Here's the latest for Wednesday April 28th: Biden prepares address; India reaches 200,000 COVID-19 deaths; US Ship fires warning shots when Iranian ships get too close; Independent autopsy of NC man killed by deputies released.
Here's the latest for Wednesday April 28th: Biden prepares address; India reaches 200,000 COVID-19 deaths; US Ship fires warning shots when Iranian ships get too close; Independent autopsy of NC man killed by deputies released.
SEVEROMORSK, Russia (AP) — A top Russian admiral complained Thursday about increased NATO military activities near the country's borders, describing them as a threat to regional security. Adm. Alexander Moiseyev, the commander of Russia's Northern Fleet, said that NATO navy ships' presence in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea have reached levels unseen since World War II. Speaking to reporters onboard the Northern Fleet's flagship, the Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great) missile cruiser, at its Arctic base of Severomorsk, Moiseyev charged that NATO drills have edged closer to Russian borders, and noted increasingly frequent flights by U.S. nuclear-capable strategic bombers. “Such actions are provocative and have a negative impact on regional security,” Moiseyev said. He voiced particular concern about the U.S. military assets on the territory of NATO ally Norway that borders Russia, charging that it has led to an “increase of the conflict potential in the Arctic.” Ties between Russia and the West have plummeted to post-Cold War lows after the 2014 Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and Moscow’s support for a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly voiced concern over the deployment of NATO forces near Russian borders. Russia and the alliance also have blamed each other for conducting destabilizing military exercises near the borders. Last month, a massive build-up of Russian troops alongside the Ukrainian border fueled concerns in Ukraine and the West. The Kremlin rejected Western worries, charging that the troops don't threaten anyone, but it also warned Ukrainian authorities against trying to use force to reclaim control of the rebel east. The Associated Press
A small town congregation's defiance of COVID-19 public health orders and the community's surveillance of parishioners have created a toxic environment that could come to a head Friday when a judge decides whether to lock the doors of the Church of God in Aylmer, Ont. The church, Pastor Henry Hildenbrandt and Assistant Pastor Patrick Wall were found in contempt of court for continuing in-person services despite a court order to stop to meet COVID-19 restrictions. Ontario Superior Court Justice Bruce Thomas must now decide what penalty, if any, to impose. "This whole thing has turned one small community in Ontario into a cauldron of hostility, one that has pitted neighbour against neighbour. I am deeply concerned about the toxic environment in Aylmer," Thomas told virtual court Thursday. "This congregation and these people, although different than the mainstream population of southwestern Ontario, were living in peace and tranquility in this community in the past. Now, I see a splintered community, a fractious community." The town church is one of several in Canada that are challenging the constitutionality of public health orders that prohibit gatherings, including church services. Those will be heard in October. Locking the doors of churches in Canada is a poignant symbol of our democracy under threat. - Lisa Bildy, Aylmer, Ont., church's lawyer At the beginning of the pandemic last year, the southwestern Ontario church held drive-in services, which were prohibited by provincial law, and then escalated to 200-person gatherings within the building, with no physical distancing or mask wearing. Hildebrandt's sermons, in front of a large congregation, are available on YouTube and Facebook as shown in this image. (Church of God at Aylmer/YouTube) The church, and its pastors and parishioners have been ticketed multiple times by Aylmer police. But physically locking all the exterior doors, as the Crown has asked, goes too far, argued Lisa Bildy, a lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which represents the church. "Locking the doors of churches in Canada is a poignant symbol of our democracy under threat," she said. "This was two weeks to flatten the curve and has become 60 weeks and counting. No outbreaks have been traced to the church... I don't think we should be locking church doors in this country. Church is fundamental to these people." Welcomes further fines Many church members come from a Mennonite tradition, speak Low German (a variety or dialect of the language), and dress in modest clothing as a way to signal that church for them is way of life, not just something to attend on Sunday, Bildy said. They [Church of God] are flouting the law and public health orders. Locking the door is the only way to ensure they won't access the building. - Connie Vernon, Crown lawyer "Pastor Hildebrandt didn't set out to be defiant, he didn't set out to be a figurehead in a movement. He wanted his parishioners to have some community," she said. He has now embraced the role of figurehead, said Bildy. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Hildebrandt has embraced the No More Lockdowns movement, including a 2,000-person rally against COVID-19 restrictions in the small town. He has preached that the virus doesn't exist and encouraged defiance of provincial lockdown rules. His sermons, in front of a large congregation, are available on YouTube and Facebook. The church and its pastors have "committed themselves to publicly and continuously defy the public health measures," said Crown lawyer Connie Vernon in her arguments to the court. "They have stated clearly that they plan to breach any court order, they have encouraged civil disobedience, they've encouraged others to come to the church," she said. "It is clear that [Hildebrandt] welcomes further fines and will continue to open the church. They are flouting the law and public health orders. Locking the door is the only way to ensure they won't access the building. There is nothing to suggest that they will stop inviting people in." The Crown wants: All exterior doors locked until there are no more public health orders. For Hildebrandt and his assistant pastor to be fined $10,000 each. For the church to be fined $50,000. For the church to pay for $100,000 in court fees. Bildy argued the court fees are much too steep and the monetary penalties too high. If the doors are locked, the pastor should be allowed to access the building sometimes to check on it, and they should be unlocked when public health orders are less restrictive. Hundreds of people stand by the side of the main street in Aylmer, Ont., before a rally and march to protest public health measures. (Kate Dubinski/CBC) Thomas said he will make his decision Thursday, but added he doesn't see Hildebrandt as a passive player in the movement against public health orders. "He has chosen the role he now has. He has chosen to be the spokesperson for the infringement of rights," said Thomas. "He uses his pulpit as a pulpit to exert an argument to others to follow his example. It's not about the word of his God, it's also about the concerns that he is exhorting others to breach the regulations. He's chosen to be the face, front and centre of this movement."
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's leading Jewish group on Thursday sharply condemned protests in front of a synagogue in the western city of Gelsenkirchen as “pure antisemitism.” Several other German cities including Berlin, Hamburg and Hannover have seen anti-Israeli protests over the past few days. At least two synagogues were attacked, and several Israeli flags were torn down and burned since the latest eruption of violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip. The Central Council of Jews in Germany tweeted a video of dozens of protesters in Gelsenkirchen waving Palestinian and Turkish flags and yelling expletives about Jews. “Jew hatred in the middle of Gelsenkirchen in front of the synagogue. The times in which Jews were cursed in the middle of the street should have long been over. This is pure antisemitism, nothing else!” the group tweeted. The German government repeatedly condemned anti-Israeli and antisemitic attacks earlier this week and said that “the perpetrators must be found and held responsible and Jewish institutions must be protected thoroughly.” On Thursday, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Funke Media Group that “there must be zero tolerance for attacks on synagogues in our country.” “All of us are called on to make it very clear that we do not accept if Jews in Germany are made responsible for the events in the Middle East — neither in the streets nor on social media,” Maas added. The protests in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday were dispersed by police, German news agency dpa reported, but authorities reported further incidents in other parts of the country. Some cities which had hoisted Israeli flags in front of their city halls on Wednesday in remembrance of the start of German-Israeli diplomatic relations on May 12, 1965, reported that the flags were torn down and sometimes burned. An Israeli flag in front of a city hall in the western town of Solingen was torn and burnt and two Israeli flags in Berlin were also torn down late Wednesday night. On Tuesday night, police stopped 13 suspects in the western city of Muenster near a synagogue after an Israeli flag was burned there. In the western city of Bonn, police said several people damaged the entrance of a synagogue with stones and investigators found a burned flag as well. In nearby Duesseldorf, somebody burned garbage on top of a memorial for a former synagogue. Several cities and states in Germany have since upped their security and raised police presence in front of Jewish institutions, dpa reported. In Berlin, some 100 people also assembled for a pro-Israel rally on Wednesday night in front of the city's landmark Brandenburg Gate waving Israeli flags and holding a banner saying “We stand with Israel — Now and Forever." Kirsten Grieshaber, The Associated Press
Premier Andrew Furey issued his full thoughts on the Moya Greene report for the first time on Thursday. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador) Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey says the province's financial circumstances are unsustainable and the total provincial debt of $47 billion is an unbearable load for residents. In a video released Thursday evening, Furey offered his full thoughts for the first time about the recently released, and blunt, Moya Greene report, which outlines the province's dire fiscal situation. "Our province is spending more than we have. We are borrowing just to pay interest on what we owe. Over a billion dollars a year with nothing to show for it. Our credit card debt is out of control," Furey said. Furey touched on a number of highlights from the report, from his appointed economic recovery team, including the need for the provincial government to quickly rein spending in to match revenue, and the fear of losing control of the province's future if nothing is done. The premier said "urgent actions" include: Raising taxes on people "who can afford it." Reviewing public sector salaries and eliminating bonuses. Evaluating the future of Nalcor and the province's future position in oil equity. Investing in technology innovation and the green economy. Amalgamating health authorities. Reaching a new deal with Memorial University. Examining "the purpose of a school district that continues to keep empty schools open." Watch Premier Andrew Furey's full statement: The numbers in the Greene report "should ring loudly for us all," said Furey. "This situation predates the pandemic and it has been compounded exponentially by Muskrat Falls." The premier provided no specifics about how the provincial government would implement the actions he mentioned. Furey also didn't take questions from the media Thursday evening, but has scheduled an availability for Friday morning. A collaborative approach The premier also said the province plans to approach fluctuations in the oil and gas sector by pursuing a green transition, continuing to build the technology sector and streamlining health care with the goal of reinvesting savings "into the social determinants of health." "These are just some of the bells that will ring in our reclamation," he said. Decisions made for the province's future will be come from a collaborative approach, including public consultations, said Furey. Waste needs be eliminated and accountability increased for government as well as non-elected officials on boards and agencies, said the premier. Interim PC Leader David Brazil says Premier Andrew Furey's video statement is unacceptable. (Mark Quinn/CBC) "The decisions will be collectively ours as to where we go from here. But they must be informed decisions because we know they will be hard ones," he said. "This approach needs to be fair and balanced built on principled, ethical action, a moral covenant to act based on answering one fundamental question. Not 'is this decision good for me, or my group, but is it good for the future of the province?' Through consultations, everyone has the opportunity to add their voice. We all knew this was coming." 'Borderline baffling' Interim Opposition Leader David Brazil, who met with members of the media minutes after the video was released, said he was surprised and disappointed by Furey's decision to release a video to address the public about the report. "It's borderline baffling that he wouldn't give the opportunity for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, through the media, to get clarification on what he's proposing and to get some better understanding as to how we would approach challenging situations that are in this report," Brazil said. "We in the House of Assembly, and I know the opposition have agreed, we will be collaborative. We will work with the government, but we need to know, as the people do, what the information is and where and how we're going to move this forward." Memorial University political science professor Russell Williams called Furey's statement "surprisingly vague," adding that it's not clear what Furey is specifically planning to do with the report's recommendations. "Some of those vague areas were made worse, obviously, by the fact that there was no opportunity to ask him questions about it afterwards," said Williams. Williams also said it's not clear what Furey meant by "a new deal with Memorial University." "I have no idea. There's some recommendations about that in the Greene report, but the premier hasn't really said what he means by that," said Williams. "I think if I was to boil to one simple point, this was a huge missed opportunity for the premier to actually tell us either what he thinks about the substantive recommendations in the Greene report, or to tell us what his plan is for a process going forward as to how he's going to choose what to implement." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) — Netflix’s “Tiger King” star Jeff Lowe and his wife are willing to give up their big cats to resolve a Justice Department civil complaint against them over the animals' care, their attorney told a federal judge. At a hearing Wednesday where the judge found the couple in contempt for violating a previous order regarding the big cats, attorney Daniel Card said the Lowes “want out completely." Jeff Lowe took over the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park from founder Joe Exotic in 2016. Lowe and his wife displayed big cats there until shutting down the park in August. They then moved to a new facility in Thackerville. The civil complaint, filed in November, accused the Lowes of recurring inhumane treatment and improper handling of animals protected by the Endangered Species Act. U.S. District Judge John F. Heil III in January issued an order that, among other things, required the couple to prevent breeding; to relinquish all of their lion and tiger cubs to the federal government; and not to exhibit any of their big cats. The judge in March found that the Lowes had violated his order, and on Wednesday fined them $1,000 per day until they get in compliance, according to The Oklahoman. “They don’t want to fight this anymore. They don’t want to do it,” Card told Heil. “They want to give the tigers to a ... sanctuary of their choice and be done with it.” Jeff Lowe was one of the central characters in the Netflix series that became a pop culture phenomenon last year. The series focused on Joe Exotic, a pseudonym for Joseph Maldonado-Passage. He is serving 22 years in federal prison for violating federal wildlife laws and for his role in a failed murder-for-hire plot targeting his chief rival, Carole Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida. The Associated Press
The province says virtual learning will remain in place until it can reach a consensus with public health units, teachers' unions and health officials on reopening schools safely — even though Ontario's COVID-19 case counts are trending downward and school-aged children will be eligible for vaccine appointments by the end of the month, The message came from Premier Doug Ford at a news conference on Thursday alongside Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health. "On the one hand, we have some doctors saying they want to open the schools. On the other hand, we have the teachers' unions saying we can't do that right now," Ford said. "We need public health doctors, teachers and labour partners to agree on the best path forward ... And we simply don't have that right now." Last week, the province announced it will offer online learning for the entirety of the 2021-2022 school year, but made no mention about whether or not students might return to in-person classes this spring. At Thursday's news conference, Williams said he is in discussions with public health units and the Ministry of Education to determine "when's the best time, the right time" to reopen. "We want [schools] to open and stay open because we feel it's very important to have our children back in the schools and to maintain the safety record we've had up to now," he said. In the meantime, the province said it will work to vaccinate as many teachers and students as possible given the expansion of vaccine eligibility to younger Ontarians. Starting May 31, youths aged 12 to 17 will be eligible to receive their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, the province announced on Thursday. Prepare for all scenarios, Ministry of Education says Meanwhile, in a memo sent home to parents Wednesday night, Canada's largest school board announced it is bringing back the "quadmester" model next school year for its secondary students under recent direction from the Ministry of Education. Under this model, students with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) take two courses at a time during four separate academic semesters instead of four classes during two semesters. "We have to make sure that if you're taking X number of classes that students are able to be spaced out ... The bottom line is to reduce that student-to-student contact," said TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird. In an emailed statement to CBC News, the Ministry of Education said it has asked school boards to "prepare for all scenarios" given the expansion of vaccine eligibility. In an emailed statement to CBC News, the Ministry of Education says it has asked school boards to 'prepare for all scenarios' given that younger people will soon be eligible for vaccines.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) "The arrival of a more stable vaccine supply and recent Health Canada approval of vaccinations for youth aged 12-17 will enable more flexibility and allow for a more normal in-class learning experience," the ministry said. But a change in direction come September would be a challenge, Bird said, citing the preparation already underway to accommodate the schedules of 70 to 80,000 students. "When you're planning for tens of thousands of students and their course selections, to go from one model to another is not fun. It will be challenging. It will be complex," Bird said. "We can do it, but it will take some time." Still many unknowns, doctor says For infectious disease specialist Dr. Anna Banerji, having kids vaccinated is critical for a safe return to in-person learning. "Having the kids vaccinated means less outbreaks, less opening and closures, less uncertainty," she said. While there are still many questions about what ensures a safe reopening of schools, Banerji is hopeful things will be better come the fall. "It depends on case rate. It depends on the variants," she said. "If kids get two vaccines and they seem to be responsive to the circulating variants there, then I don't see why we can't start thinking about normalizing in school ... But there's a lot of things between here and there that we don't know." On Wednesday, Ottawa public health officials and the city's mayor called on Ontario to conduct a regional approach to reopening schools, with the city's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches saying the decline of COVID-19 indicators shows the schools in the nation's capital are on a path toward reopening within a matter of weeks. On Tuesday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said: 'We want to get kids in school,' but he added that Williams has not yet changed the current set of restrictions forcing in-person classes to close.
Ottawa is launching a new policy to help the families of victims of two major airline disasters become permanent residents in Canada, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Thursday. The new policy will apply to relatives of anyone who died on board Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 or Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, so long as those victims were Canadian citizens, permanent residents or found eligible on their application for permanent residency. The policy applies to people currently in Canada, and anyone who made a refugee claim after these two disasters happened is also eligible to apply under the new policy. Mendicino said the federal government is introducing this public policy, which will remain in place until May 11, 2022, to demonstrate compassion and solidarity with the families in their efforts to seek justice. "I've had the privilege of speaking with some of the families were related to the victims of flight PS752. Grief and anguish is real and ongoing," he said. "Families are in pain. They still ask questions." Kourosh Doustshenas, whose partner Forough Khadem died in the crash, said the association that represent the families of the victims welcomes the new policy. "We appreciate the government of Canada is taking these steps to support the families," he said in an interview with The Canadian Press. Fifty-five Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents were among the 176 people killed when a Ukrainian jetliner was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile minutes after taking off from Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020. The Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane crashed near Addis Ababa on March 10, 2019, claiming the lives of 157 people, including 18 Canadians. Mendicino said the new program provides a pathway to permanent residency to people whose loved ones made Canada their home before being so suddenly taken. He said a relative a relative could be spouse, common-law partner, child, grandchild, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew. Applicants may still be eligible even if they have entered Canada without the required visa or other documents, failed to comply with certain conditions or have worked or studied without being authorized under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, he said. Doustshenas the government should allow family members outside of Canada to apply. "We are hoping (the government) will expand (the new policy) to be more inclusive," he said. "We want to make sure other people who are not in Canada also get the chance to travel here and apply for permanent residency." He said the policy should be expanded to include the families of Iranian students who where among the victims of the plane shootdown and had the intention to work and live in Canada after graduation. Mendicino said his department is working on further measures to facilitate permanent residence applications for certain members of victims’ families who are currently outside Canada, and it will provide updates on this once those measures are in place. Former Liberal public safety minister Ralph Goodale, who was named Canada's special adviser on the response to the crash, released a report on the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 in December concluding that it's vital it is for the investigation into this air disaster to be transparent to ensure accountability. Ten Iranian officials were indicted over the shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane by Tehran military prosecutor Gholamabbas Torki, who avoided naming those responsible when he announced the indictments last month. Doustshenas the families of the victims can't trust the Iranian justice system because the Tehran military prosecutor didn't disclose the names of those charged, nor the alleged offences. "We still don't know what happened. We still don't know the truth. We haven't seen any kind of justice," he said. "We are hoping through an independent investigation by Canada and other countries, we can finally get to the bottom of that and find the truth." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that Canada would work with the international community to reform aviation standards and to ensure the families of victims "get closure, get compensation and mostly get justice from Iran." This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2021. —— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellows Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
Police services and OPP detachments around Northern Ontario have been handing out tickets to citizens who choose to violate Ontario's COVID-19 restrictions. Based on recent news releases and information from several police agencies, dozens of Northerners have been fined in connection with violations of Ontario's Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) in recent weeks. This is especially true in the case of gatherings. Most recently, on May 9 in Kirkland Lake, Ontario Provincial Police officers responded to a report of a large indoor gathering at a residence on Harding Avenue. Police said the gathering was in contravention of the EMCPA. Police said 23 individuals were ticketed and charged. In addition, two individuals were charged with criminal offences of obstructing police officers. The occupant of the home was also charged for hosting and organizing a gathering in contravention of the Act. "The OPP is doing its part to support the Ontario Government's Health Emergency Declaration to limit the transmission of COVID-19. It is important that the public understands that there are consequences for individuals who defy the EMCPA," said the OPP news release. Also on May 9, Timmins Police responded to a noise complaint on Royale Street in that city. "While responding to the noise complaint, Timmins Police officers had occasion to locate and interview a total of five persons gathered around two vehicles listening to music at an elevated volume level," said the news release. Police said none of the five people shared a legitimate common address. Police said this meant that all five persons were in breach of the EMCPA. Accordingly, two men aged 19 and 20 and three women aged 18, 19 and 20 were served with Province Offence Act notices. Police said each offence notice carried a fine of $880 upon conviction or entering a guilty plea. "In light of recent Covid (sic) positivity numbers, the Timmins Police has adopted a firmer approach when confronting such violations as it is deemed to be necessary and appropriate to do so in order to better protect people from their own lack of good judgement and the indulgence in unsafe behaviors," said the Timmins Police news release. The rules with respect to gatherings don't just apply to places. The rules also apply to vehicles. OPP in Kirkland Lake were conducting traffic enforcement on Highway 112 when police stopped a vehicle in Otto Township. "There were four individuals in the motor vehicle and the investigation revealed that they were from different households and travelling for non-essential purposes in contravention of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA)," said a police statement. Each person was charged and ticketed. Another event occurred on May 1 in South River (Machar Township) where OPP officers from Almaguin Highlands Detachment attended on Rose Anna Drive. Police said a group of people were discovered to be in contravention of the Stay At Home order. Police said six people were charged and ticketed. Also on May 1, but this time in Kirkland Lake, OPP officers "investigated the circumstances surrounding a protest that was held at Kinross Pond in the Town of Kirkland Lake." Police determined that the protest was held in contravention of the EMCPA. As a result, police said eight people were charged and ticketed. A day earlier on April 30 in Sault Ste. Marie, local police officers attended an illegal gathering held at Bellevue Park to ensure it remained peaceful and to investigate the gathering. "The investigation identified three people as having organized the illegal gathering, two from Sault Ste. Marie and one person from Spring Water Township, Ontario," said the news release from the Sault Police Service. It was then on May 8 that SSM officers attended another gathering held at Bellevue Park. "All three of the people deemed to have organized the April 30, 2021 illegal gathering were in attendance and were charged under the Reopening Ontario Act. A conviction for organizing an illegal gathering will result in a minimum fine of $10,000," said the release. While on scene of that May 8th gathering, officers charged 13 people under the EMCPA for attending an illegal gathering. A conviction for violating the EMCPA will result in a fine of $750, said police. A couple of days before that in Thunder Bay, police said they were made aware of a potential large gathering that was being organized. "The gathering was organized by a group that was staging similar events at various cities amid a cross-country tour. Following an investigation, police determined the organized gathering, which took place in the evening of Tuesday, April 27, was in violation of the province’s current Stay at Home Order," said the release from Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS). "Two event organizers -- one person from Thunder Bay and one person from British Columbia -- were charged under the province's Emergency Management And Civil Protection Act," said the release. Police said one of the men from out of town was released and must return to the city for a future court date. "We all have obligations regarding the provincial orders. We will enforce when situations dictate, such as incidents where there has been a blatant disregard of the province’s emergency orders," said the TBPS news release. In most other cases, the members of the Thunder Bay Police Service will continue to focus on the 4 E’s: • Engage (with the individuals). • Explain (why we are there). • Educate (on the rules and regulations). • Enforce (as a last resort). On April 26, during a late night traffic stop on Pine Street North in Timmins, police determined that three individuals in the car did not share a common address. Police said a 24-year-old male from Toronto, a 30-year-old female from Timmins and a 60-year-old male from Timmins were all charged and ticketed under the ECPMA. "As stated in previous public notices, the educational approach and generous use of discretion originally adopted by the Timmins Police has come to an end, especially in light of recent distressing numbers related to Covid positivity in our area," said the Timmins Police release. A similar event took place in the Sault on April 18 when police were notified of an organized gathering taking place on St. Mary’s River Drive. Police said they attended and spoke with eight persons at the scene. "As a result of the investigation into the gathering, three people have been issued provincial offences notices under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Officers are currently working on issuing the five other individuals with a provincial offences notice," said a news release. "Even if you have received the COVID-19 vaccine, the majority of our communities are not yet fully immunized. This means that, for the moment, everyone must continue to avoid close contact with people outside our households, regardless of whether we have had the vaccine," said the release which also included comments from Algoma Public Health. Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com. He covers health care in Northern Ontario. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
The Quebec government is hoping to bolster the use of French in the province through a sweeping new bill which would affect students, businesses and new immigrants among many others.
CHARLOTTETOWN — Health officials in Prince Edward Island said Thursday they are concerned a case of COVID-19 tied to a daycare centre in Charlottetown may have spread beyond the facility. The case is likely travel-related and involves someone in their 20s who works at Leaps and Bounds Childcare Centre, chief medical officer Dr. Heather Morrison told reporters. "We really are going to need to focus on trying to see if we can contain and manage any potential spread that may have happened in this situation," she said. The centre takes care of between 38 and 40 children and has eight staff. Morrison said the daycare will be closed and children, staff and their close contacts will be tested and asked to isolate as they wait for results. Morrison said early contact tracing indicates the case may involve a close contact of someone who recently travelled, adding that it's too early to say if additional restrictions are needed in the capital. Premier Dennis King told reporters he has asked Economic Growth Minister Matthew MacKay to help people affected by the daycare closing to access federal support payments. The province has seven active reported cases of COVID-19. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
Every time Nicole Sparks pulls into an accessible parking spot, her heart starts racing and she asks herself, "Who's going to yell at me today?" It was no different last Saturday when Sparks, 28, parked her vehicle and started making her way into a pharmacy. The Cole Harbour, N.S., woman is missing her left arm and wears a prosthetic. "The lady in the car next to me rolled down her window and started making very derogatory comments, saying that I did not look like I was disabled so I should not be in that spot," Sparks told CBC Radio's Mainstreet this week. About a year ago, Sparks said she asked her doctor for an accessible parking pass because she'd developed carpal tunnel in her right hand, which makes it painful and difficult to carry grocery bags or push a cart. Sparks said she tried to explain that to the woman, but the stranger didn't listen. "She cut me off," said Sparks. "She started making very rude comments about my disability. She was swearing at me, and it escalated quite quickly to the point where I nearly had a panic attack. I was shaking. I couldn't get my words out." It was not the first time the mother of two faced this kind of harassment. As the provincial government moves to make Nova Scotia barrier-free by 2030, Sparks said it's time to change accessible parking permits and spots to better reflect invisible disabilities. "They need to repaint these spots and remove the wheelchair and put a more inclusive symbol because that [the wheelchair] kind of creates the idea that it's a visible disability spot, and it's not. It's an accessible spot," she said. Sparks says she's regularly accused of abusing accessible parking even though she has a permit.(Getty Images/EyeEm) A spokesperson for Nova Scotia's Department of Transportation said while the Motor Vehicle Act defines disability more broadly, the blue wheelchair symbol is an "international symbol of access and is universally applied worldwide." "Any change to the symbol would have to be considered in this broader context," wrote Andrea Frydl. People share similar stories On Saturday, Sparks said she even removed her prosthetic arm to show the woman in the car. "I was desperate to get them to stop to the point where I removed my own medical equipment off of my body to try and justify why I was in that spot, and that's just not fair," she said. Sparks said the encounter was the worst she's experienced, but similar incidents happen at least once a week. Sometimes people yell and swear at her. Other times, they look in her car windows to see if she has an accessible parking pass. "I also have people, you can see them looking up and down and looking at me closely, trying to find something that's wrong with me," she said. Sparks posted about her most recent experience on Facebook, and heard from many other people with disabilities who face the same treatment when they park in an accessible spot. "It's clearly a bigger problem than I would have ever imagined," she said. Sparks hopes sharing her story shows Nova Scotians that not all disabilities look the same. "There are many disabilities that are invisible, so it's not right to attack people because they're young and healthy," she said. "My car is clearly marked as accessible so people should respect that and leave me alone, but unfortunately they don't." MORE TOP STORIES
Scottish police ordered the release on Thursday of two Indian men who had been detained by British immigration officials, after hundreds of protesters in Glasgow blocked the path of a van carrying the detainees. Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who wants to wrest immigration powers from the United Kingdom government, welcomed the police force's actions and blamed the British government for what she called a "dangerous situation". Video footage showed the two men emerging from the back of a van belonging to Britain's interior ministry, which sets immigration rules for the whole United Kingdom.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford's recent letter calling on the federal government to further restrict travel into and across Canada is an attempt to deflect attention away from the third pandemic wave rampaging through the province, says Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. "I would encourage the premier to look at his data, listen to his health experts and let's act on the facts. And frankly, we see an effort to deflect and distract from a very serious concern that everyone has in Ontario," Blair told guest host David Common on CBC News Network's Power & Politics Thursday. "I know they've got some serious problems ... in their workplaces and in their social gatherings but their own data tells us … they had 2,320 cases reported in Ontario yesterday. Zero of those were related to travel, so frankly I would disagree." The Ford government sent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau another letter this week restating requests it made in previous letters. The provincial government says it wants Ottawa to reduce the number of international flights allowed to arrive in Canada, require that Canadians take pre-departure tests before flying domestically and extend quarantine measures at Canada's airports to the land border with the United States. Blair dismissed the suggestion of restricting international flights further, saying all non-essential travel to Canada was halted 14 months ago. He also said international travel is down by 96 per cent and Canadians are returning home from abroad because they have a right to do so. As for Ford's request that domestic travellers be required to take a polymerase chain reaction test — commonly known as a PCR test — for COVID-19 before they travel, Blair said the federal government is willing to help but internal travel restrictions are a provincial responsibility. "If the premier wants to implement measures restricting travel into Ontario from anywhere domestically in Canada, he has the authority to do that and we're happy to work with him," Blair said. Land border measures working: Blair On Feb. 22, the federal government implemented new quarantine measures at airports requiring all air travellers returning from non-essential trips abroad to isolate in a federally designated facility for up to 72 hours while they await the results of a PCR test that they must take upon arrival. The three-day mandatory quarantine stay at a federally designated facility can cost as much as $2,000 per person. Ford said he wants those measures extended to the land border. "There are 117 land border points across this country and many of them are hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest hotel," said Blair. "The safest and most effective way to manage people who are arriving at our borders by land is by the system that we have put in place." Blair said Canadians returning by land from the U.S. while contained in their cars, with their families, and going directly home after their tests to quarantine for two weeks "is the safest way to manage those people." "All of the requirements of pre-arrival testing, post-arrival testing and 14 day quarantine are enforced vigorously at our land borders, and in fact we have 99.6 per cent compliance," he said. "And when people are not compliant with that, there are substantial consequences and fines that are imposed."
Irving Shipbuilding has shut its Halifax Shipyard after a positive COVID-19 test from someone connected to its second Arctic and offshore patrol ship. Irving said production operations at the shipyard are paused until at least Monday's day shift. The company said it will provide more details later Thursday. The company is building six Arctic and offshore patrol ships for the Royal Canadian Navy. One has already been delivered. A second, the future HMCS Margaret Brooke, is undergoing final testing. The company plans to launch a third in 2022, and work on a fourth has begun. Meanwhile, Nova Scotia reported 110 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 155 recoveries. There are 83 new cases in central zone, 12 in eastern zone, nine in western zone and six in northern zone. The province said eight patients at the Halifax Infirmary who weren't in the COVID unit tested positive for the disease. They are now in the COVID unit. Patients near them have tested negative for the disease and Nova Scotia's health authority is testing staff who worked near them. Public Health said there is still community spread in central zone, and the other areas are being watched for signs of such spreading. Nova Scotia has 1,572 active cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday, with 85 people in hospital including 15 in the intensive care unit. On Wednesday, the health authority completed 7,205 tests. "We are seeing early signs that our case numbers are declining, which is an indication that the restrictions that are in place are working," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health. "The cases we are seeing have fewer close contacts than cases in previous weeks. We're headed in the right direction, so let's keep up the good work by strictly adhering to the public health protocols." Staff at the Nova Scotia COVID-19 community vaccine clinic at Cape Breton University celebrate reaching the 400,000 mark.(Submitted by Communications Nova Scotia) Vaccination milestone hit Also Thursday, the province distributed its 400,000th dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Since the rollout by age cohort began, about 558,000 people have become eligible to book an appointment in Nova Scotia. The milestone was reached with a person at a drop-in clinic Thursday in Sydney. The province said a month ago, only 200,000 doses had been given out. As of Wednesday, about 37.5 per cent of Nova Scotians have had at least one dose. The province has also reached vaccine coverage rates of more than 80 per cent in people aged 60 and older. All licensed long-term care facility residents have been fully vaccinated. The province also added a wait-list to the vaccine booking page. That means if someone cancels, another person will be offered that spot. AstraZeneca side effects The province said people scheduled for their first AstaZeneca shot will get an email cancelling that appointment and asking them to book a new spot for another vaccine. Nova Scotia is waiting for guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to decide what second shot will be offered to the 57,576 Nova Scotians who've already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. This week, Nova Scotia announced it will follow the lead of other provinces and pause the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine out of "an abundance of caution" over a rare blood-clotting disorder. The province and Public Health said no one in Nova Scotia has reported a case of vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia, the blood clots connected to the vaccine. Nova Scotia said people should watch for the following symptoms between four to 14 days after vaccination and seek immediate medical attention if they occur: Shortness of breath Chest pain Leg swelling Persistent abdominal pain Sudden onset of severe or persistent worsening headaches or blurred vision Skin bruising (other than at the site of vaccination) A headache that won't go away Blurred vision Atlantic Canada case numbers MORE TOP STORIES
A judge in Minneapolis on Thursday postponed the trial of three former policemen accused of taking part in the murder of George Floyd to March 2022, saying the federal case against the men should proceed first, local media reported. Tou Thao, 25, J. Alexander Kueng, 27, and Thomas Lane, 28 - all fired and arrested days after the 46-year-old Black man was killed on May 25 - have been charged with aiding and abetting the second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of Floyd. White former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin was convicted on April 20 of murdering Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes, in a case that marked a milestone in America's fraught racial history and a rebuke of law enforcement’s treatment of Black Americans.
Israel fired artillery and mounted extensive air strikes on Friday against a network of Palestinian militant tunnels under Gaza, amid persistent rocket attacks on Israeli towns. The largest Israeli operation against a specific target since the conflict began included 160 aircraft as well as tanks and artillery firing from outside the Gaza Strip, Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said. Rocket barrages against southern Israel swiftly followed the 40-minute pre-dawn offensive on the fifth day of the most serious fighting between Israel and Gaza militants since 2014.
SHANGHAI (Reuters) -Mainland China reported seven new COVID-19 cases on May 13, including its first local transmissions in more than three weeks, the country's national health authority said on Friday. Two of the new cases were local infections in the eastern province of Anhui, the National Health Commission said in a statement. The cases were the first local transmissions since April 20, when China recorded two local infections in the southwestern province of Yunnan, where a city on the border with Myanmar reported a new cluster in late March.
TORONTO — Ontario is extending its stay-at-home order until June 2, a move Premier Doug Ford said was aimed at bringing down the number of COVID-19 infections while ramping up vaccinations to achieve a "two-dose summer."The government had hinted in recent days at prolonged restrictions, which will see all public schools and thousands of non-essential businesses remain closed. But many had hoped it would end a controversial ban on outdoor recreational activities that experts say are important for people's physical and mental health.Ford, however, said recreational outdoor facilities would remain closed to limit mobility and other behaviour that could contribute to spread of the virus. "They pick up another buddy, two or three go out, go golfing, there's nothing wrong with golfing," he said. "The problem is, then after golf they go back, they have some pops. That's the problem."Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath expressed disappointment with that decision.“I think it’s very clearly what leading public health and other science advisers are saying,” she said. “I think there's a lot of room to give Ontarians a break.”The Progressive Conservative premier, who has been more vocal recently in his criticism of the federal government's handling of the pandemic, took a dig at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his recent remarks about a "one-dose summer.""I just don't believe in a one-dose summer," Ford said. "It's just not good enough. ... if we get the supply, we will work our backs off to have a two-dose summer."A spokeswoman for Ford later told The Canadian Press that the province aims to have all willing adults in Ontario fully immunized against COVID-19 by Sept. 22."So long as we receive sufficient supply from the federal government, we will work to get everyone who wants to be vaccinated fully vaccinated this summer," Ivana Yelich said in an email.The president of the Ontario Medical Association said family doctors can help the province achieve that goal."We do need to see more empowerment and capacity amongst family doctors to help their patients get vaccinated and to be able to administer in office when feasible,” Dr. Samantha Hill said.Meanwhile, the province's top doctor said he would like to see the number of daily infections drop "well below" 1,000 before Ontario lifts the stay-at-home order. "We want to open and stay open," Dr. David Williams said. "We do not want a fourth wave at all."The premier blamed Ottawa for the third wave of the pandemic, suggesting a significant number of cases of the COVID-19 variants had entered Ontario through its land, air and water borders, a claim disputed by experts.The province's own science advisers had warned the government back in February that without strict measures, the variants of concern would trigger a third wave of the pandemic that could overwhelm the health-care system. The province, however, briefly loosened restrictions despite the warning before a surge of infections forced it to impose another lockdown."The reality is, existing border measures have failed to keep the contagious variants out of Canada," Ford said. "This brutal third wave is fuelled almost entirely by variants that pass too easily through our borders."Trudeau said Thursday he was "frustrated" and "disappointed" with the Ontario premier.In an interview with Toronto television station CP24, the prime minister said Ottawa has reduced the number of international flights and is open to working with the province to enact more restrictions.“We're there to continue to support Ontarians through this difficult time in whatever ways are necessary," he said. "It's just unfortunate that Doug Ford continues to play politics.”Green party Leader Mike Schreiner also slammed Ford for being preoccupied with attacking the federal government on border issues, saying he should in stead be doing more to prevent the main source of outbreaks - workplaces."The premier is using the border to deflect from his own failures to ... avoid, or at least mitigate, the third wave," he said.Ontario declared a state of emergency and invoked the stay-at-home order in early April amid skyrocketing cases.Under the order, stores providing essential goods remain open but are only permitted to sell grocery and pharmacy items. Non-essential retailers are limited to curbside pickup and delivery. Restaurants and gyms are closed for in-person service.Ford also stressed that while he knows people are eager for some "sense of normalcy," COVID-19 variants of concern remain a risk to the province. "We need public health doctors, teachers and our labour partners to agree on the best path forward," he said. "We simply don't have that right now."Ontario reported 2,759 new COVID-19 cases today, with 31 more deaths from the virus. There are 1,632 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 across the province, including 776 in intensive care.The president of the Ontario Hospital Association said the group "fully supports" the extension of the stay-at-home order and urged people to follow the public health measures."Hospitals are continuing to operate in a state of emergency and are doing everything they can to maintain equitable access to care," Anthony Dale said in a statement.-with files from Holly McKenzie-Sutter.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2021. ' Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
The family of a paramedic who died after waiting too long for an ambulance is taking the province's Health Ministry to court, and it's hoping legal action will force them to finally address the need for better emergency services in Lévis, Que. Hugo St-Onge died in 2017 after going into cardiac arrest. He was 24 years old. It took 20 minutes for the ambulance to show up — twice as long as the North American standard for response time. The lack of ambulance services in the municipality located just south of Quebec City has been well documented. A month before he died, St-Onge was among those who signed an open letter denouncing the lack of ambulance coverage in the Chaudière-Appalaches region. "He died for nothing," said the 24-year-old's parents, Johanne Lapointe and Bruno St-Onge, in an interview with Radio-Canada. They say more than three years after his death, they still have difficulty sleeping, waking up in the middle of night thinking about their son. Ambulance resources in the area so thin that after paramedics showed up to a home last May, they were dispatched to another call deemed more urgent and left before checking on the woman who needed assistance. She died later that night, also of cardiac arrest. Johanne Lapointe and Bruno St-Onge say they still have difficulty sleeping, more than three years after their son's death. (Radio-Canada) In regards to St-Onge's death, the coroner's report last July found that there were three ambulances in the area when the 24-year-old was in distress. They were all busy. The closest available team was 13 kilometres away in a nearby town. Since that report, the province's Health Ministry has managed to add a total of 16 extra service hours in Lévis. Ambulance workers in the area say they 160 extra service hours — ten times more what the ministry has added. St-Onge's family is suing the Health Ministry, the regional health board for Chaudière-Appalaches and the 911 call centre for $520,000. Both the ministry and the health board have declined to comment. St-Onge's parents feel they must continue advocating for better ambulance services in Lévis, given that their son spoke out about that same issue prior to his death. "For Hugo, for the family, we feel like we have to push forward," Lapointe said. "When Hugo died, everyone in the family was shattered. Today, we pick up the pieces, we put the pieces together as best we can."
Five patients have tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance. The outbreak, declared on Tuesday, is taking place in the hospital's medicine unit. Four of those infected are in-patients while the fifth person had been discharged prior to the outbreak declaration, hospital president and CEO Lori Marshall told reporters during a media briefing Thursday morning. Fifty staff members have been tested for COVID-19 in relation to the outbreak, none of whom has tested positive as of Thursday morning. Marshall said that additional preventative measures are in place during the outbreak, which is believed to involve a COVID-19 variant of concern. Overall, the hospital has 17 COVID-19 patients, three of whom are in ICU, Marshall said. Eleven of the patients are residents of Chatham-Kent, while six are non-residents. The hospital is one of many in Ontario accepting transfers of COVID and non-COVID patients from hospitals facing capacity issues amid the third wave of the pandemic. The average age of COVID-19 in-patients as of Thursday is 48.2, she said.