Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Friday a resolution to a bitter dispute with Qatar seemed "within reach" after Kuwait announced progress towards ending a row that Washington says hampers a united Gulf front against Iran. The United States and Kuwait have worked to end the dispute, during which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017.
Venezuela's government is encouraging private firms to sign import and export deals with companies in Asia and the Middle East as part of an effort to limit the impact of U.S. sanctions, according to four sources with knowledge of the matter. The plan expands on President Nicolas Maduro's existing commercial relationships with allies such as Turkey and Iran, which have already been providing the cash-strapped government with food and fuel in exchange for gold.
Large ships may soon be able to travel through a deep channel in Nova Scotia's Sydney harbour that has not been used since it was created eight years ago.The navigational aids that guide ships along an existing channel were thrown out of alignment by the angle of the new, deeper one that was dredged in 2012.The coast guard, which manages navigational aids such as buoys and range lights in Canadian waters, has always said the cost of fixing the aids in Sydney harbour was the responsibility of the local port authority.Marlene Usher, CEO of the Port of Sydney Development Corp., said money was set aside from the dredge to cover the cost of the aids, but the coast guard has never done the work."It's an impediment for growth ... and it is a bit of a chicken and egg, because they were always of the mind that well, if nobody's using the dredged channel, then you don't need the aids," she said. "But you can't use it."Some large ships have been turned away because the old channel is too shallow and other ships, such as those carrying coal for Nova Scotia Power, have been operating with less than a full load.'Very positive thing'Usher said the deeper dredged channel could be used immediately if the navigational aids were aligned properly."It hasn't silted in," she said. "We have it surveyed every second year so it would be a very positive thing for the entire harbour."Harvey Vardy, director of navigational programs for the coast guard's Atlantic region, said the port authority was the only user of the aids after the dredge.He said according to policy, that made them responsible for the costs. However, a review last year found there were more potential users, and that changed things."Preliminary work has begun on the engineering design requirements for the port of Sydney and coast guard is now prioritizing the requirements for the port of Sydney with all other aids to navigation requirements across the country," Vardy said.He would not elaborate on the new users, but mentioned Nova Scotia Power and Provincial Energy Ventures, both of which were using the harbour in 2012.Nova Scotia Power even contributed $1 million toward the $38-million dredge, which was mostly paid for by the three levels of government.Usher said the only new user since the dredging was Kameron Coal, owner of the Donkin mine that went into production in 2017, but has since closed.After the dredging was done, $2.5 million was left over and an agreement was struck allowing the port to use that money for specific purposes, including fixing the navigational aids.Usher said initial estimates put the cost at about $1.5 million, but that grew to $3.5 million.Under an agreement with the federal government, the port set aside $819,000 for the aids. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic killed the cruise ship season and sank the port's revenues this year, Ottawa agreed to allow the port to use that money to cover its deficit.'You can't do it piecemeal'Vardy said the coast guard did not miss out on an opportunity to have at least part of the navigational aid work covered by the port.He said the project still has to be designed and costed, and then full funding has to be available."You can't do it piecemeal," Vardy said. "It has to be a complete redesign."There is no cost estimate yet, but the work will be done as soon as possible, he said."We're talking into the multimillion-dollar range," Vardy said. "Now, further analysis is required to give us some more finite costs."MORE TOP STORIES
A new tenants rights group in the province hopes to help renters navigate the rules and regulations of renting, and work to change those rules."New Brunswick is far behind as compared to other provinces in terms of what kinds of protections are afforded to tenants," said one of the group's organizers, Aditya Rao. The New Brunswick Coalition for Tenants Rights was formed by a group of renters. "Tenants in New Brunswick have far fewer rights than almost anywhere else in the country. We've seen this to be quite clear over the last several weeks with stories about rent increases and evictions," said Rao. The coalition is currently calling for a moratorium on all evictions during the pandemic.In Thursday's news conference, Premier Blaine Higgs was asked about the number of evictions renters have faced this year. "They're currently lower than in previous years," he said.While Service New Brunswick has received 1,525 eviction requests in the first 10 months of this year (2,518 in 2019 and 1,688 in 2018), it doesn't track lease terminations, which are used in many cases to remove a tenant, for reasons such as renovations. Rao said it's a practice he's been hearing is used often. The group wants to institute regulations that would ensure inspections are done regularly at rental properties. "So that they cannot get to the point that they're so dilapidated that tenants need to be unhoused in order for the apartment to be fixed," he said.Higgs said his government is in talks with landlords in an effort to understand the rental situation in the province. Low housing availability has become a big problem in the province's three major cities, with Fredericton's vacancy rate at about 1.4 per cent. "We know that there are new buildings going up," said Higgs. "We know that renovations are going on in apartments. But we're being told by the landlords that … the rental rate increases are low. We will pursue to understand that before we act on a policy that may have been necessary somewhere else, and may, or may not be necessary here."Rao said the coalition will be launching policy proposals over the next few weeks. "We're calling on the government to significantly overhaul the Residential Tenancies Act with a view to protecting tenants rights, including by instituting rent control, of course, but also by creating an eviction prevention program, among other things." On its website, the group is asking people to write their MLA's to add some of these reforms to the Act.
THE LATEST: * Health officials announced 711 new cases Friday, as well as 11 more deaths. * There are now 9,050 active cases of COVID-19 across B.C. * 338 patients are in hospital, with 76 in intensive care. * 492 people in B.C. have died of the disease since the pandemic began. * There are two new health-care facility outbreaks.As British Columbians head into a weekend that would typically see the beginning of holiday parties, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is urging everyone to "stay small and stay local" to slow the spread of COVID-19."We can still be festive, we can still have fun, but let's ensure it is only with our immediate household," Henry said.On Friday, she announced 711 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths. There are 338 patients in hospital with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, 76 of whom are in intensive care.Two new health-care facility outbreaks were announced, one at Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Lodge in White Rock, the other at Richmond Hospital. The outbreak at Youville Residence is over.Snowboarder finedOn Friday, a snowboarder who broke Canada's quarantine rules early to try to go to Whistler, B.C., was fined $1,150 under the Quarantine Act , according to police.West Vancouver police said the man was caught driving north on the Sea-to-Sky Highway Monday. An officer on patrol noticed his Audi had California plates with expired tags. The officer called public health officials and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and confirmed the man still had two days left on his 14-day quarantine.Party hosts ticketedMeanwhile, five different Burnaby, B.C., party hosts were slapped with tickets for violating the COVID-19 Related Measures Act during the month of November, according to police, including one with 58 people in their apartment and another who was ticketed for a second time.And new data released Friday shows families with children and adults aged 18-29 reported being hardest hit by the socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.While seniors aged 70 and older experienced the most severe health effects, younger adults and parents of young children reported the pandemic taking a higher economic, mental and emotional toll, according to the provincewide COVID-19 Survey on Population, Experience, Action and Knowledge conducted in the spring and funded by the BCCDC Foundation for Public Health.Adults aged 18-29 were nearly twice as likely to be out of work due to the pandemic, with 27 per cent of respondents of this age group affected, compared to16 per cent for the province overall.READ MORE:What's happening elsewhere in CanadaAs of 3 p.m. on Friday, Canada's COVID-19 case count stood at 401,859, with 70,008 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 12,485.Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, also warned Friday that daily new cases could top 10,000 by January. Alberta announced Friday its positivity rate for COVID-19 is now 10.5 per cent, which the province's chief medical health officer called a "grim milestone."Meanwhile, federal officials are making plans for how to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available.Eventually, there will be 205 "points of issue" locations across the country where health-care professionals can administer it.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?Common symptoms include: * Fever. * Cough. * Tiredness. * Shortness of breath. * Loss of taste or smell. * Headache.But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.What should I do if I feel sick?Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911.What can I do to protect myself? * Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. * Keep your distance from people who are sick. * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. * Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
The clipper is buzzing, the scissors cutting, the phone is ringing off the hook.Rick Harris is busy at work, but won't be much longer. On Christmas Eve, he's closing the doors of Harris's Barbershop in St. John's, bringing an end to a family business that was founded 115 years ago. "I always said, 'When the time came, I'd know.' I'm starting to feel a bit tired, a bit weary of it all. So I figure it's time to go while I still got a bit of health and strength and enjoy a bit of life," Harris said, while looking after the hair of a long-time customer.Richard Harris, his father, started the business in 1905, and over the years the shop has operated from several parts of downtown St. John's. It was originally located on New Gower Street, then moved to nearby Brazil Square in April 1977 before ultimately settling on Casey Street, where it's been since 1984.Harris owns and operates the business, where it all began for him as a boy sweeping the floors of his father's shop. He was later promoted to a barber at 18 — 54 years ago."I'm not going to be around until I'm 96 like my dad was, so I better do it now."Harris looks back on the legacy of his family business as it crossed through generations of customers. He said people were less open to talking about their personal lives while sitting in his chair in the old days. And the esthetic was drastically different than what it is today. "There was all kinds of cigarette smoke, and cigar smoke and tobacco smoke, rum. It was all part of the barbershop," he said. "It was more of a family affair really. I think our shop was the place to go, basically. It was a hang out. ... That was one thing we always had, was a good bunch of people around the shop."There was constantly a game of chess happening, Harris remembers, a game his father studied and played against his customers who ranged from United States service members to whaling boat captains. WATCH | Rick Harris reflects on his decision to wind down a family business that has been a mainstay in downtown St. John's for well over a century: Today he feels sadness, Harris said, but contentment as the legacy is slowly drawing to its end. "I don't know what I'll do with my time, but I guess I'll find something," he said. A final sendoffHarris estimates he cuts about 5,000 heads of hair in a typical year, and says he's cut five generations of hair in one family.As Harris looks to throw the switch and lock the doors for the last time on Christmas Eve, his final customer after a long career makes for a proper sendoff. His final cut will be for Randy Gulliver, the son of his first-ever customer."I was probably five or six years old [when] I started going to Harris's," Gulliver told CBC News. "It was back in the early Sixties, Rick's father was the first one who cut my hair. The first haircut that Rick ever cut was my dad's, I think around 1966 or '67 … I was only a small boy. We lived on Brazil Square and it was just around the corner."Gulliver said the shop had four barbers' chairs when he first started going, and he's been going to the Harris family business for haircuts his entire life, in each location, up until what will be his final cut on Dec. 24.He said the Harris family were the only people to ever cut his hair. "I don't know what I'm going to do when he moves," Gulliver said, laughing. "I'm going to have long hair. ... It will be a sad day to see Rick give up the barbershop, let me tell you."Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Born in a church manse on Vancouver's Beatty Street on March 28, 1916, Fred Ko's long life was defined by quiet fortitude and his connections to the people and places around him.Ko died in Richmond Hospital on Saturday from COVID-19. At 104 years old, he is one of the oldest Canadian victims of the pandemic."He was just a super-optimistic, very gentle soul," said his daughter Alison Ko, who lives in Kimberley, B.C. "Everybody calls him the Buddha."Fred Ko had two daughters, a son and two grandsons, but Alison says he was a grandfather to many more."He's the grandpa to all [my sons'] friends and all my friends."She recalls a time her father's generosity and patience stood out when Alison and her sister, Catherine, returned home late from a party."He would be sitting up in the kitchen reading and we'd walk in the door and he would just go, 'Tsk tsk tsk,' and not say a word, close his magazine and walk up the stairs." Advocate for Chinese CanadiansFred Ko was the third child born to Chinese Canadian parents in Vancouver. The family started out with a printing press that produced the first Chinese telephone book, and later opened gift shops in Toronto and Vancouver.While her father was humble, Alison Ko says he sometimes gave hints of the influence he had on the Chinese community.Her cousins told stories of hanging out at his store and seeing members of parliament stop by to see Fred.Once, at a family gathering, he let slip that he had negotiated with former prime minister John Diefenbaker over immigration rights."But he just looked like the guy who sat at a coffee shop," Alison Ko said. She says her father never spoke about experiencing racism until the recent Black Lives Matter protests."He was like, 'Oh, yeah, we went through hard times, too,' but growing up we had no idea about the challenges that they would have had because of racism."'It was so fast'The pandemic was hard on Fred Ko. His daughter says his usual routine of getting up early to go for walks around the malls ended and he lost much of his physical strength."And then he lost a lot of kind of that spark," said Alison Ko. "He would tell me that, 'I hear the words and I know them, but I don't understand them.'"Ko had been living in Richmond with Catherine for the last 10 years before contracting the virus last month from someone who lived in the same building.Alison Ko says her father's passing still feels surreal, despite his age."It's not really a surprise that at 104 life was going to come to an end, but we just didn't think he would," she said. "And all our relatives and our families just thought Fred will get through this. But it was so fast."Once Ko was hospitalized, his three children and two grandchildren were only able to communicate with him by video calls.That's how they said goodbye as he died on Nov. 28."We sat staring at a screen, watching him take his last breath and I didn't even believe it."Fred Ko's death has made his family reflect even more on their own vulnerabilities to the virus. Alison, who has a background in nursing and works on the opioid crisis, says it hit her when she was called to the front line to respond to an overdose earlier this week.Despite the toll the pandemic restrictions took on him, she says her father never complained."He was of the generation that knew that he needed to put everybody else like the community's needs first."
Part two of an AP tribute to the celebrities who passed away in 2020 - from Kelly Preston to Sean Connery. (Dec. 4)
JERUSALEM — The Israeli government on Thursday urged its citizens to avoid travel to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, citing threats of Iranian attacks.Iran has been threatening to attack Israeli targets since its chief nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was assassinated last Friday near Tehran. It accuses Israel, which has been suspected in previous killings of Iranian nuclear scientists, of being behind the shooting.Israel has not commented on the killing. But Fakhrizadeh has long been on Israel's radar screen, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying at a 2018 news conference about Iran's nuclear program: “Remember that name.” Israel accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons — a charge Iran denies.In recent months, Israel has signed agreements establishing diplomatic relations with Gulf Arab states of the UAE and Bahrain — its first normalization deals with Arab countries in a quarter century.The agreements, brokered by the Trump administration, have generated widespread excitement in Israel, and thousands of Israeli tourists are scheduled to travel to the UAE for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah this month.That may change following Thursday's warning.“In light of the threats heard recently by Iranian officials and in light of the involvement in the past of Iranian officials in terror attacks in various countries, there is a concern that Iran will try to act in this way against Israeli targets,” said a statement issued by the prime minister’s National Security Council.It also advised against travel to Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, the Kurdish area of Iraq and Africa.Israel's military is well prepared to deal with the threats of Iranian troops and their proxies in neighbouring Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Israeli media say the government also has beefed up security at embassies around the world.But protecting Israeli travellers, conspicuous and spread out at countless hotels, restaurants and tourist sites, represents a different type of challenge.“This is going to be a nightmare, and I really hope that both governments, UAE and Israel, are co-ordinating and doing the best they can to safeguard those Israelis,” said Yoel Guzansky, a former Israeli counterterrorism official who is now a senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.“I’m really worried that that something might happen, and especially now because of the context of Fakhrizadeh, because Iran is really looking for revenge,” he added. He spoke before the travel advisory was issued.The Israel Airports Authority estimates that about 25,000 Israelis will fly to the UAE this month on the five airlines now plying the route between Tel Aviv and the Gulf state’s airports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Celebrities, entrepreneurs and tourists already have been flocking to Dubai.With the coronavirus appearing to be under control in the UAE, it is one of the few quarantine-free travel options for Israelis during the coming Hanukkah holiday vacation, adding to its appeal. At a time when few people are travelling, Israeli visitors speaking Hebrew could be extra conspicuous.Israel this week also signed a tourism agreement with Bahrain.Amsalem Tours, an Israeli travel agency, said that there was “very serious” demand for travel packages to Dubai but did not provide specific figures.Iran and its proxies have targeted Israeli tourists and Jewish communities in the past. Agents of the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group bombed a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria, in 2012, killing six and wounding dozens. That year, Israel also accused Iran of being behind attacks targeting Israeli diplomats in Thailand and India. Iran and Hezbollah also bombed the Israeli Embassy and Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994, claiming the lives of scores of civilians.Concerns for the safety of Israelis in Dubai also is not without precedent. In 2000, an Israeli ex-colonel was kidnapped by Iranian proxy Hezbollah and held captive in Lebanon until he was released in a prisoner exchange in 2004.Today, Dubai, famous for its glittering shopping malls, ultra-modern skyscrapers and nightlife, is a crossroads for travellers from around the world, including many nations that do not have relations with Israel. Iran maintains a major presence in Dubai, due to historical and current trade ties, and Dubai is believed to be a major station for Iranian intelligence services. The family of a California-based member of an Iranian militant opposition group in exile says he was abducted by Iran while staying in Dubai just a few months ago.In a possible sign of Emirati security concerns, travel agencies in countries across the Middle East and Africa say the UAE has temporarily halted issuing new visas to their citizens. With tens of thousands of Iranians working or doing business in the UAE, Iran is also among the countries facing the visa restrictions.Israel had already had a travel warning in place advising citizens against nonessential travel to the UAE. Similar “basic concrete threat” advisories are in place for visiting other Arab states with which Israel has peace treaties. But the language of Thursday's warning was especially tough.The UAE, for its part, is known for its strict security. Dubai, home to 3.3 million people in 2019, with just over 3 million of them foreigners, has published major crime statistics that are among some of the lowest in the world.Before Israelis began arriving, Dubai held a highly publicized drill of a police SWAT team storming a replica metro car in October and suggested facial-recognition technology could be implemented at stations along its driverless track. Experts already believe the UAE has one of the highest per capita concentrations of surveillance cameras in the world, a system that’s only grown amid the coronavirus pandemic.And despite the recent tensions, Iran may be hesitant to strike on Emirati soil, wanting to maintain its economic interests there. The UAE meanwhile has gone out of its way to say it wants to de-escalate tensions in the region despite its own suspicions over Iranian behaviour. It called the killing of Fakhrizadeh a “heinous assassination.”In an interview before Thursday's advisory was issued, Pavel Israelsky, co-founder of Salam Dubai, said the boom in his UAE-based Israeli tour operator’s bookings was “significant” ahead of the Hanukkah holiday. While a handful of Israeli clients cancelled over security concerns, he said, “I can say that the UAE is one of the most secure places in the world in terms of the resources they invest in security.”“I don’t think there’s cause for worry,” Israelsky said. “Today, no place is really safe.”___Associated Press writers Josef Federman in Jerusalem and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed reporting.Ilan Ben Zion, The Associated Press
The Nihtat Gwich'in Council is going to court in an attempt to stop the N.W.T. government's proposal to build a wind turbine near Inuvik. The Gwich'in Land and Water Board approved a water licence and land use permit for the Inuvik Wind Project on Nov. 27, the same day the Nihtat Gwich'in Council asked the N.W.T. Supreme Court to overturn an earlier board decision on the project.NT Energy, a sister company of the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, wants to build a single wind turbine in an area known as Highpoint, 12 kilometres east of Inuvik. The hub of the massive turbine would be 75 to 100 meters tall.In January, the Nihtat Gwich'in Council argued that the project is located on lands that have long been set aside for reindeer grazing. Established in December 1933, the reindeer reserve is a 17,094-square-kilometre tract of land east of the Mackenzie Delta.Placing a turbine project on the area would contravene their land agreement, Nihtat Gwich'in Council leaders said, and requested the land and water board rule the corporation failed to establish a lawful right to occupy the land.But the Gwich'in Land and Water Board disagreed and, in an October decision, ruled the corporation had a right to occupy the lands and the that permit was valid.The Inuvik Wind Project was originally proposed in 2018, after the viability of the project was studied by the Aurora Research Institute. Shortly after, the power corporation submitted an application and asked for a permit to build and operate a wind farm — along with an all-season access road — to the territorial and federal governments with the hope of seeing the project completed by fall of 2020. According to the decision document, the plan is for NT Energy to build the project on behalf of the government, then transfer the complete project to NT Hydro (the parent company of both NT Energy and the Northwest Territories Power Corporation) to deliver renewable energy, significant fossil fuel displacement, and improve rate stability for 25 thermal zone communities. Going to the Supreme Court, the Nihtat Gwich'in Council called the board's decision to allow the project a "worrying precedent" for the management of public lands.In the application, the Nihtat Gwich'in Council said there were several errors in the board's decision, including allowing a lack of consultation from the government and deciding the government has ownership over the land. The matter is set to be heard before a Supreme Court judge in January 2021.
The European Union has not yet won over countries seeking more cash and conditions in exchange for committing to sharper emissions cuts, as it tries to strike a deal on on its new climate target by the end of the year. The EU has promised to make a tougher emissions-cutting target this year under the Paris climate accord, a move U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said is "essential" to global efforts to avoid catastrophic climate change. Poland and Hungary are threatening to veto the bloc's next budget, which could freeze the cash they and other countries say they need to curb their emissions.
Pas moins de 102 résidants et membres du personnel du CHSLD Villa-Bonheur, à Granby, dans la région sociosanitaire de l'Estrie, sont infectés par la COVID-19, a révélé jeudi la santé publique régionale. Il s’agit de 29 de plus que le bilan de la veille. Selon les données du début de l’après-midi, 69 des 99 résidants ainsi que 33 employés ont la COVID-19. Deux résidants sont morts depuis le début de l’éclosion. Cette éclosion majeure survient au moment où l’Estrie a fracassé un sommet du nombre de cas quotidiens depuis le début de la pandémie. Selon l'état de la situation quotidien du ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, 126 nouveaux cas ont été confirmés. Une zone chaude a notamment été aménagée au cinquième étage de l’établissement. Des résidants qui s’y trouvaient ont été déplacés sur d’autres étages et des patients atteints de la COVID-19 sont dirigés vers le Centre de confinement de Sherbrooke. Des dépistages massifs des membres du personnel et des résidants ont lieu depuis le premier cas actif au CHSLD Villa-Bonheur et d'autres dépistages massifs sont également prévus, a indiqué le CIUSSS de l'Estrie - CHUS dans un courriel à La Presse Canadienne. Des dépistages individuels sont également effectués entre les dépistages massifs dès l’apparition de symptômes chez des résidants ou des membres du personnel, selon le CIUSSS. Les employés qui sont testés positifs sont immédiatement retirés, les bonnes pratiques en prévention et en contrôle des infections sont appliquées et les visites sont restreintes aux proches aidants seulement, a précisé le porte-parole Félix Massé. La situation dans ce CHSLD est «très significative, importante», avait déclaré mercredi Sylvie Moreault, la directrice du soutien à l’autonomie des personnes âgées du CIUSSS de l’Estrie - CHUS, qui est notamment responsable des CHSLD. Mme Moreault avait alors estimé que la situation était toujours sous contrôle et avait assuré mettre «tout en place» pour la gérer efficacement. La directrice des ressources humaines, Josée Paquette, avait pour sa part reconnu que «sans contredit, la pression est extrêmement forte pour notre personnel». Il n'a pas été possible de savoir si le CIUSSS de l'Estrie - CHUS croit que la situation est toujours sous contrôle. L'organisation compte faire le point lors d'une conférence de presse lundi. \- Texte de l’Initiative de journalisme local.Michel Saba, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
MADRID — Spain's Supreme Court has revoked a less restrictive prison status awarded to nine Catalan political figures previously sentenced to jail for their part in a secession attempt in Catalonia. The status would have allowed them almost daily release. The court said Friday that such a measure was “premature” given that none of the nine had served half their sentence and most not even a quarter of it. The sentences ranged between nine and 13 years. The nine were convicted in 2019 of sedition and misuse of public funds following the failed independence bid two years earlier. After they were transferred to prisons in the northeastern region, the pro-independence Catalan regional government granted them third-grade status last July. meaning they could leave prison during the day to carry out certain activities. The July measure was quickly suspended following appeals by prosecutors. The new court ruling comes as the leftist Spanish government is considering possible pardons and a reform of the sedition law that would favour the nine. The nine include the former vice-president of Catalonia, Oriol Junqueras, and five ex-regional cabinet members. Former regional president Carles Puigdemont fled to Belgium and is still sought by Spanish authorities. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the secession push in Catalonia was Spain’s most serious crisis in decades. Polls have long shown the wealthy region’s 7.5 million inhabitants are roughly evenly divided over independence. Spain’s constitution says the country is indivisible. The Associated Press
LONDON — Britain’s announcement that it has become the first Western country to authorize the use of a COVID-19 vaccine has sparked debate about whether officials emphasized speed over safety.The U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency gave temporary authorization for people to receive a vaccine produced by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German company BioNTech. The agency made the decision under rules allowing regulators to sign off on medicines more quickly during public health emergencies.The move made the United Kingdom the world's first country to OK a rigorously tested COVID-19 vaccine. The British public is now seeking more information about the vaccine and the immunization timetable as authorities try to find an equitable way to distribute the limited number of doses that initially will be available.WHO WILL GET THE VACCINE FIRST - AND WHEN?Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said vaccinations would begin “within days.” The exact date the shots start will depend on how fast regulators can complete safety checks that must be done on each batch.A panel of independent experts that advises the British government, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, has set out priorities for vaccinating the most vulnerable people first. The highest priority goes to older people living in nursing homes and their caregivers, but logistical difficulties in shipping smaller quantities of vaccine to reach a limited demographic group might cause a delay to this group.People over age 80 and healthcare workers have the second-highest priority. From there, priority access is based roughly in order of age until a vaccine has been offered to everyone over the age of 50, which is almost 40% of the U.K. population. Younger people with health conditions that put them at increased risk from COVID-19 also will take precedence.DID BREXIT HELP THE UK AUTHORIZE A VACCINE FIRST?Health secretary Hancock sparked controversy when he said Wednesday morning that British authorities couldn’t have moved so quickly if the U.K. were still a member of the European Union. That drew a rebuke from the EU, which pointed out that Britain is still governed by the bloc’s rules.While the U.K. formally left the EU on Jan. 31, it remains bound by European Union regulations until a transition period designed to cushion the shock of Brexit ends on Dec. 31. EU rules permit individual member countries to give temporary authorization for the national use of medicines during a public health emergency.But U.K. regulators may have been able to move faster than the 27-nation EU because they are no longer assessing products intended for the entire bloc, Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said.“Consequently, the U.K. has almost undoubtedly had greater capacity to respond to a new application for authorization of a vaccine than any other country,” Evans said.However, any speed advantage the U.K. might have had is likely to disappear starting Jan. 1, when British regulators will become responsible for reviewing all applications for new drugs and vaccines to be authorized in the U.K."It will have to do work that previously would have been shared among all the other ... member states,” Evans said.DID UK REGULATORS MOVE TOO FAST?Dr. June Raine, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency's, said people should be absolutely confident that “no corners have been cut.” British experts reviewed more than 1,000 pages of information, including raw data, on safety, quality and effectiveness before deciding to give temporary authorization for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine's use, she said.But that doesn't mean regulators take the same approach everywhere.American immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told Fox News that British regulators didn’t review the data as carefully as their counterparts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, potentially fueling concerns of individuals who are hesitant about getting the vaccine.“We have the gold standard of a regulatory approach with the FDA,'' Fauci said. “The U.K. did not do it as carefully. They got a couple of days ahead. I don’t think that makes much difference. We’ll be there very soon.''Evans said there is only one major difference between the approach taken by British regulators and those in the U.S. The FDA often reanalyzes raw data to verify the findings of drugmakers. Virtually no other regulatory entity regularly does this, said Evans, who has worked with EU and U.K. regulators.“The processes carried out by the FDA and the MHRA are basically very similar,” he said. “We may well see differences in interpretation of the data between a regulator and a company, but this type of difference is regularly seen by all regulators, whether they reanalyze the data or not.”WHAT DOES THE EU SAY?The European Medicines Agency has said it expects to make a decision on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by Dec. 29.The regulator said it is taking more time because it is considering granting the vaccine a different type of green light, known as a conditional marketing authorization. The process requires more data, but will result in the vaccine being authorized for use in all 27 EU member nations, rather than a single country.The agency said its procedure is “the most appropriate regulatory mechanism for use in the current pandemic emergency.''The debate comes at a particularly sensitive moment as Britain and the EU reach the final phase of talks over their post-Brexit relationship. More than four years after people in the U.K. voted to leave the bloc, negotiators have just days to reach a trade deal before the end of the transition period.One of Britain’s goals has always been to wrest control of its rules and regulations from EU bureaucrats.WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES IN DELIVERING THE VACCINE?First, the Pfizer/BioNTeach vaccine must be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit) until a few hours before it is administered. Storage and shipment therefore requires specialized equipment that can maintain such ultra-cold temperatures.Also, the U.K.'s emergency use authorization sets out strict conditions to ensure vaccine supplies aren’t damaged or wasted. The vaccine is shipped in packages containing 975 doses.“You can't, at this point, distribute it to every individual GP surgery, as we normally would for many of the other vaccines available on the NHS,'' National Health Service CEO Simon Stevens said.More broadly, vaccinating a large percentage of the country’s population in a few months is an unprecedented challenge. Because of this, most vaccinations will take place at a relatively small number of sites that can handle large numbers of people.WHERE WILL THE VACCINATIONS TAKE PLACE?Vaccinations will start at 50 hospital hubs, which will offer vaccines to care home residents and people over 80. Those who are going to receive the vaccine will be notified by the hospital, so there is no need to schedule an appointment.As the National Health Service receives additional supplies of the vaccine, the shots will also be offered at about 1,000 community vaccination centres. Local GPs will invite their patients to be vaccinated in order of priority.___Follow AP's coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Ontario's police watchdog is investigating after police shot and injured a man in the west end of Toronto. The Special Investigations Unit says the shooting happened Thursday afternoon after 4 p.m. A news release says witnesses had reported a screaming man holding a sharp object in Etobicoke. Toronto police officers arrived at the scene and the agency says one of them shot the man. The 30-year-old was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. Four investigators and two forensic investigators are assigned to the case and the watchdog has identified one subject officer and one witness officer. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
Health-care workers feel muzzled and alone: Study Colleen Romaniuk Health-care workers in Ontario are on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19, but according to a new study, they are feeling “sacrificed” and “violated” by their employers and the provincial government. Researchers affiliated with the University of Windsor in collaboration with CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospitals Union co-authored a report titled “Sacrificed: Ontario Healthcare Workers in the Time of COVID-19.” Health-care workers represent 20 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in the province, according to the study, a number that is much higher than the global rate of 14 per cent. Due to fear of reprisal, those on the frontlines are extremely hesitant to speak out – but those who participated in the study told a story of “dismal” working conditions and “unrelenting” stress. “Health-care workers in Ontario are suffering from much higher rates of COVID-19 infection than the general public,” said Dr. James Brophy, one of the lead authors of the new study. “While we are all facing COVID-fatigue and worry, health-care workers are suffering disproportionately from serious psychological distress. They are burning out from overwork, fear and anxiety.” Led by Dr. Brophy and Dr. Margaret Keith, the study examines in-depth, anonymous interviews conducted with 10 health-care workers who work in hospitals and long-term care facilities throughout Ontario. The respondents, who work in facilities that range from small northern-rural to large urban, were contacted by phone in April and May. Frontline workers, including PSWs, RNs, RPNs, and custodial and clerical staff, all reported feeling unprotected and unsupported in their place of work. “We have lost about 100 staff who have either taken a leave of absence because of fear or have taken a leave to go work other jobs. We have a few who have taken early retirement,” said a participant in the study. “When I leave this interview, I’m heading into work and I’m going to work 44 out of the next 60 hours. I’ve prepared enough food for six meals and they’re in two shopping bags right now. That’s what it’s doing to me.” Some interviewees reported going home to cry after their shifts, sleeping in separate bedrooms away from their spouses, and experiencing increased social isolation because they fear infecting their family and friends. “The words on the page cannot convey the level of emotion we heard in the voices of healthcare workers we interviewed,” said Brophy. “We did not expect to hear the degree of anger and desperation that came out. The stories they told us were tinged with anger, frustration and fear.” There are a number of factors that contribute to the distress of health-care workers in the province, including inadequate protection against the virus, government failings, and barriers to exercising their agency. The study suggests that the provincial government, for example, has not applied the “precautionary principle” identified by the SARS Commission in 2006 which stipulates that, when in doubt, policies should err on the side of caution. “An ongoing debate that has direct impact on health-care workers’ safety is whether or not the virus can be transmitted through airborne particles,” said the study. “The evidence has grown that SARS-CoV-2 can indeed become aerosolized through coughing, sneezing, or even just breathing.” These tiny, aerosolized particles can breach surgical masks, according to Brophy. Researchers have recommended the use of N95 masks or powered air-purifying respirators for more adequate protection. Surgical masks are still considered safe for use in a health-care setting under most circumstances, although the health-care workers that participated in the study expressed some skepticism. “I had an infected patient on one of my shifts. I had my own N95 mask and I had my own goggles, and I had my own hair cover and I made sure I double gloved,” said an interviewee. “I put the cheap level two mask over top of my N95.” The study suggests that the government’s policy was probably “supply-based rather than science-based.” Another contributing factor is the health-care workers’ lack of recourse when it comes to addressing these challenges. Employers generally don’t allow their workers to speak publicly about their experiences at work, and, according to reports, the Ministry of Labour has been unhelpful. “All the frontline workers fear reprisal. We are told, ‘You can’t talk to the media. You have to send your manager to talk to them. We have corporate relations. You can’t be outside holding signs',” said one individual. “It’s just a travesty and these issues need to be said and people need to know what’s really going on.” Another said that they were “disheartened” by the Ministry of Labour during the pandemic. “They’ve totally taken the employers’ side and not the workers. There is no consultation with any frontline worker,” they said. “The ministry is not showing up to calls. They’re doing a lot of phone calls, but it’s not how they should be working. They still need to be out there on the frontlines. They should use PPE and come out to the hospital if we’re saying it’s not safe.” Michael Hurley, the president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospitals Union and co-author of the study, explained that health-care workers have a limited right to refuse unsafe work. “They can’t refuse if it would result in a danger to a patient or resident,” said Hurley. “The evidence shows that in every case when the Ministry of Labour was called in, they did not support the workers.” To address these issues, the study recommends increasing staffing levels, adequate PPE and protective administrative and engineering controls, increased mental health supports, and reinvestment into a “weakened public health-care system.” There also needs to be a chance in workplace culture so that health-care workers concerns will be heard, respected, and addressed. “Health-care workers' health and wellbeing is essentially being sacrificed. We all need to pay attention to their pleas during this frightening time,” said Dr. Margaret Keith. “Not only does their wellbeing matter, but we also need to realize if they are not being kept safe, they can’t properly care for their patients or residents.” The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. email@example.com Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
EDMONTON — CWB Financial Group reported its fourth-quarter profit edged down from a year ago, but the bank still beat expectations.The bank says it earned net income available to common shareholders of $63.4 million or 73 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended Oct. 31, down from $67.5 million or 77 cents per diluted share a year ago.Revenue totalled $236.6 million, up from $220.9 million in the same quarter last year.Total provisions for credit losses were $19.6 million, up from $13.3 million in the same quarter last year, but down from $24.4 million in the third quarter.On an adjusted basis, CWB says it earned 75 cents per share for the quarter, down from an adjusted profit of 78 cents per share a year ago.Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of 74 cents per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:CWB)The Canadian Press
Record high water levels in the Northwest Territories led to record amounts of trace metals and hydrocarbons in watersheds over the summer, but the territory's environment department says that aren't expecting to see much of an impact on local wildlife.The findings were presented to a standing committee of MLAs on Thursday, during a presentation on transboundary water agreements.Deputy minister Dr. Erin Kelly delivered the presentation, saying turbidity reached historic highs in July, exceeding Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment guidelines for the protection of aquatic life.However, she said, the dissolved concentrations of those metals were much lower, and turbidity levels returned to regular levels starting in August. "The concentrations of metals in the Slave and Hay rivers this July should not have had any chemical-related impacts on aquatic organisms or fish," she said, adding that the dissolved concentrations of those metals were well below Health Canada guidelines for safe drinking water.The concentration of hydrocarbons in the water, which the government attributed partially to oil sands development downstream, were also much higher than usual in July, but dropped back to regular levels in subsequent months.Deh Cho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge, who chaired the meeting, questioned the long-term impacts of contaminants flowing downstream from oil sands development, saying that meeting guidelines now may not portend a sustainable future."I take it you guys are just saying, 'well, it's dissolved into the water. It's dissipated somewhere.' I kind of have a hard time fathoming such a scenario," he said. "Because many times, you're also stating that they're within guidelines. Just saying that alone — within guidelines — does tell me that there is something in that water coming from the tar sands."In her response, Kelly said that they are tracking long-term trends related to hydrocarbons, and that dissolved metal concentrations are the indicators the department most concerns itself with, due to their direct impacts on bugs and fish. "From our perspective, we've looked at this and what we see is there's this one peak, and then it's gone down from there. And from a health perspective, we're not concerned for the bugs and fish, and we're not concerned with the levels in the water."Monitoring restored at 12 of 18 sitesKelly also said water monitoring activities had resumed at 12 of 18 priority sites in Alberta. Monitoring at the sites was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The suspension of monitoring activities — done without the territory's knowledge — led MLAs to question the effectiveness of the territory's transboundary water agreement with Alberta, which it has had since 2015."Water monitoring was suspended during the highest levels ever recorded, and the Alberta government didn't bother to inform us," Frame Lake MLA Kevin O'Reilly said. "What sort of lessons do we take away from this, and how do we improve the implementation of these agreements?"Shane Thompson, the minister of Environment and Natural Resources, said that while the government has learned lessons from the ordeal, the transboundary agreements the government has with southern provinces are "world class.""Unfortunately, we weren't informed. But as soon as we were informed, we reached out to both the provincial minister and federal minister to have these open and frank discussions ... we were on it right away," he said.Kelly said that the incident has led to the government changing how it communicates with Alberta. The province put an assistant deputy minister on the bilateral management committee, and is meeting with N.W.T. representatives quarterly.Testing underway for Great Slave Lake plumeThe environment department reported in its presentation that water levels in Great Slave Lake are the highest they've ever been, reaching record highs for every month beginning in July 2020. Though the government wasn't able to pinpoint the exact reason for the high levels, it attributed them to very high precipitation in watersheds that flow into the lake, starting in September 2019. Kelly said the analysis suggested the flooding of B.C.'s Bennett Dam, which took place this summer, did not have a significant impact on the levels.Territorial government officials are working with researchers from the federal, Alberta, and B.C. governments to further examine the factors contributing to the high levels, she said.Kelly said that the government also took samples of a larger than normal plume in Great Slave Lake after hearing concerns from residents, and that results from that sampling are expected to be available in the next few weeks.WATCH | Take an aerial look of the Great Slave Lake plume, as seen in August 2020:As for what's next, officials say they aren't sure at this point, and that rain and snowfall in northern B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan and the southern N.W.T. will be the biggest factors. "It's not just an average high water year," said Kelly. "It's unprecedented. It's very hard to predict what happens next when we have no data on what's happened previously."
The minimum price of gas is back up over $1 on P.E.I. after spending a couple of months below that mark.The minimum price for regular, self-serve gas was up 1.1 cents on Friday in the regular weekly price review from the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.That sets the price at $1.005 per litre. The last time the price was over $1 was in early October. The price fell as low as $0.938 last month.Diesel was also up, with the minimum price for self-serve set at $1.093. That's 1.2 cents higher than last week.Heating oil prices did not change.Propane prices were up and down, depending on the retailer. Here are the maximum prices for bulk delivery. * Irving: Down 0.1 cents to $0.75 per litre. * Island Petroleum: Up 0.5 cents to $0.752 per litre. * Kenmac: Down 0.5 cents to $0.751 per litre. * Noonan: Down 0.5 cents to $0.751 per litre. * Superior: Up 0.2 cents to $0.752 per litre.The next scheduled price review is Dec. 11.More from CBC P.E.I.
Despite the Ford government’s recent attempts to increase standards of care in Ontario’s long-term care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, a co-chair of Pioneer Manor’s Family Council said that while it’s nice, it’s too little too late. “The announcement about increasing personal care to four hours per day is great. But’s it’s all of the other details around it that make absolutely no sense,” said Terry Martyn, who also sits on Ontario’s Northeast Family Council Network. “Nothing will come into effect for another four to five years. That’s not good enough. Residents need more care right now.” On Nov. 2, Ford announced that the provincial government would provide additional funding in the 2020 budget to increase average daily direct care from 2.75 to 4 hours per resident by 2024-25 in a move that was met with both praise and criticism. “This is a bold step on a big issue,” said Lisa Levin, CEO of AdvantAge Ontario, a non-profit association that represents more than 36,000 long-term care residents and more than 8,000 seniors in housing units across the province. “Almost without exception, any report or study looking at the challenges in providing safe, quality care to seniors living in long-term care has pointed to the need for more staff. There is absolutely nothing that could have a more direct and positive impact on the quality and enjoyment of life for residents than more staff.” The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), which has been advocating for increased standards of care for more than 20 years, would like to see something more substantial. “We are happy that the minimum care standard is finally, belatedly, adopted as policy but we cannot allow this to be the way that this government tries to shut down the legitimate criticism about their inadequate response,” said executive director Natalie Mehra. “We desperately need staff in the homes now. It is in this government’s power to do more. Why will they not do it?” The province has also announced it is launching a new recruitment program called the Ontario Workforce Reserve for Senior Support that would train and deploy resident support aides (RSA) to work in long-term care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The province is hoping that those who are unemployed or have been displaced from the retail and hospitality industries or administrative roles as well as students in education programs will take advantage of the opportunity. “COVID-19 has amplified persistent staffing challenges in the long-term care sector, highlighting the need for immediate action,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, minister of Long-Term Care. “I encourage those who are looking for new opportunities or those who have been displaced during the pandemic to consider working in a long-term care home. This will not only be personally satisfying work, but it will also help out our frontline staff and greatly improve the quality of life for our seniors.” But while it seems that the provincial government has finally heard the voices calling for change, Martyn still isn’t impressed. “RSAs do not help get residents up in the morning, dressed, and bathed – that’s the direct care that we need and only PSWs do that,” he said. He doesn’t believe that the government’s actions address the real need for a concrete recruitment plan to hire more PSWs in Ontario – and he’s not alone. “The NDP, alongside families, frontline workers, and experts, have been fighting (to increase personal care standards) for literally years, including introducing the bill that would make it the law in Ontario four times since 2016,” said MPP Teresa Armstrong, the NDP critic of long-term care. “Prior to the pandemic, we all heard heartbreaking stories of seniors dehydrated, injured without explanation, left to develop bedsores, and not being given the time or the help to eat, dress themselves, bathe or even get to the bathroom. A revolving door of underpaid, part-time workers, like PSWs, have been run off their feet for years.” Since the pandemic started, conditions in long-term care facilities seem to have gotten worse,, critics say. The Service Employees International Union estimated that nearly 30 per cent or 7,500 of the nurses and PSWs they represent left their jobs since the start of the pandemic. Martyn added that adequate, full-time work as a PSW is difficult to come by – many PSWs work multiple part-time gigs at more than one long-term care home, something that increases the possibility of spreading COVID-19. Dot Klein, the co-chair of the Sudbury Health Coalition, said that almost 2,000 long-term care residents and staff died during the first wave of the virus this year. According to Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission, 55 per cent of the province’s long-term care facilities experienced an outbreak of the virus during the first wave, and about 75 per cent of all COVID-related deaths in Ontario were in long-term care. “Some common characteristics among the most impacted homes were: location in communities with high infection rates, insufficient leadership capacity, pre-existing and COVID-related staffing shortages, and a lack of strong infection prevention and control measures, including difficulty cohorting and isolating positive residents, often because of limitations of the physical environment,” said a letter written by the Commission on Oct. 23. The letter was addressed to Minister Fullerton, and it outlined five recommendations for the provincial government to follow to prepare for the second wave of COVID-19 this fall. The first item on that list is increasing the supply of PSWs and ensuring that recruitment efforts address the need for various staff to meet the increasingly complex needs of residents. “The issue with staffing shortages is the same everywhere in Ontario. Long-term care homes are funded by the Ontario government depending on how many residents they have and what kind of care they need,” said Martyn. “They are given a certain level of funding to hire PSWs, and that’s it. They cannot hire more PSWs above that number unless they have excess money or profits in the bank. It’s impossible to do that.” The Ontario government announced $405 million in funding for the province’s long-term care homes to help with operating pressures due to COVID-19 in late September. The funding can be used for infection prevention and containment measures, staffing supports, and purchasing additional supplies and PPE. The government also announced that it would extend the $3 per hour pay raise for PSWs until March 2021. “The bottom line is that the Ford government’s approach is piecemeal, does not include a robust recruitment strategy, and does not address the longstanding problems in working conditions,” said the OHC. “The Ford government’s approach is far less and far later than the program launched by the government of Quebec four months ago in which the province itself drove recruitment, hiring 10,000 PSWs (the Quebec equivalent), paying them for training and providing a wage of $26 per hour.” The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star