The “Trump-made-me-do-it” defence is already looking like a longshot. Facing damning evidence in the deadly Capitol siege last month — including social media posts flaunting their actions — rioters are arguing in court they were following then-President Donald Trump's instructions on Jan. 6. But the legal strategy has already been shot down by at least one judge and experts believe the argument is not likely to get anyone off the hook for the insurrection where five people died, including a police officer. “This purported defence, if recognized, would undermine the rule of law because then, just like a king or a dictator, the president could dictate what’s illegal and what isn’t in this country," U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said recently in ordering pretrial detention of William Chrestman, a suspected member of the Kansas City-area chapter of the Proud Boys. “And that is not how we operate here.” Chrestman’s attorneys argued in court papers that Trump gave the mob “explicit permission and encouragement” to do what they did, providing those who obeyed him with “a viable defence against criminal liability.” “It is an astounding thing to imagine storming the United States Capitol with sticks and flags and bear spray, arrayed against armed and highly trained law enforcement. Only someone who thought they had an official endorsement would even attempt such a thing. And a Proud Boy who had been paying attention would very much believe he did,” Chrestman’s lawyers wrote. Trump was acquitted of inciting the insurrection during his second impeachment trial, where Democrats made some of the same arguments defence attorneys are making in criminal court. Some Republican lawmakers have said the better place for the accusations against Trump is in court, too. Meanwhile, prosecutors have brought charges against more than 250 people so far in the attack, including conspiracy, assault, civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding. Authorities have suggested that rare sedition charges could be coming against some. Hundreds of Trump supporters were photographed and videotaped storming the Capitol and scores posted selfies inside the building on social media, so they can’t exactly argue in court they weren’t there. Blaming Trump may be the best defence they have. “What’s the better argument when you’re on videotape prancing around the Capitol with a coat rack in your hand?” said Sam Shamansky, who’s representing Dustin Thompson, an Ohio man accused of stealing a coat rack during the riot. Shamansky said his client would never have been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 if Trump hadn’t “summoned him there.” Trump, he added, engaged in a “devious yet effective plot to brainwash” supporters into believing the election was stolen, putting them in the position where they “felt the the need to defend their country at the request of the commander in chief.” “I think it fits perfectly,” he said of the defence. “The more nuanced question is: Who is going to buy it? What kind of jury panel do you need to understand that?” While experts say blaming Trump may not get their clients off the hook, it may help at sentencing when they ask the judge for leniency. “It could likely be considered a mitigating factor that this person genuinely believed they were simply following the instructions of the leader of the United States,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney in Michigan who's now a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. It could also bolster any potential cases against the former president, experts say. “That defence is dead on arrival,” said Bradley Simon, a New York City white-collar criminal defence attorney and former federal prosecutor. “But I do think that these statements by defendants saying that they were led on by Trump causes a problem for him if the Justice Department or the attorney general in D.C. were to start looking at charges against him for incitement of the insurrection.” While the legal bar is high for prosecuting Trump in the Capitol siege, the former president is already facing a lawsuit from Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson that accuses him of conspiring with extremist groups to prevent Congress from certifying the election results. And more lawsuits could come. Trump spread baseless claims about the election for weeks and addressed thousands of supporters at a rally near the White House before the Capitol riot, telling them that they had gathered in Washington "to save our democracy." Later, Trump said, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” A lawyer for Jacob Chansley, the shirtless man who wore face paint and a hat with horns inside the Capitol, attached a highlighted transcript of the Trump's speech before the riot to a court filing seeking Chansley's release from custody. The defence lawyer, Albert Watkins, said the federal government is sending a “disturbingly chilling message” that Americans will be prosecuted “if they do that which the President asks them to do.” Defence lawyers have employed other strategies without better success. In one case, the judge called a defence attorney’s portrayal of the riots as mere trespassing or civil disobedience both “unpersuasive and detached from reality.” In another, a judge rejected a man’s claim that he was “duped” into joining the anti-government Oath Keepers group and participating in the attack on the Capitol. Other defendants linked to militant groups also have tried to shift blame to Trump in seeking their pretrial release from jail. An attorney for Jessica Watkins said the Oath Keepers member believed local militias would be called into action if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act to stay in office. Watkins disavowed the Oath Keepers during a court hearing on Friday, saying she has been “appalled” by fellow members of the far-right militia. “However misguided, her intentions were not in any way related to an intention to overthrow the government, but to support what she believed to be the lawful government,” her lawyer wrote. Meanwhile, a lawyer for Dominic Pezzola, another suspected Proud Boy, said he “acted out of the delusional belief that he was a ‘patriot’ protecting his country." Defence attorney Jonathan Zucker described Pezzola as “one of millions of Americans who were misled by the President's deception.” “Many of those who heeded his call will be spending substantial portions if not the remainder of their lives in prison as a consequence," he wrote. “Meanwhile Donald Trump resumes his life of luxury and privilege." Michael Kunzelman And Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
A Russian trial testing the effectiveness of revaccination with the Sputnik V shot to protect against new mutations of the coronavirus is producing strong results, researchers said on Saturday. Last month President Vladimir Putin ordered a review by March 15 of Russian-produced vaccines for their effectiveness against new variants spreading in different parts of the world.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that the country's biggest city will go into a seven-day lockdown from Sunday after a new local case of the coronavirus, of unknown origin, surfaced. The opening race of the best-of-13 series between Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and America's Cup holders Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) is due to be held in the waters off Auckland on March 6.
India's conglomerate Reliance Industries has partnered with Facebook Inc, Google and fintech player Infibeam to set up a national digital payment network, Economic Times newspaper reported on Saturday, citing unnamed sources. Last year, India's central bank invited companies to forge new umbrella entities (NUEs) to create a payments network that would rival the system operated by the National Payments Council of India (NPCI), as it seeks to reduce concentration risks in the space.
(Zach Goudie/CBC - image credit) A mining company hoping to strike it rich on the Eastern Shore says it now believes there is double the amount of gold it initially thought was on its property near Goldboro, N.S. Anaconda Mining originally estimated there were 1.4-million ounces of gold at its site about 250 kilometres east of Halifax. But after exploration, drilling and testing last year, the Toronto-based company now believes there are closer to 2.75-million ounces of gold. "I've been in this industry 35 years, and it's been my dream to develop something like this," said Kevin Bullock, the company's president and CEO. "I'm just ecstatic. You know, people look for these their lifetime and never find them. So I'm really happy about that." Bullock said he believes the gold deposit at Goldboro is the second-largest undeveloped deposit in Atlantic Canada, second only to Marathon Gold's Valentine Gold project in Newfoundland and Labrador. Focus shifting to open-pit mining The findings have prompted Anaconda to modify its plans for the proposed mine. The plan had always been to extract gold through both open-pit surface mining as well as underground mining. The company still plans to use both methods, but now plans more open-pit mining. Open-pit mining tends to be faster and less expensive. It also means more ore is crushed and processed, producing more waste dumps and tailings, the material left over after ore is processed. Bullock said the amount of ore that will be processed will quadruple from previous estimates. The shift to more open-pit mining will increase the physical footprint of the mining operations due to the amount of tailings and waste dumps, but Bullock couldn't yet say by how much. He expects the period of open-pit mining to last for at least eight or nine years before underground mining begins. Bullock said if the mine is approved, he hopes to see construction begin by the end of 2022. The project would create a "tremendous" number of jobs through both the construction and operations phases, Bullock said. Anaconda is now expecting to be able to produce about 100,000 ounces a year, a figure Bullock estimates is relatively on par with the activities of the province's active mine, Atlantic Gold's Touquoy mine in Moose River. Environmental approval Anaconda submitted its original plans for Goldboro to the province for environmental approval in August 2018. But the environment minister at the time, Margaret Miller, said the company's submission didn't contain enough information. She asked Anaconda to write a new, more extensive report on the environmental implications of the project, and gave a one-year deadline. Three days before that deadline, in September 2019, Anaconda withdrew its proposal from the environmental assessment process because it was changing its plans for the mine. Bullock said the mine would operate in compliance with all provincial environmental policies. "So, waters frequented by fish, we will stay away from. We will ensure that everything is done to the standard that anything emitted to the environment will not have anything in it that's deleterious." Bullock acknowledged that since the Goldboro area was mined as far back as the late 1900s — long before any environmental regulations were in place — there are historical tailings that "have some nasties in them." He said the company would hope to help the government clean up those sites. MORE TOP STORIES
WASHINGTON — A conference dedicated to the future of the conservative movement turned into an ode to Donald Trump as speakers declared their fealty to the former president and attendees posed for selfies with a golden statue of his likeness. As the Republican Party grapples with deep divisions over the extent to which it should embrace Trump after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress, those gathered at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday made clear they are not ready to move on from the former president — or from his baseless charges that the November election was rigged against him. “Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of several potential 2024 presidential contenders who spoke at the event, being held this year in Orlando to bypass COVID-19 restrictions. Trump on Sunday will be making his first post-presidential appearance at the conference, and aides say he will use the speech to reassert his power. The program underscored the split raging within the GOP, as many establishment voices argue the party must move on from Trump to win back the suburban voters who abandoned them in November, putting President Joe Biden in the White House. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and others worry Trump will undermine the party’s political future if he and his conspiracy theories continue to dominate Republican politics. But at the conference, speakers continued to fan disinformation and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, with panels dedicated to amplifying false claims of mass voter fraud that have been dismissed by the courts, state election officials and Trump’s own administration. Indeed, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., another potential 2024 hopeful, drew among the loudest applause and a standing ovation when he bragged about challenging the election certification on Jan. 6 despite the storming of the Capitol building by Trump supporters trying to halt the process. “I thought it was an important stand to take," he said. Others argued the party would lose if it turned its back on Trump and alienated the working-class voters drawn to his populist message. “We cannot — we will not — go back to the days of the failed Republican establishment of yesteryear,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who outlined a new Trumpian GOP agenda focused on restrictive immigration policies, opposition to China and limiting military engagement. “We will not win the future by trying to go back to where the Republican Party used to be,” echoed Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the fundraising committee tasked with electing Republicans to the Senate. “If we do, we will lose the working base that President Trump so animated. We’re going to lose elections across the country, and ultimately we’re going to lose our nation." Scott is dismissing pressure on him to “mediate between warring factions on the right” or “mediate the war of words between the party leaders." He has refused to take sides in the bitter ongoing fight between Trump and McConnell, who blamed Trump for inciting the deadly Capitol riot but ultimately voted to acquit him at his impeachment trial earlier this month. “I’m not going to mediate anything," he said, criticizing those who “prefer to fan the flames of a civil war on our side” as “foolish” and “ridiculous." But in speeches throughout the day, the GOP turmoil was front and centre. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., lit into Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, who has faced tremendous backlash for her vote to impeach Trump for inciting the Capitol riot. And as the program was wrapping up, Trump issued a statement endorsing Max Miller, a former staffer who has now launched a campaign challenging Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, another Republican who voted in favour of impeachment. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News Channel host and Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, offered a pointed message to those who stand in opposition to the former president, who will not arrive at the conference until Sunday but was present in spirit in the form of a large golden statue erected in a merchandise show booth, where attendees could pose for pictures with it. “We bid a farewell to the weak-kneed, the spineless and the cowards that are posing in D.C. pretending that they’re working for the people,” she said. “Let’s send them a pink slip straight from CPAC.” Trump Jr., who labeled the conference “TPAC” in honour of his father, hyped the return of his father and the “Make America Great Again” platform to the spotlight. “I imagine it will not be what we call a ‘low-energy’ speech," he said. “And I assure you that it will solidify Donald Trump and all of your feelings about the MAGA movement as the future of the Republican Party.” Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
(Kyle Mandeville - image credit) The Northwest Territories' Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) is investigating after complaints of caribou carcasses found along the ice road to the Diavik Diamond Mine. Officers with ENR say they can't disclose the specifics of the investigation but are looking for the public's help to catch the culprits. Adrian Lizotte, wildlife and environment manager for the department in the North Slave region, has been working along the ice road this winter. He says they've received several reports of abandoned wildlife bodies, along with increased activity this year on the north end of Mackay Lake. "Some of the reports are [of] waste of caribou, failure to retrieve an animal, also, hunting in a mobile zone, and harvesting with no license," he said. The department has two check stations that have been established for a few years — one at the south end of Gordon Lake and one on Mackay Lake. With the increase in activity they added a third check station, which will be mobile, with a camper towed behind a pickup truck. Areas with increased activity of harvesting will be focused on, whether inside or outside the mobile zone. An image submitted by a hunter shows a caribou with only some of its organs removed. Illegal meat sales Lizotte says the department is also getting complaints about people trafficking wildlife. The dry meat trade on social media sites like Facebook has been huge and a contributor to over-harvesting. But Lizotte warns against selling the meat to others. "There are no commercial licenses for caribou, so anything that is used for caribou should just be used for personal purposes to feed yourself or your family," Lizotte said. "It's not for sale.… If you are caught trafficking wildlife, it's a $949 fine." There have been reports of caribou bodies being wasted after being hunted. Lizotte says that before going hunting, inexperienced hunters should familiarize themselves about the edible parts of the animal so there isn't any wastage or fines. "The main message is respect. You know, you've got to respect the wildlife, respect the land and the water," he said. "Take what you need to go feed your family."
Milan — Alors que le gouvernement souhaite doubler les coupes forestières au Québec d’ici 60 ans, les acériculteurs installés en terres publiques craignent le pire. Déjà, le propriétaire de l’Érablière Lapierre déplore des coupes qui arriveront bientôt à isoler entièrement son site de production de Milan en Estrie, et qui, en plus d’empêcher son expansion, ont déjà causé leur lot de désagréments. Des couloirs qui laissent entrer le vent et qui font tomber les arbres en « dominos », parfois directement sur les tubulures, des ornières à même le sol de l’érablière, des populations d’écureuils qui migrent et endommagent le matériel : toutes des conséquences de récentes coupes orchestrées par le ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, analyse le propriétaire Donald Lapierre, dont trois des cinq sites acéricoles sont situés en terres publiques estriennes. Celui qui produit à Milan depuis 1985 a toujours été témoin de coupes dans les environs, mais les choses se sont mises à s’accélérer à proximité en 2018. En bordure de ce site de 110 000 entailles, La Tribune a pu observer ces fameuses coupes sélectives, de même que les sentiers de débardement dénudés les accompagnant. Parfois la zone de coupe s’arrête à quelques pieds des tubulures, d’autres au dernier arbre entaillé. Plus loin, un secteur qui a déjà fait l’objet d’une demande d’agrandissement de l’érablière est aujourd’hui clairsemé et presque sans érables. « Une érablière, ça grandit tout le temps. J’ai un quota et si jamais j’ai des pertes dans mon érablière, le Ministère aurait pu me louer d’autres entailles. Mais là, ils ont tout enlevé », s’indigne M. Lapierre. « C’est difficile de penser que ce n’est pas fait par exprès », estime Philippe Breton, directeur des ventes pour l’Érablière Lapierre. Couper dans l’érablière Même si l’érablière possède un bail, renouvelable tous les cinq ans, le bois des arbres à l’intérieur de celle-ci est en partie promis à l’exploitation : lorsque le producteur remplace sa tubulure, il se doit de permettre une coupe de jardinage acérico-forestier, qui implique le prélèvement 15 à 25 % des arbres sur place. « Sauf que la prescription de l’ingénieur est faite pour revenir dans 20 ans. L’arbre pourrait être bon à entailler 15 ans encore ! » dit M. Breton. C’est ainsi que l’érablière a perdu 2000 entailles à l’automne 2019, dans le cadre d’un projet-pilote visant à étudier les possibilités de prélèvement à travers une production acéricole. Et cette opération, quand elle est réalisée par une forestière, aurait de grands impacts. « Pour quelqu’un qui ramasse le bois tous les 20 ans, ça n’a pas d’importance. Mais pour nous, des ornières de quatre pieds de profond, quand vient le temps d’aller entailler, de retirer des entailles ou juste de courir les fuites, c’est très difficile de naviguer le territoire », déplore M. Breton, qui n’hésite pas à parler de « favoritisme », considérant les contraintes environnementales auxquelles les acériculteurs doivent se plier de leur côté. L’équipe est néanmoins consciente que les coupes visent également une régénération de la forêt et des érables, « mais c’est environ 60 à 70 ans entre la petite tige et l’arbre qu’on peut entailler, commente M. Lapierre. Moi je n’aurai pas ça. Mes enfants n’auront pas ça. » Place à l’amélioration La Table de gestion intégrée des ressources naturelles et du territoire de l’Estrie (TGIRT) est bien au fait des préoccupations d’Érablière Lapierre, et s’est même rendue sur place en 2019. La coordinatrice de la table, l’ingénieure forestière Manon Ayotte, affirme que les coupes du secteur sont planifiées et réalisées dans les règles. « Mais il y a toujours place à amélioration. Par exemple avec la problématique des écureuils, on n’a aucune idée si c’est causé par les coupes adjacentes. C’est possible qu’elles aient des effets qu’on ne connaisse pas ou qu’on ne prévoit pas. C’est important de faire de la rétroaction. » Les coupes planifiées par des aménagistes du MFFP doivent passer par la TGIRT, puis par des consultations publiques avant d’être mises en branle. « On s’en va là où les travaux sont dus pour être faits, là où on ne veut pas laisser mourir les arbres et où on a une maturité pour intervenir, avance Mme Ayotte. L’idée n’est pas nécessairement d’aller accoter l’érablière. Par contre, ce n’est pas nécessairement une problématique de le faire. Au contraire, dépendamment des traitements, ça peut susciter une entrée de lumière et favoriser la régénération et le développement de la couronne de l’arbre qui va être à proximité. » L’ingénieure forestière rappelle également que de s’installer en forêt publique implique l’harmonisation de différents usages... publics. « Il ne faut pas se cacher que les acériculteurs ont investi dans des installations en terres publiques en espérant pouvoir compter sur des agrandissements. Est-ce que l’erreur découle de là ? Est-ce qu’au départ, les investissements auraient dû se faire uniquement avec ce qui était alloué au niveau des entailles pour éviter les sentiments de droits acquis sur les peuplements ? C’est sûr qu’ils sont déçus si jamais ils se sont fait des projets de génération en génération. C’est un des inconvénients de s’installer en terres publiques. Il y a des avantages financiers très intéressants, mais ça vient avec certaines contraintes. » Celle-ci tient également à apporter des nuances quant à la dégradation du terrain causée par les machineries sur le site. « Le secteur où il y a eu de l’orniérage, ça a été mentionné que c’était trop humide et que ça nécessitait des travaux d’hiver. Il y a eu un refus du producteur. C’était trop contraignant pour remettre les tubes et ça mettait la production en retard », mentionne-t-elle. Le MFFP maintient de son côté que « la planification des activités de récolte forestière doit (et tient) compte des autres usages de la forêt et les autres utilisations de la forêt doivent aussi tenir compte des activités récoltes, sans primauté d’une activité sur les autres ». Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
(Submitted by David Voelker - image credit) Forty-three years ago, Dave Voelker spent two days walking 48 kilometres across a frozen Lake Erie. On Feb. 25, 1978, Voelker left Cleveland, Ohio by himself and was set on reaching Colchester, Ont. in the next 48 hours. On his back he carried all that he would need, including a tent, walkie talkie, and a tripod with a camera. "I knew it was frozen across I had to give it a shot, I'm a bit of an adventure junkie," Voelker told CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre. He said the temperature that year had been below freezing for at least a month and to be certain the water was frozen through, he checked in with the coast guard. A frozen Lake Erie as photographed by Voelker. When he first started crossing he said he saw some ice fishers, but there eventually came a point of "absolutely nothing at all." LISTEN: Dave Voelker talks about what the journey across was like with host Chris dela Torre "I was in my element," he said. "I'm a bit of a loner to begin with and being in the middle of a frozen Great Lake is the ultimate alone time, you're just left alone on your thoughts and I just reflected on what I was doing." He said he wasn't really scared, but the adventure didn't come without its challenges. At one point he could tell an ice breaker had gone through the lake and it caused the ice to bunch up in odd places. He also had to check a compass to make sure he was headed in the right direction. Eventually he made it to the other side and said a family witnessed his arrival. They then invited him in for dinner. Voelker pitched up a tent one day into his hike across the lake. Upon arriving in Colchester, he said he was relieved because he was so tired. Afterwards he says he ended up hitchhiking back home and passed through Windsor to do so. Some people still don't believe that Voelker crossed the lake, but he says he hopes the photos are enough. "Even if people don't believe it I know that I did it," he said.
(CBC - image credit) After multiple incidents and complaints from families, the Calgary Board of Education is reminding its staff that uttering, writing or using racial slurs — including when reading aloud — is not permitted in the school division. "Since the school year started, there has been at least three of these complaints that have come to my attention that we've had to address," said CBE chief superintendent Christopher Usih. "Teachers can certainly read content or teach content, but that they don't verbalize the word. In one particular case, for example, it was a use of the N-word in class." It was these complaints that prompted Usih to send all staff a note earlier this week reminding them that the use of racial slurs in any capacity is forbidden. He said this isn't about censorship or removing books from classrooms. "I want these conversations to happen in classrooms. [It's] important for young people to engage in conversations, to learn about their lived experiences, and teaching why the language is inappropriate remains important," he said. "We don't want you to write it all out on the board or to read it all out loud. The vast majority of times those words are not verbalized, so this is not new. What we wanted to do with this message was to really clarify expectations so that if there is any misunderstanding, that teachers know." One CBE teacher, who CBC News has agreed not to name as she fears professional retribution, said the note caught teachers at her school off guard. "It was just like a total blanket statement to all teachers and it was like, very reprimanding [to] me in nature. For something that most of us don't do anyway," she said. Thousands gathered in Calgary's Olympic Plaza on June 6, 2020 for a candlelight vigil in honour of victims of racism and police brutality. The teacher said she feels the note should have been accompanied by a conversation between principals and teachers about why the note was being sent. Instead, she said "nothing has been said." "No one is going to reply to the email because it's from the superintendent. So everyone's afraid for their job," she said. The teacher said CBE teachers also haven't been offered any professional development on best practices when teaching texts with these sorts of words and slurs. "We don't have any discussion and people are afraid now, and I don't know if that's how we should be feeling," the teacher said. Usih said while the note may have seemed sudden, it does provide a number of links to resources for teachers to help them tackle these conversations and topics with students — and he promises more education for teachers is forthcoming. "There's no question that professional learning is going to be important going forward, because that's how teachers can share best practices and we can talk about the fact that these are conversations that we need to have," he said. "These are good teaching moments for young people, but intent does not negate impact. "What we don't want is to place students in situations where they feel uncomfortable and they feel afraid or hurt, because the word that is used in the classroom is one that does not make them feel good about themselves."
Iran on Saturday condemned U.S. air strikes against Iran-backed militias in Syria, and denied responsibility for rocket attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq that prompted Friday's strikes. Washington said its strikes on positions of the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah paramilitary group along the Iraq border were in response to the rocket attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq.
The Village of South River discussed several topics at its Feb. 22 council meeting, including the annual water report, South River’s arena status and the District of Parry Sound Social Services Board being more involved in health and well-being. Here are key quotes from the council meeting. On the 2020 annual water report “People have concerns and rightly so; they have a right to be concerned about the security of their water, but we certainly have taken all the steps to make sure that security is there and it’s good for us to have a reminder for them,” said Coun. Bill O’Hallarn. “On our water page, both this report and the next one that we’re about to accept will be on the website (Feb. 23) and the past years are there,” said clerk-administrator Don McArthur. On the South River Arena “As we all know, we decided to remove the ice and that work will go on. We’ll move forward all the maintenance once they get the ice out that would have normally taken place in May and June — we can begin in March and see how far that takes us,” said McArthur. “We’re hopeful that the (Investing in Canadian Infrastructure Program) COVID-19 grant may be announced before the end of March and maybe we can enhance some of that work. For right now, the plan is to put the ice back in mid-June to be ready for hockey opportunity camp … so the arena update is that the season came to an end unfortunately,” said McArthur. On the District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board “That’s something we always wanted to do, was to have the District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board more involved with health and well-being,” said Coun. Teri Brandt. “The DSSAB is an active member of the build in Powassan for the new Noah building and you can see the building is going ahead and they’re very optimistic there’s going to be 50 units and lots of subsidized units,” said Brandt. The Village of South River’s next council meeting is on March 8. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
(Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press - image credit) A predicted warmer than average spring and the continued rollout of vaccines bodes well for COVID-19 case counts to drop in the coming months, experts say. But doctors are quick to add that comes with the caveat of continued stringent adherence to public health advice over the next few weeks and beyond so variants of the novel coronavirus don't rapidly spread in Ontario, overwhelming the health-care system. "If we are very careful, we can imagine a much better summer, and a better summer is the payoff from the stay at home order and the vaccinations. But if we let up, we will with little doubt lose the gains that we've worked so hard for," said Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory table at a news conference Thursday. "A better summer is in sight if we work for it now." No matter the year, Canadians hope for a mild spring ushering in warm weather as soon as winter abates — but amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the stakes are immeasurably higher. Warmer temperatures allow people to more easily gather outdoors, where the virus is less of a threat. Case counts throughout Ontario dropped significantly last summer, only to rise to new heights through the fall and winter. That's why it's welcome news that Environment Canada's models are suggesting it's going to be a warmer and milder than normal March this year. "March, April [and] May are all looking like warmer than normal," the federal agency's senior climatologist David Phillips told CBC News. Still, this is Canada — so people should expect some yo-yoing between decent and sludgy weather in the coming weeks, Phillips added. An 'even better and more open' summer Though he'd struck a very sombre tone in recent news conferences when laying out modelling projections, Brown said Thursday that the coming summer could be "even better and more open than last summer." He based that prediction on a variety of factors, such as the combination of vaccination and public health measures that have helped reduce virus transmission. More time outside in warmer weather with less time in enclosed spaces should only help break transmission of the disease even more. "Looking at historical models, like the 1918 influenza pandemic, we believe that the introduction of vaccination [and] the effective use of public health measures may mean that we're both able to control spread more, but also [establish] immunity in a much more safe and reliable way than in previous pandemics, where we truly had to rely on the spread of infection alone," Brown said. Though the province's vaccine rollout has been criticized, health experts say vaccination should somewhat mitigate COVID-19 caseloads this summer. Dr. David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said if all goes well, Ontario could expect to see "at worst" similar COVID-19 case counts as the province saw last summer. "But we'll probably see an even better situation because many of us now have immune experience with [the virus] … either because we've actually been infected, or increasingly because we've been vaccinated," Fisman said. "That's going to make whatever happened last summer happen to a lesser degree because many of us are protected." Avoiding a 3rd wave Officials hailed Health Canada's approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday as a "huge deal" for the province's immunization effort. According to Friday's figures, 258,014 people have received both doses of a vaccine. After almost a year of disruption, Fisman says we can now "see the finish line" for the pandemic in Canada — but with a minefield of variants of concern that are thought to be more transmissible in the way. "We just need to pick our way carefully through the minefield for these next few weeks, so we don't have another wave," he said. Dr. Peter Juni, scientific director of the province's Science Advisory Table, similarly warned that people have to be vigilant about the coronavirus variants over the next few weeks. He said that will have to happen before anyone is able to reap any benefits in the summer months. "What we now need to do is stick to the playbooks much more stringently than before," Juni said. "Do this now a bit longer and try to keep the numbers low. They're still quite high."
Unidentified gunmen stormed the Government Girls Secondary School in the town of Jangebe and took the girls away, say police.View on euronews
(Submitted by Star Milton - image credit) With the glow of Christmas holidays and the new year squarely in the rearview mirror, many people have been talking about hitting the COVID-19 wall: where the dwindling adrenalin of dealing with lockdowns, masks, social distancing — the list goes on — meets the thought of months more of the same. There is help, though, and according to those helping run the mental health system in Prince Edward Island, more people are reaching out for it. "We have seen an increase since the pandemic has hit, definitely through our intake services and also through our Community Mental Health walk-in clinics," said Star Milton, a clinical social worker with Community Mental Health, who works as an intake screener. She's the voice you'll hear if you call Community Mental Health in the Summerside area, at the Prince County Hospital. "When it comes to mental health, there's shame, there's fear, there's so many different emotions," Milton said. "It can be scary for people, especially the way they're brought up — some are brought up not to share or ask for that support." The most common complaint is anxiety and depressive symptoms or struggling with motivation, Milton said. Do you know how to find help on P.E.I.? Here's a guide to walk you through the process — and Milton reminds people, there is no wrong way to enter the system. Single point of access coming later in 2021 An important note: in his state-of-the-province address Monday night, Premier Dennis King said some time this year, the province will introduce a single point of access for mental health and addictions services on P.E.I.: a 24-hour phone line, seven days a week, "where a real human being answers the phone and helps to navigate the process of getting the appropriate treatment," he said. P.E.I. Premier Dennis King says the province has to make it easier for Islanders to navigate and access the appropriate mental health and addictions services on P.E.I. The province also plans to establish a P.E.I. Centre for Mental Wellbeing, an organization funded by but independent of government, that will work with community organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association, PEERS Alliance, the Boys and Girls Club, and others to create a co-ordinated network of services available for Islanders when they need them. "The centre will get off the ground immediately, with a founding board of high-performing leaders from across our province who will build a solid foundation for the centre to be fully operational by fall 2021," King said. Until then, here's how to find the help you need. Those in crisis can call the Island Helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-218-2885. You can also call P.E.I.'s Mental Health and Addictions Information Line weekdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. They may redirect you to a Community Mental Health office. Call Community Mental Health "Community Mental Health is exactly where to start," for those struggling with anxiety or depressive symptoms, Milton said. You can call 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. There are different toll-free phone numbers for Community Mental Health offices across P.E.I.: find the complete list for Souris, Montague, Charlottetown, Summerside, O'Leary and Alberton here. You do not need a referral from a doctor, Milton stresses: you can refer yourself. Your family doctor, nurse practitioner or an ER doctor can also refer you, as could a member of a school wellbeing team. What happens when you call? An administrator will take your name and phone number, then an intake worker like Milton will call back as quickly as possible — she said in Summerside, callbacks usually happen within 48 hours. The intake worker has a series of questions about how they can help so they can direct clients to the appropriate resource. That call can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, Milton said. "What I'm looking for is to see how people's daily functioning [is]," Milton said. "Their daily functioning might be a little bit interrupted, where others it might be significantly interrupted." Changes in sleep can be linked to changes in mental health. She'll ask how you've been sleeping and whether your appetite has changed, if you've been having psychotic symptoms or delusions, changes in memory, whether you have past trauma or are using alcohol or drugs. Addictions can be co-occurring with anxiety and depression, she noted. One of the questions will be whether you have access and coverage through your employer for counselling, like an employee assistance program. Most government employees on P.E.I. have access to a list of mental-health professionals, as do employees of some large private companies. Some people don't realize this help is available, Milton said. However, she stressed that even if you are covered, everyone is welcome to use the free public services offered by CMH. Go to a free walk-in clinic Another excellent way to seek help is simply show up at a Community Mental Health walk-in clinic offered across P.E.I., Milton said. The clinics went from in-person to over the phone during the early part of the pandemic, but now they can be either, depending on your preference. Some people do not have transportation to get to a walk-in clinic, or their mental health may present a barrier. Patients are presented with a single page form to fill out when they arrive at one of P.E.I.'s mental health walk-in clinics. The clinics are free, and you don't need an appointment. In Charlottetown, walk-in clinics are five days a week at two different locations. In Montague, clinics are Thursdays only, and are twice a week in Summerside. Here's the complete list of walk-in clinics, locations and times. Once Milton has done an intake interview, she triages the information — that means she decides where to send callers next, for help. Islanders can also find information on self-help and accessing the mental-health system through the online resource Bridge the gapp, a directory of resources Island-wide for adults and children. It can point Islanders to services such as peer support groups, to a huge library of articles on mental health, and to free online courses offered by Canada's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). This is yet another point of entry to the system, said Milton. Community Mental Health clinicians do not prescribe drugs, Milton said, since there is no doctor or nurse practitioner on staff. She said anyone looking to discuss or access medication should talk to their family doctor or NP, go to a medical walk-in clinic or access a virtual appointment with a doctor through the telemedicine provider Maple, at getmaple.ca. You've reached out, what's next? If someone is experiencing anxiety and depressive symptoms, there are many different things the system can offer, Milton assures. 'A lot of people ... are really seeing the benefits of doing group services,' such as ChangeWays, says Milton. She might refer them to one of the free programs offered by the Strongest Families Institute. Getting that set up takes only about a week, Milton said. Strongest Families has a group of online programs launched in 2015 by two psychiatry professors at Dalhousie to help Atlantic Canadian children, and now adults too, suffering from behaviour problems and anxiety. The Strongest Families website claims its programs have a 91 per cent success rate. ICAN is the only Strongest Families program aimed at adults suffering from anxiety, and began in 2019. It's a free eight-week program that includes videos, relaxation audio, a daily anxiety tracker and weekly telephone support from a coach. "I tell people if they're still struggling after they finish those programs ... we can offer more," Milton said. Group or individual therapy You may be offered the ChangeWays program, an in-person group that uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Program trainers include nurses, social workers, psychologists and occupational therapists. They're done in small group settings and one is begun every few months, or more often if there is high demand, Milton said. Islanders can also find information on self-help and accessing the mental-health system through the online resource Bridge the gapp, a directory of resources Island-wide for adults and children. Some may not be willing to participate in group therapy, and Milton said that's OK. "We try to meet them where they're at," she said, noting more people are using this option and "A lot of people ... are really seeing the benefits of doing group services." Community Mental Health also offers individual therapy with a clinician such as a registered nurse, psychologist or someone with a master's in social work (MSW). Milton said wait-lists for that differ in every P.E.I. office. Again, it is triaged, or based on urgency: if someone needs to be seen immediately, they are. Others may have to wait a bit, depending on the load of urgent cases. Milton said it is important to know that at any time if Islanders are waiting for treatment and their symptoms worsen, they can and should phone back Community Mental Health and be re-triaged. "I know it's probably so tough and they have to be so brave, and they're already so vulnerable coming through intake," she said. "But they need to call back if things are getting worse ... so we can reassess for intake. Which we have done." Islanders should also know that if they are waiting for treatment, they are welcome to drop in to a walk-in clinic any time — they can indicate they are on a wait-list, and get support until they can begin a course of therapy, Milton said. How will therapy help? Once you're assigned a clinician, you will get an appointment to come in person or talk on the phone. That clinician will decide your course of treatment on a case-by-case basis. Through the virtual care program, Islanders are able to consult with a doctor via text, phone, or video conference. It's done online through telehealth provider Maple. A common treatment is CBT, talk therapy that helps a patient understand how cognition, emotion and behaviour interact. "I've seen a lot of people calling for the first time saying 'I've had some past trauma and I've put it on the shelf, it's been fine, it's never come out and disrupted my daily function,' but all of a sudden it's exploded a little bit, and they need to unpack it and figure it out," Milton said. What happens if you are assigned a clinician and you don't think they are helping you, or you clash? "Sometimes we need to have those tough conversations, ask for what you need," Milton said. "Have a talk about it. Maybe the clinician can adjust something ... change how they are approaching things." Some people do quit and don't come back. "We hear that all the time from clinicians," Milton said. CMH will send a letter to the patient and try to get them to re-engage. "If you are not ready now, just come back, it's totally OK," she said. "We are here to support Islanders." She notes that Community Mental Health teams can also be deployed in larger-scale or group crisis situations, as they were for residents after the fire at Le Chez-Nous seniors' home in Wellington in January and the tragic drowning deaths of two teens in western P.E.I. last September. For youth cases who have tried a first-line treatment such as group or individual therapy, but who continue to struggle, a more intensive program called Insight may be recommended, Milton said. It's a day-treatment program for about four months that offers help for 13- to 18-year-olds with significant and persistent primary mood, anxiety, and/or psychotic disorders. You can't self-refer to Insight, but rather come through Community Mental Health. More from CBC P.E.I.
(Submitted by Kathryn Joel - image credit) Kathryn Joel has instructed in-person cooking classes with a focus on global dishes made with local ingredients for nearly a decade, but last year she was unsure if she'd make it another year with health restrictions related to the pandemic halting classes. In April, she started cooking meals in her commercial kitchen and delivering them door-to-door, but it was only a temporary measure. "There were just two of us working initially and we did that for maybe two weeks," said Joel, owner and chef of Get Cooking. "Then I was miserable and it was hard work for almost no money, and I had to sit myself down and think, you can't do this." With the help of her sons, she upgraded her cooking studio, adding video cameras, sound mixers and video cards to host virtual cooking classes. This year has been a busy one for Jordan — along with three other chefs, she's been hosting public and private sessions almost every day. Since launching a winter season of virtual classes in January, almost all of the 30-person classes have sold out. Offerings include the Vietnamese noodle dish bun cha, South Indian crepe-like dosas, and the French classic coq au vin. The classes range from an hour and a half to two hours. The head chef cooks from the Get Cooking kitchen studio, while another host engages with close to 30 participants on the video chat as they cook along at home, making sure everyone is caught up on each step of the recipe. Jordan charges $25 per device, while the at-home cooks supply their own groceries based on the recipe supplied. Jordan is happy with the accessibility that she can now offer through the virtual classes. "It can be a whole household joining in, which often is couples and families cooking. And it's under thirty dollars," she said. "So you either have to buy the ingredients, but they also have a meal at the end of it. So I love that. I love the accessibility of it. I have not always felt good that it's such an extremely expensive experience for people to come to." On Wednesday, a group learned how to make gnocchi Parisienne, a version of the pasta that's crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, along with a lamb ragu sauce. Making the gnocchi involves a tricky process of using a transferring choux pastry through a piping bag and cutting pieces of it as they fall into boiling water. The finished product from Kathryn Joel's cooking class featuring gnocchi parisienne topped with a lamb ragu sauce. "It was one of those ones where you've had gnocchi and then you have this and you're like, 'Oh, I'm going back.' I felt like a Parisian chef. It was fantastic," said Trisha Roffey, a participant in the cooking class. Roffey has taken part in previous Get Cooking classes over the past three years, but has been logging onto the virtual sessions almost weekly "Instead of going in, doing something, tasting something, coming back and describing it to your family, my family became immersed in it," she said. "The kids started cooking with me while we were doing it and learning the techniques and commenting on the foods and looking forward to the different classes." Cooks logging on from across the province The virtual classes have allowed people from around the province — and country — to participate A couple from South Carolina recently joined a class after searching for a class that teaches Indian dishes. Eileen Dooley of Calgary took part in the Wednesday class, trying the soft gnocchi dish a shot for the first time. She's signed up for classes with her mother as a way to spend time together as they cook in their own homes. "Food, I think because we're home, it's just kind of brought people together during this pandemic and again, making things you normally don't make," she said. Dooley was supposed to be travelling in Taiwan at this time and trying out local dishes. She appreciates that the Get Cooking classes focus on International cooking as it's the closest thing to escaping an Alberta winter and tasting different flavours. Kathryn Joel, cooks lamb in a skillet in her Get Cooking studio as class of students watch through a video chat and cook along in their kitchens at home."They kind of know you're missing travelling, and you can make it at home. It's not the same, but it's something. It's better than nothing," she said. Jodena Rogers of Calgary said she usually avoids cooking. Between work as a property manager and keeping her kids busy, making something that involves trial and error was the last thing on her mind, but having time at home during the pandemic has her looking to learn something new like cooking. "I think social engagement is huge, but sometimes people are intimidated by that experience," she said. "So for me, I came home from work. I'm able to get right into it. I do my prep work and I do think that there is a trend in virtual learning and we'll continue on with that." Joel agrees with that sentiment. She prefers the virtual cooking classes compared to the in-person group sessions she previously offered. She plans to make virtual classes as part of her business permanently, as she expects the trend of cooking at home to continue.
BERLIN — Germany's Left has picked two women to lead the anti-capitalist party into this fall's national election. A party conference Saturday elected Janine Wissler und Susanne Hennig-Wellsow as co-leaders. Wissler is the Left's parliamentary caucus leader in Hesse state. Hennig-Wellsow is the party's chairwoman in Thuringia, the only German state where the Left leads a government. The succeed Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger, who have led the party since 2012. The Left, which is partly rooted in East Germany's governing Socialist Unity Party, received 9.2% of the vote in the 2017 national election. Current polls ahead of the vote on Sept. 26 put its support at 7-8%. The Associated Press
(Beth Zaiken/Centre for Palaeogenetics via REUTERS - image credit) Yukon paleontologist Grant Zazula admits it — he's jealous. Until recently, Yukon had been the source of the oldest recovered DNA, from a 700,000-year-old horse fossil found a couple of decades ago near Dawson City. Now a team of international researchers say they have recovered and sequenced DNA from the teeth of three mammoths in Russia's extreme north, the oldest specimen being about 1.2 million years old. "So I'm actually a little bit jealous, now that the record now belongs to a Siberian fossil," Zazula said. The upside, he says, is that the new research opens the door to all sorts of possible new discoveries and insights from Yukon's own trove of Ice Age fossils. "It's really going to allow us to be able to look at earlier stages of the Ice Age and look at the, you know, genetics of these different extinct animals going back a million years, maybe even further back in time, as these technologies evolve," he said. "Twenty years ago, when I started getting involved in paleontology, we were still really excited about the novelty of being able to extract any DNA from ancient animals." 'The Yukon is amazingly situated to be able to play major roles and some of these projects,' said Grant Zazula, a paleontogist with the Yukon government. Ancient DNA can help fill in the blanks of how extinct species evolved and adapted — or failed to adapt — over the millennia. Zazula says a lot of information can be teased out of a genome sequence, from what a species looked like to how it interacted with its environment. There are also a lot of mysteries yet to be solved about mammoths in particular, he says, and how the population that crossed the Bering Land Bridge from Siberia into North America relates later mammoth populations. "Most of what we know about the Ice Age is really only the last little bits of the Ice Age," he said. But for earlier periods of the Ice Age — say, a million years ago — Zazula says it's less understood. "Really there's a lot of speculation because we don't have a lot of well-dated records from that time period." The new research suggests that Yukon could play an even bigger role in paleontological research, because the territory is a rich source of ancient fossils. It's not uncommon for Yukon gold miners to stumble across amazing finds preserved deep in the permafrost. "The Yukon is amazingly situated to be able to play major roles in some of these projects," Zazula said. He was already contacted a few months ago by one of the Swedish scientists involved in the Russian mammoth fossil research. "He contacted me saying, 'hey, do you guys have any old mammoths from the Yukon?' And I said, 'well, we have one that's about 700,000 years old,'" Zazula recalled. "So, yeah, hopefully in a few months we can add to this story and talk about how that lineage crossed the Bering Land Bridge for the first time into North America roughly a million years ago."
(Brian Chisholm/CBC News file photo - image credit) Mount Allison University's decision to launch an internal review following complaints about the personal blog of one of its professors is an "egregious" violation of academic freedom, a group dedicated to the protection of free speech and scholarship says. Earlier this week, Mount Allison announced it was conducting an internal review after receiving complaints about an associate psychology professor's blog. In a statement, the university said "serious concerns have been expressed" about posts related to systemic racism, sexual violence, gender, and colonization. "We neither support nor agree with the inappropriate comments that have been posted to this blog," the university said. On Wednesday, the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship rallied to the professor's defence. The society, a group of Canadian professors headed by philosophy professor Mark Mercer, sent a letter urging Mount Allison to rethink its decision. "The professor alluded to in the tweet is Rima Azar, associate professor of health psychology, and the comments Dr. Azar posted on her blog "Bambi's Afkar" concern matters of public and academic importance, such as freedom of expression, university policies, the existence of systemic racism in Canada and teaching in a multi-cultural society," the group said in a letter to Mount Allison. "SAFS is concerned that Mount Allison's [statement] violates Dr. Azar's academic freedom and will function to suppress discussion and inquiry" at the university. Mark Mercer, president of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, says Mount Allison has "no legitimate reason" to look into Azar's postings. In an interview, Mercer said Mount Allison has "no legitimate reason" to look into Azar's postings, and said he sees its decision to do so as a response to public pressure. "It's an expression of cancel culture and it perpetuates cancel culture," Mercer said. "As soon as the investigation is called, that's an act of cancelling." Azar declined to comment on the internal review or on the society's response. Mount Allison acknowledged Friday that it has received the letter, but did not respond to questions about whether it will continue with the review. "We have no further comments at this time," communications officer Aloma Jardine said in an email. Mercer said he has not heard back from Mount Allison yet, but that he is hopeful the university will change its position and use the controversy as a "teachable moment." "When we're confronted with positions that we think are false or dangerous, we should analyze them, discuss the arguments for and against," not shut them down, he said. Mount Allison University should be using the controversy around the complaints as a teachable moment about the academic values of free speech and discussion, Mercer said. No topics should be off-limits, Mercer says Earlier this week, Jonathan Ferguson, president of Mount Allison Students' Union, said it received multiple complaints about Azar's blog. The complaints were not about any one post specifically, he said, but rather about "what this professor was saying throughout her blog … denying systemic racism in New Brunswick or in Canada, talking about BIPOC students in unkind ways, labelling Black Lives Matter a radical group — stuff that doesn't run in line with the values of our institution at all." Husoni Raymond, a St. Thomas University graduate who was mentioned in Azar's blog, tweeted: "So one Black person wins an award and that means there's no racism? Disappointing to see a professor who's still ignorant to what racism is and will be using her power within the institution to uphold racists ideologies. Racism IS in Canada. Racism IS in NB." Raymond was responding to a post by Azar in which she said, in part: "NB is NOT racist. Canada is NOT racist. We do not have 'systemic' racism or 'systemic' discrimination. We just have systemic naivety because we are a young country and because we want to save the world. "Oh, one quick question to Mr. Husoni Raymond: Upon your graduation from St. Thomas University, you have been named the 2020 recipient of the Tom McCann Memorial Trophy for your 'strong leadership and character' ... "If NB is as racist as you are claiming, would one of its prestigious universities be honouring you like that?" Mercer said no topics should be off-limits. "The point of freedom of expression on campus is to remove impediments from discussion ... so that people can say what's on their mind," he said. "So when a university says it doesn't support this view, then that's the institution saying there's a party line. And then when they say they're investigating, then they're saying there are some things that cannot be said."
Archaeologists have unearthed a unique ancient-Roman ceremonial carriage from a villa just outside Pompeii, the city buried in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD. The almost perfectly preserved four-wheeled carriage made of iron, bronze and tin was found near the stables of an ancient villa at Civita Giuliana, around 700 metres (yards) north of the walls of ancient Pompeii. Massimo Osanna, the outgoing director of the Pompeii archaeological site, said the carriage was the first of its kind discovered in the area, which had so far yielded functional vehicles used for transport and work, but not for ceremonies.