The Lanarca salt lake is a "fantastic wetland" that is important for flamingos migrating from Turkey in the winter months, according to Martin Hellicar, the director of BirdLife Cyprus.
The Lanarca salt lake is a "fantastic wetland" that is important for flamingos migrating from Turkey in the winter months, according to Martin Hellicar, the director of BirdLife Cyprus.
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
WASHINGTON — Worried about continuing threats, the acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police appealed to congressional leaders Thursday to use their influence to keep National Guard troops at the Capitol, two months after the law enforcement breakdowns of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection. Yogananda Pittman told the leaders in a letter obtained by The Associated Press that the board that oversees her department has so far declined to extend an emergency declaration required by the Pentagon to keep Guardsmen who have assisted Capitol officers since the riot. Pittman said she needed the leaders' assistance with the three-member Capitol Police Board, which reports to them. She said the board has sent her a list of actions it wants her to implement, though she said it was unclear whether the points were orders or just recommendations. The letter underscored the confusion over how best to secure the Capitol after a dismal lack of protection in January and biting criticism for law enforcement's handling of the invasion. And it came came as authorities spent the day on high alert, primed for a “possible plot” by a militia group to storm the building again, two months after Trump supporters smashed through windows and doors in an insurrection meant to halt the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory. The list in the letter to lawmakers included a partial removal of the imposing fence encircling the Capitol grounds starting Monday and a drawdown of the Guard to 900 troops from the current 5,200 remaining in Washington. Police want to keep the fence indefinitely. In her letter, Pittman said she would ask for a drawdown of the deployment “based on the threat environment and physical and operational security capabilities.” Earlier Thursday, The Associated Press reported the Pentagon was reviewing a Capitol Police request to keep up to 2,200 Guardsmen at the Capitol another 60 days. A statement from the police said Pittman had formally made the recommendation to the Pentagon. A similar dispute had erupted between the Capitol Police and its board before Jan. 6 and even as rioters were storming the building. The Capitol Police Board, comprised of the House and Senate sergeants at arms and the architect of the Capitol, is charged with oversight of the police force. Steven Sund, the now-former Capitol Police chief, has testified to Congress that he wanted to request the Guard two days before the invasion following reports that white supremacist and far-right groups would target the building to disrupt the certification of Biden's election victory over outgoing President Donald Trump. Paul Irving, who served on the Capitol Police Board as House sergeant-at-arms, denied that Sund asked him to call the Guard. Sund has testified that he asked repeatedly for the Guard to be called as rioters stormed the building, breaking police lines and running over officers unequipped to hold them off. He ultimately called the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard just before 2 p.m., who in turn testified that the request for help was delayed by the Defence Department. The request was not approved until after 5 p.m., as hundreds of rioters marauded through the building and left without being arrested. Five people died in the riot, including a Capitol Police officer and a Trump supporter shot by police. On Thursday, despite the warnings of new trouble, there were no signs of disturbance at the heavily secured building. Nor was there evidence of any large group heading to Washington. The most recent threat appeared to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that former Trump would rise again to power on March 4 and that thousands would come to Washington to try to remove Democrats from office. March 4 was the original presidential inauguration day until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20. But Trump was miles away in Florida. In Washington, on one of the warmest days in weeks, the National Mall was almost deserted, save for joggers, journalists, and a handful of tourists trying to take photos of the Capitol dome through the fencing. Online chatter identified by authorities included discussions among members of the Three Percenters, an anti-government militia group, concerning possible plots against the Capitol on Thursday, according to two law enforcement officials who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Members of the Three Percenters were among the extremists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. But federal agents found no significant increases in the number of hotel rooms being rented in Washington, or in flights to the area, car rental reservations or buses being chartered. Online chatter about the day on extremist sites was declining. U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, was briefed by law enforcement about the possible threat and said lawmakers were braced for whatever might come. “We have the razor wire, we have the National Guard. We didn’t have that January 6. So I feel very confident in the security,” he said. But those measures aren't permanent. Some states have threatened to pull their Guardsmen amid reports that some troops had been made to take rest breaks in parking garages or served spoiled food. Other Guardsmen have said they have been given good meals with accommodations for those on vegan or halal diets. In Michigan, which sent 1,000 troops, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she did “not have any intention of agreeing to an extension of this deployment.” Meanwhile, Trump continues to promote lies that the election was stolen from him through mass voter fraud, even though such claims have been rejected by judges and Trump's former attorney general. He repeatedly told those lies on social media and in a charged speech on Jan. 6 in which he implored thousands of supporters to “fight like hell.” Many of those supporters eventually walked to the Capitol grounds and overran officers to breach the building. Trump was impeached by the House on a c harge of incitement of insurrection but was acquitted by the Senate. So far, about 300 people have been charged with federal crimes for their roles in the riot. Trump's election rhetoric continues to be echoed by many national and local Republicans posting online messages about voter fraud and questioning the legitimacy of Biden's victory. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki cited “a years-long trend of false narratives fueling violence.” “On the specifics of today’s threats, the FBI and DHS have warned that the threat of domestic violent extremism, particularly racially motivated and anti-government extremists, did not begin or end on January 6 and we have been vigilant day in and day out,” she said Thursday. ___ Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo, Alan Fram, Mary Clare Jalonick, Colleen Long, and Lisa Mascaro in Washington, and Amanda Seitz in Chicago contributed to this report. Lolita C. Baldor, Lisa Mascaro And Nomaan Merchant, The Associated Press
A Montreal man who filed a complaint with Quebec's Human Rights Commission alleging racial profiling by Montreal police says the commission's investigation into the incident was flawed and incomplete. Brian Mann and his girlfriend Tayana Jacques each received $444 tickets for excessive noise and were charged with obstruction of justice after an incident on St-Laurent Boulevard in April 2018. The couple filed a complaint with the commission and, in a decision in January, the commission concluded there was no evidence of profiling. Mann told reporters at an online news conference Thursday the decision was "completely bogus." "It was a complete sham. If you look at what they wrote in the actual report, it doesn't mention anything that we submitted to them, any of the facts," Mann said. He said the commission never interviewed him or Jacques about the incident, or other any other eyewitnesses who came forward. He also said commission investigators never watched a cellphone video that captured part of the incident. The written decision from the commission only makes reference to a single police report as the basis for its conclusion. "It was swept under the rug, taking one police officer's report and blanketing over a whole, very complicated situation," Mann said. Jacques died in an accident in 2019 but Mann is continuing the fight. 'Talking too loudly' Mann and Jacques were walking on St-Laurent on a Saturday morning to get breakfast. They said they were chatting and laughing when two police officers pulled up beside them. The officers told them they were "talking too loudly" and disturbing the peace. Mann said that Jacques was then handcuffed and searched. He said when he questioned why officers were doing that, more officers arrived, threw him to the ground and pepper-sprayed him. The Human Rights Commission said Mann and Jacques refused to identify themselves to officers and that Mann was "aggressive" and resisted arrest. Tayana Jacques, Mann's girlfriend at the time of the incident, passed away after an accident in 2019. Mann said Jacques was determined to proceed with the Human Rights complaint because she believed she and Mann had done nothing wrong.(Verity Stevenson/CBC) The decision also said officers concluded that Mann and Jacques were intoxicated. The eyewitness cellphone video that Mann submitted to the commission doesn't show the lead-up to the arrest, but it does show six officers subduing Mann and throwing him to the ground. Commission accepts police version of events Mann and Jacques alleged that officers overreacted because Jacques was Black, and that Mann was a victim of discrimination by association. The commission disagreed. "The evidence shows the officers had a valid reason to intervene with the suspect (Mann)," the decision said. "The actions of the officers toward the suspect in the pursuit of their intervention, in particular the use of force, were linked, according to the evidence gathered, with his refusal to collaborate, his strong resistance and his aggressiveness," the report says. Although the commission accepted at face value the police contention that Mann was behaving aggressively, that allegation was never tested in court. All charges against Mann and Jacques were eventually dropped. Mann said Thursday that prosecutors tried to make a deal with Jacques before she died, offering to drop the obstruction of justice charge if she'd agree to pay the fine for excessive noise. He said she refused because she believed she and Mann had done nothing wrong. Rushed investigation? Fo Niemi, director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, which assisted Mann with his complaint, said he's worried the commission rushed its investigation. Niemi said the Human Rights Tribunal, which adjudicates cases when recommendations made by the commission aren't followed, has recently thrown out several complaints because of unreasonable delays. Niemi thinks those tossed complaints may have affected the investigation into Mann and Jacques's case. "We're concerned that because of the delays, the commission is fast-tracking its investigation to the point of intentionally omitting evidence that was brought to its attention," Niemi said. Judicial review only recourse Niemi wrote to the head of the Human Rights Commission asking that the commission take another look at Mann's case. The commission responded with a letter explaining that there's no appeal process for its decisions and that Mann's only recourse would be to seek a judicial review of the decision in Quebec Superior Court. Niemi noted that legal fees for such a review can be high but Mann insisted he wants to go ahead with it. "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to have this case reopened or reheard," Mann said. Brian Mann speaks to reporters via Zoom Thursday. Mann said the Human Rights Commission's decision tarnishes his reputation because it leaves the impression that he did something wrong.(CBC News) "I'll find the money, it's not a problem. Who cares about money? This is about what's right and what's wrong," he said, noting that it's what Jacques wanted before she died. Mann said he's also concerned the commission's decision leaves the impression that he did something wrong, despite all charges against him being dropped. "It tarnishes my reputation, it makes me feel like I'm not protected by the Human Rights Commission, which is mandated to review things like this," Mann said. Commission insists investigation 'rigorous, impartial' A spokesperson for the commission told CBC in an email that it couldn't comment on the case because of confidentiality. "We can state however that the Commission's investigative work is done rigorously and impartially, in accordance with our guidelines," the email said. The guidelines include collecting all relevant information necessary to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bring the dispute to court. The guidelines also state that the decision on whether the evidence is sufficient is a "discretionary administrative decision." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
MONTREAL — A novel coronavirus variant could cause cases in the Montreal area to explode by the end of April if residents don't strictly adhere to health orders, according to new modelling by the province's public health institute. The modelling released Thursday by the Institut national de sante publique du Quebec and Universite Laval suggested the B.1.1.7 mutation — first identified in the United Kingdom — is likely to become the predominant strain in the province by the middle of next month. People's behaviour, however, will determine the speed of the variant's rise, the institute said. "The extent of the increase in variant cases would depend on adherence to measures during and after the spring break and superspreader events," read the institute's report. "Vaccination coverage for people over 70 and health workers should not be sufficient to control the rise in cases linked to a new variant by May, since they represent less than 20 per cent of the population." The modelling suggested that a "strong" adherence to public health measures both during and after this week's spring break could allow the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths to remain stable until the end of April. A "medium" respect of measures — defined as a 50-to-100 per cent reduction in home visits and increased contacts in workplaces and during sports and leisure activities — could cause cases to rise sharply. Hospitalizations and deaths are expected to follow more slowly because many of the most vulnerable are protected by vaccination, the projections found. The variant is not expected to spread as rapidly outside the greater Montreal area because of the lower level of community transmission. Health Minister Christian Dube described the projections in a Twitter message as "stable, but very concerning," especially in Montreal. "A medium adherence to the measures would have as an impact to bring hospitalizations back to the level we were at in the worst month of January," he wrote. COVID-19-related hospitalizations surpassed 1,500 in January. "That's exactly why we're asking Quebecers not to relax their efforts," he added. Another report released Thursday by the Quebec government health and social services institute found that hospitalizations have stabilized after a sustained drop earlier in 2021. The report by the Institut national d’excellence en sante et en services sociaux indicated hospitalizations will likely remain stable for the next three to four weeks. "Beyond this period, the evolution of this trend could be different with an increasing presence of more contagious or more virulent variants," the report said. The report, which was written Feb. 28 but released Thursday, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic in the province is largely concentrated in Montreal and the surrounding regions, where 85 per cent or more of Quebec's new cases and hospitalizations originate. On Wednesday, Premier Francois Legault announced that restrictions would be eased in much of the province but maintained in Montreal and the surrounding areas, including Laval and the South Shore. While Montrealers will continue to be forbidden to leave their homes after 8 p.m., residents of four other regions including Quebec City will be able to eat at restaurants, work out at the gym and stay out until 9:30 p.m. starting Monday. Despite the risk posed by variants, the report on hospitals suggested that the province's health-care institutions remain in relatively good shape for the coming weeks. It noted that about a third of the regular beds and half the intensive care beds in the Montreal region designated for COVID-19 patients are occupied, and that hospital capacity is not expected to be surpassed in the next three weeks. The report found that while the institute's past projections have generally been accurate, they become less precise when predicting more than three weeks ahead. While the number of confirmed variant cases across the province remained stable at 137 on Thursday, the number of presumptive cases rose to 1,353, an increase of 133. The Quebec government reported 707 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 more deaths attributed to the virus. Hospitalizations have gone up slightly in the province for four of the past five days. On Thursday, they rose by eight, to 626, while the number of people in intensive care dropped by five, to 115. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Growing up in Alberta, actor Rohan Campbell spent summers at friends' Canmore mountain cabins, where he'd crack open old "Hardy Boys" books that adorn many a cottage bookshelf. "Every time I was at a cabin with no internet or something like that, they were the books I would read before bed," he said in an interview. "So I felt really close to them, and it was just absurd to be able to make my vision of Frank come to life." Campbell was referring to his leading role as teenage amateur sleuth Frank Hardy, alongside Toronto actor Alexander Elliot as younger brother Joe Hardy, in the new Ontario-shot family series "The Hardy Boys." Premiering Friday on YTV in Canada after its U.S. debut on Hulu in December, the mystery drama is based on the time-honoured stories written under the pseudonym by Franklin W. Dixon by numerous authors, including Ontario-raised Leslie McFarlane. The Canadian cast, crew and creators filmed in and around Toronto, Hamilton and Cambridge, Ont. Filming wrapped just a couple of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns hit. In this version of the story, 16-year-old Frank and 12-year-old Joe grapple with a family tragedy and investigate strange events in the small town of Bridgeport in the 1980s. Nova Scotia-raised James Tupper of "Big Little Lies" plays their dad. There's a bigger age gap between the two brothers in the YTV original series compared to the books, which "breeds a different sort of conflict in the sense that they do things differently," said Campbell, 23, from Vancouver. "The Hardy Boys" books debuted in 1927 and have had several incarnations, but they weren't a big part of 16-year-old Elliot's childhood and he didn't read them until he got the role. "I found this huge community that grew up with these books, and now it's an honour to be a part of it with all these people who, these books shaped their childhood," he said. Given the books' long legacy, the stars felt some pressure to live up to the source material. "Day 1, you get super excited, and then you go to shoot it and all of a sudden that air of responsibility comes to you and you really want to do justice for the people that grew up with these books," said Campbell. "These books are, like, 100 years old, right? So you have such a different demographic of audience, age-wise and maturity, whatever it is. So I think it was really important to us to give a little piece of the books to every different age group." Elliot also felt the pressure but his worries went away when he saw lovers of the books praising the show after its U.S. premiere. "We put a lot of work into this show and we're really hoping that the diehard fans enjoyed it as much as we hoped they did," he said. "We're trying to bring this to all-age groups, and this is kind of like a new generation of 'The Hardy Boys.'" The series is also set before Elliot's time and the young star said he did some research to learn how to use some of the props from that decade. "I feel like everybody was expecting like, 'Oh, he's a kid, he doesn't know how any of this tech works,' and they hand me a Walkman and I know how it works perfectly," he said with a laugh. "I love the '80s," he added. "I love the music, the movies. Everything about the '80s. Even before 'The Hardy Boys,' I loved everything from the '80s. I have a whole playlist of hundreds of songs from the '80s on my Spotify. Some of my favourite movies are from the '80s — 'Back to the Future,' 'Beetlejuice.' All these classics." The show's premise of boys solving dark mysteries in the '80s is drawing comparisons to the Netflix series "Stranger Things," which Elliot called "an absolute honour." Beyond the nostalgic appeal, having such tales set in that decade also helps the storytelling, said Campbell. "It's like, you give two kids Google — it's not very exciting to watch them solve a mystery," he said with a laugh. "Yeah, there's not going to be that many episodes," added Elliot. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Canada's premiers are demanding that Ottawa immediately give them an extra $28 billion for health care this year, with a promise of at least a five-per-cent hike in the annual transfer payment each year thereafter.
CHARLOTTETOWN — Health officials in Prince Edward Island are reporting one new case of COVID-19 today. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says the case involves a man in his 60s who is a close contact of a previously reported infection. She says the man initially tested negative but was retested after developing symptoms. Morrison is reminding all Islanders to get tested if they experience any symptoms of COVID-19 and to isolate until the results come back. Prince Edward Island has 23 active reported cases of COVID-19. The province has reported a total of 138 infections and no deaths linked to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Latest on a possible threat against the Capitol (all times local): 5:50 p.m. The acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says its oversight board is suggesting the razorwire-topped fencing that has surrounded the Capitol since the insurrection in January should come down next week. But Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman says in a letter to congressional leaders Thursday that she isn’t clear if it is a recommendation or an order from the Capitol Police Board. The letter to the leaders of the House and Senate was obtained by The Associated Press. Pittman says the board suggested some temporary fencing would be removed starting Friday, and the fencing around the outer perimeter of the Capitol complex would be removed starting March 12. Some fencing is likely to remain as law enforcement officials continue to track an increased number of threats against lawmakers and the Capitol. The letter exemplifies the ongoing confusion and communication issues between top law enforcement officials who are charged with ensuring the security of the Capitol complex. The failures that allowed thousands of pro-Trump rioters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6 have shined a spotlight on the opaque police force and the complicated oversight process that governs it. The Capitol Police Board, comprised of the House and Senate sergeant at arms and the Architect of the Capitol, is charged with oversight of the police force. __ HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT A POSSIBLE THREAT AGAINST THE CAPITOL: Law enforcement is on high alert around the U.S. Capitol after intelligence uncovered a “possible plot” by a militia group to storm the iconic building again, two months after a mob of Donald Trump supporters smashed through windows and doors to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s victory. Read more: — Takeaways: What hearings have revealed about Jan. 6 failures ___ HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON: 12:10 p.m. Security is high outside the U.S. Capitol, with National Guard troops and Capitol Police officers on alert inside a massive black fence that surrounds the Capitol grounds and several neighbouring buildings. On one of the warmest days in weeks, the National Mall was almost totally deserted Thursday, save for joggers, journalists and a handful of tourists trying to take photos of the Capitol dome through the fence. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the Guard troops protecting the Capitol should stay as long as they are needed amid a new threat of another mob attack. Law enforcement is on high alert after intelligence uncovered a “possible plot” by a militia group to storm the Capitol again, just two months after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection. The new threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory promoted by QAnon supporters that former President Donald Trump will rise again to power on Thursday. ___ 11:40 am. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the National Guard troops protecting the Capitol should stay as long as they are needed amid a new threat of another mob attack. The House wrapped up its work early amid reports of a threat on the Capitol on Thursday. Pelosi says a draft security review from the deadly Jan. 6 mob siege is making various recommendations to beef up Capitol security and is expected to be made public next week. Law enforcement is on high alert around the Capitol after intelligence uncovered a “possible plot” by a militia group to storm the iconic building again. This comes two months after Trump supporters smashed through windows and doors to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s victory. Five people died. The new threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory promoted by QAnon supporters that former President Donald Trump will rise again to power on Thursday. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York says, “Domestic terrorism will not prevail. Democracy will prevail.” Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas says lawmakers are braced for the threat against the Capitol. ___ 10:30 a.m. A top House Democrat says the threat of mob violence at the Capitol won’t stop Congress from doing its work. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York says, “Mob rule will not prevail. Domestic terrorism will not prevail. Democracy will prevail.” Jeffries says he thinks “there’s a reason for all of us to continue to be concerned about the heightened security environment.” Jeffries blames “a ‘big lie’ that Donald Trump perpetrated in respect to the election that has radicalized millions of folks across the country.” Law enforcement is on high alert around the U.S. Capitol after intelligence uncovered a “possible plot” by a militia group to storm the iconic building again. This comes two months after a mob of Trump supporters smashed through windows and doors to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s victory. Five people died. The new threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory promoted by QAnon supporters that Trump will rise again to power on Thursday. Jeffries says lawmakers “will not allow those anti-democratic forces across the country who want to undermine our ability to get things done for the American people to prevail.” ___ 9:50 a.m. A former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee who was among those briefed about a possible new threat against the Capitol says lawmakers are braced for it. Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas says he thinks “we’ll see some violence.” The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory promoted by QAnon supporters that former President Donald Trump will rise again to power on Thursday, which is March 4, the original presidential inauguration day. But unlike on Jan. 6, the Capitol is now fortified against intrusions. McCaul says there’s razor wire and a National Guard presence that weren’t at the Capitol on Jan. 6 so he feels “very confident in the security.” McCaul warns there could be another diversionary tactic — much like the pipe bombs discovered at the political campaign offices on Jan. 6 appeared to be an attempt to lure law enforcement away from the Capitol ahead of the insurrection. The Associated Press
WEST BROMWICH, England — Richarlison kept up Everton’s charge toward the Champions League by scoring a second-half header in a 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Thursday. The Brazil forward earned Everton a third straight win by glancing the ball home from the edge of the six-yard box in the 65th minute following an inswinging corner from Gylfi Sigurdsson. It was his fourth goal in the last four games. Everton moved four points behind third-place Leicester and has a game in hand. Mbaye Diagne’s stoppage-time goal for West Brom was ruled out for offside as Sam Allardyce’s next-to-last team remained nine points adrift of safety and slipped closer to relegation. Everton rode its luck at times against the energetic hosts, but managed to keep a clean sheet for the third straight game. Diagne had two early chances, firstly from a hanging header that was clawed away by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and then from a shot that flew over. While the final ball of Everton's players was poor, starving Dominic Calvert-Lewin of any real service, they did come to life in the final seven minutes of the first half. Calvert-Lewin slipped in Richarlison, whose strike deflected narrowly over, before the striker let the Baggies off the hook after the ball deflected into his path. Calvert-Lewin hesitated and shot straight at Sam Johnstone from 15 yards. Everton’s extra quality started to tell early in the second half and Sigurdsson made an instant impact after coming off the bench to set up Richarlison's winner. His first touch was a corner which was cleared back to him, and he produced an excellent delivery with his second for Richarlison to get ahead of Kyle Bartley. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
VICTORIA — The B.C. government has eased the eligibility requirements for small and medium-sized businesses applying for funds under its $345-million pandemic recovery grant program. The province has also extended the deadline for businesses to apply from the end of this month to Aug. 31, or until all the money has been spent. Businesses with up to 149 employees must now show a 30 per cent drop in revenue in any one month between March 2020 and the time of application compared with the same time period during the year before. The grant program previously required businesses to show a 70 per cent drop at some point during March or April last year, plus additional revenue losses of 30 to 50 per cent from May 2020 until their application. Ravi Rahlon, the minister of jobs and economic recovery, says the province has been "nimble" with the program and the changes directly follow feedback from the business community. He says about $55 million has been distributed through the program so far and influx of applications hasn't slowed down, though he couldn't say how many more businesses may now apply given the latest changes. "Certainly we have some businesses that have applied that weren't able to get the funding because they didn't meet (requirements), and now we'll be able to call them and tell them that in fact they do have funding available." This is the second time the government has eased the program's eligibility requirements. Businesses may apply for grants ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, with additional funds available to tourism-related businesses, which Kahlon says represent just over half of applicants to the program so far. The province says businesses don't need to resubmit existing applications and those received previously will be reviewed under the new criteria. In a statement, Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone urged the NDP government to eliminate the requirement that businesses must be at least 18 months old. Kahlon says the rule stands and businesses that apply by the new deadline must have been operating since last March, "so essentially anyone that had a business when the pandemic started can apply for this grant." B.C. is also offering up to $2,000 to be paid directly to professional service providers for businesses that need help creating a required recovery plan. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — As Lionel Desmond completed an 11-week program for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in August 2016, those responsible for his care were worried about something they couldn't figure out. Though he displayed symptoms considered common among combat soldiers diagnosed with PTSD, he was making little progress under treatments that usually produced results. Kama Hamilton, a social worker at the Montreal hospital where Desmond was treated in 2016, told a provincial inquiry Thursday he suffered from angry outbursts, combat-related flashbacks, impulsivity, irritability and hyper-vigilance. Yet, she said, "he didn't stand out as particularly (different) from the others." Hamilton, who tried to help Desmond with anger management and social connections, said the Ste. Anne's Hospital team was concerned that something was interfering with his treatment, given the fact that he had lost trust in the staff and still faced a "long road" to recovery when he was discharged on Aug. 15, 2016. The inquiry is investigating why, less than five months later, Desmond bought a rifle and fatally shot his 31-year-old wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, before turning the gun on himself in their rural Nova Scotia home. During her testimony, Hamilton said she came to the conclusion that Desmond had a constant fear of being abandoned, a condition she said could be the result of a personality disorder or a head injury that impaired his cognitive abilities. On Tuesday, psychiatrist Robert Ouellette told the inquiry that Desmond appeared to have "mixed personality traits," including obsessive compulsiveness and paranoia. Ouellette said the paranoid traits caused Desmond to mistrust virtually everyone, including his wife. Desmond repeatedly told staff at the hospital that his main goal was to become a good husband and father, but he often expressed jealousy and anger towards his wife. During her testimony Thursday, Hamilton said she learned that aside from flashbacks to his combat duty in Afghanistan, her patient also complained about gruesome nightmares about his wife being unfaithful. Hamilton said that during an hour-long telephone conversation, Shanna Desmond told her that in the dream, her husband caught her sleeping with another man and responded by "chopping her to pieces." Despite the violent nature of the nightmare, Hamilton said she was confident Shanna Desmond was not in any danger, mainly because Lionel Desmond's recollection was intended as a cry for help rather than a threat. As well, she said Shanna Desmond had made it clear she and the couple's nine-year-old daughter had never been subjected to physical violence, and she didn't believe her husband would ever hurt them. Hamilton said Shanna Desmond was deeply concerned about her husband's welfare, noting that he had unpredictable, angry outbursts that resulted in him throwing furniture — but that was the extent of the violence she had witnessed during their marriage. Still, Hamilton said she also learned that the former infantryman would sometimes resort to passive threats of suicide as a means of controlling his wife. She said Shanna Desmond recalled one disturbing incident, when he texted her to say he would soon be watching his daughter "from above," and when she returned home, she found him obsessively cleaning a rifle he owned. "If someone is feeling vulnerable, they may try to find ways to gain control," Hamilton said. "Abandonment is a situation where you feel helpless." On another front, Hamilton said her patient complained about suffering a head injury while he was training at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick, though he was deemed medically fit after he regained consciousness. That led to speculation at Ste. Anne's about a possible brain injury, which could explain why Desmond had some cognitive challenges, including troubles with concentration, memory, organization and language. The treatment team agreed that Desmond should undergo a full neurological assessment, which was a recommendation that was submitted to Veterans Affairs Canada as he was preparing to leave the program. The assessment was beyond the scope of the hospital. Desmond never received that assessment. In the four months before the Jan. 3, 2017 triple murder and suicide in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., Desmond received no therapeutic treatment. Earlier in the hearings, a psychiatrist at the hospital in nearby Antigonish, N.S., told the inquiry that Desmond desperately needed help when he returned home to Nova Scotia, but it was apparent he was "falling through the cracks." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. — By Michael MacDonald in Halifax The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq chiefs say Ottawa's new plan to regulate Indigenous moderate livelihood fisheries is an attempt by government to control something that isn't under its mandate. Chief Gerald B. Toney of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs said today the Mi’kmaq’s constitutionally protected right to fish shouldn't be driven by industry or the federal government. Toney was reacting to a new plan by Ottawa that would allow moderate livelihood fishing activity during the commercial season through licences issued under the Fisheries Act, though the total amount of fishing in the country’s waters wouldn’t increase. Nova Scotia Sen. Daniel Christmas also disagrees with the new plan, saying it’s untrue that moderate livelihood fisheries pose a conservation threat to lobster stock. Premier Iain Rankin says his province is ready to issue buyers licences for Mi'kmaq catch once Mi'kmaq First Nations reach a deal with Ottawa. Mi’kmaq fishers say a 1999 Supreme Court decision affirms their right to fish for a “moderate livelihood” outside the federally regulated season. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s attorney general has promised a thorough investigation of allegations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed at least two women. But if the investigation finds evidence of wrongdoing, what then? Who gets to decide what discipline, if any, the Democrat might face? New York has an impeachment court, last used in 1913, but there are other options, like a public censure, or just letting the matter play out in the court of public opinion. Here’s a look at what could come next in the investigation: THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S REVIEW Attorney General Letitia James said her office will hire a private law firm to investigate Cuomo's conduct and issue a public report. Details, like the scope and length of the investigation are unclear. The inquiry could just focus on the two members of Cuomo’s administration who said they felt harassed. Or investigators could seek out other women who were made to feel uncomfortable, even those outside the administration. Former Cuomo adviser Lindsay Boylan says the governor commented about her appearance, summoned her to an uncomfortable private meeting in his office after a holiday party and gave her an unwanted kiss at a meeting in 2018. Boylan also says the administration leaked her personnel files to reporters after she accused him of harassment. Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo asked about her sex life and if she had ever had sex with older men, and talked about wanting a girlfriend, which she viewed as the governor asking for a relationship. A third woman, Anna Ruch, told The New York Times the governor put his hands on her cheeks and asked to kiss her at a 2019 wedding. The three-term governor has denied touching anyone inappropriately, but acknowledged he does kiss people’s faces as a greeting and has teased people about their personal lives in a way some women interpreted as flirting. “I didn’t mean it that way,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “But if that’s how they felt, that’s all that matters.” One possible blueprint for the investigation is one Cuomo himself oversaw as the state’s attorney general in 2010 into his predecessor, former Gov. David Paterson. Cuomo enlisted the state’s former chief judge, Judith Kaye, to examine allegations Paterson pressured a woman to drop domestic violence allegations against a longtime aide. Paterson was also accused of violating state ethics laws by accepting free Yankees World Series tickets and ethics commissioners ended up fining him $62,125 for falsely testifying he intended to pay for them. Kaye took about four months to issue a report on the domestic violence probe, finding Paterson committed errors of judgment but should not face criminal charges. WHAT IF INVESTIGATORS FIND WRONGDOING? Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Wednesday that if the investigation shows something inappropriate did happen, Cuomo should resign. If Cuomo refused to go, one option could be impeachment. That process would start in the Assembly. If a majority of members vote for impeachment, a trial would then be held with a jury of senators and Court of Appeals judges. At least two-thirds of the jurors are needed to convict. New York used this process to oust Gov. William Sulzer from office in 1913. A legislative committee found Sulzer failed to report thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and commingled campaign funds with personal funds. Sulzer blamed his downfall on the Democratic Party machine of Tammany Hall, and he blasted the court’s secret deliberations: “A horse thief in frontier days would have received a squarer deal,” he complained. IS THERE A PUNISHMENT SHORT OF IMPEACHMENT? Either state legislative chamber could decide to censure the governor by majority vote, according to New York University School of Law professor Stephen Gillers. That would amount to a stern public rebuke, a largely symbolic penalty. No lawmakers have expressed public support for censuring Cuomo amid the investigation, and there’s no indication it’s being floated as an option down the road. “A public slap on the wrist seems inadequate for the moment,” said Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris. In 1892, the state Senate censured three senators for refusing to vote on a bill. And in 2007, an assemblyman was censured and lost his position as ranking member on the chamber's alcoholism and drug abuse committee for sleeping at the home of a 21-year-old female intern after drinking at a sports bar together. Predicting the appetite for a punishment now might be premature, with the investigation still incomplete. “If there are more stories that come out, depending on who you’re talking to, people may have different sensibilities,” said Assembly member Jo Anne Simon, who chairs the legislative ethics commission. CIVIL COMPLAINT? The governor, like any one else, could face civil penalties if someone sues him for sexual harassment or files a complaint with a state or federal agency. That could lead to civil penalties, a cease-and-desist order or an order to change his practices. “Could somebody then bring a lawsuit for civil penalties based on the finding of the (attorney general)?” attorney Richard Rifkin, who was special counsel to the governor in 2007 and 2008 and serves as legal director at the Government Law Center at Albany Law School. “They could.” HOW ABOUT CRIMINAL CHARGES? It's also possible that a prosecutor could bring criminal penalties based on the attorney general's report, according to Rifkin. Harassment could constitute a crime if it involves forcible physical touching of a sexual nature, coerced physical confinement or coerced sex acts. Cuomo has insisted he didn't touch anyone inappropriately and said if he kissed or touched anyone, it was in the way that politicians have been greeting allies and constituents for ages. ___ Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report from New York. Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press
REGINA — The Saskatchewan government has shot a boost of optimism into its fight against COVID-19, announcing it will join other provinces by delaying the second dose of vaccines to speed up immunizations. Speaking Thursday at a news conference with other premiers, Premier Scott Moe said people will get their second shot up to four months after the first, which falls in line with a recent recommendation from Canada's national immunization committee. Alberta, Manitoba and other provinces made similar announcements after British Columbia first said Monday it was moving to a four-month delay. The shift comes as health experts point to people being well protected against the novel coronavirus with a first dose, noting the country faces a limited supply of vaccines. "The benefits are tremendous," Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, said during a briefing. "We can emerge out of the pandemic three months earlier than we had anticipated. With a two-dose program, it would have taken us till September. Now we can vaccinate everyone 18 and older as early as June." Provincial health officials said that starting Friday, staff will only be giving first shots. The change will not apply to people who have appointments booked to receive a second dose, long-term care residents and staff, as well as those in personal care homes. Shahab said since vaccinations started in long-term care homes, there have been fewer outbreaks and infections in the facilities. To date, about 84,000 vaccinations have been done in Saskatchewan out of the roughly 400,000 shots needed to inoculate residents 70 and older and health-care workers at risk of COVID-19 exposure. Scott Livingstone, CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said he expects most of these vaccinations under the first stage of the province's immunization program will be finished in early April. He also asked for patience, as the authority has to adjust how it delivers vaccines with the new four-month window between doses. Saskatchewan reported 169 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths on Thursday. The province of 1.1 million people also continues to lead the country with the highest rate of active cases per capita in Canada. Moe said earlier in the week that delaying the second dose of vaccine would be a game-changer for how long public-health restrictions need to stay in place. The current order is in effect until March 19. Shahab said decisions about what rules might be relaxed could come next week. "I know it's been very hard for people not to be able meet each other in their houses," he said. "In the past, we did have, you know, two to three households as a bubble of up to ten. So that's something that we're looking at." The Ministry of Health also said it would use 15,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on people aged 60 to 64 and certain health-care workers. A national panel has recommended it not be used on seniors. The province said these vaccinations will start later this month and eligible residents will be able to book an appointment by phone through a system that is expected to launch next week. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s memoir "Guantánamo Diary," has been adapted into a movie, The Mauritanian, which also awarded Jodie Foster her most recent Golden Globe.
IQALUIT, Nunavut — COVID-19 infections rose sharply in Arviat on Thursday, but Nunavut's top doctor said there is no sign of uncontrolled spread and numbers are declining overall. The community on the western shore of Hudson Bay tallied 10 new illnesses to bring the active case count to 14. Arviat's population of about 2,800 has been under a strict lockdown since November. Schools and non-essential businesses are closed and travel is restricted. A state of emergency was declared Feb. 24 and there's a nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson said there is no evidence of community transmission. "If things continue on this way, we can look at working with the hamlet to ease some of the measures next week," he said. Arviat is the only place in the territory where COVID-19 is active. It has had higher numbers than anywhere else in Nunavut since the pandemic began — 325 of 369 total cases. Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, who is from Arviat, said the overall weekly decline is "still encouraging." Last week, there were 25 cases. "We should expect that case numbers will vary day to day," he said. Two COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been held in Arviat. The second one was dedicated to administering second doses. Patterson said there is no evidence of "vaccine failure" in Arviat. "A failure ... would be getting new COVID (cases) two weeks or more after a vaccination." Health experts say it takes about 14 days for the COVID-19 vaccines to take effect. Patterson said his department is not releasing community-specific vaccination numbers and would not say how many people in Arviat have been vaccinated. To date, 8,628 of Nunavut's 39,000 residents have received one dose of the vaccine and 5,125 have had two shots. The territory has received 26,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine so far. Nunavut's original goal was to have its vaccine rollout completed by the end of March, but Patterson said that will be extended into April. The territory initially faced some delays in vaccine shipments, he said. "As the vaccine supply ramps up, we're now into the stage where that's no longer an issue. Staff will be able to go much faster and much more efficiently starting now." John Main, Arviat's member of the legislature, is urging the government to provide isolation spaces for infected residents who live in overcrowded housing This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021 ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press
Hundreds of people lined up in the cold outside a Miramichi middle school on Thursday for a COVID-19 mass testing clinic. The province announced the walk-in clinic for those without COVID-19 symptoms would be held for two days after new cases in Zone 7, the Miramichi health region, and "the likelihood of a variant being present." The testing, which is for people without symptoms and doesn't require an appointment, is aimed at detecting whether there has been further spread in the area. At one point, dozens of vehicles were lined up along Henderson Street with people waiting to park. In the parking lot, more than 120 people were waiting in a line outside the building. Dozens of vehicles were lined up on streets leading to the middle school as people waited to park before waiting in an outdoor line. (Shane Magee/CBC) John Westlake said he was feeling "bloody cold" with a hoodie pulled tight around his face as wind whipped snow through the parking lot. He later said the whole experience took about two and a half hours, including waiting in line and the test inside the school. Several people like Noeleta Somers said it was their civic duty to get tested and were glad to see the turnout. "I'm very happy to see all the people who came out to be tested," said Denise Doiron. Miramichi Mayor Adam Lordon was happy to see the number of people who showed up for tests in a region that has had few COVID-19 cases over the past year.(Shane Magee/CBC) As of Thursday, there were seven active cases in the Miramichi health zone. The latest series of cases are among the few that have been detected in the region. Over the last year, a total of 16 people have tested positive, according to provincial figures. Mayor Adam Lordon said the new cases and a long list of potential exposure sites released by Public Health in the community this week were a new experience for the region a year into the pandemic. "I think what you're seeing is an abundance of caution and people who may be feeling anxious about perhaps having been to one of those places at those times," Lordon said. People wait in line outside Dr. Losier Middle School in Miramichi on Thursday for a COVID-19 mass testing clinic. (Shane Magee/CBC) In a statement, Jean Daigle, Horizon's vice-president community, said the testing clinic was staffed by about 30 employees who included nurses, LPNs, paramedics and administrative support staff. The clinic has the capacity to test 400 to 500 people per day, with Horizon's main testing clinic on Wellington Street in Miramichi able to test 150 to 200 people with COVID-19 symptoms per day. As of Wednesday, Daigle said there were 15 Horizon staff off work because of COVID-19 related reasons, with seven of those in the Miramichi area. Daigle said there has been no impact on care because of those who are off work. The clinic is scheduled to continue Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saskatchewan RCMP major crimes and forensics officers are investigating the death of a 61-year-old man in the village of Milden, 100 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon. Someone called RCMP around 1:30 p.m. CST on Wednesday to report the dead man, who was in a house on the 700 block of Saskatchewan Avenue, RCMP said in a news release. The man's family has been notified and an autopsy scheduled for Thursday. The circumstances of the man's death are still under investigation. RCMP set up a perimeter around the house.(Photo courtesy Christian Moulding) Christian Moulding is on the village council and said the local rumour mill is in overdrive around what might have happened. With a population of 167, he said everyone knew the dead man, if not personally then at least by name. By mid-afternoon, he said the RCMP perimeter began expanding beyond the home where the man's body was found. "People definitely took notice of it right away," he said of the RCMP presence in the village. "Somehow a series of events led to whatever is going on, whatever that is. At this point, we don't know." RCMP are asking anyone with any information to contact Outlook RCMP or Crime Stoppers.
WorkSafeBC is investigating after a workplace fatality at Troyer Ventures Thursday morning. Limited details have been released and it’s not known how the incident occurred. Police, paramedics, and firefighters were all on scene earlier today. “The primary purpose of an investigation is to determine the cause of the incident, including any contributing factors, so that similar events can be prevented in the future,” a WorkSafeBC spokesperson said. Fort St John RCMP says officers have concluded their investigation and have turned the matter over to WorkSafeBC and the Coroner’s Service. The death is not considered suspicious, police said. WorkSafeBC says additional details are not being released until the investigation is over. Representatives at Troyer could not be immediately reached. Email reporter Tom Summer at firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
HONOLULU — The U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled a tsunami watch Thursday for Hawaii that was issued after a huge earthquake occurred in a remote area between New Zealand and Tonga. The agency previously cancelled a tsunami warning it had issued for American Samoa. The magnitude 8.1 quake struck the Kermadec Islands region. The quake forced thousands of people to evacuate in New Zealand but did not appear to pose a widespread threat to lives or major infrastructure. It was the largest in a series of tremors that hit the region over several hours, including two earlier quakes that registered magnitude 7.4 and magnitude 7.3. The Associated Press