more consensus and who corresponds better to the image of Quebec than Pierre Elliott Trudeau," he said. It's not the first time the airport's name has sparked controversy. A poll taken in November 2003, a couple of months before the airport changed names in January 2004, found that 38 per cent of respondents opposed naming it after Trudeau — a figure that rose to 42 per cent among francophones. The poll found that 34 per cent of respondents supported the move and 27 per cent were undecided. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said his focus is on Canadians getting vaccinated and on working with provinces. "These are serious allegations that former Prime Minister Trudeau wanted to damage Quebec's economy," O'Toole said in a media statement. "We don't support 'cancel culture,' but our approach to Quebec is totally opposite to that of the Liberals because we will work with the government of Quebec, as our productive meetings with Premier Legault have shown." NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he understands the frustration of petitioners but did not take a position on renaming the airport.(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press) New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh skirted the question of renaming the airport. "What Trudeau Sr. wanted to do to people in Quebec is deplorable and undemocratic, but I don't think anyone is really surprised," he said in a statement. "We understand the frustration of the petitioners, but in the short term we believe that what Justin Trudeau's government needs to focus on is ensuring that people are getting vaccinated as quickly as possible and that everyone has access to the support they need to get through the pandemic." Former NDP leader Tom Mulcair suggested it's time to rethink the titles of other airports named after former politicians. "What do John George Diefenbaker, James Armstrong Richardson, Lester Bowles Pearson, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Robert Stanfield have in common?" Mulcair wrote in a column in the Journal de Montreal. "They are all dead politicians who have their name on the airports of some of the largest cities in Canada. You will also note that in a country that, officially, celebrates multiculturalism, the equality between men and women and diversity, they are all men, white and Christian. No women, no minorities, no First Nations." Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
McMurray Métis elder Anne Michalko said she felt like she was on her way to freedom when she learned she would be getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Michalko, 83, spent much of the past year in quarantine. On Thursday, she made a rare venture outside her home for her first vaccine shot. Her second shot comes one month before her birthday in May. She hopes she can celebrate turning 84 with family. “Can you imagine feeling excited to go out and get a needle?” she said. “I’m looking forward to sitting around the fire pit and enjoying each other’s company. Maybe I’ll take my great grandson for a walk.” Alberta’s vaccine rollout plan entered Phase 1B on Feb. 7, allowing anyone born before 1946 to get a vaccine. Anyone living in retirement centres, senior citizen lodges and other supportive living homes can also get vaccinated. There have been 546 people in Fort Chipewyan that have had their first vaccine dose. The community has been prioritized because of its remote location and limited health care services. The rollout has given some relief to a community with a long memory that includes the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which wiped out three-quarters of the community. One victim was Chief Alexandre Lavoilette, the first chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Chief Allan Adam of ACFN remembers stories of the Spanish Flu from his late grandmother. She was 18-years-old when the pandemic hit the community, he said. “She said people were lost because they had also lost their chief,” said Adam. “Nobody knew where to go.” Adam is thankful Fort Chipewyan has not experienced anything like the Spanish Flu over the past year. He said he is proud of the work the work the community is doing to keep people safe. “A lot of history was lost from the older people at that time,” he said. “We were lucky and we dodged a bullet this time.” Chief Peter Powder of Mikisew Cree First Nation said stories of the Spanish Flu made some people anxious to get vaccinated. “That’s where people’s heads were at, just hearing about that and how bad it was back in the day,” said Powder. Powder said encouraging young people to get vaccinated has been a priority, since they are more likely to travel outside the community. Some people have been excited to get vaccinated, but Angela Conner, a nurse with Nunee Health, said she has seen some hesitancy in the community. Nunee Health is promoting vaccination and trying to fight false information shared online. The hamlet received a second shipment of vaccines on Feb. 28. “Everything that we use is evidence-based,” said Conner. “We’ve been opening up our facility here for any questions. Quite a few people have called and we did have our nurse practitioner open for any kind of consults.” Other Métis leaders feel they have been left out of Alberta’s vaccination program. Since the first vaccines arrived in Alberta, elders on First Nations or Métis settlements have been getting vaccinated if they are between 65 and 74. Some communities that are mostly Métis are not considered settlements, meaning those elders must wait until the general public can be vaccinated in the fall. A community like Conklin, for instance, is mostly Métis and has seen 11 per cent of its population get COVID-19. But the community is considered a rural hamlet under the responsibility of the municipality. Fort McKay’s Métis community is also on municipal land and not considered a settlement. McMurray Métis has 45 elders between 65 and 74 who will be left out of Phase 1B because the Local is based in Fort McMurray. “In Alberta, it is recognized that Indigenous elders are part of a first priority,” said Bryan Fayant, McMurray Métis’ disaster and recovery strategist. “Our elders are a part of the regular rollout and I just don’t think that’s enough.” email@example.com Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — In all, Lionel Desmond spent five years seeking treatment for debilitating mental disorders that emerged after he served as an infantryman during a violent tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2007. In 2011, he was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression while still serving in the military. But it wasn't until 2016 — almost a year after he was discharged from the military — that he was also diagnosed with "mixed personality traits," an inquiry in Nova Scotia learned Tuesday. The provincial fatality inquiry is investigating why the former corporal bought a rifle on Jan. 3, 2017 and fatally shot his 31-year-old wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, before killing himself in their rural Nova Scotia home. The inquiry has heard much evidence about Desmond's PTSD and depression, mental disorders that combined to cause poor sleep, vivid nightmares, anti-social behaviour, hyper-vigilance and flashbacks that forced him to relive gruesome firefights. But something new was introduced Tuesday by Dr. Robert Ouellette, a psychiatrist at Ste. Anne's Hospital in Montreal, where Desmond was assessed and received in-patient treatment between May 30 and Aug. 15, 2016. Ouellette said Desmond also suffered from so-called mixed personality traits, which mainly involved obsessive compulsive and paranoid behaviour. The psychiatrist said these traits, which were not full-blown disorders, complicated Desmond's treatment because they made him suspicious of other people's motives and unwilling to trust others. "He was not sure if we were working with him or against him," Ouellette testified. As well, Ouellette said these traits seemed to feed Desmond's mistrust and jealousy towards his wife. "They doubt everybody," he said, referring to Desmond's condition. "They will not confide in others because they feel they will turn against them." Ouellette said Desmond's anger and jealousy toward his wife wasn't caused by his PTSD, but the psychiatrist said the condition "might have exacerbated these traits of his personality." Ouellette stressed that the former corporal would have benefited from taking additional medications, something he agreed to do before he arrived at the hospital. But by June 16, 2016, Desmond told Ouellette he would not be taking more drugs. At one point, Desmond told the psychiatrist: "You're not going to take the demon out of me." Still, Ouellette said his patient had made progress in the initial stabilization program, when he reported better sleep patterns, more energy, increased socialization and virtually no depression. That's why Ouellette recommended Desmond for the residential phase of the treatment program, even though he felt his chances for success were only "50/50." In the end, Desmond refused to take new medications, and he left the treatment program before it was finished in August 2016, the inquiry has heard. "If he would have taken the right medications, he would have shown more progress in the residential program and later at home," Ouellette said. The prescribed medications and therapy at the hospital would have also helped Desmond control his outbursts, he said. "Anger was a major problem for him," he said. When asked if Desmond should have been able to access firearms, Ouellette said that would have been a bad idea, mainly because of his anger management challenges. Despite Desmond's lack of co-operation when it came to medications, Ouellette reported that his patient was highly motivated to attend the residential program because he was desperate to become a better father and husband. "There were a lot of problems with his wife," Ouellette said. "He made that the purpose of being with us .... He was always talking more about his marital life than his PTSD symptoms." Ouellette said Desmond's wife told hospital staff that her husband had never been physically violent toward her and their daughter, and she said she was not afraid of him. The psychiatrist said Shanna and Aaliyah Desmond had visited him in Montreal for four days, and there was every indication it was a successful encounter. Desmond left the hospital in August 2016. The inquiry has heard that Desmond received no therapeutic treatment for the next four months, even though Veterans Affairs Canada was in the process of getting him the help he needed. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. — By Michael MacDonald in Halifax The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — The federal government has provided nearly $3.5 million in funding for vending machines that will dispense a medical-grade opioid to drug users in four cities in an effort to prevent overdose deaths. Darren Fisher, parliamentary secretary to Health Minister Patty Hajdu, said two machines are located in Vancouver and one each are in Victoria; London, Ont.; and Dartmouth, N.S. The machines, called MySafe, are similar to ATMs and allow drug users to get hydromorphone pills, a substitute for heroin, dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify them. "Safer-supply projects offer people with opioid use disorder a life-saving alternative to the toxic, illegal drug supply, but they are not always convenient and easy to access," Fisher said. He said MySafe allows participants to access a safer drug without fear, shame and stigma, and without contact with anyone, which is all the more essential during the pandemic. Overdose deaths spiked to a record level in British Columbia last year as COVID-19 precautions closed the Canada-U.S. border, leading to domestic manufacturing of more potent substances often laced with high concentrations of the opioid fentanyl. Participants in the MySafe program in Vancouver are assessed by a doctor and a baseline urine sample is collected before they can access hydromorphone through the machines, which are bolted to the floor. Dr. Mark Tyndall, an epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist, began the MySafe project in December 2017, with the installation of the first machine next to an overdose prevention site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. The area is home to North America's first supervised injection site as well as Crosstown, the continent's first facility to provide injectable heroin as a therapy for entrenched drug users who have tried multiple methods to quit their habit. While Crosstown also provides injectable hydromorphone, Tyndall said the program's strict regimen requiring users to attend several times a day and use their drugs under supervision is not ideal for people who fear being stigmatized. The MySafe program, which now has 20 participants at the initial Vancouver site, allows users to access hydromorphone tablets at their convenience, he said. "In a very short time, I've seen people's lives change. The ability to get up in the morning and just go and pick up your medications is just revolutionary to many people who have, in many cases, got up in the morning, felt unwell and had to hustle to find their drugs," said Tyndall, a former director of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. However, he said it's been "an uphill battle" trying to persuade "skittish" doctors in the Downtown Eastside to prescribe hydromorphone that would be dispensed through a machine instead of by a pharmacy. Doctors in Victoria and Dartmouth are more open to using MySafe, and a group in London is already using MySafe, Tyndall said. "The two machines in Vancouver are going to still be a challenge," he said of reluctance by prescribers in the city where Mayor Kennedy Stewart has implored the federal government to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use due to the high number of overdose deaths. Tyndall said that at 32 cents for an eight-milligram tablet of hydromorphone, MySafe is a cheap and scalable option for communities after an estimated 20,000 overdose fatalities across Canada in recent years. Jen Baker, chair of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, said the province already has remote dispensing locations at pharmacy kiosks, and a system like MySafe could be incorporated to provide hydromorphone for those at risk of overdose. "I could see how those sorts of locations could be adapted in this harm-reduction model to contain medications for those individuals," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Camille Bains, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the federal government was providing nearly $5.6 million in funding.
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa on Wednesday launched a search for eight people to join him as the first private passengers on a trip around the moon with Elon Musk's SpaceX. The first stage of the selection process runs to March 14, with applicants needing to pass medical checks and, eventually, an interview with Maezawa. The entrepreneur, who sold his online fashion business Zozo Inc to SoftBank in 2019, is paying the entire cost of the voyage on SpaceX's next-generation reusable launch vehicle, dubbed the Starship.
More than a century after the Komagata Maru arrived carrying hundreds of South Asian immigrants who were forbidden to step foot in British Columbia, New Westminster city council has passed a motion to rename the city's ferry docks in memory of the hardships endured by those on board. The Japanese steamship was chartered by wealthy Sikh businessman Gurdit Singh, who was then living in Hong Kong, and its passage was a direct challenge to Canada's racially discriminatory immigration rules. When it arrived In Vancouver in May 1914, the ship was immediately greeted by immigration officials who refused to let its passengers, most of whom were Sikhs, disembark. Although the vessel was detained in Vancouver, New Westminster council has voted unanimously to rename the city's ferry terminals to commemorate the incident. The Q to Q ferry carries passengers between Queensborough and the New Westminster Quay and according to council documents, the terminals are symbolic because they represent access to the land that was denied. "We are very happy," said Raj Singh Toor, vice-president of the Descendents of the Komagata Maru Society, speaking Tuesday on CBC's The Early Edition, about Monday's council decision. The Q to Q ferry travels from a dock below the Inn at the Quay to the Port Royal public dock in Queensborough. (City of New Westminster) A painful past The society consists of 15 families all over Canada who are direct descendants of the passengers, Toor's grandfather among them. After being refused by the Canadian government, the Komagata Maru was forced to return to India and was met by British soldiers. Twenty passengers were killed and others jailed following an ensuing riot. Toor's grandfather spent five years in prison. "A very, very painful, very hard time," said Toor, adding that passengers sometimes went up to three days while anchored off the coast without access to food or water. Toor first asked the city to recognize the Komagata Maru incident in 2019. In October of that year, he shared his grandfather's story with council and asked for a park or street or something civic to be named in memory of the passengers's ordeal. Toor told CBC that after he spoke, council agreed to look into whether the New Westminster South Asian community helped support the ship's passengers and said if this proved to be the case, action would be taken. Raj Singh Toor's grandfather was aboard the Komagata Maru in 1914.(Jesse Johnston/CBC) On Monday, staff reported back its research found a man, Met Singh, who lived in New Westminster in 1914 and belonged to The Shore Committee — a group of B.C. residents that organized to support Komagata Maru passengers through fundraising efforts, legal services and the provision of food and water. It was enough proof for staff to recommend council consider naming the ferry docks and the motion passed unanimously. An exact date has not yet been set for the renaming. Toor says the gesture means a lot to him. "It's a great reminder for New Westminster residents ... how we can learn from the past to create a better British Columbia." LISTEN | Raj Singh Toor talks about what it means to have the city of New Westminster commemorate the Komagata Maru incident:
Texas on Tuesday became the biggest state to lift its mask rule, joining a rapidly growing movement by governors and other leaders across the U.S. to loosen COVID-19 restrictions despite pleas from health officials not to let down their guard yet. The state will also do away with limits on the number of diners who can be served indoors, said Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who made the announcement at a restaurant in Lubbock. The governors of Michigan and Louisiana likewise eased up on bars, restaurants and other businesses Tuesday, as did the mayor of San Francisco. “Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility,” said Abbott, speaking from a crowded dining room where many of those surrounding him were not wearing masks. “It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed." A year into the outbreak, politicians and ordinary Americans alike have grown tired of rules meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed over a half-million people in the United States. Some places are lifting infection control measures; in other places, people are ignoring them. Top health officials, including the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have responded by begging people repeatedly not to risk another deadly wave of contagion just when the nation is making progress in vaccinating people and victory over the pandemic is in sight. U.S. cases have plunged more than 70% over the past two months from an average of nearly 250,000 new infections a day, while average deaths per day have plummeted about 40% since mid-January. But the two curves have levelled off abruptly in the past several days and have even risen slightly, and the numbers are still running at alarmingly high levels, with an average of about 2,000 deaths and 68,000 cases per day. Health officials are increasingly worried about virus mutations. “We stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned on Monday. Even so, many states are allowing restaurants to resume indoor dining, reopening movie theatres and expanding mass gatherings, while Americans are eager to socialize again. An Indianapolis-area bar was filled with maskless patrons over the weekend. In Southern California, people waited in lines that snaked through a parking lot on a recent weekday afternoon for the chance to shop and eat at Downtown Disney, part of the Disneyland. (The theme park's rides remain closed.) And Florida is getting ready to welcome students on spring break. “People want to stay safe, but at the same time, the fatigue has hit,” said Ryan Luke, who is organizing a weekend rally in Eagle, Idaho, to encourage people to patronize businesses that don’t require masks. "We just want to live a quasi-normal life.” Miichael Junge argued against a mask mandate when officials in the Missouri tourist town of Branson passed one and said he hasn’t enforced it in his Lost Boys Barber Company. He said he is sick of it. “I think the whole thing is a joke honestly,” he said. “They originally said that this was going to go for a month and they have pushed it out to indefinitely. ... It should have been done a long time ago.” In San Francisco, and upbeat Mayor London Breed announced that California gave the green light to indoor dining and the reopening of of movie theatres and gyms. Florida is getting ready for spring break travellers to flock to its sunny beaches. The state is considered to be in an “active outbreak,” along with Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and South Carolina, according to the data-tracking website CovidActNow. Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis made it clear during his annual State of the State speech Tuesday that he welcomes more visitors to Florida in his drive to keep the state’s economy thriving. Municipalities can impose their own mask rules and curfews, restrict beach access and place some limits on bars and restaurants, but some have virtually no such measures in place ahead of the season. Miami Beach will require masks both indoors and out and will restrict the number of people allowed on the beach as well as in bars and restaurants. “If you want to party without restrictions, then go somewhere else. Go to Vegas,” Miami Beach City Manager Raul Aguila said during a recent virtual meeting. “We will be taking a zero-tolerance attitude towards that behaviour.” In Michigan, a group called All Business Is Essential has resisted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s virus policies, and many people are abandoning mask requirements and other measures, said group leader Erik Kiilunen. “At some point you’ve got to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Do I want a zero-risk life?’” he said. “It’s become a farce, really. People have quit living for a year, at what price?” “I think everybody wants things to get back the way they were,” said Aubrey D. Jenkins, the fire chief in Columbia, South Carolina, whose department issues dozens of $100 citations every weekend to bar-goers who refuse to wear masks or keep their distance. “But we still have to be real cautious.” ___ Webber reported from Fenton, Michigan. Associated Press writers Brendan Farrington in Tallahasee, Florida; Anila Yoganathan in Tucker, Georgia; John Flesher in Traverse City, Michigan; Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas; Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington; Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Paul J. Webber in Austin, Texas; Janie Har in San Francisco; and David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, contributed to this story. The Associated Press
On Wednesday, the verdict in Toronto’s van attack trial will be revealed. Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Erica Vella reports.
LOS ANGELES — Catherine Zeta-Jones was already a fan of “Prodigal Son,” so when the chance came to join the show, she jumped, lured by the prospect of working alongside Michael Sheen. The Welsh actors were born in cities about an hour apart and moved in similar circles during their youth without ever knowing each other. She was born in Swansea and Sheen was born in Newport seven months apart. “We have all these mutual friends, but we’ve never crossed. My mom and dad know his dad,” she said Tuesday in a virtual Television Critics Association panel. “It’s bizarre. That was, of course, a huge pull for me.” Zeta-Jones joins Fox’s “Prodigal Son” in Tuesday's episode, directed by co-star Lou Diamond Phillips. Previously, the Oscar winner had done guest episodes and appeared in TV movies and miniseries, but never a regular series role. She plays Dr. Vivian Capshaw and Alan Cumming appears in two episodes as a cocky Europol agent. “It’s a family drama with a twist of danger and it’s a dark family,” Zeta-Jones said. “I gravitate to kind of dark material.” Sheen’s presence increased the comfort level for Zeta-Jones to come onto a set where the cast and crew had already been together for a season. He plays an incarcerated serial killer surgeon. “As soon as Lou shouted, ‘Cut,’ Michael and I went into inside jokes, Tommy Cooper impressions,” she said, referring to the British comedian. Phillips said, “She came like a team player, she came to play. It was seamless.” Zeta-Jones told her agent she wanted to join the show on the same day she was watching “The View” talk show. “Whoopi Goldberg just randomly gives it this incredible kind of thumbs up and I’m like, ‘Yes, that’s what I’m talking about,’” she said. “That was like a stamp of approval that came from nowhere.” The show’s second season is currently airing on Fox, and the first season began streaming Tuesday on HBO Max. Beth Harris, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Canada's chief public health officer says new COVID-19 cases are starting to tick back up after a month-long decline, giving urgency to the question of who should receive doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to arrive in Canada Wednesday. The "moderate increase" at the national level noted by Dr. Theresa Tam is in keeping with models forecasting a spike in cases over the next two months unless stricter public health measures are imposed to combat more contagious strains of the virus. “The concern is that we will soon see an impact on hospitalization, critical care and mortality trends," Tam said Tuesday. Canada saw 2,933 new cases on average over the past week, a figure similar to last Friday's numbers that revealed week-over-week increases of between eight and 14 per cent in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The uptick comes as provinces figure out how to allocate their various vaccines, especially as Canada receives 500,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India. About 445,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are also arriving this week, said Procurement Minister Anita Anand. Guidance on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has caused some confusion. Health Canada authorized its use last week for all adults but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends it not be administered to people 65 and over. The advisory committee cites concern over limited data from clinical trials for older patients. Health Canada also acknowledges that issue. But the advisory panel, which recommends how vaccines should be used, says the limitation means seniors should take priority for the two greenlighted mRNA vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — where dearth of data is not an issue. Alberta's health minister said Monday the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine to anyone over 65. British Columbia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island are on similar courses, though details on who will get those jabs is not always clear. "With clinical testing of AstraZeneca limited to those under 65, we will need to adjust our plan to look at a parallel track for some of these more flexible vaccines in order to cast the widest net possible," the B.C. health ministry said in an email. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott characterized Oxford-AstraZeneca as "very versatile " because it lacks the same cold-storage requirements as the two other vaccines in use in Canada. It won't go to seniors, but she said shots might be administered in correctional facilities for that reason. P.E.I. will target AstraZeneca at "healthy younger individuals who are working in certain front-line, essential services," said Dr. Heather Morrison, the province's chief medical officer of health. Health officials in Quebec and New Brunswick say they await further advice from health authorities and are taking time to examine how to deploy the latest vaccine. Nova Scotia's chief medical health officer Dr. Robert Strang said the province has yet to give an answer to Ottawa "about whether we actually want to take the vaccine." All provinces must provide a response by midday Thursday, he said. Two experts say essential workers who are more likely to contract and transmit COVID-19 should be prioritized for immunization with the Oxford-AstraZeneca doses. Caroline Colijn, a COVID-19 modeller and mathematician at Simon Fraser University, and Horacio Bach, an adjunct professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia, also say the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could be better promoted by provincial health officials as a strong alternative to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Oxford-AstraZeneca reported their vaccine is about 62 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 while Pifzer-BioNTech and Moderna have said the efficacy of their vaccines is about 95 per cent. But Colijn and Bach say the fact there have been no hospitalizations from severe illness and no deaths among those receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine needs to be underscored because people awaiting immunization seem to be fixated on the higher efficacy data for the first two vaccines approved in Canada. "If the AstraZeneca vaccine will prevent you from getting really sick that's still a win for you," Colijn said. "I see this huge, huge benefit of vaccinating young people, particularly people with high contact, essential workers, sooner." No province has been spared from the increase in new variants circulating across the country, though several continue to ease anti-pandemic restrictions. Modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada projected a steep surge in new cases starting late last month — and reaching 20,000 new cases a day before May — if public health measures weren't tightened. Since that Feb. 19 forecast, restrictions in many regions have loosened as Canadians return to restaurants, cinemas and hair salons. But Tam said Canada is gaining ground on "the vaccine-versus-variants leg of this marathon" every day. "Canada is prepared, and Canada remains on track," she said. Provinces have now reported 1,257 cases of the B.1.1.7 mutation that was first identified in the United Kingdom, 99 cases of the B. 18.104.22.168 strain first identified in South Africa, and three of the P. 1 variant first identified in Brazil. There have been 870,033 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 22,017 deaths as of Monday night. There were 30,430 active cases across Canada, with an average of 42 deaths reported daily over the past week. Provinces are also figuring out whether to stick to the original injection schedules or extend the interval between doses beyond three or four weeks. The national advisory committee is expected to update its recommendations this week. Ontario is waiting for that guidance, while B.C. is pushing ahead with its plan to prolong the interval to four months. Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, said Monday the decision was based on local and international evidence that shows the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provides "miraculous" 90 per cent protection from the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. — With files from Camille Bains, Kevin Bissett, Laura Dhillon Kane and Holly McKenzie-Sutter. Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
While many things were shut down due to the pandemic, Tabitha McLoughlin and her team responded to increased demand in their community for fresh food by opening another farmers market. McLoughlin is the executive director of Grow Local Tricities, which manages the Port Moody and Coquitlam farmers markets. In June, the organization started its Port Moody summer market as an emergency response for farmers in their area. “We did it in response to knowing that we had farmer vendors who were losing contracts to restaurants and losing contracts to food suppliers, because those guys were shutting down or being closed down, and they had crops in the ground,” she said. “And it was well enough attended that we’ll continue to do it again this year.” McLoughlin has worked with Grow Local for 15 years and said she wasn’t surprised the new market was so well-received. She has seen a steady interest in farmers markets over the past five to eight years, and COVID-19 has only fast-tracked it. “I think the media really started to push ‘buy local’ ... because, as much as we have preached it for years, the importance of the economic impact that is generated by buying from places within your own community is now being seen on such a massive scale,” she said. McLoughlin said it was interesting seeing farmers markets being used in such a utilitarian manner during the pandemic, after trying on so many different hats to appeal to consumers. “What we saw was people coming specifically to buy at the market ... We have spent years building the farmers markets to be these destinations where you and your kids can do a craft, watch a food demonstration,” she said. “We had to throw all that out the window and be like, 'OK, we need you to come in and shop as fast as you possibly can.'” Jen Candela, communications manager with Vancouver Farmers Markets (VFM) since 2007, said the last decade has seen a lot of growth on their end. The VFM has operated markets since 1995 and now supports 280 small farms and businesses. “I think people are a lot more concerned about where their food comes from than they were 20 years ago,” she said. “Vancouver is also a health-conscious city, so people want the freshest, healthiest food they can find. Unless you grow your own food, farmers markets are the best place to find that.” There is little data on farmers markets in Canada. The last nationwide survey was done in 2009 by Farmers Markets Canada, a now-defunct organization. Even then, total direct sales from farmers markets across Canada was estimated to be $1.03 billion. Although the markets may be expanding and growing, McLoughlin said the sentiment behind them remains the same. “I think (people’s reasons) for putting these things together was always greater than just simply bringing the food into the community,” she said. “Now as it's become more and more common, it's not just like the hippies in the parking lots anymore. It's way more mainstream, to the point where it's almost become trendy.” Cloe Logan / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Cloe Logan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Members of Montreal's Asian communities say they are still targets of anti-Asian hate crimes — a year after the first case of COVID-19 in Quebec. Between March and December 2020, the Montreal police service (SPVM) recorded 22 crimes targeting Asian-Montrealers, an increase of 19 over the previous year. The SPVM said there were, in addition, eight anti-Asian hate "incidents" reported, compared to three in 2019. More than 40 per cent of the crimes reported involved vandalism. Police say about 10 events appeared to be directly linked to the pandemic and the fact that it originated in Wuhan, China. 'A constant stress' Sarah Le Côté, who's an administrator of a Facebook support group for Asian Quebecers, says she's all too aware of the discrimination Asian Montrealers face daily. "The fact that the numbers went up doesn't surprise me, because of the context, but it makes me happy to see the people are actually reporting," Le Côté said. "The Asian community — We're quiet. We keep to ourselves. We don't really go out of our way to call out those incidents." Le Côté, who is of mixed heritage, says anti-Asian racism is felt not only by the person on the receiving end but also the wider community. "Half of my family is Asian. That puts me in constant stress," Le Côté said. "Without a doubt, we feel that we are targeted...They keep equating the Asian community with the virus, when it doesn't have anything to do with the Asian community." Since the wave of vandalism in Chinatown, Eric Ku, co-owner of Dobe & Andy, says he's more vigilant when closing his restaurant. Born and raised in Montreal, Ku says he's dealt with racism most of his life. "Racism isn't really gone and it's not going away," he said. "[The pandemic] is a reason for people to give a little more hate." Bill Wong, the director of the business development group for Chinatown (Conseil de développement du Quartier chinois de Montréal), says he wants to start a campaign to counter anti-Chinese sentiment in the city. "We live in Canada. We live in Quebec. We have a duty to say things aren't right," Wong said. "Today, I think the Chinese are different than 40, 50 years ago. The young Chinese want to express their anger toward this racism and now is the time to do it."
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (18,421.60, up 121.98 points.) Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Up 52 cents, or 2.03 per cent, to $26.11 on 26.6 million shares. Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB). Energy. Up 29 cents, or 0.66 per cent, to $44.25 on 11.4 million shares. Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX). Materials. Up $1.05, or 4.37 per cent, to $25.08 on 11.1 million shares. Zenabis Global Inc. (TSX:ZENA). Health care. Down half a cent, or 3.85 per cent, to 12.5 cents on 10 million shares. Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC). Financials. Down three cents, or 0.12 per cent, to $25.98 on 9.8 million shares. MediPharm Labs Corp. (TSX:LABS). Health care. Down 13 cents, or 19.12 per cent, to 55 cents on 9.6 million shares. Companies in the news: Spin Master Corp. (TSX:TOY). Up $6.95, or 23.9 per cent, to $36.01. Spin Master Corp. recorded meteoric growth in its digital games business in the latest quarter as users of its Toca Life World app filmed themselves playing the game and shared the videos on social media. The Canadian toymaker’s digital games revenue increased by more than 400 per cent to $31.8 million in its fourth quarter, driven by the Toca Life World platform. While it's free to download the app, Spin Master makes money through the in-game purchases and upgrades. The Toronto-based company said revenue for the quarter was US$490.6 million, up from US$473.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX:WEED). Up 56 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $44.47. Canopy Growth Corp. will deepen its U.S. presence by launching four sparkling cannabidiol waters there before possible federal legalization. The Smiths Falls, Ont.-based cannabis company said four drinks from its Quatreau brand will be available online to U.S. customers Tuesday. They will contain 20 milligrams of CBD; come in ginger and lime, cucumber and mint, blueberry and açaí, and passion fruit and guava flavours; and be Canopy’s first CBD drinks to cross the border. The beverages, which have been available in Canada since last fall, will join Martha Stewart, BioSteel and This Works CBD products Canopy already sells in the U.S. as part of an expansion strategy. Industry observers believe those U.S. opportunities will multiply this year because U.S. President Joe Biden and his Democratic party have favoured legislation to relax cannabis laws. George Weston Ltd. (TSX:WN). Up $1.97, or 2.1 per cent, to $96.59. George Weston Ltd. reported its fourth-quarter profit fell compared with a year ago as it was hit by one-time charges. The company, which operates through Loblaw, Choice Properties and Weston Foods, says it earned a profit available to common shareholders of $289 million or $1.88 per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31. The result was down from a profit of $433 million or $2.81 per diluted share a year earlier. However, on an adjusted basis, George Weston says it earned $2.03 per diluted share, up from an adjusted profit of $1.69 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2019. Revenue was $13.81 billion, up from $12.11 billion a year earlier when George Weston's fourth quarter only had 12 weeks. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Canadian actor Jahmil French of "Degrassi: The Next Generation" fame has died. His agent, Gabrielle Kachman, confirmed the news to The Canadian Press through a statement. Kachman did not provide details on his death but noted French "will be remembered by many for his passion for the arts, his commitment to his craft, and his vibrant personality." French played high-school student Dave Turner on the Toronto-shot teen series "Degrassi: The Next Generation." His other credits include the Netflix series "Soundtrack," the Pop TV show "Let's Get Physical," and the Canadian film "Boost," for which he earned a 2018 Canadian Screen Award nomination for supporting actor. According to various bios online, he was 29. Fans and friends of the performer shared tributes on social media Monday, including fellow "Degrassi" alum Annie Clark, who tweeted she's "heartbroken over the loss." She also posted a video of him dancing on a stage, noting that's how she'll always think of him. "So full of energy and fun. He was always dancing. A true talent and a great friend. We will all miss you so much Jahmil," Clark wrote. Dylan Everett, who also acted on "Degrassi: The Next Generation," tweeted that French was "kind, funny, and talented." "One of the first people I met on 'Degrassi,' he immediately made me feel welcome," Everett wrote. "He disarmed you with a smile and his confidence and energy was infectious. You’ll be missed, brother." Toronto-based Salvatore Antonio tweeted French was a longtime acting student of his, his mentee and "a special human." "He was fearless and brilliant in his pursuit, and I’m so sad we won’t get to see more of his gift," Antonio wrote. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Naval Academy is developing plans to begin vaccinating midshipmen this month so students can deploy to ships and with Navy teams as part of their training this summer, Vice Adm. Sean Buck told Congress Tuesday. If the vaccines are available, the midshipmen would be the first military academy students to receive the COVID-19 shots. The plans come as the Naval Academy wrestles with a new uptick in positive coronavirus cases, and has locked down the campus in Annapolis, Maryland, for 10 days. Students have been restricted to their rooms for classes and meals, and can go outside for a maximum of two hours a day, with only one roommate. The lockdown was announced on Sunday, and includes the suspension of sports events and practices, other than the men's varsity basketball team, which will participate in post-season play because the athletes have been isolated since last week. Speaking to the House Defence Appropriations subcommittee, Buck said that he's given Navy leaders a timeline for when he'd like to begin giving vaccines to midshipmen who will be deploying out to the fleet. Generally, students go out on fleet cruises in the summer after their freshman year, do a four-week training stint in the fleet after their sophomore year and go on a higher-level fleet cruise after their junior year. Often the training is part of the process to determine what service job interests them. “Our Navy has prioritized the operational forces first. They’re getting vaccinated. They have a very safe and healthy bubble,” Buck told lawmakers. “And for them to be willing to accept our midshipmen from the academy as well as midshipmen from NROTC universities around the country, we need to vaccinate them prior to the summer training.” The Navy has had several small outbreaks on ships, both deployed and at home ports, and leaders have been trying to get crews vaccinated in order to avoid upticks in the virus. The USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier, had a massive outbreak early last year while at sea, and was sidelined in Guam for weeks while the crew went through a methodical quarantine process. To meet the training timelines, Buck said a small initial group of students would have to start getting vaccines by the last week of March, in order to get out to their deployments in mid-May. That would give them time to get both shots, and have two weeks to ensure their immunity was in full effect. Buck and the superintendents for the Army and Air Force academies told lawmakers that they have all started providing vaccines to their faculty and staff, based on the priorities set by the CDC and the Defence Department. But the Air Force and Army academies haven't yet begun preparations to give shots to students. Army Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., said about 4,000 staff and faculty have gotten the vaccine so far, which is about half. At the Naval Academy, more than 900 of the roughly 2,300 staff and faculty have gotten shots, including some who got vaccines in the local community based on their eligibility. The military leaders said first responders and vulnerable people are prioritized, as noted in the CDC and Pentagon guidelines. Williams added that he's confident students will want to get the vaccine once it's available. Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, superintendent of the Air Force Academy in Colorado, noted that the cadets are “the most healthy of our population and they fall into the lower level” of the priorities. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
CALGARY — The Western Hockey League announced Tuesday that it has been granted approval by the B.C. Provincial Health Office to play in bubble environments in Kamloops and Kelowna this season. The league said in a release that the WHL's B.C. Division will begin play March 26. The league's announcement comes a day after B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said a plan had been approved in principle to allow the league to resume play in the province during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams in the league's other three divisions have already been cleared to play by state and provincial governments and public health authorities. The Kamloops Blazers, Prince George Cougars, and Vancouver Giants will be based in Kamloops. The Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals will play in Kelowna. Teams will be permitted to travel directly between the hub cities for games, with no stops permitted in between. No spectators will be permitted in the arenas. The league said a 24-game schedule for the B.C Division will be announced at a later date. Players and staff will begin self-quarantining Saturday and then will report to their respective bubble on March 13, where they will be required to undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival followed by an additional quarantine period. Players and staff will then undergo a second COVID-19 test before being permitted to engage in any team activity. The league said COVID-19 screening for all players, team staff and officials will also take place on a daily basis, including regular temperature screenings. Coaches will be required to wear masks at all times, including while conducting practice and while behind the bench during games. "The WHL appreciates the cooperation we have received from the Provincial Health Officer and health officials in B.C. as we work toward a safe return to play in the B.C. Division," WHL commissioner Ron Robison said in a release. "With our extensive protocols and the necessary approvals now in place, we are looking forward to play beginning in the Kamloops and Kelowna hubs. "We are excited to now have all four WHL Divisions returning to play as it was our objective from the onset to deliver a season for all of our players." The start of the 2020-21 WHL season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Play finally began Feb. 26 with the league's Alberta-based teams. Teams in the U.S. Division are scheduled to start March 19 while the East Division, with teams based in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, has been cleared to play in a bubble environment. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League was the only league under the Canadian Hockey League to start its season at its traditional time, but pandemic-related issues have caused several interruptions. The Ontario Hockey League has yet to announce plans for a season. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
L'Agence spatiale canadienne et la NASA travaillent déjà sur les missions Artemis qui visent un retour sur la Lune d'ici 2024. Un premier pas vers une exploration plus profonde de l'espace grâce à une nouvelle station internationale. Mais avant de rêver de marcher sur Mars, il faut régler un problème majeur: comment fournir assez de nourriture aux astronautes pour des missions devant durer plusieurs années? Dans l’espoir de solliciter des milliers de cerveaux à travers le monde pour cogiter sur ce casse-tête, les agences spatiales canadienne (ASC) et américaine (NASA) ont lancé en début d’année un grand concours appelé «Défi de l'alimentation dans l'espace lointain» (Deep Space Food Challenge). Mardi midi, des experts des deux agences ainsi que des astronautes, dont le Canadien Jeremy Hansen, ont participé à une discussion virtuelle au cours de laquelle on a abordé divers aspects de l’alimentation dans l’espace. Il a notamment été question de l’importance de fournir des aliments appétissants et savoureux pour que les astronautes aient envie de manger. Un enjeu crucial pour qu’ils ne réduisent pas leur consommation de nourriture et qu’ils maintiennent une bonne santé. En bref, le principal problème demeure que si l’on part en mission d’exploration spatiale, il faut tout apporter avec soi depuis la Terre. Actuellement, il est facile d’approvisionner la Station spatiale internationale (SSI), puisqu’elle se trouve en orbite autour de la Terre, à quelques heures de vol. Dans le cas d’une mission vers Mars, par exemple, il faudrait prévoir des quantités de nourriture suffisantes pour plusieurs années. De plus, il faut tenir compte qu’il n’y a pas de réfrigérateur dans les navettes en raison du coût énergétique nécessaire au fonctionnement de tels appareils. Actuellement, on utilise des aliments déshydratés qui sont hydratés à nouveau par les astronautes dans l’espace. On utilise aussi des aliments préparés mis en conserve ou en sachets, mais leur durée de conservation poserait problème selon les experts de la NASA. Voilà pourquoi on recherche de nouvelles méthodes permettant de fournir des aliments sains et savoureux aux astronautes. On aimerait, par ailleurs, développer des moyens de produire des aliments dans un environnement hostile, comme sur la Lune ou sur Mars. Des techniques qui seraient également applicables sur Terre, comme l’a souligné l’astronaute Jeremy Hansen en parlant du concours. «C'est une opportunité incroyable pour l'humanité! D'abord pour nous donner la chance d'explorer l'espace. Ensuite, parce que c'est essentiel pour nourrir les populations en régions isolées. La sécurité alimentaire est un enjeu majeur au Canada et le transport d'aliment demeure difficile et très coûteux dans le Grand Nord notamment», a-t-il fait valoir. Il faut donc tenir compte du fait que les astronautes sont confinés à un espace limité, avec des ressources limitées et des contraintes liées à l’énergie ou au poids des équipements. Des aliments frais et variés Le principal défi que cherchent à relever les agences spatiales consiste à trouver un moyen de fournir des aliments frais aux astronautes. Comme le mentionne la scientifique en chef du programme de technologie alimentaire de la NASA, Grace Douglas, ce sont les produits frais qui sont les plus appétissants et les plus réconfortants pour les astronautes. Car au-delà de fournir uniquement des nutriments aux membres de l’équipage, il faut leur offrir des plats savoureux et variés qui leur donnent envie de s’alimenter convenablement. Chaque aliment contient une multitude de micronutriments qui sont essentiels au corps humain. «Pour être nutritif, un aliment doit être consommé!», a résumé simplement son collègue Scott M. Smith, chercheur principal au laboratoire de biochimie du Centre spatial Johnson de la NASA. Celui-ci ajoute que les données prouvent qu’une bonne alimentation limite la perte de poids des astronautes et favorise la récupération au retour sur Terre. Tous s’entendent sur le fait que le principal reproche formulé par les astronautes est le manque de variété dans le choix des aliments. En ce qui concerne l’expérience gustative, l’ex-astronaute américain Donald Thomas, qui a passé plus de 1000 heures dans l’espace en quatre missions, a déclaré que ce n’était pas si mal, mais qu’il ne mangerait jamais dans un restaurant où l’on sert ce genre de plats! Pour renchérir, Jeremy Hansen, qui attend toujours sa première assignation, a rappelé que l’absence de gravité a pour effet de faire enfler légèrement la tête et de boucher les sinus. Les aliments deviennent donc plus fades. «Il faut prévoir des mets épicés ou bien assaisonnés», a-t-il conseillé aux éventuels participants du concours. Le défi est ouvert à tous les résidants du Canada. Les entreprises, organismes à but non lucratif ou les institutions d’enseignement sont aussi admissibles. Le volet canadien du concours est coordonné par l’Agence spatiale canadienne, située à Longueuil. Des bourses sont offertes en prix à chacune des trois étapes du concours. Les équipes intéressées doivent déposer leur candidature avant le 30 juillet. Ugo Giguère, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former President Donald Trump endorsed U.S. Sen. Tim Scott's 2022 reelection bid Tuesday, continuing to make clear his intent to remain a dominant force in Republican Party politics. Trump issued a statement through his Save America PAC, saying Scott had his “Complete and Total Endorsement” and complimenting Scott's work on behalf of the military, law enforcement and veterans. The only Black Republican in the Senate and one of its three Black members, Scott previously served one term in the U.S. House and has been in the Senate since then-Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him in late 2012 to succeed Jim DeMint. Elected to his first full term in 2016, Scott has said that the 2022 Senate race would be his last. Scott has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, and his name appeared in the results of a straw poll conducted at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference. In the Senate, Scott often aligned with Trump, voting with him nearly 91% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. Trump is fresh off his weekend appearance at CPAC, where he was hailed as a returning hero. In his speech, Trump called for GOP unity, even as he exacerbated intraparty divisions by attacking fellow Republicans and continuing to repeat false claims about winning the election. “Do you miss me yet?” Trump said after taking the stage to music from his old campaign rally soundtrack and cheers from the supportive crowd. Leading up to the the normally mundane congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory on Jan. 6, Scott was among the Senate Republicans who spoke out against Trump's statements that the Senate could have legally undone that process, saying he found “no constitutionally viable means” to do so. Hours after the deadly U.S. Capitol assault that halted those certification proceedings, Scott proposed a commission aimed at studying the 2020 election, suggesting that some pandemic-related election changes resulted in “missteps - intentional or not” meriting further examination. Of the proposal, Scott's fellow South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Trump's closest congressional allies, called it a “uniquely bad idea to delay this election,” affirming that Biden is the “legitimate president of the United States.” On Twitter, Graham said Tuesday he appreciated Trump “coming out early and strong in support of my good friend,” calling Scott “one of the most talented people I have ever known.” Scott, however, took a more muted approach, not commenting directly, but rather through his campaign. It issued a statement pointing to areas of policy where Scott and the former president align. ___ Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Meg Kinnard, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Nearly a decade ago, the United States was touting Myanmar as an American success story. The Obama administration reveled in the restoration of civilian rule in the longtime U.S. pariah as a top foreign policy achievement and a potential model for engaging with other adversaries, such as Iran and Cuba. But today, Myanmar is once again an international outcast, facing a new wave of U.S. sanctions. A coup has returned the military to power and pro-democracy activists, reform advocates and journalists have been attacked and detained in a brutal crackdown. The collapse is not America’s fault, to be sure, but it follows inconsistent efforts to nudge the Southeast Asian nation further toward democracy, enthusiasm for which was diminished by a systematic campaign of repression against Muslim minorities in the country's north. After years of robust diplomacy with Myanmar under President Barack Obama focused mainly on then-opposition leader and now jailed State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi, the Trump administration adopted a largely hands-off policy. It focused primarily on Myanmar’s strategic importance in the competition between the United States and China for influence in the region. Myanmar has become a reminder that, for all the hopefulness and anticipation of Obama administration officials – many of whom now serve in the Biden administration – there are limits to America’s ability to shape developments in another nation, particularly one so reclusive and far away. The restoration of civilian rule after six decades of dictatorship was at least partially the fruit of one of the Obama administration’s earliest attempts to reach out to a country long denounced by the U.S. Overtures to Iran and Cuba would come later, buoyed in part by what appeared to be success in Myanmar. Sanctions were eased, diplomatic representation bolstered and aid was increased. Obama made two trips to Myanmar, also known as Burma, as president and his two secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, each visited the country twice themselves. Clinton’s visit in 2011 was the first by a U.S. secretary of state since 1955.. She met with Suu Kyi at the lakeside home where the opposition leader had been held under house arrest for years, Just six years earlier, President George W. Bush's Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had branded Myanmar as one of six “outposts of tyranny” for the military’s refusal to brook dissent and rejection of democratic elections. And, in 2007, as world leaders gathered at the annual United Nations General Assembly, a crackdown on Buddhist monk-led protests, the so-called “Saffron Revolution,” attracted widespread concern and international condemnation, including high-profile repudiations from Rice and then-first lady Laura Bush. Thus, the opening initiated by Obama and Clinton in 2010 augured what many hoped would be a new beginning for Myanmar, whose military leaders were then ostensibly concerned about being overly reliant on China for trade and security. There was initial enthusiasm over the thaw, over Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi’s elevation to a leadership role despite being barred from running for office, and over Myanmar’s steady but hesitant opening of its once cloistered country. But that soon faded, most notably over the government’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims, who became the target of a ruthless campaign of repression and abuse. Repeated entreaties to Suu Kyi, who was appointed State Councilor after her National League for Democracy won 60% of the vote, and others on behalf of the Rohingya and other minorities went unheeded. Still, the Obama administration continued to have faith in her. “Proud of my friend Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma for never giving up in the long struggle to bring change to their country,” Clinton said in 2015, after having devoted an entire chapter of her 2014 memoir “Hard Choices” to the Obama administration’s policies toward the nation. Despite Kerry’s two trips to Myanmar, the administration became rapidly consumed with the Iran nuclear deal and normalization of ties with Cuba. At the same time, it was pursuing an ill-fated effort to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. So Myanmar’s halting and imperfect democratization was left largely untended by officials in Washington. When President Donald Trump took office in 2017, his administration made no secret of the fact that it was focused less on bilateral ties than in concentrating on a broader effort to blunt China’s growing regional influence. In November 2017, Trump’s first Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, made that administration’s only high-level visit to the country and on his return declared that the military-backed violence against the Rohingya in northern Rakhine state amounted to “ethnic cleansing.” Sanctions on the country’s top military leaders followed the next month. But since then, U.S. attention to Myanmar has been sporadic, dominated primarily by public expressions of disappointment in Suu Kyi, who defended the military crackdown in Rakhine and opposed efforts to initiate and international investigation into it. Stirrings of the Feb. 1 coup, coming as those elected in November 2020 elections won by Suu Kyi’s party were to take their seats in parliament, did not appear to be a priority in Washington, where officials were preoccupied by domestic political problems of their own. In its final weeks in office, the Trump administration made no public comments about growing civilian-military tensions in Myanmar despite speaking out about democracy concerns in Venezuela, Tanzania, Uganda, Cuba, Iran and Russia. After taking over on Jan. 20, the Biden administration was similarly silent until Jan. 29 when the U.S. Embassy in Yangon signed onto a joint statement with several other embassies to support democracy in the country and to oppose “any attempt to alter the outcome of the elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition.” The warning went unheeded by the military. “There was a risk that the Burmese generals were playing us,” Clinton wrote about the 2010-11 rapprochement with Myanmar in “Hard Choices.” That fear may have been prescient. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — A House of Commons committee is unanimously urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to promise he won't call a federal election while the COVID-19 pandemic rages across Canada. In a report by the procedure and House affairs committee, even Liberal members supported a recommendation calling for a commitment that there will be no election during the pandemic, unless Trudeau's minority Liberal government is defeated on a confidence vote. The committee makes no similar call for opposition parties to promise not to trigger an election during the pandemic by voting non-confidence in the government. However, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has vowed his party won't vote to bring the government down as long as the country is in the grip of COVID-19. That should be enough to ensure the survival of the minority Liberal government for the foreseeable future, unless Trudeau decides to trigger an election himself. Trudeau has repeatedly insisted he has no interest in forcing an election but opposition parties remain suspicious. "Unfortunately, the Liberal government has already indicated their desire to recklessly send Canadians to the polls at whatever time they deem to be the most advantageous for the prime minister," the Conservatives say in a supplementary report to the committee's report. Indeed, the Conservatives assert, without explanation, that Trudeau has already tried to orchestrate his government's defeat. They thank Liberal committee members for taking "a stand against the whims of the prime minister, who has been eagerly pressing towards an election for the last few months." At the same time, Conservatives have been pursuing a strategy that could give Trudeau justification for calling an election: They've been systematically blocking the government's legislative agenda, including repeatedly delaying a bill authorizing billions in pandemic-related aid. They have also blocked debate on a bill that would give Elections Canada special powers to conduct an election safely, if need be, during the pandemic. Bill C-19 is the government's response to chief electoral officer Stephane Perrault, who has said special measures are urgent given that a minority government is inherently unstable and could theoretically fall at any time. However, some opposition MPs view the legislation as proof that the Liberals are planning to trigger an election. In their own supplementary report, New Democrats argue that an election in the midst of the pandemic "has the potential to undermine the health of our democracy." They point to the current delay in Newfoundland and Labrador's election due to a COVID outbreak as an example of the "delays, confusion and unforeseen barriers in voting" that could undermine Canadians' confidence in the outcome of a federal election. "This raises the spectre of a government whose political legitimacy is openly challenged," the NDP committee members say, adding that could lead to the kind of crisis that provoked a riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters of former president Donald Trump. The Capitol riot, sparked by Trump's unfounded claims that mail-in ballots were fraudulent, appears to have been on the minds of opposition committee members when it comes to other recommendations for how to safely conduct an election, if necessary, during the pandemic. Anticipating a massive increase in mail-in ballots, the chief electoral officer has, among other things, suggested that mail-in ballots received one day after the close of in-person polls should still be counted. The Conservatives say the procedure and House affairs committee should have rejected that proposal, arguing that "the election should end on Election Day and Canadians deserve to know the results without delay." Bloc Quebecois committee members, in their supplementary report, similarly argue that extending the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots "would delay the election results, which would fuel voter suspicion and undermine confidence in the electoral system, which is obviously undesirable." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
Washington targeted seven mid-level and senior Russian officials along with more than a dozen government entities.View on euronews
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole says the Liberal government doesn't have a plan to achieve economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. He says the Liberals talk about "building back better," which means they will leave sectors they don't like out of their vision for the country.