The new U.S. president has signed a string of executive orders to combat the worsening COVID-19 situation in the United States. Canadian infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch says the approach signals 'good news' for the U.S. and Canada.
The new U.S. president has signed a string of executive orders to combat the worsening COVID-19 situation in the United States. Canadian infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch says the approach signals 'good news' for the U.S. and Canada.
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. That delay stood in contrast to the immediate approval for National Guard support granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities last spring as an outgrowth of racial justice protests, Walker said. As local officials pleaded for help, Army officials raised concerns about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, he said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed to officials on the call “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Even as Walker detailed the National Guard delay, another military official noted that local officials in Washington had said days earlier that no such support was needed. Senators were eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for that day. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
“You never count your money,” sang Kenny Rogers, “when you’re sitting at the table. There’ll be time enough for countin,’ when the dealin’s done.” As it turns out, council for the MD of Pincher Creek was able to deal out some much-needed help to local organizations after gathering restrictions affected normal operations last year. The provincial and federal governments helped provide funding to municipalities through the Municipal Operating Support Transfer, which saw the MD receive $305,233. Under half of that amount will be used by the MD to make up for lost tax revenue in 2020; $50,000 of that portion was used to cover additional work-from-home expenses for MD staff, which included upgrading the IT system to improve software speed. Ironically, the MD’s system provider has been slow in making the upgrade to faster software and cannot guarantee the change will occur before March 31, which is when all of the MOST funding must be spent. Upgrading the system, said director of finance Meghan Dobie, remains a priority despite the hiccup. “It is something administration still wants to do to help improve the speed at which our IT software is working.” Rather than gambling on missing the deadline, council followed the finance department’s advice and approved using $6,700 from the tax rate stabilization reserve during its Feb. 23 regular meeting. Council also approved distribution of the remaining MOST funds — a total of $171,390.72 — to community organizations that experienced financial difficulties due to the pandemic. Twenty-six groups petitioned the MD for financial assistance, which totalled $431,000 in requested funds. While unable to meet the requested amount, the MD was able to deal out donations to 19 of those groups. Some of the more significant contributions include $10,000 to Chinook Lanes, $20,000 to the Family Resource Centre, $11,400 to the Livingstone Ski Academy Society and $21,434.50 to the Pincher Creek and District Chamber of Commerce. A full list of organizations approved for MOST funding can be found on the MD’s website at https://bit.ly/MD_MOST. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
The Cypriot church has gone into battle against "The Devil", denouncing the country's pick for this year's Eurovision Song Contest as glorifying Satan. Dance number "El Diablo" - Spanish for the Devil - is the island nation's offering to the annual music contest for 2021. Sung by Greek performer Elena Tsagrinou, it has already triggered an online petition for it to be pulled, signed by more than 16,500 people who believe it pays homage to the Devil.
Sonny Gray thinks the crop of farms popping up across Northern Canada might end up teaching the rest of us lessons vital to the future of the country’s food system. “(Canada) takes for granted that California and Mexico are very nearby, and they’ll always be there,” said the co-founder and CEO of North Star Agriculture. The Yukon-based startup helps northern farmers, First Nations, and community groups establish farms and food processing hubs to meet local food needs. “We focus on exports like canola oil or soy. We’re not really focusing on the fact we’ve got 'X' amount of people who we should be trying to feed.” But in Northern Canada, farming has a different goal: Keeping people fed. Most food eaten in the three territories and northern parts of the provinces is imported. With few or no roads into the region, stores are often a truck- or planeload away from running out of stock, Gray said. The situation has driven surging interest in farms across Northern Canada, from Whitehorse to Wabush. Most are small and aim to serve local markets. Yukon alone saw the number of farms in the territory increase roughly 10 per cent between 2011 and 2016, in contrast to a decline in the number of farms nationwide. Vegetable production in the territory surged by about 50 per cent in the same period, according to Statistics Canada. And Yukon farmers are bucking national trends: The average age of the territory’s farmers is 53, compared to 55 nationally, and over a third are women. Several First Nations have also developed farms on their traditional territories, including the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation, in 2015. Earlier this year, the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation won the $485,000 Arctic Inspiration Prize to build an Indigenous food sovereignty hub. The project will add to a farm started by the nation in 2020. But farming in the North does have unique challenges, said Gray. Everything from facilities to equipment can be hard to come by, so farmers need to be more creative and resourceful. For instance, farmers in Southern Canada have fairly easy access to mechanics if a piece of equipment breaks. Northern farmers don’t have that kind of help at hand and might need to wait weeks before the part arrives, potentially delaying time-sensitive tasks, such as harvest and haying. “We’re forced to do everything, and that’s a very different business. Farming is already a business, but that’s taking it to another level altogether,” he said. In Yukon, that resourcefulness has led to the creation of everything from a mobile abattoir to cutting-edge developments in greenhouse technology. Gray sees similarities between the territory and other countries where expansive, pastoral landscapes are in short supply, like Iceland or the Netherlands. “Iceland or the Netherlands, these locations had to innovate,” he said. “Looking at their innovations … what I would really like to see in the next 20 years is for us to apply this stuff in the North and really get a handle on our food production here in the Yukon becoming more and more sustainable.” For instance, his company is starting to develop a geothermal greenhouse project similar to ones in Iceland. In 2013, the country met about two-thirds of domestic demand for tomatoes — and 99 per cent of its demand for cucumbers — domestically, according to a 2018 study. Gray envisions creating a similar system in the territory to wean it off imports. Farmers, governments, and community groups from across the country have noticed Yukon’s success. Gray said he regularly receives calls from people in other regions with similar food systems challenges, like Newfoundland and Labrador or northern B.C., looking to increase local food production. He expects those calls will only get more frequent. “If a place as far in the North as we are can (produce more local food), then it’s really possible for us as a country to really focus in and start to grow our own food,” he said. Marc Fawcett-Atkinson / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National Observer Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
From models strutting inside an empty museum to designers absenting themselves from the catwalk calendar, this season's virtual fashion weeks have been re-styled with a new look many expect will endure when traditional runway shows resume. COVID-19 restrictions forced New York, London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks to go virtual in the past year, with brands rethinking how to keep the buzz of catwalk shows online. While many are optimistic of a return to the events usually attended by buyers, editors and celebrities, digital presentations - which have opened up fashion week to a wider audience - are likely to stay on.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — At the beginning of 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was working on plans to battle algae blooms in Lake Erie, crack down on distracted driving, and figure out a way to save an Ohio minor league baseball team. The largely popular first-term Republican governor accepted an invitation to give the commencement address at Miami University in May. The 2022 election was a long way off, but some Democrats were already exploring challenges to DeWine. Then came the first week of March, and with it a decision by DeWine that set the stage for a year of politics that today seems like something viewed from the other side of Alice in Wonderland's looking glass. On March 3, without a single reported COVID-19 case in the state, DeWine laid down strict attendance limits on the annual Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, a supersized gathering founded three decades ago by Arnold Schwarzenegger that typically brings 20,000 athletes from 80 countries to compete in events including professional bodybuilding and a strongman competition. Annual economic impact on the city: more than $50 million. “That was really, at least for me, the beginning of the pandemic,” DeWine said earlier this week, adding: “It’s hard to believe that it’s been an entire year.” Nine days later, with the virus spreading rapidly elsewhere but with just five confirmed virus cases in Ohio, DeWine ordered schools closed for three weeks, becoming the first governor nationally to make such a move. The closing of gyms and theatres followed shortly, and then statewide stay-at-home orders. What came next was a year of surprising political turmoil for a career politician who many initially believed had met his moment. DeWine, who's held multiple state and federal offices, now faces reelection in 2022 amid fierce criticism from the very Republicans whose party he spent decades helping to build. DeWine's actions against the virus won him early praise, not just from public health professionals but also from business groups and even restaurant owners hammered by the shutdown who acknowledged his actions could save lives. Soon DeWine, Health Director Dr. Amy Acton and GOP Lt. Gov. Jon Husted were a daily fixture for many Ohioans, the 2 p.m. routine dubbed “Wine with DeWine” by cooped up Ohioans teasingly prone to day-drinking by the pandemic. Acton became a folk hero in her own right, inspiring young girls to dress up like doctors and to conduct their own living room briefings. The good mood didn't last long for some. Democrats sued after Acton, acting on DeWine's orders, postponed Ohio's March 17 primary just hours before voting was set to begin, thrusting the state's presidential election into chaos. In April, DeWine walked back a statewide mask mandate after a single day following intense opposition from Republican constituencies, including many businesses. While keeping masks mandatory for business employees, he finally issued a statewide mandate in July that remains in effect. On April 13, dozens of lockdown protesters shouted outside the Statehouse Atrium and briefly pounded on its windows as reporters covered the governor’s daily briefing, which had been moved to increasingly larger spaces to accommodate social distancing rules. As virus deaths rose and national divisions grew, Republican lawmakers pushed back with multiple bills against the GOP governor's public health orders, leaving Democratic legislators to defend Acton and DeWine. One legislator started a movement to have DeWine impeached. The bespectacled, graying 74-year-old persisted, concentrating during his briefings on conveying the status of the pandemic and buoying the state's spirits. He praised ball teams, music groups and schoolchildren, celebrated frontline workers and small business owners and brought on First Lady Fran DeWine to share recipes, activities for parents to do with their stir-crazy children and tips for making a festive mask. He and the first lady also livestreamed themselves receiving the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. In June, it appeared his strategy was working. DeWine's approval rating spiked 31 percentage points from the previous year, to 75%, in a Quinnipiac University poll released that month. Approval for his coronavirus response was even higher, at 77%. What's more, the numbers carried across party lines and marked an all-time high for any Ohio governor in all the school's polls of registered voters going back to 2007. Around that same time, though, Acton had had enough, quitting abruptly amid a torrent of conservative criticism of her that included armed protesters outside her suburban Columbus house. The 55-year-old is now exploring running as a Democrat next year for an open U.S. Senate seat. With his amiable virus expert gone and criticism growing, DeWine augmented his bi-weekly briefings with two primetime speeches to Ohioans, on July 15 and Nov. 10, pleading for people to wear masks and socially distance themselves to slow the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, a faction of far-right conservatives grew angrier and louder as the months passed. They refused to wear masks as DeWine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised. They rebelled against stay-at-home orders, business closures, curfews and other safety measures. Some GOP governors were opening their states in response, leaving DeWine in an increasingly shrinking club of Republicans willing to embrace some continued restrictions. Less than a week after his November speech, DeWine found himself in the upside down political position of being praised by Democratic President-elect Joe Biden on the same day he was trolled on Twitter by former GOP President Donald Trump, who suggested that DeWine needed a primary challenger. DeWine plans to seek reelection next year and, while no primary opponent has publicly announced, some critics of his virus response within the party want the road kept open for him to face a GOP primary challenge. In the meantime, that minor league baseball team survived for now and DeWine continues to push clean water issues and a crackdown on distracted driving. DeWine vetoed a legislative clampdown on his public health orders in early January, but today faces a similar bill headed for his desk. As he has throughout the past 12 months, DeWine said last month that lawmakers must focus on the bigger picture. "What we have to make sure we have to get right is how a future governor — not a Mike DeWine — a future governor can react to an emergency,” he said. Andrew Welsh-Huggins And Julie Carr Smyth, The Associated Press
CHARLOTTETOWN — The health orders that closed schools and most non-essential businesses on Prince Edward Island for three days will end at midnight tonight. Premier Dennis King said today the 11,000 COVID-19 tests conducted since the weekend provide confidence restrictions can be eased. The restrictions were imposed after clusters of COVID-19 cases emerged in Charlottetown and Summerside. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today involving a woman in her 20s who is a close contact of a previously reported case.Morrison says results from about 800 tests are still pending, so there may be more positive cases.There are 22 active reported cases in the province — the highest number since the start of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kincardine and District Dancing with the Stars fundraiser has been rescheduled to Aug. 19 and this year, will be held as a virtual event. The event welcomes local dance teams, composed of a local celebrity and a seasoned dancer, to compete against each other on the dance floor and raise money for BBBS. It was originally scheduled for April of 2021. The 2020 event was cancelled because of COVID restrictions. “Although we were hoping to be able to bring our community together for another exciting evening of in-person entertainment this year, we have made the decision for the health and safety of our volunteers, supporters and dancers to move to a virtual event,” said Yolanda Ritsema, executive director of BBBSKD. The first Dancing with the Stars event debuted in 2019, and was a huge success. Bill Pike and Jennifer White topped the podium, and the event raised $12,600. BBBSKD, along with many other not-for-profit groups, have felt the fundraising pinch since the beginning of the pandemic, when many events were cancelled because of stay-at-home and gathering restrictions. The groups have had to pivot and develop new means to raise much-needed funds. “The funds from Dancing with the Stars go to support our programs and services,” said Ritsema. “We serve 50 young people in Kincardine and area. Our mission is to enable life-changing mentoring relationships that ignite the power and potential of young people. We serve young people who face adversity and are in need of an additional supportive developmental relationship.” “With monies raised from our main fundraising programs, like Dancing with the Stars, we are able ignite the power and potential of young people by intentionally recruiting volunteers based on the needs of our community's young people; by matching young people with a professionally screened volunteer mentor; by monitoring and supporting that match with a professional caseworker; by training and supporting the mentor, the mentee and the family; and by building a Developmental Relationship between the mentor and the mentee that Expresses Care, Challenges Growth, Provides Support, Shares Power and Expands Possibilities.” Ritsema says that having a big brother or sister has a long term effect on their littles. Mentored youth are two times more likely to give back to their community and 81 per cent of mentored youth report having stronger financial literacy. Forty three per cent are less likely to conduct problems at school and 98 per cent believe they make better life choices. For every $1 invested in Big Brothers Big Sisters, $23 is returned to society. Ritsema says the volunteer team responsible for organizing the event has been hard at work creating a virtual experience everyone will enjoy. Besides the dance competition, the event will feature an online auction and an “early bird” raffle for Mother’s Day, featuring a pair of Canadian diamond earrings, donated by Gemini Jewellers in Kincardine. The dancing pairs, Alana Rozon and Murray Needham, Braden Prasad and Patty Coulter, Gord Dunbar and Sally Ballard, Sarah and Keith Foster and John Binnendyk and Karen Maliseni, will each perform two routines, which will be judged by Michael Rencheck, Jessica Brown and Taylor Pollard. John Low will serve as the master of ceremonies. “We have five wonderful dance couples who have been working so hard for several months to bring you an incredible night of performances,” said Linda Johnson, Dancing with the Stars team captain. “This event will still sparkle and thrill our audience as they watch from the comfort of their homes.” Updates and tickets for the event will go on sale in the coming months. More information can be found by visiting www.kincardine.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca and checking the social media page. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
The volunteers and artists at the Victoria Park Gallery and Gift Shop welcome the opportunity to open its doors once again. With the move into the green zone of the provincial reopening framework, the gallery will now be operating on winter hours, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 3 p.m. Gallery co-president Mary Faubert says visitors will notice a fresh, updated look to the gallery, since it was painted during the last lockdown. Volunteers have also been busy cleaning every nook and cranny as construction has been going on next door. Because of the pandemic, the gallery has deferred having a guest artist of the month to a later date, and instead has created a spring-themed display in the front room. “I am really pleased with the way all the gallery members have come together to deal with COVID,” said Faubert. “We are a co-op and in these trying times, everyone is cooperating.” Faubert says the gallery will adhere to all the protocols set by the province and public health, to keep both volunteers and guests safe. Signage has been placed on the doors asking anyone who is experiencing symptoms not to enter, masks are required by staff and guests, sanitizer is available and the cleaning of often-touched surfaces is constant. The gallery is also asking guests to leave their name and phone number, should contact tracing be required. “We welcome everyone to return to the gallery,” said Faubert. “We look forward to seeing old friends and welcoming new ones.” Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
The history of the western expansion of Canada is a fascinating account of perseverance, courage and conflict. For a long time, the focus of this time period emphasized the experiences of white settlers who immigrated from Great Britain, the United States and central and northern Europe. Recent scholarship and activities like Black History Month, however, are now making an effort to ensure other historical voices are heard — and Pincher Creek is taking steps to celebrate its own unique portion of the history of black pioneers in southern Alberta. During the Feb. 22 regular council meeting, Coun. Wayne Elliott presented a motion to rename a street after “Auntie” Annie (though some sources have her first name as Amy) Saunders, a black woman who immigrated to southern Alberta in 1877. “Being it’s Black History Month, it seems kind of fitting that we honour someone to that magnitude that doesn’t seem to ever get any recognition,” Coun. Elliott said. Ms. Saunders was born in the United States and met Mary Macleod, the wife of Lt.-Col. James Macleod, the North West Mounted Police officer the town Fort Macleod is named after. In 1877, Ms. Saunders joined the Macleod family and worked as a nurse for the children on their ranch just east of Pincher Creek. She eventually operated multiple businesses in Fort Macleod (then known as the Town of Macleod) and Pincher Creek, including a restaurant and boarding house, and worked as a laundress. Understanding the historical context makes Auntie Annie’s story all the more noteworthy. Western Canada experienced a great influx of immigrants throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Although the Canadian government actively promoted the area as the “Last Best West,” it also sought to exclude and dissuade specific groups of immigrants, including Chinese, Jewish and black people. As a former member of the British colonial empire, the Canadian government operated under the notion that white settlers were superior to other races and better suited to homesteading on the Prairies. Despite the prejudice, about 1,500 black Americans settled in Alberta and Saskatchewan between 1905 and 1912, most leaving Oklahoma to escape rising levels of racial violence. Rising political pressure from white constituents on the Prairies led to Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier signing an order in council in the summer of 1911 banning black immigrants from settling in Canada because they were “deemed unsuitable to the climate and requirements of Canada.” Though the order was never enforced, aggressive marketing by Canadian agents in the United States discouraging black Americans from moving to Canada cut down the number of black settlers, as well as unfair practices at the border that made it more expensive for them to travel into Canada. The fact Ms. Saunders was one of the first black pioneers to settle in Alberta, along with making her own success despite the racism and general prejudice of that time, is remarkable. She passed away in 1898 and is buried in Pioneer Cemetery in Pincher Creek. Coun. Elliott mentioned Auntie Annie was a figure in his own family’s history. “Going back, I was talking to my mom and she said my grandpa talked about what his dad said about her, and she was a very good cook,” he related. “So that’s going back into the 1880s, 1890s, so there is some history on my side.” To honour the memory of Ms. Saunders, and her role in Pincher Creek’s history, Coun. Elliott proposed renaming a section of Veteran’s Street to Auntie Annie Saunders Way, Avenue, Street or Parkway. The proposed renamed section would span from Scott Avenue to the eastern corner of Pioneer Cemetery. While entirely supportive of naming a street after Ms. Saunders, other members of council expressed concerns with renaming an existing road. “I’m completely in favour of honouring our historical figures, but I’m not in favour of changing street names,” said Coun. Scott Korbett. “New developments is where we should be doing this as we move forward, and I also wouldn’t want to honour someone with a street that’s not open.” A better location, Coun. Lorne Jackson added, would help commemorate Ms. Saunders better than the proposed section. “Annie Saunders was an amazing person, someone of colour back in those days that became an entrepreneur and was very successful and one of the richest people in town after a time,” he said. “I think a new street somewhere in town that’s a viable and well used street, and a sign that people would see and drive by all the time, would honour her in a better way.” After discussion, Coun. Elliott agreed to amend the motion to add Ms. Saunders to the town’s prioritized list of future street names. Auntie Annie is second in line after Warren Winkler, whose name was previously selected in a motion from 2017. Mr. Winkler grew up in Pincher Creek and was selected in 2007 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to be the chief justice of Ontario. He was also named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2016 for his contributions to the advancement of Canadian labour law. More information on the history of black settlers immigrating to Canada can be read online in The Canadian Encyclopedia at http://bit.ly/CAN_PEDIA. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota House on Wednesday left the impeachment of the state's attorney general in doubt as lawmakers moved to delay evaluating whether he should be impeached until the conclusion of the criminal case against him for hitting and killing a man with his car. The House State Affairs Committee amended a resolution to impeach Republican Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, striking the articles of impeachment and replacing them with language that said he could potentially be impeached. The resolution, which will next head to the full House, holds no requirement that lawmakers take up the issue once the criminal case has concluded. The lawmakers' move was a step back from impeaching the state’s top law enforcement agent. Just a week ago, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem and some lawmakers had pressured him from every conceivable angle to resign. But Ravnsborg defied those calls, even as the articles of impeachment were filed. Ravnsborg is facing three misdemeanour charges for striking and killing Joseph Boever, 55, who was walking on the shoulder of a highway late on Sept. 12. Dates have not been set in Ravnsborg's criminal case. House Speaker Spencer Gosch, a Republican, had argued that a delay was necessary after a judge last week ordered Noem and government officials to stop releasing evidence in the investigation. He said that a “fair and transparent” hearing on impeachment was not possible while lawmakers are under a gag order. Rep. Will Mortenson, the Republican who filed the articles of impeachment, continued to push for Ravnsborg’s removal from office, saying he had lost the trust needed for the job. But he conceded that a delay was necessary. However, Nick Nemec, Boever's cousin who has been outspoken against the attorney general since shortly after the crash, confronted lawmakers with his frustrations. He brought a jade plant that Boever had propagated, setting it beside him as he told lawmakers how he felt Ravnsborg should have faced more serious charges. He also said his family has dealt with attacks from “internet trolls who have been busy blaming Joe with false accusations." “Lost in the shuffle and made out to be someone he wasn't is Joe Boever,” Nemec said. “Joe was just an average Joe.” After Nemec's statement, the House committee unanimously passed the resolution without discussion. Stephen Groves, The Associated Press
The global semiconductor chip shortage led General Motors Co on Wednesday to extend production cuts at three North American plants and add a fourth to the list of factories hit, and Stellantis to warn the pain could linger far into the year. The extended cuts do not change GM's forecast last month that the shortage could shave up to $2 billion from this year's earnings. GM Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson subsequently said chip supplies should return to normal rates by the second half of the year and he was confident the profit hit would not worsen.
Montreal-based non-profit Regeneration Canada is spreading the word about the importance of soil health and “regenerative farming” practices in an evolving world reckoning with climate change. Canadians may think of themselves as removed from the effects of a changing planet, says Regeneration Canada’s co-director, Antonious Petro, but the signs are already here, especially when it comes to increasing incidences of drought conditions. Cover crops, crop biodiversity, not disturbing soil, water management, agroforestry and regenerative grazing all are aspects of regenerative farming, but everything begins with increasing and supporting soil fertility. Focusing on soil and its function empowers farmers to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change, says Petro, by keeping carbon in the ground and increasing water retention in land. “We need to have more plants and vegetation and trees and fertile soil to balance carbon cycle and distribution among carbon pools where it’s stored,” he said. Ann-Marie Saunders, a Niagara grape grower, practises regenerative farming, and participated in Regeneration Canada’s online Living Soils Symposium, discussing a recently released online map connecting consumers to regenerative farmers. The family-run Saunders Family Farm and Vineyard began moving toward organic farming practices after Ivy Saunders, Ann-Marie’s late mother, developed Parkinson’s disease, which later claimed her life in 2015. Ivy had handled much of the pesticide-covered fruit grown on the farm since the 1960s. In moving toward a more natural way of farming, the family learned more about nature, plants and soil and how everything interconnects. Dirt, Saunders says, is not just an anchor for plants. “There’s life in the soil.” At the 11-acre Beamsville vineyard, the ground between rows of Chardonnay, Pinot noir, Cabernet Franc, and Riesling grapes, is covered with living plants (as opposed to leaving soil bare and exposed) using perennial cover crops native to the area. The vegetation reduces erosion and keeps soil cooler and damper during drought conditions. Much of regenerative farming is about getting out of the way of nature and letting it thrive. Saunders admits there’s a learning curve, and said farmers, whose wallets are hit first when it comes to implementing changes, may be reluctant to adjust, but she says the benefits are seen in the long term. “As a farmer, if your system is working or doing much better along a cycle and really more self-supporting, its less stress for you,” she said, pointing out there’s less time spent worrying about inputs and labour. “You’re not having to take on extra things that the soil may already be working at doing.” Since launching two weeks ago, Regeneration Canada has received a “tremendous amount” of interest in their map, Petro said, which will also serve to connect farmers with other farmers interested in regenerative farming practices in their area. There are presently two Niagara farms on the map: Saunders Family Farm and Vineyard and Southbrook Vineyards. For more information and to access resources on regenerative farming, visit: regenerationcanada.org. Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
Scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands is a thrill like few others on earth. The ocean is full of life here with a diversity that is unlike any other place of earth. The underwater volcanic structures and unique combination of ocean currents support a rich abundance of life. Sharks thrive here and scuba divers are thrilled to see them during their underwater adventures. But these scuba divers were not so thrilled when they finished exploring and underwater cave and they headed back to the open ocean. They found a group of sharks had entered the cave and were resting just inside the opening. White tip sharks are not likely to attack humans, unless provoked, but the divers were not able to pass through the narrow chamber without coming into direct contact with the 9-10 foot beasts. This would definitely be inviting trouble and the divers would be unable to easily turn and retreat back inside the caverns. The moment provided an excellent opportunity to gets some spectacular footage of the unusual scenario with the sharks backlit in an eerie fashion. The scuba divers had planned their dive well and they had plenty of reserve air at this point in the dive. They calmly waited and watched the sharks and eventually all of them swam out into the open water, leaving the exit clear. But for a few minutes, the large sharks in the exit were an intimidating sight indeed! People who venture beneath the waves are wise to remember that they are the visitors, or even intruders in this mysterious domain. Incorrect behaviour here can have immediate and disastrous consequences. The ability to stay calm during unexpected challenges is crucial to survival in a world where your air supply is limited.
A man who plowed a rented van into dozens of people in Toronto in 2018 is guilty of murdering 10 people and attempting to murder 16, a judge ruled on Wednesday, dismissing a defense argument that a mental disorder left the driver unaware of how horrific his actions were. Alek Minassian, 28, told police he was motivated by a desire to punish society for his perceived status as an "incel" - short for involuntary celibate - because he believed women would not have sex with him. Minassian had pleaded that he was not criminally responsible.
With the hope of alleviating one of the problems plaguing the long term care system during the pandemic, the provincial government announced on Feb. 24 that it is investing over $115 million to train up to 8,200 new personal support workers for high-demand jobs in Ontario's health and long-term care sectors. The initiative plans to have up to 8,200 new supporter workers ready for the long term care workforce by the fall of 2021. The province has collaborated with Colleges Ontario, and all 24 publicly assisted colleges will offer this fully-funded plan, set to begin next month. "We are taking monumental steps to protect our most vulnerable and provide the highest quality of care when and where residents need it," said Premier Ford. "We will achieve this by recruiting and training some of our best and brightest to be PSWs. This will improve the quality of life for our seniors and begin to correct the decades of neglect in this sector." The Accelerated PSW Training Program will offer free tuition for up to 6,000 new students enrolled in the personal support worker course. The course, which begins Apr. 5, will allow students to graduate with full credentials in six months, compared to the eight months it would usually take to complete. It will include three months of coursework, and experiential, or hands-on learning, in a clinical setting. Students will complete the final three months in paid onsite training in a long-term care home or in a home and community care environment. The province is also offering tuition assistance to students who are close to finishing an existing program at one of Ontario's publicly-assisted colleges. Nearly 2,200 students will be eligible to receive a $2,000 tuition grant to help them complete their studies, as well as a stipend to complete the clinical placement part of their training. According to Georgian College, the new accelerated training program for personal support workers will produce a huge increase in PSW training at Ontario’s colleges. “This is a major step to help fill the demand for personal support workers in our communities,” said Dr. MaryLynn West-Moyes, president and CEO, Georgian College. “PSWs are the backbone of care in Ontario – and there simply aren’t enough of them. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in a new career in this critical field.” “Our graduates provide essential care to many of our most vulnerable citizens,” Dr. West-Moynes said. “We were pleased to collaborate with the province and our community health-care partners to create this new opportunity for students who will graduate job ready with high-quality, essential skills.” Those interested in applying to the provincially funded PSW program with intakes starting in April or May at Georgian, should check https://www.ontariocolleges.ca on or after March 8 for details. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
The International Criminal Court prosecutor said on Wednesday her office will formally investigate war crimes in the Palestinian Territories, a move welcomed by the Palestinian Authority and denounced by Israel. The decision follows a ruling by the court on Feb. 5 that it has jurisdiction in the case, prompting swift rejections by Washington and Jerusalem. "The decision to open an investigation followed a painstaking preliminary examination undertaken by my office that lasted close to five years," Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.
Some students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) have created a smartphone app to improve access to Naloxone, the drug that is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The idea is to add a level of privacy for those who wish to get a Naloxone kit either for themselves or for individuals they know, who might be at risk for an opioid overdose. The new app has been developed by Jordan Law, MacKenzie Ludgate and Owen Montpellier; all fourth-year students who developed the application as a free and confidential service that can have a Naloxone kit delivered to your front door. NOSM said with the opioid death rate continuing to rise in Northern Ontario, medical students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) saw a way to improve access to Naloxone. Ludgate, a medical student and pharmacist, said the pandemic has made the crisis worse. “Opioid-related death rates in many parts of Northern Ontario are higher during this pandemic and significantly higher than the numbers being reported elsewhere in Ontario,” he said. Montpellier, who also worked on the app, said the privacy aspect is one that might allow for more people to consider obtaining one of the life-saving kits, where in other circumstances they might not have one. “This app offers privacy and access to people who want to have a Naloxone kit on-hand, but who are uncomfortable facing the stigma or fear associated with asking for one in person at a pharmacy or clinic,” he said. Law, who is also a pharmacist and fourth-year student, said the new app could be a welcome thing for Northerners living in isolated areas. “The Naloxone North app also provides improved access for those living in remote, isolated or rural communities in Northern Ontario,” said Law. “As long as you have an Ontario Health card, you can order the kit through the app and request that it be shipped to your preferred location.” The NOSM news release said the students followed the guidelines of the Ontario Ministry of Health’s Naloxone Program to meet the applicable policy requirements for safe Naloxone administration, education and distribution. "Advocacy-focused projects — like Naloxone North — were incorporated into NOSM’s fourth-year MD curriculum as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the early stages of the pandemic, NOSM faculty worked quickly to introduce a new curriculum that focused on building advocacy leadership skills at a time when students were not able to work on the frontlines," said the school. Dr. Marion Maar, Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology and faculty advisor on the project, commented that aside from the obvious life-saving benefit, the initiative should also provide valuable research. “The app provides a simultaneous opportunity to conduct research that will determine whether it is an effective way to support opioid recovery in Northern Ontario. I’m proud of the innovative ideas that NOSM students have implemented to address some of the longstanding issues in our region. During a difficult time of change, they embraced a new curriculum and are indeed making an impact." said Marr. Statistics from Public Health Ontario (PHO) show the opioid-related death rates in many parts of Northern Ontario are significantly higher than the numbers being reported in other parts of Ontario, said the school. A NOSM research team received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to study recovery in the opioid crisis in Northern Ontario. They will leverage their work to support ongoing development of the Naloxone North app and study its uptake in rural, Francophone and Indigenous communities. The research is being conducted in collaboration with First Nations and led by Drs. Marion Maar, Darrel Manitowabi, Lorrilee McGregor, and Diana Urajnik, in partnership with the medical students. The medical students would like to thank Dr. Nicholas Fortino, emergency physician at Health Sciences North, for his guidance with the app, which is currently available for free for both Android and iPhone. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
WASHINGTON — Growth in the services sector, where most Americans works, slowed sharply in February with hurdles related to the pandemic hindering growth. The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its index of service sector activity dropped to a reading of 55.5% in February, down 3.4 percentage-points from January when activity neared a two-year high. Even with the decline, it was the ninth straight month of growth in the services sector. Any reading above 50 signifies growth. Economists had expected some rollback from the January high but the size of the February drop was much bigger than expected. Service sector businesses were mostly optimistic about the recovery, according to the report Wednesday, but they cited supply chain problems such as production-capacity restraints and material shortages among the problems they are facing. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
TORONTO — A man who killed 10 people and injured 16 others by deliberately driving a van down a bustling Toronto sidewalk was found guilty at trial on Wednesday, with a judge finding he carried out the attack to achieve notoriety. Alek Minassian had admitted to planning and carrying out the attack on April 23, 2018 but had argued he should be found not criminally responsible for his actions because he is autistic. The 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Justice Anne Molloy, who refused to name Minassian in her decision and referred to him only as John Doe, found him guilty on all 26 counts. "Mr. Doe thought about committing these crimes over a considerable period of time and made a considered decision to proceed," she said in her judgment, which was delivered via video conference and broadcast on YouTube. The key issue at Minassian's trial, which began last November without a jury, was whether he had the capacity at the time of the attack to make a rational choice. Molloy said Minassian was fully capable of making a rational choice at the time and deliberately chose to commit mass murder. Robert Forsyth, whose 94-year-old aunt Betty Forsyth died after being hit from behind by Minassian, welcomed Molloy's decision. "I'm happy with the decision, although it's hard to use the word happy when you lose a loved one like this," he said. "It was clear he knew what he was doing." The Crown had argued that Minassian is a mass killer who knew right from wrong and happens to have autism. But the defence argued that because of autism, Minassian never developed empathy, and that lack of empathy left him incapable of rational choice. Molloy rejected that argument. "It does not matter that he does not have remorse nor empathize with the victims. Lack of empathy for the suffering of victims — even an incapacity to empathize, for whatever reason — does not constitute a defence under Section 16 of the Criminal Code," she said in her decision. The trial heard that Minassian had fantasized about mass killings for years, starting when he was in high school, where he was bullied for years. Minassian told several psychiatric assessors he wanted to shoot up his high school, but was unable to find a gun. At one point he became fixated on an American mass murderer who hated women. He joined an online community of so-called "incels" — males who are involuntarily celibate. Minassian told a detective hours after the attack that he sought retribution against society because he was a lonely virgin who believed women wouldn't have sex with him. Later he mentioned different motives to different doctors who analyzed him. He told them he had a strong desire to commit a mass killing, he was lonely, worried he'd fail at his upcoming software development job, a belief he'd never have a relationship with a woman, his infatuation with a mass murderer and, what many point to as his biggest motivator, the quest for notoriety. Three weeks before the attack he booked a rental van for the day after he completed his final college exam, court heard. Around 1:30 p.m. on a bright and warm April day, Minassian sat in the driver's seat at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue at a red light. When the light turned green, he floored it, hopped the curb and began the attack. He drove for about two kilometres on and off the sidewalk as he killed and maimed unsuspecting pedestrians along the way. He was arrested moments later following a failed attempt to commit suicide by cop. Betty Forsyth, Ji Hun Kim, So He Chung, Geraldine Brady, Chul Min Kang, Anne Marie Victoria D'Amico, Munir Najjar, Dorothy Marie Sewell, Andrea Bradden and Beutis Renuka Amarasingha died in the attack. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press