Tampa is going to need another stellar performance from its red-hot defense to stand a chance against the Chiefs in the Super Bowl.
Tampa is going to need another stellar performance from its red-hot defense to stand a chance against the Chiefs in the Super Bowl.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia said Saturday it intercepted a missile attack over its capital and bomb-laden drones targeting a southern province, the latest in a series of airborne assaults it has blamed on Yemen’s rebel Houthis. The Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen’s yearslong war announced the Iran-allied Houthis had launched a ballistic missile toward Riyadh and three booby-trapped drones toward the province of Jizan, with a fourth toward another southwestern city and other drones being monitored. No casualties or damage were initially reported. There was no immediate comment from the Houthis. The attack comes amid sharply rising tensions in the Middle East, a day after a mysterious explosion struck an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman. That blast renewed concerns about ship security in the strategic waterways that saw a spate of suspected Iranian attacks on oil tankers in 2019. The state-owned Al-Ekhbariya TV broadcast footage of what appeared to be explosions in the air over Riyadh. Social media users also posted videos, with some showing residents shrieking as they watched the fiery blast pierce the night sky, which appeared to be the kingdom’s Patriot missile batteries intercepting the ballistic missile. Col. Turki al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said the Houthis were trying in “a systematic and deliberate way to target civilians.” The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh issued a warning to Americans, calling on them to “stay alert in case of additional future attacks.” Flight-tracking websites showed a number of flights scheduled to land at Riyadh’s international airport diverted or delayed in the hour after the attack. A civil defence spokesman, Mohammed al-Hammadi, later said scattered debris resulted in material damage to one house, though no one was hurt, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported. As Yemen's war grinds on, Houthi missile and drone attacks on the kingdom have grown commonplace, only rarely causing damage. Earlier this month the Houthis struck an empty passenger plane at Saudi Arabia's southwestern Abha airport with a bomb-laden drone, causing it to catch fire. Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition has faced widespread international criticism for airstrikes in Yemen that have killed hundreds of civilians and hit non-military targets, including schools, hospitals and wedding parties. President Joe Biden announced this month he was ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, including “relevant” arms sales. But he stressed that the U.S. would continue to help Saudi Arabia defend itself against outside attacks. The Houthis overran Yemen’s capital and much of the country's north in 2014, forcing the government into exile and months later prompting Saudi Arabia and its allies to launch a bombing campaign. __ Associated Press writer Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report. Isabel Debre, The Associated Press
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is expected to ask President Joe Biden to consider sharing part of the U.S. coronavirus vaccine supply with its poorer southern neighbor when the two leaders hold a virtual summit on Monday, U.S. and Mexican officials said. Biden is open to discussing the matter as part of a broader regional effort to cooperate in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic but will maintain as his “number one priority” the need to first vaccinate as many Americans as possible, a White House official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Lopez Obrador has been one of the most vocal leaders in the developing world pressing the richest countries to improve poorer nations’ access to the vaccines.
Security forces battling a decades-long insurgency in Indian-controlled Kashmir are alarmed by the recent arrival in the disputed region of small, magnetic bombs that have wreaked havoc in Afghanistan. "Sticky bombs", which can be attached to vehicles and detonated remotely, have been seized during raids in recent months in the federally administered region of Jammu and Kashmir, three senior security officials told Reuters. "These are small IEDs and quite powerful," said Kashmir Valley police chief Vijay Kumar, referring to improvised explosive devices.
Anyone want to go camping in the woods? After this video you will definitely want to!
(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine overview: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations," Sharma said, based on a preprint. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. AstraZeneca is working on reformulating its vaccine to address more transmissible variants of coronavirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. WATCH | Performance of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine so far: There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
Afin de pourvoir les postes étudiants offerts par la Ville de Sainte-Julie, l’administration municipale et son département de communications ont opté ces derniers temps pour une stratégie qui semble porter ses fruits : aller chercher les jeunes là où ils se trouvent. C’est pourquoi l’équipe en place a enregistré et mis en ligne de courts clips destinées à la plateforme TikTok vers laquelle ont migré massivement les adolescents et les jeunes adultes au cours des dernières années. « C’est une première pour nous, à Sainte-Julie, explique Julie Martin, coordonnatrice des communications et relations avec les citoyens. D’autres villes ont récemment tenté l’expérience. Saguenay et Magog notamment. Nous avons constaté ces dernières années que c’était de plus en plus difficile de joindre les jeunes pour pourvoir les postes ouverts comme emplois d’été. C’est pourquoi nous avons cherché une façon de vraiment les intéresser. » Selon Mme Martin, la plateforme TikTok, une application mobile de réseautage social et de partage vidéo créée il y a cinq ans, est actuellement le médium de choix afin de joindre une clientèle qui a tendance à migrer au gré des nouveautés dans la sphère virtuelle. À première vue, la stratégie semble avoir été un pari payant, en voie d’atteindre rapidement les objectifs. « Nous avons mis en ligne nos vidéos hier en après-midi et déjà aujourd’hui, il y en a une qui en est à 5576 visionnements et une autre à 2118. On est surpris et super content. » Afin d’aider à la conception des capsules, l’équipe de la Ville a d’ailleurs demandé à des animateurs de camps de jour de mettre la main à la pâte et d’utiliser leur créativité. « Ils incarnent différents personnages dans les vidéos, précise Julie Martin. Ce qui est intéressant, c’est qu’ils nous ont aidés à développer le concept, à trouver les formules les plus attrayantes pour les jeunes. Celui de la capsule la plus populaire est basé sur un concept qui est populaire sur TikTok, soit Choose your character (N.D.R.L. « choisis ton personnage »). C’est inspiré du monde des jeux vidéo. Ç’a été une belle collaboration. » Malgré la probabilité de renouer l’expérience, la Ville n’abandonnera pas pour autant Facebook qui demeure la plateforme de prédilection de nombreux adultes. « Beaucoup de gens nous suivent sur Facebook, mais ce qu’on remarque, c’est que ce sont surtout les parents des jeunes qui nous suivent, explique la coordonnatrice. Ils vont taguer leurs enfants sur les offres d’emploi, mais ce ne sont pas ces derniers qui vont « liker » ces publications ou les partager. Alors on a une double stratégie! » Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
An Israeli-owned ship hit by an explosion in the Gulf of Oman strategic waterway has arrived at a port in Dubai, where is it is due to be assessed in dry dock. Israel's defence minister on Saturday said that an initial assessment had found that Iran was responsible for the explosion. The blue and white ship is now berthed in Dubai's Port Rashid, having sailed from its position off the coast of Omani capital Muscat, where the explosion occurred.
(John Woods/The Canadian Press - image credit) Lawmakers in Maine are discussing how the state could plug into a proposed Canadian electricity grid that is meant to make renewable energy more accessible and affordable for the Atlantic provinces and Quebec. Christopher Kessler, a Democrat in the Maine House of Representatives, introduced a bill last month that would see the state lobby for a seat at the negotiating table for an interconnected clean energy grid called the Atlantic Loop. The Atlantic Clean Power Planning Committee — made up of officials from federal and provincial governments, and major electric utilities — has been talking about the Atlantic Loop since 2019, and released a rough map of the grid in a report last summer. The Trudeau Liberals gave the Atlantic Loop a nod of support in last fall's Throne Speech. The loop would likely rely on some upgrades to existing energy lines, and some new construction, but no detailed plan has been made public. This map of a possible Atlantic Loop route was included in an interim report from the Atlantic Clean Power Planning Committee in August 2020. The committee is expected to release a final report in March. Maine looking to export renewable energy Kessler said he wants his state to be part of the loop because Maine and Atlantic Canada have similar goals for removing carbon from their electric grids, and linking up could be mutually beneficial. He said it would also help Maine with its goal of eventually selling renewable energy to other jurisdictions. "Maine has an interest in not just having access to renewable energy to help stabilize our grid and make it more reliable, but Maine also has goals to be a renewable energy exporter," Kessler said in an interview. He pointed out that Maine already has infrastructure linking it to New Brunswick and Quebec, but whether those links will connect with the rest of the Atlantic Loop is unclear. "It's all completely up in the air as to how [the Atlantic Loop] would look. That's the exact point of this starting of the conversation, is so we can have those discussions and do that analysis and see if there is something where both Maine and the Atlantic provinces can work together so we can reach our decarbonization goals." Should Kessler's bill pass, it would require the governor to voice interest in the Atlantic Loop directly to the prime minister and the premiers of all the involved provinces, and ask for "equal footing" in all negotiations. Governor's office suggests staying out of negotiations The bill went to a public hearing at a committee of the state legislature earlier this month. Next, it will be debated further by committee members, who will decide whether to advance it to the whole House of Representatives. If it passes at the house, it would move to the state senate for a final vote. Workers are shown on the construction site of the hydroelectric facility at Muskrat Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador in 2015. The Atlantic Loop would be fed, in part, by hydroelectric projects like Muskrat Falls. One of the testimonies submitted to the public hearing was from the Governor's Energy Office. Office director Dan Burgess wrote that rather than pushing for a place at the negotiating table, "it may be more productive for Maine to continue monitoring the ongoing planning initiative and any advancements of the Atlantic Loop concept." Kessler disagreed. "I think that being actively involved is the only option … We will miss out on any potential opportunities if we don't ask. And we certainly need to be an active participant rather than a spectator," he said. Since that public hearing, Kessler said, he's been working with the governor's office to come up with some solutions for the points Burgess raised. MORE TOP STORIES
Hong Kong police on Sunday detained 47 pro-democracy activists on charges of conspiracy to commit subversion under the city's national security law, in the largest mass charge against the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's opposition camp since the law came into effect last June. The former lawmakers and democracy advocates had been previously arrested in a sweeping police operation in January but were released. They have been detained again and will appear in court on Monday, police said in a statement. They allegedly violated the national security law that was imposed by Beijing for participating in unofficial election primaries for Hong Kong's legislature last year. The defendants include 39 men and eight women aged between 23 and 64, police said. The move is part of a continuing crackdown on the city's democracy movement, with a string of arrests and prosecutions of Hong Kong's democracy proponents — including outspoken activists Joshua Wong and Jimmy Lai — following months of anti-government protests in 2019. The pro-democracy camp had held the primaries to determine the best candidates to field to win a majority in the legislature and had plans to vote down major bills that would eventually force Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to resign. In January, 55 activists and former lawmakers were arrested for their roles in the primaries. Authorities said that the activists' participation was part of a plan to paralyze the city's legislature and subvert state power. The legislative election that would have followed the unofficial primaries was postponed by a year by Lam, who cited public health risks during the coronavirus pandemic. Mass resignations and disqualifications of pro-democracy lawmakers have left the legislature largely a pro-Beijing body. Among those arrested on Sunday was former lawmaker Eddie Chu. A post on his official Twitter account confirmed that he was being charged for conspiracy to commit subversion and that he was denied bail. “Thank you to the people of Hong Kong for giving me the opportunity to contribute to society in the past 15 years,” Chu said in a post on his Facebook page. Another candidate in the primaries, Winnie Yu, was also charged and will appear in court on Monday, according to a post on her official Facebook page. American lawyer John Clancey, a member of the now-defunct political rights group “Power for Democracy” who was arrested in January for his involvement in the primary, was not among those detained on Sunday. "I will give full support to those who have been charged and will be facing trial, because from my perspective, they have done nothing wrong,” Clancey told reporters. The security law criminalizes acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers to intervene in Hong Kong's affairs. Serious offenders could face a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. Nearly 100 people have been arrested since the law was implemented. Zen Soo, The Associated Press
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine Sunday, among the last in Southeast Asia to secure the critical doses despite having the second-highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the hard-hit region. A Chinese military transport aircraft carrying 600,000 doses of vaccine donated by China arrived in an air base in the capital. President Rodrigo Duterte and top Cabinet officials expressed relief and thanked Beijing for the the vaccine from China-based Sinovac Biotech Ltd. in a televised ceremony. “COVID-19 vaccines should be treated as a global public good and made available to all, rich and poor alike,” Duterte said, warning that “no one is safe until everyone is safe.” China's ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian, said China has exported vaccines to 27 countries despite its own domestic needs, adding “no winter lasts forever” when China and other countries help each other in solidarity when crisis strikes. Vaccinations initially of health workers and top officials led by the health secretary were scheduled to start in six Metropolitan Manila hospitals Monday. Aside from the donated Sinovac vaccine, the government has separately ordered 25 million doses from the China-based company. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the delivery of an initial 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine that was initially scheduled for Monday would be delayed by a week due to supply problems. The initial deliveries are a small fraction of at least 148 million doses the government has been negotiating to secure from Western and Asian companies to vaccinate about 70 million Filipinos for free in a massive campaign. The bulk of the vaccine shipments are expected to arrive later this year. The Philippines has reported more than 576,000 infections, including 12,318 deaths, the second-highest totals in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Lockdowns and quarantine restrictions have set back Manila’s economy in one of the worst recessions in the region and sparked unemployment and hunger. Duterte’s administration has come under criticism for lagging behind most other Southeast Asian countries in securing the vaccines, including much smaller and poorer ones like Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos. The tough-talking Duterte has said wealthy Western countries have cornered massive doses for their citizens, leaving poorer nations scrambling for the rest. In a sign of desperation, the president said last December that he would proceed to abrogate a key security pact with the United States that allows large numbers of American troops to conduct war exercises in the Philippines if Washington could not provide at least 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. “No vaccine, no stay here,” Duterte said then. The Chinese vaccine delivery was delayed due to the absence of an emergency-use authorization from Manila’s Food and Drug Administration. Sinovac got the authorization last Monday. Western pharmaceutical companies also wanted the Philippine government to guarantee that it would take responsibility for lawsuits and demands for indemnity arising from possible adverse side effects from the vaccine, officials said. Aside from supply problems, there have been concerns over the vaccine’s safety, largely due to a dengue vaccine scare that prompted the Duterte administration to stop a massive immunization drive in 2017. ___ Associated Press writer Edna Tarigan in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report. Jim Gomez, The Associated Press
BELGRADE, Serbia — The president of Serbia's Football Association was on Sunday questioned by police in connection with recent arrests of several members of soccer fan groups accused of murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking. Serbian media said Slavisa Kokeza was quizzed over his links to leaders of Partizan Belgrade supporter groups who were arrested earlier this month in what officials say is a major crackdown against soccer's links with organized crime. Details from the police investigation leaked to the media include alleged killings by group members of their rivals, including decapitations and torture in a special “bunker” at the Partizan stadium in the Serbian capital. Populist Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who has often boasted about his youth as a radical supporter of Partizan’s rival Red Star Belgrade, said Saturday that some of the “shocking” details of the investigation will be made public next week and that children will be warned not to watch. Serbia has a history of tolerating hooliganism that often resulted in violence and outbursts of nationalism at stadiums. During the Balkan wars in the 1990s, many of them joined notorious paramilitary groups linked to war crimes against other national groups in the former Yugoslavia. With the return of nationalists to power in Serbia nine years ago, far-right soccer supporters were often seen at pro-government rallies promoting a nationalist political agenda. In exchange, analysts say, the hooligans have been allowed to pursue their illegal business activities. More than a dozen prominent figures from the country’s soccer supporters’ groups have been murdered in recent years. Most have perished in gangland-style killings. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Spacewalking astronauts ventured out Sunday to install support frames for new, high-efficiency solar panels arriving at the International Space Station later this year. NASA’s Kate Rubins and Victor Glover emerged from the orbiting lab lugging 8-foot (2.5-meter) duffle-style bags stuffed with hundreds of pounds of mounting brackets and struts. The equipment was so big and awkward that it had to be taken apart like furniture, just to get through the hatch. “We know it's super tight in there,” Mission Control radioed. The astronauts headed with their unusually large load to the far port side of the station, careful not to bump into anything. That’s where the station’s oldest and most degraded solar wings are located. With more people and experiments flying on the space station, more power will be needed to keep everything running, according to NASA. The six new solar panels — to be delivered in pairs by SpaceX over the coming year or so — should boost the station’s electrical capability by as much as 30%. Rubins and Glover had to assemble and bolt down the struts for the first two solar panels, due to launch in June. The eight solar panels up there now are 12 to 20 years old — most of them past their design lifetime and deteriorating. Each panel is 112 feet (34 metres) long by 39 feet (12 metres) wide. Tip to tip counting the centre framework, each pair stretches 240 feet (73 metres), longer than a Boeing 777's wingspan. Boeing is supplying the new roll-up panels, about half the size of the old ones but just as powerful thanks to the latest solar cell technology. They’ll be placed at an angle above the old ones, which will continue to operate. A prototype was tested at the space station in 2017. Sunday’s spacewalk was the third for infectious disease specialist Rubins and Navy pilot Glover — both of whom could end up flying to the moon. They’re among 18 astronauts newly assigned to NASA’s Artemis moon-landing program. The next moonwalkers will come from this group. Last week, Vice-President Kamala Harris put in a congratulatory call to Glover, the first African American astronaut to live full time at the space station. NASA released the video exchange Saturday. “The history making that you are doing, we are so proud of you,” Harris said. Like other firsts, Glover replied, it won't be the last. “We want to make sure that we can continue to do new things,” he said. Rubins will float back out Friday with Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi to wrap up the solar panel prep work, and to vent and relocate ammonia coolant hoses. Glover and Noguchi were among four astronauts arriving via SpaceX in November. Rubins launched from Kazakhstan in October alongside two Russians. They’re all scheduled to return to Earth this spring. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
(Shutterstock/HTWE - image credit) The Ontario government's new Combating Human Trafficking Act is a welcome start to tackling a widespread issue, but there may be a significant gap that needs to be addressed, the Opposition says. Bill 251 was introduced in the provincial legislature on Feb. 22 — National Human Trafficking Awareness Day — by Ontario Attorney General Sylvia Jones. "We are making bold leaps to raise awareness among the public, protect victims, support survivors, and hold perpetrators accountable," Jones said. More human trafficking is reported to police in Ontario than in any other part of the country, she said. One of the bill's cornerstones for rescuing victims recognizes the fact that they are often taken to hotels and motels to be sexually exploited. The first section of the proposed legislation requires hotels to maintain a registry of every guest who checks in — including their name and address. It also allows police officers and First Nations constables to more quickly gain access to a hotel's registry if "there are reasonable grounds to believe information recorded in the register will assist in locating or identifying a person who is currently a victim of human trafficking or is at imminent risk of being trafficked." But the bill doesn't specify whether people operating other types of lodging, including short-term rentals such as Airbnb, will be subject to the same requirements, said Chris Glover, an NDP opposition MPP. "There is a real need to not just go after hotels ... in terms of you know, regulating and asking them to participate," Glover said. "There's also a real need to get Airbnb involved and other short-term rental agencies to stop human trafficking in their sites as well." In addition to hotels, the bill says, "businesses in a prescribed class are also required to keep these registers." CBC News asked the Ontario government to clarify whether or not that would include Airbnb, but it was unable to provide a response by deadline. The bill also includes a provision for the attorney general or other government ministers to make additional regulations, including identifying other businesses to be included, after the the act becomes law. But Glover and other advocates say it's important to recognize that human trafficking occurs in many different types of short-term accommodations by specifying that in the legislation itself. "If it's not clear on its face when you read the act who is a 'prescribed class' or what lodging services apply, then it needs to be right in legislation so that everyone knows who it applies to," said Christa Big Canoe, legal advocacy director at Aboriginal Legal Services. Indigenous women and girls are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking in Canada. "One of the things we heard over and over again in the national inquiry [on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls] was the role of hotels or this type of temporary residence or living situations that sees Indigenous women put through sexual exploitation and trafficking at a huge rate," she said. Christa Big Canoe, legal advocacy director for Aboriginal Legal Services, says human trafficking and sexual exploitation happens in every form of lodging from five-star hotels to motels to short-term rentals, including Airbnb. Most people don't realize how often human trafficking happens, often "in plain sight," Big Canoe said. People often picture rundown, roadside motels when they think of trafficking, she said. It definitely happens there, but traffickers also exploit their victims in all sorts of lodging, from large five-star hotels to Airbnb rentals. "It's way more insidious than most people are aware. It's almost like society has a willful blindness," Big Canoe said. "It's like we see it and we look away, or we might suspect it but we don't act." In addition to keeping a registry of guests, hospitality workers should be trained to look for signs of trafficking, she said. For example, if a group of people check in and only one of them is a girl or woman, that can be a potential signal. Human traffickers often take their victims' credit cards — or steal their names to apply for new credit cards — and use them to book rooms, said Richard Dunwoody, executive director of Project Recover, a not-for-profit organization that helps survivors to regain their financial footing. Among more than 120 survivors the organization helped last year, Dunwoody said, credit card receipts showed their traffickers used hotels and services like Airbnb about equally. Both Glover and Big Canoe say they hope the bill will be amended as it moves through second and third readings before receiving royal assent and becoming law. Who to call if you believe human trafficking is happening Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-833-900-1010 Click here to see the hotline's website or to use the chat function.
OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don't want an election in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic but the Conservatives appear to be pursuing a strategy that could give the Liberals justification for calling one. Liberals are accusing the Conservatives of systematically blocking the government's legislative agenda, including bills authorizing billions in pandemic-related aid and special measures for safely conducting a national election. The Conservatives counter that the Liberals have not used the control they have over the House of Commons' agenda to prioritize the right bills; other parties say both the government and the Official Opposition share the blame. "They're playing politics all the time in the House. It's delay, delay, delay and eventually that delay becomes obstruction," the Liberals' House leader Pablo Rodriguez said in an interview. "It's absurd. I think it's insulting to Canadians and I think people should be worried because those important programs may not come into force ... because of the games played by the Conservatives." He pointed to the three hours last week the Commons spent discussing a months-old, three-sentence committee report affirming the competence of the new Canadian Tourism Commission president. That was forced by a Conservative procedural manoeuvre, upending the government's plan to finally start debate on the pandemic election bill, which contains measures the chief electoral officer has said are urgent given that the minority Liberal government could fall at any time if the opposition parties unite against it. A week earlier, MPs spent three hours discussing a committee report recommending a national awareness day for human trafficking — something Rodriguez said had unanimous support and could have been dealt with "in a second." That debate, also prompted by the Conservatives, prevented any progress on Bill C-14, legislation flowing from last fall's economic statement with billions in expanded emergency aid programs and new targeted aid for hard-hit industries. That bill was introduced in December but stalled at second reading, with Conservative MPs talking out the clock each time it did come up for debate. After eight days of sporadic debate — more than is normally accorded for a full-fledged budget, Rodriguez noted — Conservatives finally agreed Friday to let the bill proceed to committee for scrutiny. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has argued that "modest debate" is warranted on C-14, which he maintains is aimed a fixing errors in previous rushed emergency aid legislation. Last December, the Conservatives dragged out debate on Bill C-7, a measure to expand medical assistance in dying in compliance with a 2019 court ruling. For three straight days last week, they refused consent to extend sitting hours to debate a motion laying out the government's response to Senate amendments to C-7, despite a looming court deadline that was extended Thursday to March 26. Conservatives note they offered the previous week to extend the hours to allow a thorough debate but the government waited five days before tabling its response to the amendments. For Rodriguez it all adds up to "a pattern" of obstruction aimed at blocking the government's legislative agenda. Procedural machinations are commonly used by opposition parties to tie up legislation. But Rodriguez argued it's inappropriate in a pandemic when "people are dying by the dozens every day." If the government held a majority of seats in the Commons, it could impose closure on debates. But in the current minority situation, it would need the support of one of the main opposition parties to cut short debate — something it's not likely to get. In a minority Parliament, Rodriguez argued, all parties share responsibility for ensuring that legislation can at least get to a vote. But Conservative House leader Gérard Deltell lays the blame for the legislative impasse squarely on Rodriguez. "The government House leader has failed to set clear priorities, and has therefore failed to manage the legislative agenda," he said in a statement to The Canadian Press, adding that "my door is always open for frank and constructive discussions.” Bloc Québécois House leader Alain Therrien agrees the Liberals have "mismanaged the legislative calendar and must take their responsibilities." But he doesn't exempt the Conservatives. He said their obstruction of the assisted-dying bill and another that would ban forcible conversion therapy aimed at altering a person's sexual orientation or gender identity is "deplorable." "These are files that require compassion and rigour. It is inexcusable to hold the House hostage on such matters," Therrien said in an email, suggesting that O'Toole is having trouble controlling the "religious right" in his caucus. As far as NDP House leader Peter Julian is concerned, both the Liberals and Conservatives are trying to trigger an election. "We believe that is absolutely inappropriate, completely inappropriate given the pandemic, given the fact that so many Canadians are suffering," he said in an interview. Julian accused the Liberals of bringing forward unnecessary legislation, like the election bill, while "vitally important" bills, like one implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and another on net-zero carbon emissions, languish. The Liberals' intention, he said, is to eventually say there must be an election because of "all these important things we couldn't get done." And the Conservatives "seem to want to play into this narrative" by blocking the bills the government does put forward. Veteran Green MP Elizabeth May, however, agrees with Rodriguez, who she says must be "at his wits' end." "What I see is obstructionism, pure and simple," she said in an interview. She blames the Conservatives primarily for the procedural "tomfoolery" but accuses both the Bloc and NDP of being "in cahoots," putting up speakers to help drag out time-wasting debates on old committee reports. "It's mostly the Conservatives but they're in league," May said. "They are all trying to keep anything orderly from happening that might possibly let the Liberals say we've accomplished a legislative agenda. Whether the bills are good, bad or indifferent is irrelevant in this strategy." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
HYDERABAD, India — A man was killed by a rooster with a blade tied to its leg during an illegal cockfight in southern India, police said, bringing focus on a practice that continues in some Indian states despite a decades-old ban. The rooster, with a 3-inch knife tied to its leg, fluttered in panic and slashed its owner, 45-year-old Thangulla Satish, in his groin last week, police inspector B. Jeevan said Sunday. The incident occurred in Lothunur village of Telangana state. According to Jeevan, Satish was injured while he prepared the rooster for a fight. “Satish was hit by the rooster’s knife in his groin and started bleeding heavily," the officer said, adding that the man died on the way to a hospital. Jeevan said police filed a case and were looking for over a dozen people involved in organizing the cockfight. If proven guilty, the organizers can be jailed for up to two years. Cockfights are common in the southern Indian states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka despite a countrywide ban imposed in 1960. Animals rights activists have for long been calling to control the illegal practice, which is mainly organized as part of local Hindu festivals usually attended by hundreds of people, though the crowds sometimes swell to thousands. The cockfights are often held under the watch of powerful, local politicians and involve large sums of betting money. Last year, a man was killed when a blade attached to his bird’s leg hit him in the neck during a cockfight in Andhra Pradesh. In 2010, a rooster killed its owner by slashing his jugular vein in West Bengal state. According to police, the rooster involved in last week's incident was among many other roosters prepared for the cockfight betting festival in Lothunur village. As the practice goes, a knife, blade or other sharp-edged weapon is tied to the leg of a bird to harm its rival. Such fights continue until one contestant is either dead or flees, declaring the other rooster the winner. Officer Jeevan said the rooster was brought to the police station before being taken to a local poultry farm. “We may need to produce it before the court,” he said. Images of the rooster tied with a rope and pecking on grains at the police station were widely viewed on social media. Omer Farooq, The Associated Press
(Dave Irish/CBC - image credit) The latest stage of a project that will see the further development of the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax's Bedford Basin will have no significant adverse environmental impact, says the Crown corporation responsible for the project. The Halifax Port Authority plans to construct an 11-bay, 2,700-square-metre building to be used by Canada Border Services Agency for examining shipping containers at the terminal. A truck gate — where electronic scanners help keep track of containers and their cargo — will also be built, along with a large asphalt compound and new roads, including one that will connect the project to Africville Road. The new infrastructure will be constructed on land that has been created by infilling the Bedford Basin over the past several years. In total, nearly four hectares of the infilled land will be paved to accommodate the project. As part of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada's approval process, the port authority was required to assess the potential effects of the container examination facility and truck gate. Port authority spokesperson Lane Farguson said an environmental consultant hired by the port authority concluded there would be no significant adverse environmental effects. The port authority would not elaborate on how that conclusion was reached, saying only that the determination was made through the impact assessment process. In order to mitigate potential adverse environmental effects, silt fences will be installed around the perimeter to prevent silt-laden water and debris from getting into the basin, vehicles will be equipped with mufflers to reduce noise and lighting will be designed to reduce light pollution. Project will reduce truck traffic, says port authority Right now, when the CBSA selects containers to inspect, they are trucked to the Burnside business park and then back to the terminal before they move on to their destination. Farguson said having a container examination facility at the terminal will reduce truck traffic over the MacKay Bridge and in the Burnside area. "It will reduce the associated mileage and greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "It is a small step toward a slightly smaller carbon footprint." The project involves the construction of an 11-bay container examination facility, seen in the above rendering as a brown building in the centre of the photo. Members of the public were invited to comment on the potential environmental impact of the project in November and December, but Farguson said no comments were received. Construction on the container examination building, truck gate and roads could get underway later this year, said Farguson. Infilling project approved in 2012 The infilling project, called the Fairview Cove Sequestration Facility, was approved by the federal government and began in 2012. In total, as of the end of November 2020, about 6.3 hectares have been infilled, or an area about one-third the size of Citadel Hill. The material used to fill in the water is largely pyritic slate that has been removed from construction sites on the peninsula. "You can't just leave that lying around on the surface, because when it gets interacting with fresh water and oxygen — in other words, if it rains on top of this stuff — you get acidic runoff and that acidic runoff can affect freshwater streams," Farguson said. Infilling has been taking place since 2012. In July 2018, a man died when the dumptruck he was operating rolled into the water at the site. The construction company he worked for was fined $60,000 for failing to provide proper guidance and equipment. The pyritic slate is buried in the seawater near the Fairview Cove terminal and then capped with clean fill. "That way, you take oxygen out of the mix and then it's no longer an aerobic environment. And for us, it's a great building material for that type of thing," Farguson said. More change is expected at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in the coming years. In 2019, the federal government announced funding to link the north-end terminal with the container terminal by Point Pleasant Park in Halifax's south end, as part of the Windsor Street Exchange Redevelopment Project. MORE TOP STORIES
Saudi Arabia's sovereignty is a red line, Saudi columnists said on Sunday, ramping up rhetoric in defense of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after a U.S. intelligence report implicated him in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Prince Mohammed, de facto ruler of the U.S.-allied Gulf powerhouse, has denied any involvement in the 2018 murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
(Matt Jonsson Recovery/Facebook - image credit) Family and friends are mourning the loss of a 24-year-old Winnipeg man who passed away after suffering brain damage in a freak accident earlier this month. On Feb. 6, Matt Jonsson hit his head on a low basement ceiling and suffered a severe spinal injury that left him paralyzed below the chest. He was hospitalized and put on a ventilator as doctors worked to stabilize the fracture and wait for the swelling to go down. In that time, family members worked to raise money to renovate his home so it was wheelchair accessible. "It's very hard. It's just very unexpected because in the beginning we were faced with him being paralyzed, which I was very upset about. But now in hindsight, I wish that that's all that was happening," said his mother Tish Jonsson. Matt suffered severe brain damage as a result of the injury and doctors told his family he'd never wake up. He was taken off life support last week. Matt Jonsson (right) was taken off life support on Feb. 20. For a man who loved to ride BMX and dirt bikes and play sports, the accident that took his life seems unfathomable. "[Matt and his brother Cole] got hurt so many times and so many times that they should have broken their necks, I think. And then for a senseless thing like this to happen, I don't understand. I just don't understand it at all," Jonsson said. She says her son was loved by many and will be remembered as a generous, sweet man who loved adventure. Once Matt saw a $100 bill floating down the street and ran out of the house to grab it. "My mother and I tried to convince him to put it in the bank, but he wasn't having it. He went to the skate park and he ordered pizza and drinks for everybody," Jonsson said. "It didn't matter who it was. And I think that sums him up pretty good." She says her son, who she worked with and lived with, always wrapped her in a big hug and told her how much he loved her. Dedicated basketball player, coach Evan Cox knew Matt as his teacher, coworker and friend. Cox, who is a physical education teacher at Sturgeon Heights Collegiate, coached boys basketball when Matt was a student there. Last year, Matt joined Cox as an assistant coach on the girls basketball team at the school. Ever since he was a player, Cox said Matt was driven. "He kind of left a legacy of playing the game the right way, an insanely hard worker [who] dedicated so much of his time to just pursuing excellence, just trying to get better every single day," he said. "I think he was doing the same thing to get the girls to have that kind of intensity, that kind of drive and focus and of building hope in them that they can try to get to where they want to get to." Another coach, Stephen Tackie worked with Matt throughout high school and said he was a truly unique student. "He recognized he was part of something bigger than himself, and I think he took that role on that he had to give back." Matt was also instrumental in getting Skate Park West off the ground in Charleswood. He went to planning meetings, worked to raise money to have it built and when it did open, he took first aid training and volunteered to keep watch in case anyone got hurt. Jonsson says the money her family raised for Matt when he was in the hospital — nearly $87,000 — will go to building memorial benches at Skate Park West and starting a fund at to help people play basketball who may not have the means. "He touched so many people," Jonsson says. "We're going to use that money to honour him, to keep his legacy going."
WASHINGTON — Eight years after carving the heart out of a landmark voting rights law, the Supreme Court is looking at putting new limits on efforts to combat racial discrimination in voting. The justices are taking up a case about Arizona restrictions on ballot collection and another policy that penalizes voters who cast ballots in the wrong precinct. The high court's consideration comes as Republican officials in the state and around the country have proposed more than 150 measures, following last year’s elections, to restrict voting access that civil rights groups say would disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic voters. A broad Supreme Court ruling would make it harder to fight those efforts in court. Arguments are set for Tuesday via telephone, because of the coronavirus pandemic. “It would be taking away one of the big tools, in fact, the main tool we have left now, to protect voters against racial discrimination,” said Myrna Perez, director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s voting rights and elections program. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, said the high court case is about ballot integrity, not discrimination. “This is about protecting the franchise, not disenfranchising anyone,” said Brnovich, who will argue the case on Tuesday. President Joe Biden narrowly won Arizona last year, and since 2018, the state has elected two Democratic senators. The justices will be reviewing an appeals court ruling against a 2016 Arizona law that limits who can return early ballots for another person and against a separate state policy of discarding ballots if a voter goes to the wrong precinct. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the ballot-collection law and the state policy discriminate against minority voters in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act and that the law also violates the Constitution. The Voting Rights Act, first enacted in 1965, was extremely effective against discrimination at the ballot box because it forced state and local governments, with a history of discrimination, including Arizona, to get advance approval from the Justice Department or a federal court before making any changes to elections. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the portion of the law known as Section 5 could no longer be enforced because the population formula for determining which states were covered hadn’t been updated to take account of racial progress. Congress “must identify those jurisdictions to be singled out on a basis that makes sense in light of current conditions," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for a conservative majority. “It cannot rely simply on the past.” Democrats in Congress will try again to revive the advance approval provision of the voting rights law. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act failed in the last Congress, when Republicans controlled the Senate and President Donald Trump was in the White House. But another part of the law, Section 2, applies nationwide and still prohibits discrimination in voting on the basis of race. Civil rights groups and voters alleging racial bias have to go to court and prove their case either by showing intentional discrimination in passing a law or that the results of the law fall most heavily on minorities. The new Supreme Court case mainly concerns how plaintiffs can prove discrimination based on the law’s results. The arguments are taking place against the backdrop of the 2020 election, in which there was a massive increase in early voting and mailed-in ballots because of the pandemic. Trump and his Republican supporters challenged the election results by advancing claims of fraud that were broadly rejected by state and federal courts. But many Republicans continue to question the election’s outcome, despite the absence of evidence. GOP elected officials have responded by proposing to restrict early voting and mailed-in ballots, as well as toughen voter identification laws. The challenged Arizona provisions remained in effect in 2020 because the case was still making its way through the courts. But Brnovich said last year’s voting is another reason the justices should side with the state. “I think part of the lesson of 2020 was that when people don’t believe that elections have integrity or that their vote is being protected, it will lead to undermining the public’s confidence in the system,” Brnovich said. Civil rights groups said the court should not use this case to make it harder to root out racial discrimination, which “still poses a unique threat to our democracy,” as the NAACP Legal Defence and Educational Fund put it in a brief. Nearly 75 businesses, including PayPal, Levi Strauss and Impossible Foods, joined in a brief urging the court to “fully preserve the Voting Rights Act." The Justice Department will not be part of Tuesday’s arguments, a rarity in a voting rights case. The Trump administration backed Arizona. The Biden administration, in a somewhat cryptic letter to the court, said this month that it believes “neither Arizona measure violates Section 2’s results test,” but doesn’t like the way its predecessor analyzed the issues. The suggestion from the new administration could give the court a narrow way to uphold the Arizona provisions without making any significant changes to voting discrimination law. A decision is expected by early summer. Mark Sherman, The Associated Press
MEXICO CITY — Ten men and a boy were killed and a woman and another boy were wounded in a shooting attack on a home in western Mexico Saturday. Prosecutors in the state of Jalisco said the bullet-ridden bodies of the 10 men were found by police on the sidewalk in front of the home. The body of a boy was found inside, and a woman and another boy were located at a local hospital. The prosecutors’ office said the attack was carried out by unidentified assailants travelling in an SUV. The state is home to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, one of Mexico’s most violent and powerful. More bodies have been found in clandestine burial pits in Jalisco there than in any other state in recent years. The cartel has been fighting a breakaway faction in and around Guadalajara. Earlier this month, police found 18 plastic bags full of hacked-up body parts on the outskirts of Guadalajara, the state capital. In November, Jalisco authorities recovered 113 bodies and additional human remains from a secret grave in the town of El Salto, just outside Guadalajara. A total of 189 corpses were discovered in the town throughout 2020. The Associated Press