The U.S. House has voted to remove controversial far-right Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from several committees because of her violent, racist comments, but the vote only received support from 11 Republicans.
The U.S. House has voted to remove controversial far-right Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from several committees because of her violent, racist comments, but the vote only received support from 11 Republicans.
Former President Donald Trump has clashed again with his Republican Party, demanding that three Republican groups stop using his name and likeness for fundraising, a Trump adviser said on Saturday. The adviser, confirming a report in Politico, said lawyers for Trump on Friday had sent cease-and-desist letters to the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Campaign and National Republican Senate Campaign, asking them to stop using his name and likeness on fundraising emails and merchandise.
P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office announced one new case of COVID-19 on the Island Friday, a man in his 50s who is a close contact of a previously announced case. A statement Friday says the P.E.I. government is "pleased to hear that Health Canada has granted authorization for the use" of the Janssen, or Johnson & Johnson, COVID-19 vaccine. The province has not yet been given any details of the planned rollout of the single-dose vaccine. This is in addition to the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine approved earlier this week for use in people under 65, and the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines that have been being administered for the past couple of months. Charlottetown's winter festival was put on ice this week due to COVID restrictions, but will be extended six days to make up for the pause. P.E.I. now has 24 active cases out of a total of 139 diagnosed. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. Also in the news A container of relief supplies from P.E.I. was welcomed in Grand Bahama last week, the donations spearheaded by P.E.I. man Luke Ignace, who moved here from Freeport. The container was put together to help Bahamians struggling in the wake of both Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada is the only country in the world delaying second doses of COVID-19 vaccines from three weeks after the first dose to four months, but critics say we are venturing into uncharted scientific waters that may lead to complications down the road. WATCH | Why P.E.I. is extending the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses: Further resources Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
A man in Regina has been issued a $2,800 ticket for disobeying the public health order on private gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, police say. Officers were called to the 3000 block of 25th Avenue at 11:30 p.m. Friday, a Regina Police Service news release said. When they arrived, nine people were in the residence, including one person from Saskatoon. Police said the gathering was in violation of the public health order which limits indoor private gatherings to people who already reside in the home. The resident at the home was issued the ticket.
New Brunswick is reporting six new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday as the entire province prepares to return to the less-restrictive yellow phase at the end of the weekend. There are now 35 active cases. Three people are in the hospital, including two in intensive care. The low numbers come as health officials continue to keep a close eye on Zone 7, with mass COVID-19 testing underway in Miramichi on Saturday. The region has seen rising case numbers and confirmation of a B117 case, the virus variant first reported in the U.K. The Miramichi area currently has 12 active cases. Hundreds of residents have turned out to a walk-in testing clinic over the past two days, with some waiting more than an hour in the cold. Public Health announced plans to extend testing on Saturday. The clinic at Dr. Losier Middle School, 124 Henderson St. in Miramichi, is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Public Health had conducted more than 1,600 asymptomatic tests at the location as of Saturday's update. 35 active cases The new cases are scattered across four regions of the province. In the Saint John region (Zone 2), there are two new cases, both related to travel: a person in their 20s. a person in their 30s. The Fredericton region (Zone 3) is reporting one new case, which is related to travel: a person in their 30s. The Edmundston region (Zone 4) has one new case, which is under investigation: a person in their 20s. The Miramichi region (Zone 7) is reporting two new cases, both linked to previous cases: Two people in their 50s. Public Health said all six cases are self-isolating. (CBC) New Brunswick confirmed 1,453 total cases since the start of the pandemic, including 1,389 recoveries. There have been 28 deaths. Public Health has conducted 233,878, including 1,642 on Saturday. Approaching yellow phase Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, said all regions will be moving back to the less-restrictive yellow recovery phase, effective Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Russell said she'll be monitoring the situation in Zone 7. "If there is a significant change over the weekend, we will revisit the decision," she said at a news conference on Friday. "We have a lot of tests that we're waiting for results of, but as of now, the Miramichi region will move to the yellow phase along with the rest of the province." The yellow phase will look a little different, with some changes including limits on close contacts. The full details on the updated level can be found on the provincial government's website. Dr. Jennifer Russell said she'll be keeping a close eye on the Miramichi region, which has confirmed a COVID variant case.(Submitted by the Government of New Brunswick) Here's some of the changes under yellow: Households can expand close contacts to a consistent 15 people. This group may visit places together, including dining at restaurants. Masks will still have to be worn in indoor spaces but will not be needed outdoors. Formal and informal outdoor gatherings of 50 people or fewer will be allowed with physical distancing. Formal indoor gatherings will be allowed with an operational plan, at 50 per cent capacity or less. Sports teams will be allowed to play within their leagues across zones, while following their operational plans. Mask-wearing in schools will depend on the school's operational plan. Public Transit can operate at full capacity with use of masks. Possible exposure at Miramichi school A Miramichi school is reporting a possible exposure to COVID-19. Greta Green Elementary School has notified community members. Close contacts will be reached by Public Health. The school was closed this week for March break. Public exposure notifications Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious while on the following flight: Air Canada Flight 8906 on Feb. 20, from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 7:10 p.m. This week, Public Health issued a list of potential public exposures in the Miramichi region, Zone 7. Individuals who tested positive were in these establishments. Public Health said it doesn't have the exact times these people were in the businesses on the list, "but it is believed it was for a short duration on these dates." Sobeys on Feb. 14, Feb. 19, Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 (273 Pleasant St., Miramichi). Atlantic Superstore on Feb. 14, Feb. 23 and Feb. 28 (408 King George Hwy., Miramichi). Shoppers Drug Mart on Feb. 14, Feb. 17 and Feb. 26 (397 King George Hwy., Miramichi). Dollarama on Feb. 20 (100 Douglastown Blvd., Miramichi). Winners on Feb. 22 and Feb. 24 (2441 King George Hwy., Miramichi). Giant Tiger on Feb. 24 (2441 King George Hwy., Miramichi). Walmart on Feb. 24 (200 Douglastown Blvd., Miramichi). Bulk Barn on Feb. 27 (100-99 Douglastown Blvd., Miramichi). NB Liquor on Feb. 27 (221 Pleasant St., Miramichi). What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: A fever above 38 C. A new cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.
Trials have been set for two alleged street gang members accused of shooting at police who were pursuing them on Onion Lake Cree Nation. A four-day trial will run in Lloydminster Provincial Court July 5-8, 2021, for thirty-seven-year-old Glynnis Larene Chief. Chief has been in custody at Pine Grove Correctional Centre for women in Prince Albert since her arrest New Year’s Day. She was denied bail in January and North Battleford Crown Prosecutor Oryn Holm continues to oppose her release. Chief and four others (Twaine Derek Buffalo-Naistus, Danny Lee Weeseekase, Tyler Ryan Wolfe, and Melissa Lee McAlpine) were arrested after allegedly shooting at the RCMP during a pursuit on Onion Lake Cree Nation Jan. 1, 2021. Chief is charged with discharging a firearm with intent to endanger life, being an occupant of a vehicle knowing there was a firearm, careless use of a firearm, possession of a firearm without a license, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, possession of a prohibited weapon, and assault of a police officer with a weapon. Holm said he expects there to be 14 witnesses. North Battleford legal aid lawyer Cameron Schmunk represents Chief. A trial will be held in Lloydminster Provincial Court Aug. 9 – 12, 2021, for thirty-eight-year-old Weeseekase. He is charged with breach of recognizance for possessing a weapon, discharging a firearm with intent to endanger life, being an occupant of a vehicle knowing there was a firearm, careless use of a firearm, possession of a firearm without a license, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, possession of a prohibited weapon, and assault of a police officer with a weapon. Weeseekase also remains in custody. When police searched the black SUV the five were in they found two SKS rifles, a sawed-off shotgun, a sawed-off 22-caliber rifle and ammunition. RCMP say the five were identified as street gang associates. North Battleford RCMP General Investigation Section took over the investigation. Onion Lake state of emergency The North Battleford RCMP gang unit, called the Crime Reduction Team (CRT), continues to help Onion Lake RCMP combat gang activity. RCMP CRT members collaborate with communities and partner agencies to reduce gang violence and activity. There are two CRTs operated by the RCMP in Saskatchewan; one is in North Battleford and the other is in Prince Albert. Onion Lake Cree Nation declared a state of emergency in January 2020 after a string of drug and gang-related violence threatened the safety of the community. If you are associated with a gang and want to leave it, contact STR8 UP in northern Saskatchewan at 306-763-3001, STR8 UP in central Saskatchewan at 306-244-1771, or Regina Treaty Status Indian Services in southern Saskatchewan at 306-522-7494 to get assistance. If anyone has any information that could assist investigators, please contact Onion Lake RCMP at 306-344-5550. Information can also be submitted anonymously to Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submitting a tip online at www.saskcrimestoppers.com. Onion Lake Cree Nation borders the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan and is located about 50 kilometres north of Lloydminster. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
TORONTO — Ontario's New Democrats say they would create a new cap-and-trade carbon pricing system if elected in 2022. The official Opposition made the promise in an environmental policy plank of their election platform, released today at a morning news conference. Party leader Andrea Horwath says the province needs the carbon pricing system to help fight climate change. She says the system would generate $30 billion in revenue, and the NDP would raise another $10 billion through the sale of "green bonds", over four years. The NDP says that cash would be used to pay for green building retrofits, to ramp up electric vehicle sales, and to plant a billion trees by 2030. The platform also promises to give each household in the province $600 to add an electric car charging station. Ontario's Progressive Conservative government scrapped the province's cap-and-trade system in 2018, a regime introduced by the previous Liberal government. Horwath said the NDP carbon pricing system will ensure polluters pay for their emissions and promised it will not add costs to low and middle income Ontarians. The party says the plan would help Ontario reach a target of net-zero emissions by 2050. "I think more and more people have come to the realization that we must tackle the climate climate crisis," Horwath said. "A just transition means we will really look after our people while we look after our climate." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021. The Canadian Press
SHEFFIELD, England — Southampton shrugged off the disappointment of losing Danny Ings to another injury by beating last-place Sheffield United 2-0 to end its nine-match winless run in the Premier League on Saturday. The England striker walked off the field in the 12th minute with an apparent right leg injury that was sustained off the ball and in seemingly innocuous circumstances at a free kick. Southampton overcame Ings’ absence as his replacement, Che Adams, scored from a fierce 25-meter shot in the 49th minute to add to a penalty converted by James Ward-Prowse in the 32nd. A first league win in more than two months moved Southampton 10 points clear of the bottom three and will alleviate fears that Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team was being dragged into a relegation fight, despite a brilliant start to the season that saw it briefly in first place in November. Sheffield United was destined for demotion to the second-tier Championship even before this 22nd loss of the campaign, with the team 12 points from safety. Ings is set to spend a third spell on the sidelines because of injury this season. He has struggled with fitness issues in recent years, although managed to stay injury-free last season and finished second in the league’s scoring list. It remains to be seen how long this latest problem keeps him out, and Hasenhuttl will be happy fellow striker Adams got back scoring after a 16-match goal drought. It was a superb strike, too, as Stuart Armstrong chested down the ball after a clearance by Sheffield United was blocked and Adams thrashed a rising shot into the net from outside the area. Southampton had gone in front after Ethan Ampadu brought down Nathan Tella in the area. Ward-Prowse sent Aaron Ramsdale the wrong way from the spot. The defeat could have been much heavier for the hosts, with Ramsdale saving well from Adams and Takumi Minamino shooting wide when free 10 metres out. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
A COVID-19 outbreak at Bowness High School in northwest Calgary is causing all grades to transition to online classes starting Monday. The Calgary Board of Education sent a letter to parents Friday detailing that the school was placed on outbreak status for the provincial COVID-19 map. According to the provinces' website, an outbreak refers to schools with five to nine cases. The CBE said classes will be held online until March.16 and will impact around 1,184 students in grades 10-12. Students will continue their coursework through a variety of virtual classroom programs but will not be able to transfer to Hub online learning, the CBE said in the letter. The province considers an outbreak investigation completed when there have been no new confirmed cases in the school for 28 days.
Two people died in a fire at an apartment building Saturday morning in in Hilden, N.S. RCMP say they responded to a report of a fire on Truro Road at 6:55 a.m. A media release stated that local fire departments were able to extinguish the fire. No other details were provided. The cause of the fire is being investigated by Colchester District RCMP, the Northeast Nova Major Crimes Unit and the Office of the Fire Marshal. The RCMP does not believe the fire is suspicious, according to the release. The Red Cross tweeted that the building had 22 units and that 46 tenants are displaced. It has set up a comfort centre at the Hilden fire hall to assist anyone from the apartment building with emergency needs. MORE TOP STORIES
Métis Nation–Saskatchewan has decided to provide funding to The Lighthouse Supported Living in North Battleford. The emergency shelter announced in late February that the North Battleford location would close, effective April 1. The organization cited "substantial funding changes" as the reason for the closure. A partnership with Provincial Métis Housing Corporation — an affiliate of Métis Nation–Saskatchewan — fell through, leaving the emergency shelter with not enough money to operate. The housing corporation provided funding through the Reaching Home Program, which is federally funded, according to MN-S. The corporation received Lighthouse's recent application for funding, but decided not to provide the Reaching Home Program federal funding to the shelter. After, Métis Nation–Saskatchewan said it saw the need for Lighthouse to stay open, and decided to fund the shelter until September with its own COVID-19 emergency funds. "The homeless are the most susceptible when it comes to COVID-19, and with no other apparent homeless shelters in the Battleford region, MN–S will take up the challenge and fund the 37-bed facility," MN-S Housing Minister Ryan Carriere said in a statement. Carriere said discussions are also underway to determine a path toward more substantial, community funding partners so that the shelter can operate indefinitely. "MN-S recognizes the need for housing often becomes entangled in bureaucracy at the expense of those most at risk," Christena Konrad, the governance body's housing director, said in the statement. "MN–S sees the urgent need for these citizens within the Battleford region and will utilize emergency COVID money to ensure they don't fall through the cracks especially at a time like this." In the meantime, MN-S said it is in discussion with the Battleford Agency Tribal Council to look at ways to address homelessness.
TORONTO — Ontario is reporting 990 new cases of COVID-19 today and six more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 284 new cases in Toronto, 173 in Peel Region, and 82 in York Region. Today's data is based on 57,829 completed tests. The province also reports a single-day high of 39,698 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered since Friday's update. A total of 860,412 doses of vaccine have been administered in Ontario so far. Ontario says that 1,152 more cases were resolved since the last daily update. There have been 306,997 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario since the pandemic began, including 289,735 classified as resolved and 7,052 that have resulted in death. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021. The Canadian Press
BURNLEY, England — Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka gifted a bizarre equalizer to Burnley in a 1-1 draw in the Premier League on Saturday that further damaged his team’s chances of reaching the European qualification positions. Xhaka received a pass from goalkeeper Bernd Leno inside Arsenal’s penalty area and attempted a pass around Burnley striker Chris Wood to teammate David Luiz with his weaker right foot. The ball went straight to Wood and deflected into the net off the striker’s hip in the 39th minute. That cancelled out a fifth-minute opener by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in a game that only really came to life in the final 15 minutes. After Arsenal was denied a penalty for an apparent handball against substitute Erik Pieters, the Burnley defender seemed to give away a spot kick in a separate incident in the 84th when a goal-bound volley from Nicolas Pepe appeared to strike Pieters’ arm and deflect onto the crossbar. Pieters was also shown the red card, but VAR looked at the incident and deemed the ball hit his shoulder, so both the awarding of the penalty and the sending-off were overturned. Burnley also came close to snatching victory, with Leno first tipping over a dipping long-range effort from Pieters and then saving with his feet from Wood. Then, in the final seconds, Arsenal substitute Dani Ceballos struck the post following a goalmouth scramble. Arsenal started the game nine points from European spots and has only 11 games left. Burnley moved seven points clear of the relegation zone. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Quebec is reporting 749 new cases of COVID-19 today along with 10 new deaths linked to the virus. The province also says it administered 19,865 doses of vaccine on Friday as its vaccination campaign ramps up. The latest vaccination figures, the highest the province has reported in a single day so far, come as Quebec opens vaccine eligibility to more people. To date, provincial figures show 532,012 doses of vaccine have been administered out of a total of 638,445 that the province received. Quebec reported 601 hospitalizations related to COVID-19 today, a decrease of 16 from the day before. The number of people hospitalized includes 109 people in intensive care, down by two. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — An exhausted Senate narrowly approved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Saturday as President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies notched a victory they called crucial for hoisting the country out of the pandemic and economic doldrums. After labouring through the night on a mountain of amendments — nearly all from Republicans and rejected — bleary-eyed senators approved the sprawling package on a 50-49 party-line vote. That sets up final congressional approval by the House next week so lawmakers can send it to Biden for his signature. “We tell the American people, help is on the way," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Citing the country's desire to resume normalcy, he added, “Our job right now is to help our country get from this stormy present to that hopeful future.” The huge package — its total spending is nearly one-tenth the size of the entire U.S. economy — is Biden’s biggest early priority. It stands as his formula for addressing the deadly virus and a limping economy, twin crises that have afflicted the country for a year. Saturday's vote was also a crucial political moment for Biden and Democrats, who need nothing short of party unanimity in a 50-50 Senate they run because of Vice-President Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. They also have a a slim 10-vote edge in the House. A small but pivotal band of moderate Democrats leveraged changes in the bill that incensed progressives, not making it any easier for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to guide the measure through the House. But rejection of their first, signature bill was not an option for Democrats, who face two years of trying to run Congress with virtually no room for error. The bill provides direct payments of up to $1,400 for most Americans, extended emergency unemployment benefits, and vast piles of spending for COVID-19 vaccines and testing, states and cities, schools and ailing industries, along with tax breaks to help lower-earning people, families with children and consumers buying health insurance. The package faced solid opposition from Republicans, who call the package a wasteful spending spree for Democrats’ liberal allies that ignores recent indications that the pandemic and the economy could be turning the corner. “The Senate has never spent $2 trillion in a more haphazard way," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Of Democrats, he said, “Their top priority wasn't pandemic relief. It was their Washington wish list.” The Senate commenced a dreaded “vote-a-thon” — a continuous series of votes on amendments — shortly before midnight Friday, and by the end had dispensed with about three dozen. The Senate had been in session since 9 a.m. EST Friday. Overnight, the chamber was like an experiment in the best techniques for staying awake. Several lawmakers appeared to rest their eyes or doze at their desks, often burying their faces in their hands. At one point, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, at 48 one of the younger senators, trotted into the chamber and did a prolonged stretch. The measure follows five earlier ones totalling about $4 trillion that Congress has enacted since last spring and comes amid signs of a potential turnaround. Vaccine supplies are growing, deaths and caseloads have eased but remain frighteningly high, and hiring was surprisingly strong last month, though the economy remains 10 million jobs smaller than its pre-pandemic levels. The Senate package was delayed repeatedly as Democrats made eleventh-hour changes aimed at balancing demands by their competing moderate and progressive factions. Work on the bill ground to a halt Friday after an agreement among Democrats on extending emergency jobless benefits seemed to collapse. Nearly 12 hours later, top Democrats and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, perhaps the chamber's most conservative Democrat, said they had a deal and the Senate approved it on a party-line 50-49 vote. Under their compromise, $300 weekly emergency unemployment checks — on top of regular state benefits — would be renewed, with a final payment made Oct. 6. There would also be tax breaks on some of those payments, helping people the pandemic abruptly tossed out of jobs and risked tax penalties on the benefits. The House's relief bill, largely similar to the Senate's, provided $400 weekly benefits through August. The current $300 per week payments expire March 14, and Democrats want the bill on Biden's desk by then to avert a lapse. Manchin and Republicans have asserted that higher jobless benefits discourage people from returning to work, a rationale most Democrats and many economists reject. That agreement on jobless benefits wasn't the only move that showed the sway of moderates. The Senate voted Friday to eject a House-approved boost in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, a major defeat for progressives. Eight Democrats opposed the increase, suggesting that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and other progressives pledging to continue the effort in coming months will face a difficult fight. Party leaders also agreed to restrict eligibility for the $1,400 stimulus checks that will go to most Americans. That amount would be gradually reduced until, under the Senate bill, it reaches zero for people earning $80,000 and couples making $160,000. Those amounts were higher in the House version. Many of the rejected GOP amendments were either attempts to force Democrats to cast politically awkward votes or for Republicans to demonstrate their zeal for issues that appeal to their voters. These included defeated efforts to bar the bill's education funds from going to schools closed for the pandemic that don't reopen their doors, or that let transgender students born male to participate in female sports. One amendment would have blocked aid to so-called sanctuary cities, where local authorities balk at helping federal officials round up immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Friday's gridlock over unemployment benefits gridlock wasn't the bill's lengthy delay. A day earlier, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., forced the chamber's clerks to read aloud the entire 628-page relief bill, a wearying task that lasted nearly 11 hours. ___ Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Kevin Freking contributed to this report. Alan Fram, The Associated Press
The Dalai Lama, who is 85, was administered the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine on Saturday at a hospital in the north Indian hill town of Dharamsala.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister: She wept as she told him two of his nephews may have been shot in broad daylight as they left a bar in Portland, Oregon. He drove there as fast as he could. An officer told him one of his nephews was heading to the hospital and the other, Tyrell Penney, hadn't survived. “My sister, Tyrell’s mom, was on the phone; I just said, ‘He’s gone.’ And I just heard the most horrific scream that you could ever imagine,” Yarborough said. When Penney was killed last summer, unrest was roiling liberal Portland as protesters took to the streets nightly to demand racial justice and defunding police. At the same time, one of the whitest major cities in America was experiencing its deadliest year in more than a quarter-century — a trend seen nationwide — with shootings that overwhelmingly affected the Black community. Responding to the calls for change in policing, the mayor and City Council cut several police programs from the budget, including one Yarborough believes could have saved his nephew. A specialized unit focused on curbing gun violence, which had long faced criticism for disproportionately targeting people of colour, was disbanded a month before Penney, a 27-year-old Black man visiting from Sacramento, California, was killed on July 25. Yarborough and some other families wonder if ending the unit is partly to blame for Portland's dramatic spike in shootings, but officials and experts attribute increased gun violence in cities nationwide to the hardships of the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment, economic anxiety and stress on mental health. “Without a doubt, I think it is a possibility that my nephew could still be alive if (the Gun Violence Reduction Team) was not dissolved,” said Yarborough, a crisis response volunteer for Portland police who responds to shootings to support victims’ families. “I cannot say for sure if he would, but what I will tell you is had it not been my nephew that was saved, it probably could have saved the life of someone else,” he said. More people died of gunfire last year in Portland — 40 — than the entire tally of homicides the previous year. The number of shootings — 900 — was nearly 2 1/2 times higher than the year before. The spike has continued this year, with more than 150 shootings, including 45 people wounded and 12 killed so far. Police had warned of possible repercussions of ending the unit, pointing out cautionary tales in other cities that had made a similar choice. Portland police quoted former Salinas, California, Police Chief Kelly McMillin: “Not to be overly dramatic, but if you lose the unit which focuses on removing firearms from the hand of violent offenders, people will die. It’s really just that simple.” Stockton, California, began disbanding and defunding police units dedicated to gun violence in 2010. In 2011 and 2012, the city’s homicide rates reached record highs. After the city restored the units, homicides significantly declined, according to data reported by police. While policing has been refocused in Portland, experts and officials say it's unlikely those changes caused spikes in gun violence. “I believe if (the Gun Violence Reduction Team) were (around) today, we would still see a substantial, if not identical increase, in shootings in Portland,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said in January. “This is clearly part of a larger national trend.” Wheeler, who is also police commissioner, announced the unit's disbanding last June and reassigned its 34 officers to patrol. He described it as an opportunity to reimagine policing and redirected $7 million in police funds toward communities of colour. The push was led by Jo Ann Hardesty, the first Black woman elected to the City Council. She cited a 2018 audit showing nearly 60% of people stopped by the gun violence team were Black — though they make up less than 6% of the city’s population. Nearly half of the 55 total homicide victims in 2020 were people of colour, many of them from Portland's historically Black neighbourhoods, according to city statistics. So far this year, there have been 17 homicides — a concerning number considering there had only been one homicide in the same period in 2020. Among the people of colour shot to death last year were a 23-year-old Iraqi refugee stopping to pick up an Uber fare; an 18-year-old recent high school graduate; and a 53-year-old woman caught in gang crossfire and killed in front of her husband. The violence has left leaders and community members scrambling for solutions. Some say the loss of the unit’s seasoned detectives has hurt the city, while others push for new approaches. Last month, police launched a squad of 15 officers and six detectives focusing on gun violence investigations. Officials say it's only part of the solution, as leaders partner with community groups, work to increase transparency and use proactive approaches that don't rely on the stop-and-frisk tactic. That’s little solace to Penney’s three children, the friends he was visiting in Portland or his family, who moved to California when he was child to avoid the exact reason he died — gun violence. Yarborough, Penney's uncle, was a gang member in the 1990s and had been arrested by officers with Portland's gun violence team. Despite that, he described the unit as "the CIA” of the police department and said they often stopped shootings before they happened because of their deep community knowledge. “They built relationships with gang members and knew who the perpetrators were,” Yarborough said. “They ... were able to band together to stop it, or at least refer people impacted to programs to help change their lives.” ___ Cline is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Sara Cline, The Associated Press
Britain's Prince Charles paid tribute to the courage shown throughout the Commonwealth in response to coronavirus in a broadcast that will air on Sunday, hours before Prince Harry and Meghan talk about stepping down from royal duties on U.S. television. The prince was joined by other royals, including his elder son and heir Prince William, in talking about the impact of COVID-19 in messages recorded for a programme marking Commonwealth Day dedicated to the countries, mainly from the former British empire, that maintain links with Britain. "The coronavirus pandemic has affected every country of the Commonwealth, cruelly robbing countless people of their lives and livelihoods, disrupting our societies and denying us the human connections which we so dearly cherish," Charles said in the message.
Ontario is reporting 990 new cases of COVID-19 and six new deaths, according to the latest provincial figures. The new daily case count brings the total number of cases since the pandemic began in Ontario to 306,997. Toronto saw 284 new cases while Peel Region saw 173. Both regions are under stay-at-home orders that are scheduled to lift on Monday. York Region reported 82 new cases. WATCH | Hillier talks about vaccine rollout: The update follows the release of Ontario's accelerated vaccine rollout plan, which should see all adults 60 and older given a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by early June — a month sooner than initially planned. "That was very optimistic," Dr. Peter Lin told CBC News on Saturday. Lin applauded the province's rollout strategy for including an option to space out shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines by up to four months. "[That] means more people can get vaccinated and the whole idea is to burn the virus out," he said. "If you have lots of people vaccinated, the virus can't find a new host and we could say goodbye to the virus quicker and get back to normal life faster." To date, Ontario has administered more than 860,400 doses of COVID-19 vaccines with more than 270,600 people fully vaccinated. Toronto, the province's largest city, is responsible for the administration of nearly 200,000 of those doses — a figure that amounts to more than 124,686 people being vaccinated. In a Saturday news release, the city said 197,155 doses have been administered, and that several clinics are underway on Saturday to vaccinate hospital and community-based healthcare workers who are in Phase 1 priority groups. Vaccine availability continues to be a stumbling block for cities, including Toronto, which has a population of more than 2.9 million. Other public health units that saw double-digit increases in cases were: Ottawa: 60 Thunder Bay: 54 Halton Region: 34 Waterloo Region: 33 Durham Region: 32 Lambton: 27 Simcoe Muskoka: 27 Windsor-Essex: 27 Hamilton: 24 Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District: 19 Sudbury: 17 Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 17 Eastern Ontario: 12 (Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit on a given day, because local units report figures at different times.) 2 regions to see restrictions eased Monday Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Zain Chagla told CBC News on Saturday that Canada's approval of the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine — news that came after Ontario released its vaccine plan — should definitely help speed up the timeline. "We'll get to the point where vaccines are scaling up and up and up," he said. But he cautioned: "There may be turbulence for the next month or so." On Monday, stay-at-home orders in Toronto and Peel Region will be lifted, although both regions will stay in lockdown. Medical officers of health for both regions had urged caution ahead of the shift. "Vaccines do us no good if they're not in arms yet," Dr. Lawrence Loh said at a Wednesday news conference. "We must stay the course." Last month, the province made a few changes to what people are allowed to do in a grey lockdown. As of Monday, residents in Toronto and Peel Regions will be able to shop in person at reduced capacity: 50 per cent for grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies and 25 per cent for other retailers. Loitering in shopping malls or other stores will not be permitted. Individuals will still need to wear a mask and practice physical distancing. WATCH | Toronto and Peel Region to move into grey zone as stay-at-home order lifts on Monday
Canadian internationals Evelyne Viens and Vanessa Gilles both scored in French league play Saturday. Viens' 90th-minute goal closed out the scoring in Paris FC's 4-1 win at Stade Reims. The 24-year-old from L'Ancienne-Lorette, Que., is on loan from Sky Blue FC, which selected the University of South Florida forward fifth overall in the 2020 NWSL draft. Gilles' header off a 19th-minute corner opened the scoring in Girondins Bordeaux's 2-0 victory at Dijon. The 24-year-old centre back from Ottawa is coming off an impressive performance for Canada against the U.S. at the SheBelieves Cup. Viens made her debut for Canada at the SheBelieves Cup. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021 The Canadian Press
KABUL — A suicide car bombing killed the Afghan intelligence directorate’s chief prosecutor Saturday, an official said, amid an increase in violence in the war-ravaged country. Sayed Mahmood Agha was on his way to his office in the southern city of Lashkargah when an attacker driving a car full of explosives targeted Agha's convoy, killing him, said Attaullah Afghan, provincial council chief for Helmand province. One of Agha's bodyguards was also killed and eight others, including two civilian passersby, were wounded. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Afghanistan is experiencing a nationwide spike in bombings, targeted killings, and other violence as peace negotiations in Qatar between the Taliban and the Afghan government continue. The Islamic State group’s local affiliate has claimed responsibility for some of the attacks, but many go unclaimed, with the government putting the blame on the Taliban. The insurgents have denied responsibility for most of the attacks. In another incident at the Sheikh Abu Nasre Farahi crossing in Afghanistan’s western Farah province on the Iranian border, at least three terminals storing diesel fuel caught fire, causing a massive blaze that consumed at least two trucks carrying natural gas and fuel, according to Afghan officials and Iranian state media. It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the fire. Taj Mohammad Jahid, Governor of Farah told The Associated Press that the Afghan first responders did not have the means to put out the huge fire and had requested firefighting support from Iran, which helped extinguish the blaze. It was the second massive fire on on the Afghan-Iranian border in the past three weeks. ——— Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran contributed to this story. Tameem Akhgar, The Associated Press