Julian McKenzie checks in for his weekly appearance to talk about the NHL's response to multiple COVID-19 outbreaks, the sorry state of the Vancouver Canucks, and to debate some bubble players on Team Canada's prospective Olympic roster.
Julian McKenzie checks in for his weekly appearance to talk about the NHL's response to multiple COVID-19 outbreaks, the sorry state of the Vancouver Canucks, and to debate some bubble players on Team Canada's prospective Olympic roster.
P.E.I. potato growers now have a new pesticide to use to help fight a costly pest called wireworm. In October 2020, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency approved the registration of broflanilide, the active ingredient in two new insecticides. One targets wireworm in cereal crops, such as wheat; the other does the same thing in potato and corn crops. "I think it will be a game changer for a lot of producers that have been without a very effective, easy-to-use insecticide for quite some time," said Ryan Barrett, research and agronomy co-ordinator with the P.E.I. Potato Board. "We have some insecticides available that do an okay job. But this new insecticide, broflanilide, appears to actually kill wireworm rather than just stunning them." Costly problem Barrett said wireworm has been a costly problem for the potato industry on Prince Edward Island over the years. "It's probably one of the largest yield-robbing diseases or pests that potato producers deal with here in P.E.I.," he said. "It's particularly bad in the fresh-market industry, as a table-stock potato that has a lot of wormholes on it just becomes unmarketable. So for a lot of those varieties and a lot of growers growing for those markets, it's a huge yield robber." Barrett says the new insecticide, broflanilide, appears to actually kill wireworms like this one rather than just stunning them. (Ryan Barrett ) Barrett said wireworm can also be an issue with a potato destined for processing as a French fry or potato chip as well. "I think we had previously estimated that wireworm damage in P.E.I. potatoes was costing over $5 million a year in damage, plus the cost of insecticides, plus the cost of growing some of these different crops. So we are talking about big-dollar figures here," Barrett said. In 2018, the total cost was estimated at $10 million, including the control measures. "So, yes, it will cost something to put the insecticide on the crop, but I think in terms of what it will do, the damage that it will prevent, hopefully, will be significant." Invasive species Until now, Barrett said P.E.I. potato growers have been using other insecticides to fight wireworm, but also changing how they do their tillage and crop rotation. They have been adding crops such as brown mustard or buckwheat, which have been shown to reduce some of the damage from wireworm in later plantings in the same field. Barrett said a table-stock potato with this kind of wormhole damage on it becomes unmarketable. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ) Barrett said it was important that research on the new product was done here on P.E.I. because the wireworm found on the Island is a invasive species from Europe, and not the dominant species in most of the rest of North America. "There are insecticides that work in Saskatchewan or work in Alberta on their wireworms, but don't work here," Barrett said. "So it's very important to have research done locally on our species of wireworm, and when they showed that it actually works on what we have here in Prince Edward Island, that was huge." Potato growers on P.E.I. have been planting fields of mustard and buckwheat to help fight wireworms. (Submitted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) Christine Noronha has been testing the new pesticide since 2015. "We would plant the potatoes by hand in the furrow, and then we sprayed the insecticide in the furrow and covered it up," said Noronha, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Charlottetown. "We would look at, is it affecting the emergence of the potato plants? And then looking at yield, is it affecting the yield?" Noronha said it's important that this chemical kills the wireworms, rather than just paralyzing them, to stop the population from rebounding in subsequent years. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ) "Then, at the end of the year, we would actually look at the potatoes, and count the number of holes that we had on the tubers, and that would tell us if there was any damage, or any reduction in damage." Noronha said it's important that this chemical kills the wireworms, rather than just paralyzing them, to stop the population from growing. "Because wireworms don't only affect potatoes; they feed on other crops as well," Noronha said. "If you go in with your barley the following year, and you have a big population, you're going to lose some of your crop because of wireworms." During Noronha's research, they planted the potatoes by hand in each furrow, then sprayed the insecticide into the furrow and covered it up. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ) Noronha said the new pesticide also may have less impact on the environment. "The newer chemicals, they're more environmentally friendly and they don't move as much in the soil — and also, they're less toxic to other organisms as well," she said. "Broflanilide is persistent in soil, but is not expected to move through the soil and reach groundwater because it binds strongly to the soil surface. In water bodies, broflanilide will move to sediments where it may remain over time," says Health Canada's documentation about the new pesticide ingredient (see link at bottom). "When used according to the label directions, broflanilide poses acceptable risk to wild mammals, birds, beneficial insects, earthworms, terrestrial and aquatic plants, fish, or amphibians." Ryan Barrett calls wireworm one of the largest yield-robbing pests for potato growers on P.E.I. (Ryan Barrett) Noronha said she will continue to look for other strategies for dealing with wireworm, but noted this is a big deal for P.E.I. potato growers. "Because at one point, the damage was really, really high and they couldn't even sell their crop. "This was a good thing that happened, and we were — all the researchers — happy to see that there is something for them to use." More P.E.I. news
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 4, 2021. There are 875,559 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 875,559 confirmed cases (29,930 active, 823,524 resolved, 22,105 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,812 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 78.75 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 20,365 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,909. There were 60 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 299 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 43. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.11 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.16 per 100,000 people. There have been 24,676,396 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 997 confirmed cases (153 active, 838 resolved, six deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 29.3 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 35 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.03 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 199,347 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 137 confirmed cases (22 active, 115 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 13.78 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 20 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 107,377 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,646 confirmed cases (30 active, 1,551 resolved, 65 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 3.06 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 343,260 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,438 confirmed cases (38 active, 1,372 resolved, 28 deaths). There were three new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 4.86 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There were zero new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of two new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.04 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 238,399 tests completed. _ Quebec: 289,670 confirmed cases (7,336 active, 271,908 resolved, 10,426 deaths). There were 729 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 85.56 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,198 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 743. There were 19 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 81 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 121.59 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,320,910 tests completed. _ Ontario: 303,763 confirmed cases (10,397 active, 286,352 resolved, 7,014 deaths). There were 958 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 70.56 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,590 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,084. There were 17 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 121 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 17. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 10,964,481 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 32,000 confirmed cases (1,146 active, 29,953 resolved, 901 deaths). There were 50 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 83.09 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 413 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 59. There were three new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.15 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.32 per 100,000 people. There have been 535,163 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 29,059 confirmed cases (1,431 active, 27,239 resolved, 389 deaths). There were 121 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 121.41 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,079 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 154. There were two new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 10 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is one. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33 per 100,000 people. There have been 579,326 tests completed. _ Alberta: 134,454 confirmed cases (4,649 active, 127,903 resolved, 1,902 deaths). There were 402 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 105.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,421 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 346. There were 12 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 36 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,414,903 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 81,909 confirmed cases (4,718 active, 75,819 resolved, 1,372 deaths). There were 542 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 91.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,559 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 508. There were seven new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 34 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,941,589 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one death). There were zero new cases Wednesday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,183 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (two active, 40 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 4.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,664 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 359 confirmed cases (eight active, 350 resolved, one death). There were zero new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 20.33 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of eight new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,718 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Hudson's Bay Co. hopes to transform its website into Canada’s next online shopping marketplace in a bid to position itself as a premium, home-grown alternative to e-commerce heavy hitters like Amazon. The company will open its website to third-party sellers starting later this month, adding hundreds of new brands and thousands of items to its online assortment of products at a time when pandemic restrictions have curtailed in-person shopping. The new site will include electronics and sporting goods, pushing the retailer beyond tried-and-true categories like clothing and home decor as it seeks to attract and retain customers who increasingly demand a strong online presence. The company has to find the right balance between maintaining its premium brand and expanding its inventory, executives said in an interview. "Although it will very much be a vast assortment, it will feel curated," said Adam Powell, senior vice-president of omni customer experience. "We're not going to approach it in the same way that Amazon our Walmart would, which is 'absolutely everything goes' … with little consideration other than having as many products as possible." Shoppers will have access to more products, some of which will be sold and shipped directly by Hudson’s Bay -- and can be returned in store -- while others will be sold and shipped by third-party sellers that also manage returns for those items. The Hudson’s Bay marketplace, hosted on the Mirakl software-as-a-service platform, comes a little over a year after the iconic company was taken private. Since then, many of its department stores have been closed for months on end amid COVID-19 restrictions, hundreds of workers have been laid off and competition online has soared as consumers take to internet shopping in record numbers. Although the company’s digital strategy was in place before the pandemic – the retailer relaunched its website last April using a new e-commerce platform from Salesforce – it has taken on more urgency amid lockdowns. "This was the most logical way to really expand our digital first strategy at a supercharged rate," Iain Nairn, said president and CEO of Hudson's Bay. "It opens up thebay.com for one-stop shopping." Even post-pandemic, retail watchers say consumers will continue to shop more online and look for “omni-channel” options such as picking up online purchases at stores, while in-store shopping will focus more on interacting with products. “It’s actually creating the store to be more exciting and have more experiences,” Nairn said. “There may not be as much absolute product but there will be more options for them to look at" before they purchase online. The idea is to use stores as more of a showroom for products, with a wider selection available online and shipped directly to customers, Powell said. “What we want to do is extend the aisle for in-store shoppers,” he said. “We want our in-store customers to know that when they're shopping in our stores, they have access to a much broader catalogue than what resides within those four walls.” Like the new HBC marketplace, some other online retailers like Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon also allow third-party sellers. Yet HBC is banking on the department store’s unique position as a Canadian retailer with a reputation for higher-end goods to attract customers. The company has about 225 million website visits a year and 5.6 million loyalty rewards members, numbers HBC expects will attract sellers interested in reaching Canadian shoppers. Hudson's Bay marketplace will feature large multinational third-party sellers of brand-name goods as well as smaller vendors, artisans and entrepreneurs, the company said. The retailer even issued a call out for "cool local and Canadian brands" with direct-to-consumer shipping capabilities and inventory on hand, providing a national platform for handmade products that might normally be sold on websites like Etsy, Facebook marketplace or Kijiji. “It will be a variety of different sellers that will run the gamut from big strategic partners that are larger well-known organizations to smaller or independent businesses,” Powell said. “It gives us a great opportunity to showcase local products and local retailers from the communities. The focus will be on merchandise customers are already searching for, including technology, sports equipment, pet products, food and drink and health and wellness, Powell said. “We can tell by our search results that these types of categories are products that our customers are already looking,” he said. “If Nintendo launches a new console, we see that coming up in our search results, so it won’t feel foreign to a customer to stumble upon these new categories that we're going to be introducing. "It'll be a real natural extension from our existing business, and it'll still be very much in keeping with the types of areas and quality that we want to portray with our customers." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press
MOSCOW — The European Medicines Agency said it has started a rolling review of Sputnik V, many months after the vaccine was first approved for use in Russia and after dozens of countries around the world have authorized it. In a statement Thursday, the European regulator said the review is based on results from lab studies and research in adults, which suggests the vaccine may help protect against coronavirus. Despite skepticism about Russia’s hasty introduction of the vaccine, which was rolled out before it had completed late-stage trials, the vaccine appears to be safe and effective. According to a study published in the journal Lancet, Sputnik V was about 91% effective in preventing people from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. The EMA has not set a date for when its expert group might meet to assess Sputnik V data to decide if it should be approved across the European Union, but the rolling review process is meant to expedite the authorization process, which can typically take several months. The Associated Press
NYON, Switzerland — Liverpool and Leipzig are going to Budapest for a second time in the Champions League round of 16 next week. UEFA confirmed on Thursday that Liverpool’s home second-leg game will also be at Puskas Arena in the Hungarian capital next Wednesday. The Puskas Arena — which is a European Championship venue at the end of this season — has become UEFA’s main neutral venue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Leipzig’s home game in the first leg was also played in the empty stadium in Budapest on Feb. 16 because of travel restrictions between England and Germany. Liverpool won 2-0. It also hosted Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Manchester City in the Champions League, and Wolfsberger vs. Tottenham in the Europa League last month. It will stage Molde vs. Granada in the Europa League on March 18. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
NEW YORK — When will children be able to get COVID-19 vaccines? It depends on the child's age, but some teenagers could be rolling up their sleeves before too long. The Pfizer vaccine already is cleared for use starting at age 16. That means some high schoolers could get in line for those shots whenever they become eligible in their area, either because of a medical condition or once availability opens up. Pfizer and Moderna both have completed enrolment for studies of children ages 12 and older, and expect to release the data over the summer. If regulators clear the results, younger teens likewise could start getting vaccinated once supply allows. The Moderna vaccine is currently cleared for people 18 and older. Researchers started with older children because they tend to respond to vaccines most similarly to adults. Testing even younger groups is more complex, because they may require a different dose or have differing responses. “Children are not just small adults,” said pediatrician Dr. James Campbell of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “The younger you get, the higher the odds are that things could be different.” Children develop serious illness or die from COVID-19 at much lower rates than adults, but can still spread the virus. “There’s no question: we do want to immunize children,” said Drexel University pediatrics professor Dr. Sarah Long. Pfizer and Moderna expect to start studies in children 11 and younger later this year. “It’s unlikely we could get community protection without immunizing children,” Long added. “This is the lynchpin to getting everything back to some kind of normalcy.” __ The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org. Read previous Viral Questions: How would COVID-19 vaccine makers adapt to variants? How do we know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe? How are experts tracking variants of the coronavirus? Marion Renault, The Associated Press
Britain and the European Union are on course to agree a deal on regulatory cooperation in financial services this month, but the UK's actions in Northern Ireland makes it harder to build trust, the bloc's financial services chief said on Thursday. "We are on track," Mairead McGuinness told a Politico event. The British government unilaterally extended a grace period for checks on food imports to Northern Ireland, a move Brussels said violated terms of Britain's divorce deal.
A national panel of vaccine experts recommended Wednesday that provinces extend the interval between the two doses of a COVID-19 shot to quickly inoculate more people, as the prime minister expressed optimism that vaccination timelines could be sped up. In laying out its new guidelines, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said extending the dose interval to four months would create opportunities to protect the entire adult population against the virus within a short time frame. As many as 80 per cent of Canadians over 16 could receive a single dose by the end of June simply with the expected supply of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the panel said. Second doses would begin to be administered in July as more shipments arrive, the panel said, noting that 55 million doses are expected to be delivered in the third quarter of the year. In comparison, the federal government previously said 38 per cent of people would receive two doses by the end of June. The addition of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to the country's supply could mean almost all Canadians would get their first shot in that time frame, but Ottawa has not yet said how many doses of that vaccine will be delivered in the spring and how many in the summer. "The vaccine effectiveness of the first dose will be monitored closely and the decision to delay the second dose will be continuously assessed based on surveillance and effectiveness data and post-implementation study designs," the panel wrote. "Effectiveness against variants of concern will also be monitored closely, and recommendations may need to be revised," it said, adding there is currently no evidence that a longer interval will affect the emergence of the variants. The updated guidance applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in Canada. The committee's recommendation came hours after Newfoundland and Labrador said it will extend the interval between the first and second doses to four months, and days after health officials in British Columbia announced they were doing so. Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec also said Wednesday they will delay second doses. Earlier Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said any change in public health guidance regarding the timing of the two doses could affect the speed of Canada's vaccine rollout, as could the approval of more shots. The federal government's plan to have doses administered to all Canadians who want one by the end of September didn't factor in the arrival of new vaccines such as the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, Trudeau said. And despite delays in the delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last month, Canada is now "fully back on track and even ahead of schedule" when it comes to its supply of the various shots, he said, noting the country should receive more than the six million doses of COVID-19 vaccines it initially expected to get by the end of March. "The projections we've had for many, many months certainly hold, but we're also very optimistic that they're going to be able to be moved forward if, indeed, all the vaccines that we've contracted for are able to be manufactured and shipped in the right ways," the prime minister said. The first 500,000 doses of the recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Canada on Wednesday, though confusion persists over who should get them. The vaccine, manufactured at the Serum Institute of India, is the third COVID-19 shot approved for use in Canada. Health Canada last week authorized its use for all adult Canadians but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended Tuesday that it not be administered to people 65 years of age or older. The committee said there is limited data from clinical trials about how effective the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is for seniors and recommends that they be given priority for the two other vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — already greenlighted for use in Canada. Both Health Canada and the committee stress no safety concerns have arisen in the clinical studies or among the millions of seniors who have received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in other countries. Some provinces, including Alberta, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, plan to follow the advisory committee's advice and target the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at younger people working in front-line essential services or in high-risk settings like prisons. On Wednesday, the Ontario government said it will give the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot to residents aged 60 to 64. The drug will not be doled out through mass immunization clinics but rather through a "different pathway," Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said. Details of the program were not released. Manitoba said it plans to target those between the ages of 50 and 64 who have high-risk underlying conditions. The province said it expects to receive its first shipment of the AstraZeneca shot by mid-month. Other provinces, including Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, are still mulling over the issue. Meanwhile, Quebec said it would move more regions into the less restrictive orange level of its pandemic system starting next Monday. But while residents in Quebec City, Chaudiere-Appalaches, Mauricie, Estrie and Centre-du-Quebec will see measures loosen, those in the Montreal area will remain under the more stringent rules of the province's red level. New guidelines for shipping and storing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were also released Wednesday, with Health Canada saying the drug can be transported and kept at standard freezer temperatures for up to two weeks. The previous storage instructions required that the vaccine be kept in ultralow temperatures and thawed just before use, which restricted its distribution to areas equipped with the necessary specialty freezers. The change should allow for wider distribution of the vaccines. Ottawa also confirmed Wednesday it is extending three federal support programs meant to lessen the economic impact of COVID-19 on residents and business owners until June. The federal wage subsidy, rent support and lockdown programs will carry on with the same level of aid, the government said. In addition to Wednesday's shipment of Oxford-AstraZeneca doses, Canada is also scheduled to receive 444,600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week. With Oxford-AstraZeneca added to Canada's vaccine arsenal, the country is on track to receive a total of 6.5 million vaccine doses by the end of this month — half a million more than originally expected. -- With files from Mia Rabson in Ottawa This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
Jim Lowes had never thought about being an organ donor until he read a story about Logan Boulet nearly three years ago. Boulet was one of 16 people who died in April 2018 when a truck driver blew a stop sign and drove into the path of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team's bus in rural Saskatchewan. Thirteen players were injured. Boulet, 21, had signed up to be an organ donor on his birthday, five weeks before the crash. "He had already planned on giving his organs," said Lowes, who lives in Burlington, Ont. "That really struck me. "What a brilliant young man. Most kids at that age are not thinking about donating their organs." Six people across Canada benefited from Boulet's organs and the Logan Boulet Effect soon followed. Nearly 147,000 Canadians registered to be donors in the two months after learning the player had signed his donor card. It also led to Green Shirt Day every April 7, the anniversary of Boulet's death, to promote organ donor awareness and registration across Canada. Canadian Blood Services says more than a million people have registered a decision about organ donation in the years since Boulet's death. There are about 12 million Canadians on provincial registries. Lowes, 61, said he was inspired by Boulet to be a living donor. "I was too old to donate (part of) my liver ... but I checked into the kidney," he said. "I ended up donating one of my kidneys." Canadian Blood Services says the number of living donors increased in 2019 but dropped about 30 per cent to 427 in 2020. Deceased donors also dropped about 21 per cent to 654. Officials say the decline was due to COVID-19. "The impact we've seen has changed over the year," said Dr. Norman Kneteman, a transplant surgeon at University of Alberta Hospital and a member on an expert advisory committee with Canadian Blood Services. During the first wave of COVID-19 last spring, there was fear of the unknown, he said. "Donation really slowed down and very nearly stopped for awhile." Surgeries considered non-essential were delayed. There were fewer trauma patients who might become donors. And there was an early concern about transmission of the novel coronavirus between donor and patient, which he said is extremely rare and can be managed with careful testing. Kneteman, also a director for the division of transplantation at the U of A, said programs were almost back to normal by summer, and surgeons kept up with transplants during the pandemic's second wave. "We did see through the year — 2020 — that we had between 10 and 15 per cent reduction in activity in transplant for all organs," he said. "We have some catch-up to play there." Boulet's father said his family hopes an online campaign, which started this week, reminds people about organ donation. "We just want people to register their intent, what they want to do, whether they want to be an organ donor or don't want to be an organ donor," Toby Boulet said from Lethbridge, Alta. He said it's disappointing organs went unused in the early days of COVID-19. "We lost many, many chances in Canada to have transplants," he said. "There are chances to save lives. There are chances to make people's lives better and, even though COVID has enveloped and consumed all of us ... we can't forget about organ donation and transplantation." Canadian Blood Services said there were some bright spots in 2020. Newfoundland and Labrador brought in a new way last April for residents to register as organ donors. An online registry started in Saskatchewan last September. Nova Scotia recorded higher donation rates as awareness increased before a presumed consent law that requires people to opt out of organ donation. "The law came into effect in January, but we had been working on changing the system in preparation for the law for the past 18 months," said Dr. Stephen Beed, medical adviser for the Nova Scotia organ and tissue donation program. "We've ended up having by far the most successful donation year." Beed, who was working in an intensive care unit in Saskatoon the week of the Broncos crash, has a special connection to the Boulet family. "I was involved in taking care of Logan," he said. "It's quite remarkable to think I am living in Nova Scotia and doing a lot of donation-related work here, and then happened to be involved with one of the most tragic and significant donation-related circumstances we've had." Beed said the crash was noticed around the world. "To be able to find something positive in the middle of such a tragic circumstance — with Logan's gift — is something that really resonated and continues to resonate." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021 Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press
RED DEER, Alta. — Some employees of a pork processing plant in central Alberta that shut down after a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility are afraid to go back to work, the union president says. Olymel's facility in Red Deer was shut down Feb. 15 because of the COVID-19 outbreak that claimed three lives and infected 515 workers. The company announced late Wednesday it had been given approval to gradually reopen by Alberta Health. Slaughter operations are scheduled to resume today and cutting room operations on Friday. The plant processes about 10,000 hogs per day. UFCW 401 president Thomas Hesse said he received no word from the company that the plant was reopening. "Obviously the bottom line for Olymel is they're just putting pigs ahead of people," Hesse in an interview Wednesday. "What you've got is a frightened workforce. There's this enormous amount of fear and anxiety, and now a layer of grief on top of that, and they expect employees to jump to attention and parade back to work." The union represents about 1,800 workers at the plant. Hesse said the union interviewed between 600 and 700 workers who indicated they were afraid to return to work. He said that wasn't done by Olymel, Alberta Health Services or Occupational Health and Safety. Hesse said he expects some workers will take advantage of their right to refuse unsafe work. "I have no confidence in the safety of the workplace," he said. Olymel said the reopening will come with a number of strict measures. Alberta Health experts will be on site when operations resume and will offer rapid testing. The company said 1,370 employees at the plant have been tested since Jan. 1. The company says it has added more space to the facility to enhance physical distancing. Additional staff have been assigned to monitor and enforce the updated measures, Olymel said. Employee groups have been recalled to take part in training sessions covering all implemented health measures, adjustments and the action plan developed for reopening. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. — By Bill Graveland in Calgary The Canadian Press
Chrystia Freeland seemed only too happy on Wednesday to mention some recent grumbling about the Liberal government's pandemic spending over last year. For most of 2020, the government was faced with questions about whether it was delivering financial supports fast enough and broadly enough. Now, some are wondering aloud whether the government spent too much. "I've been surprised to read some commentary suggesting that Canadians may be doing too well for their own good," the finance minister said. "Some have pointed to rising household disposable income in the first nine months of last year as evidence that our government acted too swiftly and too effectively to support Canadians." It will not surprise you to learn that Freeland disagrees with that take. And if Freeland is eager to note that criticism, surely it's because she and the government know how difficult it might be for any of their political opponents to campaign against any of the specific measures the Liberals took to support Canadian households over the past 12 months. But it remains to be seen how all that spending — and the historic deficit that resulted from it — will frame the political debate going forward. On Monday, Statistics Canada released estimates that suggest Canadian households ended up with more disposable income through the third quarter of 2020 because of the unprecedented sums the federal government transferred to individuals through various support programs. "Although households did experience notable declines both in wages and salaries and in self-employment income in the second quarter, the value of COVID-19 support measures provided by governments more than compensated for those losses," StatsCan said. The gains were highest in the second quarter and proportionally larger for those with the lowest amount of disposable income in 2019. Before April 2020 and June 2020, StatsCan estimates, the households that had less than $26,500 in disposable income for 2019 saw their disposable income increase by 33.6 per cent. For those households with more than $64,900 in disposable income in 2019, the increase in disposable income in the second quarter of 2020 is estimated at 7.1 per cent. A person walks through an almost deserted Yorkdale Shopping Centre as Toronto enters the first day of a renewed coronavirus lockdown on Nov. 23, 2020.(Carlos Osorio/Reuters) As of October 3, 2020, the federal government had paid out $81.6 billion through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which provided $2,000 per month to those who lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. Beyond the CERB, the federal government also moved forward with a number of other supports, including a new student benefit (estimated to cost $3 billion) and a series of measures aimed at "vulnerable Canadians" (at an estimated cost of $14.9 billion). More analysis is needed to fully understand the distribution and impact of government spending last year, but the basic finding — that support exceeded income losses — has been put forward before. Tammy Schirle, a professor of economics at Wilfrid Laurier University, notes that some of those in the bottom quintile would not have been making money before the pandemic began — and so wouldn't have lost any income — but they still would have benefited from increases in the Canada Child Benefit and the GST credit, which could have helped with extra expenses. An 'acceptable compromise' Research conducted by Schirle and three co-authors also estimated that nearly half of the job losses that occurred between February and April 2020 were suffered by those in the lowest quarter of earners. "Generally, there was criticism at the time that some workers with the lowest earnings would have received more income than was lost," Schirle said in an email this week, referring to the CERB. "However, in the context that Canadians needed something rolled out quickly, and our current infrastructure for [employment insurance] would not suffice, this was an acceptable compromise in my view." In a global emergency, too much help is likely better than too little. But the federal government may have faced a choice between moving fast and moving with precision — between making sure that people who would need money got it quickly and making sure that people only got as much money as they absolutely needed. Social policy in a hurry "CERB payments were flat amounts because the government did not have the capacity [in information and technology] to income-test the benefit," said Jennifer Robson, a professor of political management at Carleton who has been consulted by the government on EI reform (full disclosure: Robson is a friend). "The choice was 'automatic' or 'income-tested.' But until and unless we build serious back-of-house capacity in our social programs, you can't have both for a crisis of this scale." Robson also suggested that if the CERB did end up overcompensating people, the question could be flipped around to ask whether that proves too many people in this country were being paid unreasonably low wages in the first place. The Liberal government has since transitioned away from the CERB and StatsCan's estimates show that the disposable income increases dropped off significantly in the third quarter. John Lester, a fellow at the University of Calgary's school of public policy and a former analyst at the Department of Finance, argued in December that the government should have been quicker to deal with the issue of "overcompensation." The threat of inflation In her fall economic statement, Freeland suggested that increased disposable income and savings could act as "preloaded stimulus" to spur economic growth once the Canadian economy reopens. Mikal Skuterud, a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo, said the risk is that excessive stimulus could trigger inflation, though he argues that the actual severity of that risk is a "million-dollar question that nobody knows the answer to." For now, the political criticism is muted. The Conservative Party has criticized the size of the deficit and Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has noted that the Trudeau government spent more per capita than comparable countries. The Conservatives also have argued that the government should have moved faster to deliver a wage subsidy and have criticized the fact that some large, profitable companies were able to access the wage subsidy. But they do not seem eager to make the case that Canadians got more money than they deserved or truly needed — presumably because they know how well that would go over with those Canadians who received federal support. Ahead of a federal budget — and possibly a federal election — the larger question is how the spectre of a significant deficit will affect both fiscal policy and the political debate going forward. Canadians might be thankful for all the support that the federal government has provided, but will they come out of this pandemic with new worries about government debt? And if so, are Conservatives interested in trying to connect with that anxiety to build support for a much more fiscally restrained approach?
GENEVA — As the head of African soccer battles in court this week to stay on the ballot for re-election, FIFA president Gianni Infantino is coming off a comprehensive tour of the continent. The timing of the visit does not appear to be coincidental. Infantino fueled talk of election interference by visiting about a dozen African countries and meeting heads of state along the way — ala predecessor Sepp Blatter — while promoting his preferred candidate, South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe. The current president of the Confederation of African Football, Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar, is appealing against a five-year ban imposed by FIFA for financial misconduct while running the Cairo-based body. Although Infantino helped put Ahmad in office four years ago, it is unlikely that even a victory for the Madagascan at the Court of Arbitration for Sport would help his chances in a campaign increasingly influenced by the FIFA president. In the aftermath of Infantino’s African tour, a deal was offered to the four candidates challenging Ahmad in the March 12 election to clear the way for Motsepe, according to the office of Senegalese candidate Augustin Senghor. No agreement was reached. Motsepe, a mining magnate, is the brother-in-law of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and the owner of South African club Mamelodi Sundowns. Infantino met with Ramaphosa in Cape Town last month. After Infantino completed his tour, his top aides travelled to Morocco, where the challengers met in Rabat. The city will also host the election next week. The candidates are set meet again this weekend at a soccer tournament in Mauritania. FIFA presidents have long courted Africa, which has 54 voters among the 211 member federations. Infantino defied African opposition to be elected FIFA president in 2016, and one year later travelled extensively during the campaign to help Ahmad unseat longtime CAF president Issa Hayatou. African tours during election periods “are clearly very problematic,” said Miguel Maduro, the independent official who vetted candidates for FIFA in 2017 before being ousted by the leadership in Zurich. “Their (African members) access to money depends on the goodwill of the president of FIFA,” Maduro told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. Infantino’s latest trip was detailed in news updates on FIFA’s website. He echoed Blatter’s trademark rhetoric by promising more money and praising his hosts. “Before my arrival at FIFA, each federation received $250,000. Today it’s $1.5 million per year,” Infantino said in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. “Is it enough? No, we can do more. We must do more.” Infantino said in Mali that players at a new technical centre will “lift this great nation to the highest heights of African and world football.” In Benin, he said the country could “very well be one of those models” for world soccer. FIFA said in a statement that the focus of the tour “was on football development across the continent” and to hear the candidates’ views and plans. Infantino has consistently said he wants African national and club teams to be contenders in FIFA competitions. No African team has ever gotten past the quarterfinals of a men’s or women’s World Cup, nor won the Club World Cup. “There is an impression that Africa is going backwards,” Infantino cautioned African soccer leaders last year. Still, the timing of Infantino’s packed travel schedule raised questions during a pandemic and just before an election. He was also likely targeting his own re-election in 2023, Maduro said. “Of course, that is their concern. FIFA operates as a political cartel,” the Portuguese lawyer said. The basis for Ahmad’s ban last November was a FIFA-appointed forensic audit of CAF accounts. The FIFA review committee, once led by Maduro, later excluded Ahmad as a candidate. Even if CAS overturns Ahmad’s ban in the next week, the FIFA block on his election eligibility should stay in place. A separate decision would be needed to lift that. It all leaves Motsepe as the favoured candidate to get a four-year term as CAF president and one of the eight influential FIFA vice-president spots alongside Infantino. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 4, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 77,572 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,091,700 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 5,519.103 per 100,000. There were 129,330 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,611,680 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 80.09 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 4,472 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 24,757 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.279 per 1,000. There were 1,800 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 35,620 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 966 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 12,596 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 79.405 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 14,715 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.6 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,054 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 35,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 36.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 61,980 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 56.94 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 46,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.13 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 17,382 new vaccinations administered for a total of 472,710 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 55.245 per 1,000. There were 100,620 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 638,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 27,398 new vaccinations administered for a total of 754,419 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 51.359 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 903,285 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 83.52 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,966 new vaccinations administered for a total of 80,171 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 58.221 per 1,000. There were 8,190 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 116,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 8.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 1,361 new vaccinations administered for a total of 81,597 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 69.20 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 74,605 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 109.4 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 10,229 new vaccinations administered for a total of 255,283 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 57.992 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 274,965 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 6.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 6,627 new vaccinations administered for a total of 289,809 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 56.476 per 1,000. There were 18,720 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 382,740 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 990 new vaccinations administered for a total of 18,158 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 435.12 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 18,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 96.07 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 19,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 42 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 103.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 5,327 new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,393 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 345.84 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 23,900 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 62 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 56.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Apple supplier Foxconn said it expects first-quarter revenue to rise more than 15% from a year earlier, boosted by strong iPhone sales and robust demand for electronics during lockdowns worldwide to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. The world's largest contract electronics manufacturer has previously forecast strong demand for the new iPhone 12, saying its business will be supported by "stronger than expected" sales for smartphones and for telecommuting devices amid a coronavirus-induced work-from-home trend. Taiwan-based Foxconn, in a short statement on Thursday, said it expects consumer electronics revenue, which includes smartphones and smart watches, to rise more than 15% in the January-March quarter from a year earlier.
The probe will consider if Apple has a dominant position in the distribution of apps on its devices in the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said. Payment policies related to Apple's App Store have for long drawn complaints from app developers as it requires them to use its payment system, which charges commissions of between 15% and 30%.
At least 19 Myanmar police have crossed into India to escape taking orders from a military junta that is trying to suppress protests against last month's coup, an Indian police official said on Thursday, adding that more were expected. The men have crossed into Champhai and Serchhip, two districts in the northeastern state of Mizoram that share a porous border with Myanmar, the official said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. There have been several instances recounted on social media of police joining the civil disobedience movement and protests against the junta, with some arrested, but this is the first reported case of police fleeing Myanmar.
Toronto frontline worker Tim MacFarlane talks about being among the hidden-homeless population and how the pandemic is exacerbating the situation for many.
The painstaking detective work of contact tracing usually starts with an infected person and works forward, asking who has that person seen since they became potentially contagious with COVID-19. But that mainstay of public health has a less high-profile cousin that's become instrumental in spotting superspreader events quickly — working in reverse. "Instead of asking who did that person potentially give the virus to, you're asking where did that person get the virus?" said Dr. Trevor Arnason, associate medical officer of health with Ottawa Public Health. "It makes you become better at finding people who have COVID-19 who you might not have known about." COVID-19 tends to spread explosively in situations where the virus can infect a bunch of people all at once, public health experts say, which is where what's known as backward tracing comes in handy. Ottawa Public Health cottoned on to the benefits of backward tracing when emerging evidence from Japan showed how focusing on where a person got COVID-19 and going back to that location helped to find many more who were infected. "We started more systematically asking everybody, 'Where do you think you got it? Or who do you think you got this from? And then we started working back from those places. You start to notice these patterns, which we've put together in infographics that we've shared with the public," Arnason said. Infographics tracing how many were affected from one indoor wedding allowed the public to see how seemingly disparate locations tied together, resulting in 22 people from eight households being affected in two weeks. "Backward contact tracing is used to find the superspreading events. That's the main goal." Ashleigh Tuite, an infectious diseases epidemiologist in Toronto, said most people who are infected don't pass it to others. But the instances where an individual goes on to transmit to many others likely reflect how coronavirus transmission clusters at a particular location or environment. An indoor gym where those working out are unmasked, breathing heavily in what may not be the best ventilated conditions is one example. "It's clear that telling people to wear masks when they move around a gym, but not when they're exercising, which I think has been the protocol in a lot of places, wasn't enough," Tuite said. WATCH | Day in the life of COVID-19 contact tracers [May 2020]: Suppressing variants Backward contact tracing is a lot of work for public-health staff facing down outbreaks, said Tuite, but also potentially high yield. It can be particularly helpful at the early stages an epidemic — which is long-gone for normal coronavirus, but the introduction of more-transmissible variants of concern is like a do-over, said Tuite, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "It's an effective way of suppressing the growth of the variants of concern amongst this larger epidemic that's happening," she said. "Overall, we have declining case counts and so if we can control sparks that are happening with the variants of concern, there is the potential to really keep it under control and at least keep case counts declining." This May 13, 2020, photo taken with a fisheye lens shows a list of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Salt Lake County. The white board remains in the office as a reminder of how quickly the coronavirus spread. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press) Declining case counts mean hospital and health-care capacity can accommodate more surgeries and preventative care and allow the economy underpinning society to recover, too. For now, Tuite said case counts will only decline if people restrict their interactions. For Dr. Susy Hota, an infectious diseases specialist at Toronto's University Health Network, keeping the variants of concern at bay is another goal of vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible. "If we continue to allow transmission to occur, [the variants] will take over a larger and larger proportion of the market, so to speak," said Hota, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. Stopping spread fast Regardless of variants, forward contact tracing to identify high-risk contacts and possible cases as aggressively as possible so they know to isolate quickly will always be a key public health tool. For instance, a Manitoba spokesperson said they routinely collect information on where a COVID-positive case may have been exposed. But the focus is on forward contact tracing to stop spread as quickly as possible. WATCH | Workplace physical distancing innovation: Hota cautioned there are even more recall challenges with backward contact tracing than forward, using herself as an example. "Do you think you were more than two metres away when you talked to that person? I think so. But I didn't have a yardstick with me. And how long do you think you were talking? Oh, I'm terrible at that. I'll tell you, like, five minutes. I have no idea." The recall problem gets amplified because to do backward contact tracing effectively means going back the full 14-day incubation period of the coronavirus. Hota does see a role for backward contact tracing in trying to pin down if there's a single source of multiple cases, say at a meat-packing plant. "The truth often doesn't emerge until the epidemic is over," Hota said. (Tim Kindrachuk/CBC)
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A Dutch court ruled Thursday that a deeply religious father who kept some of his children isolated from the outside world for years in a remote farmhouse can't stand trial on charges including child sexual abuse because he has been incapacitated by a stroke. The decision came after prosecutors last month asked the court in the northern city of Assen to drop the case because the 68-year-old suspect wasn't fit to stand trial. It brings to an end a case that made headlines around the world after one of the man's sons raised the alarm and authorities discovered the father had been living for years with six of his children in the farmhouse in the eastern Netherlands. At a preliminary hearing in January last year, prosecutors portrayed the father, identified only as Gerrit Jan van D., as a deeply religious man who saw his family as “chosen by God” and did everything in his power — including physical beatings and other punishments — to keep them from succumbing to what he considered malign outside influences. The court ruled Thursday that a 2016 stroke had so badly affected the father's ability to communicate that continuing with the case would breach his fair trial rights. “He doesn't sufficiently understand what is happening in the courtroom,” court spokesman Marcel Wolters said in a video statement. The six children who were kept on the farm are now all young adults. Three older siblings had earlier left the family’s isolated life. Their mother died in 2004. The Associated Press
Honda Motor Co Ltd on Thursday unveiled a partially self-driving Legend sedan in Japan, becoming the world's first carmaker to sell a vehicle equipped with new, certified level 3 automation technology. The launch gives Japan's No.2 automaker bragging rights for being the first to market, but lease sales of the level 3 flagship Legend would be limited to a batch of 100 in Japan, at a retail price of 11 million yen ($102,000). Still, the new automation technology is a big step towards eliminating human error-induced accidents, chief engineer Yoichi Sugimoto told reporters.