Spain registered one of its worst months of the pandemic in January with 900,000 new coronavirus infections while Denmark launched plans to reopen society with a new COVID-19 vaccine passport.
Spain registered one of its worst months of the pandemic in January with 900,000 new coronavirus infections while Denmark launched plans to reopen society with a new COVID-19 vaccine passport.
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Fueled by Black turnout, Democrats scored stunning wins in Georgia in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Now, Republicans are trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. GOP lawmakers in the once reliably red state are rolling out an aggressive slate of voting legislation that critics argue is tailored to curtail the power of Black voters and undo years of work by Stacey Abrams and others to increase engagement among people of colour, including Latino and Asian American communities. The proposals are similar to those pushed by Republicans in other battleground states: adding barriers to mail-in and early voting, major factors in helping Joe Biden win Georgia's 16 Electoral College votes and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff take the two Senate seats that gave Democrats control of the chamber. But one aspect of their plans, a proposal to eliminate early voting on Sundays, seems specifically targeted at a traditional get-out-the-vote campaign used by Black churches, referred to as “souls to the polls." It's led many to suggest Republicans are trying to stop a successful effort to boost Black voter turnout in Georgia, where they make up about a third of the population and have faced a dark history of attempts to silence their voices in elections. “It's a new form of voter suppression, the Klan in three-piece suits rather than white hoods,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald III of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which has participated in souls to the polls events. “They know the power of the Black vote, and their goal is to suppress that power.” In previous elections, souls to the polls campaigns were festive, with vehicles and people parading to election offices during early voting windows. Churches would sometimes playfully compete to see which could bring the most voters, said McDonald, who described the GOP legislation as “spiteful.” In Georgia and elsewhere, Republicans say proposals to tighten voting access are meant to bolster confidence in elections, though they have been some of the loudest proponents of meritless claims that the election was fraudulent. The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy group, has counted 165 bills in 33 states this year meant to limit access to voting. In Georgia, Republicans control state government and have introduced dozens of legislative measures that would restrict voting access. GOP state Rep. Barry Fleming is chief sponsor of a wide-ranging proposal that would ban Sunday early voting, require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the time when an absentee ballot could be requested, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be placed and curb the use of mobile voting units, among other changes. In committee hearings, Fleming has cast the legislation as “an attempt to restore the confidence of our public in our election system.” He didn’t respond to an email or phone message requesting comment. Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project that Abrams founded in 2014, called the GOP measures a backlash “to our multiracial, multilingual progressive majority that is winning elections." Biden beat former President Donald Trump by roughly 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democrat to win a presidential contest in Georgia since 1992. Biden received nearly double the number of absentee votes as Trump in a state that became a major target of Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. Biden's win there was confirmed in three separate counts, including one by hand. "These measures, in our opinion, are not based on any objective, data-driven, evidence-based assessment of the issue but solely with the intention to undermine Black voters and other communities of concern,” said Democratic state Rep. Michael Smith, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Policy Committee. Because Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, at least some form of their proposals are likely to become law. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, has called for a photo ID requirement for absentee voting but has yet to back a specific proposal. His office said it was still reviewing the legislation. Republicans are trying to limit ways to vote that have been wildly popular. After states expanded access to mail-in and early voting during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 70% of all ballots cast nationwide came before Election Day. An estimated 108 million people voted by mail, early in person or by dropping off absentee ballots. In Georgia, over 4 million voters cast early or absentee ballots. “They realize if they continue to allow individuals to vote by mail, it is going to be an uphill battle for Republicans to win at the polls and maintain their position,” Democratic state Rep. Debra Bazemore said. At the federal level, Democrats are pushing for a sweeping overhaul of how Americans vote. House Democrats are expected to vote next week on a measure that would establish federal election standards like early voting periods, same-day voter registration and other policies that Republicans have dismissed as federal overreach. And they are expected to introduce another bill to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had triggered federal scrutiny of election changes in certain states and counties with histories of discrimination. Georgia was among the states that previously had to get approval for voting changes. “If left to their own devices, Republicans will try to limit the ability of minority voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat co-sponsoring the bill on federal election standards. “It's open season on voting rights in Georgia,” he said. ___ Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York. ___ Associated Press coverage of voting rights receives support in part from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Anthony Izaguirre And Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
Golf superstar Tiger Woods needed surgery after a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday that left him with multiple leg injuries. Officials say he was conscious when pulled from the wrecked SUV and the injuries are not life threatening.
(The Canadian Press/NIAID-RML via AP - image credit) Three new cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday in Nova Scotia, bringing the total number of active cases to 20. One new case is in the western zone and is under investigation. The two other cases are in the central zone. One of those two cases is related to travel within Atlantic Canada and that person is self-isolating. The other is a close contact of an earlier case. One person is in hospital, said Nova Scotia's health authority. Its labs did 1,560 tests Monday. The health authority also said it has identified three older cases as the variant first identified in the U.K. Two of those people travelled together and the third was not connected to them. All three self-isolated. Nova Scotia has had six positive tests in total for the strain identified in the U.K. "This reminds us again why we must remain vigilant. COVID-19 will continue to be the most important health issue facing Nova Scotia in 2021, and I'm looking forward to working closely with Dr. Strang and his team," said Premier Iain Rankin, who was sworn in Tuesday as premier following a Liberal leadership convention earlier this month. "I will continue to support the province's solid public health response to this pandemic and ensure a transparent vaccine rollout." Atlantic Canada case numbers MORE TOP STORIES
Brooklyn’s organic licensed cannabis producer, Aqualitas, is partnering with Colorado-based Sana Packaging to bring ocean-sourced packaging to the recreational and medical markets. Aqualitas CEO Myrna Gillis described the arrangement as a significant step for the company. “We think, from a leadership perspective, this is really important to us as being in a coastal community. Obviously, taking garbage from our oceans is really important, and we’re just very happy that we were able to work with a forward-thinking company that had the same sort of ideas and visions about bringing it to fruition,” she said in an interview with LighthouseNOW. In a recent press release, Josh Adler, Aqualitas’s director of operations, suggested that while the facility is a low energy and low water consumer due to its LED lights and aquaponic systems, “we wanted to do more.” He added that it’s been two years in the making to source packaging material, connect with a manufacturer, get the product certified, conduct impact investigations and make the whole thing work during a pandemic. Sana Packaging is working with Oceanworks, a global marketplace for reclaimed ocean materials and products, to make its 100-per-cent reclaimed plastic packaging. “It’s basically packaging that is taken from our oceans, waterways and shorelines. It’s separated and graded, and the product we would use would be food-grade [food safe], reclaimed plastics. “It’s a way to effectively recycle waste that didn’t make its way into our recycling stream.” According to the release, the first order for packaging from Sana reclaimed 1.8 million tonnes of ocean plastic. The packaging will be used for the company’s flower products and exclusively in all its medical offerings, along with for some of its branded products and for lids on glass jars of other products. “We have a fully sustainable package line that consists of ocean-sourced packaging, including the ocean-sourced lids on glass jars, as well as omnidegradable and biodegradable bags and cardboard,” said Gillis. “We are now at the point where all of our products are in sustainable packaging.” Gillis said the changeover in packaging will not affect the cost of any of their products, despite a rise in cost for the company to introduce the sustainable packaging. She added that Sana Packaging has offered competitive pricing and they are able to absorb the extra cost. The new packaging will launch coast-to-coast via Aqualitas’s medical platform in five-gram jars, and in Nova Scotia in the recreational market, via its Reef Organic product line later this month. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
VANCOUVER — British Columbia will permanently allow restaurants, bars and tourism operators to buy liquor at wholesale prices, a move that industry hopes will help revive the struggling sector. The provincial government made temporary changes last June to allow the hospitality industry to buy alcohol at the same cost as liquor stores and it has now made that decision permanent. Previously, restaurants, pubs and tourism businesses with liquor licences paid full retail price — the wholesale price, plus a markup set by the government — on most alcohol purchases. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says in a news release that the government is making the change permanent to give businesses certainty and to help the estimated 190,000 residents who work in the sector. Trevor Kallies, beverage director for the Donnelly Group, which owns several bars in Vancouver, says in the release that wholesale liquor pricing will help alleviate some financial pressures so businesses can focus on other areas, such as the health and safety of staff and customers. Restaurants Canada says in a statement that the move fulfils a long-standing recommendation from the industry group and it thanked the B.C. government for levelling the playing field between the province's retail and hospitality sectors. "This move will go a long way to help British Columbia's hard-hit restaurant sector transition from survival to revival," said Mark von Schellwitz, vice-president for Western Canada. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Canadian men's soccer team will join the Raptors and Blue Jays in Florida next month. Canada Soccer announced Tuesday that Canada, ranked 73rd in the world, will shift its first home game in World Cup qualifying to Orlando's Exploria Stadium — on March 25 against No. 169 Bermuda — due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. The game will be considered a home match in a neutral venue. There will be no fans allowed in the stands. After facing Bermuda, Canada has two away matches — March 28 at the 193rd-ranked Cayman Islands and June 5 at No. 200 Aruba. Canada's other home game in the first qualifying round is June 8 against No. 141 Suriname. Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association, said no decision has been made yet on the site for the Suriname matchup. "We're going to continue to work with our provincial and Public Health Canada authorities for the best venue for us for June," he said in an interview. "No decisions have been made. "But it's a changing landscape. We certainly want to play in Canada and we'll do our best to be playing in Canada." The Orlando stadium is currently hosting the SheBelieves Cup, which features the Canadian women and three other teams including the U.S. Montopoli said the Canadian women's experience in Orlando and CONCACAF's positive view of the venue and its COVID-19 protocols had prompted Canada Soccer to choose it. The Canadian men played at Exploria Stadium in November 2019, losing 4-1 to the U.S. in CONCACAF Nations League play. The stadium is home to Orlando City SC of MLS and the NWSL's Orlando Pride. Toronto FC is also looking at shifting its base of operations to Florida, with Orlando a possible site at least for the start of the MLS season, which kicks off April 17. The Toronto Raptors are playing home games in Tampa this season, while the Blue Jays are starting their season with home games in Dunedin. Canada is one of 30 CONCACAF nations, divided into six groups for the first round of World Cup qualifying in the region covering North and Central America and the Caribbean. The group winners advance to a round of head-to-head knockout matches with the three victors joining No. 9 Mexico, the 22nd-ranked Americans, No. 47 Jamaica, No. 50 Costa Rica and No. 64 Honduras in the final round The top three teams from the eight-team final qualifying round-robin round will qualify directly to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The fourth-place team qualifies for a FIFA intercontinental playoff. Several previous qualifying road maps were rendered useless by the global pandemic, with international match windows coming and going without play. The Canadian men, who are co-hosting the 2026 World Cup along with Mexico and the U.S., have only ever qualified for one World Cup — 1986 in Mexico where they exited after failing to score in losses to France, Hungary and the Soviet Union. --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — She's guided the Senate through two impeachment trials, vexed Democrats and Republicans alike with parliamentary opinions and helped rescue Electoral College certificates from a pro-Trump mob ransacking the Capitol. She also does spot-on impersonations of senators including Bernie Sanders. Elizabeth MacDonough, an English literature major and the Senate's first woman parliamentarian, is about to demonstrate anew why she's one of Washington's most potent, respected yet obscure figures. Any day, she's expected to reveal if she thinks a federal minimum wage boost, progressives' most prized plank in Democrats' $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, should fall from the bill. Her decision, a political minefield likely to elicit groans from whichever side she disappoints, will play an outsized role in deciding the wage increase's fate. It may not be definitive — majority Democrats might try overriding an opinion they don't like. “Elizabeth has a soul-crushing job, to which she brings an enormous amount of soul," said her predecessor, Alan Frumin, whom she replaced when he retired in 2012. Part of MacDonough's job, in which she's supposed to be nonpartisan, is enduring high-stakes lobbying from both parties when she's making pivotal decisions. But she’s found a home in the Capitol, where she’s spent most of the past three decades after starting as an assistant Senate librarian in 1990. “She knows the names of every police officer and janitor,” Frumin said. Sometimes, the pressure can be extraordinary. Frumin said that when the Senate was enacting former President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law — which was opposed by Republicans and infuriated grassroots tea party conservatives — he had police protection at his home as a precaution. “And the political climate hasn’t gotten friendlier," he said. Even so, MacDonough, 55, has garnered high marks from both parties. Underscoring that, while she was initially appointed in 2012 by Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, Senate majority leader at the time, she was retained by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., when he became majority leader in 2015. “She’s very solid. She listens to all the evidence,” Sanders, the independent Vermont senator and chief sponsor of the minimum wage proposal, said in a recent interview. “She is a brilliant lawyer, a thorough and fair referee and a walking encyclopedia of Senate precedent and procedure,” McConnell spokesman David Popp said Tuesday. She's also used the time to hone an ability to replicate the voices and cadence of several senators including Sanders, associates say. MacDonough's earned her reputation for fairness while helping steer the Senate through some of its highest-profile moments. Rulings she issued striking anti-abortion and other provisions from numerous failed GOP attempts to repeal Obama's health care law weakened their bills. She helped Chief Justice John Roberts preside over then-President Donald Trump's 2020 Senate impeachment trial, and was beside Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., for Trump's second trial this month. Trump was acquitted both times. And as Trump supporters fought past police and into the Capitol last month in hopes of disrupting Congress' certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, MacDonough and other staffers rescued those ballots and hustled mahogany boxes containing them to safety. MacDonough's office, on the Capitol's first floor, was ransacked and declared a crime scene. Raised by a single mother in the comfortable Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland, MacDonough graduated with an English literature degree from George Washington University. She began her Senate career in its library before leaving to get a law degree at Vermont Law School. She worked briefly as a Justice Department trial attorney before returning to the Senate in 1999, this time as an assistant in the parliamentarian’s office. Less than two years later, she helped Vice-President Al Gore preside over Congress’ certification of electoral ballots that sealed his own 2000 election defeat to George W. Bush. “It was very exciting and humbling,” MacDonough said in a Vermont Law School alumni profile. As Democrats begin pushing Biden’s sweeping relief package through Congress, they’re using a special procedure that shields the bill from Senate Republican filibusters, which require 60 votes to thwart. That's out of reach for Democrats in a 50-50 chamber they control with Vice-President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote. But Senate rules require that items in such a bill must have a substantial budget impact that is not “merely incidental” to the language’s main intended purpose. MacDonough has been meeting with Democrats who've tried persuading her that their minimum wage provision meets that test, and Republicans who've told her it doesn't. Democrats want to raise the federal floor, fixed at $7.25 hourly since 2009, to $15 over five years. The Senate usually heeds the parliamentarian's advice, which is whispered to the senator presiding over the chamber. But the majority party will on rare occasion force a vote to overrule the parliamentarian. If MacDonough decides the minimum wage hike should remain in the bill, it would likely survive because GOP opponents would need an unachievable 60 votes to remove it. But at least two Democrats have expressed opposition to the $15 proposal, so it still could be amended or even dropped. If MacDonough says it should be stricken, Democrats would have no chance of garnering 60 votes to overrule her. But they might choose the rarely utilized, hardball tactic of having the presiding officer, presumably Harris, ignore her and announce that the minimum wage language meets the test to stay in the overall legislation. That would force Republicans to find 60 votes to strip the provision, which they'd fail to do. Such a tactic is called the nuclear option because Democrats would be using their majority to muscle through rules changes, enraging Republicans and inviting a future tit-for-tat retaliation. Majority Democrats overruled MacDonough in 2013, eliminating filibusters for executive branch and most judicial nominees. In 2017, Republicans extended that to Supreme Court picks. “It was a stinging defeat that I tried not to take personally,” she said during a 2018 commencement speech at her law school. Alan Fram, The Associated Press
A Mosquito First Nation woman arrested by the North Battleford RCMP gang unit was scheduled to enter a plea Monday but instead asked the court for an adjournment. Rae Ahenakew, 40, appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court by phone on Feb. 22 and asked that her matter be adjourned to March 8. Ahenakew and three others were arrested last September during a traffic stop in North Battleford on Railway Avenue. According to Sgt. Adam Buckingham from the Battlefords General Investigation Section, the North Battleford Gang Task Force initiated a traffic stop on two vehicles after they noticed the occupants appeared to be interacting with one another. Police didn’t specify what the interaction was but say one of the occupants was known to police and had an outstanding arrest warrant. Police noticed weapons in one of the vehicles and arrested the four occupants from both vehicles. They searched the vehicles and found a firearm, a Taser, weapons, cocaine, meth and marijuana. Ahenakew is charged with possession of cocaine and meth for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a firearm in a vehicle, and obstructing a police officer. Shynia Skeavington, 24, of Mosquito First Nation, is charged with possession of cocaine and meth for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a firearm in a vehicle, three counts of failing to comply with a probation order, two counts of failing to comply with conditions of a release order, and two counts of possession of a weapon. Skeavington appears next in court on March 17. Matthew Greer, 34, of Biggar, is charged with possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and operation of a vehicle while prohibited. Greer had an appearance in North Battleford Provincial Court on Feb. 22. Desiree Hinse, 24, of Biggar, pleaded guilty in North Battleford Provincial Court on Feb. 8, 2021, to carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a prohibited weapon, obstruction of a peace officer, unlawful possession of a substance, driving while prohibited, and failing to comply with conditions. Hinse will be sentenced on March 22. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Microsoft Corp has notified 60 customers that their data was likely compromised in the suspected Russian hacking campaign centered on Texas-based software firm SolarWinds Corp, the company’s president told U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday. In prepared remarks, Microsoft's Brad Smith told the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the company believed some of the methods the hackers used to break into target networks have yet to be made public and that “the attacker may have used up to a dozen different means of getting into victim networks during the past year.” Smith said that several other organizations – including unidentified foreign government agencies – had also been breached.
ROME — The Republic of San Marino finally can start its coronavirus vaccination drive after the first shots arrived Tuesday. But the city-state surrounded by Italy had to resort to its “Plan B” and buy Sputnik V jabs from Russia after plans to get European Union-approved doses from Italy got delayed. A pink and yellow truck escorted by police cars brought the first 7,500 Sputnik V vaccines into San Marino and delivered them at the main hospital. Officials said the Russia-made doses will eventually be enough to vaccinate some 15% of the microstate’s population of around 33,800. San Marino bought Sputnik V shots at the last minute after an agreement to have Italy send a proportion of the vaccines it received through the EU's vaccine procurement system got delayed. San Marino, located near Rimini on the Adriatic coast, isn’t an EU member, and as such was excluded from the deals the 27-nation bloc negotiated with pharmaceutical firms. The San Marino secretary of state, Luca Beccari, said during a news conference last weekend that the negotiations with Italy took a long time and that under an agreement signed Jan. 11, San Marino was to receive one dose for every 1,700 that Italy received from the EU. But the deal hit a snag as Italy and other EU countries faced delivery delays for the three EU-approved vaccines, the ones from: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Italy has administered some 3.7 million doses. “Unfortunately, the time required to define these procedures and the fact that San Marino is a country that has not yet started its vaccination campaign has forced us to seek alternative solutions,” Beccari said in explaining the Sputnik purchase. “As for all other countries, it is necessary to start the vaccination campaign as soon as possible in order to ensure the safety of its citizens,” he said. The European Medicines Agency has said the developers of Sputnik V recently asked for advice on what data they needed to submit for the vaccine to be licensed across the European Union. Hungarian health authorities have approved both Sputnik V and the vaccine developed by state-owned Chinese company Sinopharm. San Marino has had a proportionately devastating outbreak, with 3,538 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 73 deaths. Roberto Ciavatta, San Marino’s secretary of state for health, said Sputnik V was safe and effective. “It is not that it did not pass any controls. On the contrary, as all the research and data available show, it is a vaccine that is already administered in 30 countries, About 70 million people have been vaccinated with it. It has extremely high safety standards,” he said. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Canada and Australia are banding together to ensure the revenues of web giants are shared more fairly with creators and media. A statement from Ottawa says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison have agreed to continue "co-ordinating efforts" to address online harm and ensure social media companies pay for journalism. The statement says the two leaders spoke Monday on a range of topics including the growing co-operation between Canada and Australia on the regulation of online platforms. The increasing alliance between the two countries on legislating internet giants to pay for news comes as Facebook backs down on its ban on Australians viewing and sharing news on its platform. The social media company announced Tuesday it would lift the ban, saying it had struck a deal with the Australian government on proposed legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism. Facebook caused alarm with its sudden decision last week to block news on its platform across Australia after the House of Representatives passed the draft law. With files from The Associated Press. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Latest on congressional testimony about the Capitol insurrection (all times local): 2:45 p.m. A Senate hearing examining what went wrong with the law enforcement response to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has ended. House Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said afterward that “it’s clear action needs to be taken” after security officials who were in charge that day described confusion during the attack and intelligence failures that failed to predict the violence. Three of the four security officials, including the Capitol police chief, resigned immediately after the attack. Klobuchar said the next police chief should have “greater ability to make decisions” both leading up to and during a crisis. Five people died as a result of the violence. ___ HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FORMER SECURITY OFFICIALS TESTIFYING ON THE CAPITOL INSURRECTION: Testifying publicly for the first time about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, former security officials say that bad intelligence was to blame for the disastrous failure to anticipate the violent intentions of the mob. That left them unprepared for the attack, which was unlike anything they had ever seen before. ___ HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON: 1:25 p.m. The former chief law enforcement officer of the U.S. House is denying allegations he didn’t want to call the National Guard before the Jan. 6 riot out of concern that it would look bad. Paul Irving resigned as House sergeant-at-arms after the deadly insurrection. He testified Tuesday that he met with then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund on Jan. 4 and that he believed they agreed not to ask for the Guard. Sund alleged that Irving denied his request for the Guard, citing “optics.” Said Irving, “I was not concerned about appearance whatsoever.” The hearing has renewed a remarkable breach between Sund and Irving about why there wasn’t more security at the Capitol. Irving was one of Sund’s superiors. Sund says he requested Guard help again at 1:09 p.m. on Jan. 6, as rioters were massing outside the building. Irving denies receiving a call at that time. ___ 12:20 p.m. Police officials who were tasked with protecting the Capitol on Jan. 6 say the FBI did not flag to them an internal report suggesting extremists were preparing for “war.” The report was issued a day before the riot by the FBI’s Norfolk, Virginia, field office. Washington Metropolitan Police acting Chief Robert Contee says the report came via email and says he believes a warning of that level “would warrant a phone call or something.” Steven Sund resigned as Capitol Police chief the day after the riot. Sund testified before Congress on Tuesday he was unaware the department had received the report until weeks after the insurrection. Sund and Contee have criticized the intelligence they received from federal law enforcement about Jan. 6. Sund has called for a review of how the intelligence community studies domestic extremism and shares information across agencies. The head of the FBI’s office in Washington has said that once he received the Jan. 5 warning from the Virginia office, the information was quickly shared with other law enforcement agencies, including the Capitol Police. ___ 11:55 a.m. The key officials in charge of security at the U.S. Capitol disagree on why they didn’t seek National Guard help before the Jan. 6 insurrection. Steven Sund resigned as chief of the Capitol Police the day after the riot. Sund testified Tuesday that he requested the National Guard be called at 1:09 p.m. on Jan. 6. Paul Irving is the former House sergeant-at-arms and was one of Sund’s superiors. Irving says he didn’t receive a request until after 2 p.m. Irving says he did not remember Sund making a request at 1:09. Rioters breached the Capitol’s west side just after 2 p.m. Irving says he and other Capitol security leaders agreed before Jan. 6 that “the intelligence did not support the troops and collectively decided to let it go.” The result was Capitol Police officers were badly outnumbered by rioters who in many cases were better armed and prepared to try to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory over Donald Trump. ___ 11:45 a.m. A top security official has testified that he was “stunned” over the delayed response to a request for National Guard help during the mob riot at the Capitol. Acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee III told a joint Senate hearing Tuesday that the former U.S. Capitol Police chief was “pleading” with Army officials to deploy Guard troops as the violence rapidly escalated Jan. 6. The District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police officers had joined to help U.S. Capitol Police during the attack. Contee says police officers “were out there literally fighting for their lives” but the officials on the call appeared to be going through a ”check the boxes” exercise asking about the optics of stationing National Guard troops at the Capitol. Contee says there “was not an immediate response.” The officials are testifying in the first public hearing over the siege as a mob loyal to Donald Trump stormed the Capitol to disrupt Congress confirming Trump’s defeat to Joe Biden in the presidential election. ___ 11:30 a.m. The former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says he learned this week that his officers had received a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that forecast in detail the chances extremists could commit “war” in Washington the following day — the day of the Capitol insurrection. The head of the FBI’s office in Washington has said that once he received the Jan. 5 warning from the Virginia office, the information was quickly shared with other law enforcement agencies through the joint terrorism task force, including the Capitol Police. Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testified to Congress on Tuesday that an officer on the joint terrorism task force had received the FBI’s memo and forwarded it to a sergeant working on intelligence for the Capitol Police. But Sund says the information was not put forward to any other supervisors. Sund says he wasn’t aware of it. Sund says he did see an intelligence report created within the Capitol Police force warning that Congress could be targeted on Jan. 6. That report warned extremists were likely to attend and there were calls for people to travel to Washington armed. The Associated Press
(Scott Roth/Invision/The Associated Press - image credit) Bobby Shmurda, a once up-and-coming rapper thanks to a hit music video that popularized the "Shmoney dance," was paroled on Tuesday after spending more than four years behind bars for a drug gang conviction. Authorities confirmed Shmurda was released from a New York prison amid speculation about whether he would attempt a music industry comeback. Messages were left on Tuesday with Shmurda's lawyer. The 26-year-old performer out of Brooklyn had previously called the case a sham. Shmurda, whose birth name is Ackquille Pollard, was best known for Hot Boy, a gritty song with rhymes about gunplay. He gained notoriety with his performance in the "Shmoney dance" video, which had millions of YouTube views. Rapper arrested in 2014 Authorities arrested Shmurda in late 2014 after he left a recording studio near Radio City Music Hall, only days after he performed Hot Boy for a national television audience on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Investigators found two handguns and a small amount of crack cocaine in a car in which he was riding, authorities said. An indictment charged Shmurda and more than 15 defendants with a variety of crimes including murder, attempted murder, assault and drug dealing. Shootings by the gang left one rival dead, injured an innocent bystander sitting on a folding chair outside a Brooklyn home and caused pandemonium outside a nightclub in Miami Beach, Fla., authorities said. The court papers alleged that Shmurda once fired a gun toward a crowd of people outside a barbershop in Brooklyn. They also said he was present during a confrontation between rival drug gangs outside a Brooklyn courthouse where shots were fired in 2015. Shmurda was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2016, but was eligible for early release based on time he had served before pleading guilty and for good behaviour in prison. A plea deal had allowed him to avoid going to trial on multiple counts carrying penalties that could have put him behind bars for decades.
FERGUS – The Township of Centre Wellington is seeking public input on design concepts for St. David Street in downtown Fergus. Colin Baker, managing director of infrastructure, said at a Monday meeting that a stretch of St. David Street, from St. Andrew Street to Edinburgh Avenue, is scheduled for a full reconstruction in 2023. He explained the town will be leveraging the province’s connecting links funding, which can cover up to 90 per cent of costs to repair a municipal road that connects two ends of a highway, in this case Highway 6. Beyond that, Baker said the township is taking that opportunity to look at how the road is designed to better meet the needs of the public and complete streets policy from the township’s transportation master plan. This could include widening sidewalks, streetscape visual improvements, reduction in parking spaces, bike lanes or any combination of these. “What we’re really looking at is what the future vision for this road is,” Baker said at the meeting. Council was presented four options for information purposes ahead of the public engagement period. The first option is to match the existing design which would maintain 14 highly used on-street parking spots, maintain the same traffic flow but not improve active transportation or the visual appeal. The second option would increase the sidewalk width which would provide a better visual look with new trees and lighting and increase vehicle width but all parking spots would be removed. Option three would keep on-street parking between St. Andrew and St. Patrick and then widen the sidewalk north of these streets bringing the benefits of both. Option four suggests separated cycling lanes from St. Andrew to Hill Street and an unseparated bike lane for the rest of the stretch. This would mean a reduction to four parking spaces and vehicle lane width. Adam Gilmore, manager of engineering, said option four is in-line with their complete streets policy and cycling lanes are justified given the average daily traffic volumes. Gilmore said, as noted in other municipalities, narrower lanes can have a traffic calming effect. Baker explained the next steps are to get these concepts out for public input through advisory committees, a landing page on connectCW, advertising and meetings with the Ministry of Transportation. They will then take the feedback and come to council with a recommendation at a later date. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
La petite municipalité de Richmond, située dans le Val-Saint-François, en Estrie, aura enfin accès au réseau d’alimentation en gaz naturel d’Énergir. Après en avoir fait la demande depuis plusieurs années, Richmond devrait finalement être reliée au système de gazoduc d’ici la fin de l’année. C’est le ministre de l'Énergie et des Ressources naturelles, Jonatan Julien, qui en a fait l’annonce en conférence de presse virtuelle, mardi après-midi. Il a confirmé une contribution de 10,6 millions $ du gouvernement du Québec versée à Énergir pour réaliser le projet. La Ville de Richmond injecte de son côté 300 000 $. Selon les détails dévoilés, il faudra prolonger le réseau d’une quinzaine de kilomètres pour relier Richmond à Val-des-Sources, anciennement Asbestos. Le député André Bachand et le maire de Richmond, Bertrand Ménard, se sont tous les deux réjouis de l’annonce. Pour M. Bachand, le gaz naturel représente l’«ingrédient crucial» qui manquait au parc industriel local pour assurer sa croissance et le développement économique de la région. «Notre parc industriel sera maintenant en mesure d'être compétitif sur le plan énergétique», a déclaré le maire Ménard en remerciant le ministre à qui il avait demandé, il y a un an, l’accès au réseau d’Énergir. D’après l’échéancier avancé par le vice-président, développement durable, affaires publiques et gouvernementales chez Énergir, Frédéric Krikorian, le chantier de construction du nouveau tronçon entre Val-des-Sources et Richmond devrait être lancé au cours de l’été et le réseau devrait être fonctionnel en décembre. Ugo Giguère, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island announced the start of a COVID-19 testing pilot project Tuesday for travellers arriving in the province by air. Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison told reporters the four-week project will assess the feasibility of using rapid tests on travellers. Air travellers will have two swabs taken when they land on the Island: one for a rapid test and another that will be sent for confirmation at a provincial laboratory. Morrison said the test on arrival does not exclude travellers from the mandatory 14-day isolation period for people arriving from outside the province. She said authorities are looking to detect COVID-19 cases among travellers more quickly. Morrison said it would likely be at least six weeks before conditions in the Atlantic region are stable enough to allow for travel within the four-province bubble that existed until rising case numbers ended it in November. She said the province is looking closely at other jurisdictions as they loosen restrictions to monitor the spread of various variants of the virus. No new cases of COVID-19 were reported in P.E.I. on Tuesday, leaving just one active reported infection. The province has had a total of 115 cases since the pandemic began. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Judges peppered a federal lawyer with questions Tuesday as the Canadian government argued a refugee pact between Ottawa and Washington is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada's lawyers contend the Federal Court misinterpreted the law when it declared in July that the Safe Third Country Agreement breaches constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and security. The court's declaration of invalidity was suspended for six months and later extended, leaving the law in place while a three-judge panel of the Federal Court of Appeal examines the issue. The two-day hearing is slated to proceed through Wednesday. Under the bilateral refugee agreement, which took effect in 2004, Canada and the U.S. recognize each other as safe places to seek protection. It means Canada can turn back a potential refugee who arrives at a land port of entry along the Canada-U.S. border on the basis the person must pursue their claim in the U.S., the country where they first arrived. Canadian refugee advocates have steadfastly fought the asylum agreement, arguing the U.S. is not always a safe country for people fleeing persecution. Several refugee claimants took the case to court along with the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Council of Churches and Amnesty International, who participated in the proceedings as public interest parties. In each case the applicants, who are citizens of El Salvador, Ethiopia and Syria, arrived at a Canadian land entry port from the U.S. and sought refugee protection. They argued in court that by returning ineligible refugee claimants to the U.S., Canada exposes them to risks in the form of detention and other rights violations. In her decision last year, Federal Court Justice Ann Marie McDonald concluded the Safe Third Country Agreement results in ineligible claimants being imprisoned by U.S. authorities. Detention and the consequences flowing from it are "inconsistent with the spirit and objective" of the refugee agreement and amount to a violation of the rights guaranteed by Section 7 of the charter, she wrote. "The evidence clearly demonstrates that those returned to the U.S. by Canadian officials are detained as a penalty." In a written submission filed in advance of the appeal hearing, the government says the court's decision should be overturned because the refugee agreement does not breach the principles of fundamental justice. The government argues McDonald made serious legal mistakes in striking down the pact. Federal lawyers say that in finding detention makes it more difficult for asylum claimants in the U.S. to access legal counsel, McDonald ignored evidence that about 85 per cent of asylum claimants in the U.S. are represented. During the appeal hearing Tuesday, Justice David Stratas questioned the notion the judge's findings were in error. "You would admit, wouldn't you that there is a risk that someone is turned back at the Canadian border and encounters the U.S. system, including detention, without counsel. That's a possibility?" he asked Martin Anderson, a lawyer for the government. Anderson replied that when one looks at the "totality of the evidence," it tends to support the notion more people have access to counsel in detention than not. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
(Michel Corriveau/Radio-Canada - image credit) Wishful thinking and poor forecasting have led NB Power to consistently miss profit and debt reduction targets in recent years with major new expenditures on the horizon, according to an unflattering assessment of the utility's financial management by New Brunswick Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson. "It is ultimately management's decision to reduce debt," said Adair-MacPherson, in a 65-page review of the utility she presented to MLAs on Tuesday. NB Power ended the 2020 fiscal year with $4.9 billion in net debt, about $700 million higher than targets set for it by the Legislature in 2013. That's a concern, according to the auditor general, because the province guarantees what NB Power owes and significant new spending requirements are approaching. "It's the largest contingent risk to the province," she told MLAs, about NB Power's liabilities. Debt reduction, her report said, is "not a top priority" of utility management, who she said failed to meet financial targets "year after year" by engaging in "optimistic" and "inaccurate forecasting" of utility expenses. The report notes how in 2016 the utility projected $549 million in profits for itself over the following four years in its planning but managed to achieve actual profits over the period of just $54 million, less than 10 per cent of what it had suggested. Damaging storms, spotty performance by the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station, low hydro production during dry summers and other problems have all taken turns upsetting the utility's financial plans, but Adair-MacPherson said those risks need to be better accounted for in corporate planning. An ice storm that hit the Acadian Peninsula in 2017 downed dozens of power lines and cost NB Power a record-setting $30 million in cleanup expenses. She also expressed concern about whether the utility will be able to significantly improve its finances before 2027, when up to $4 billion in major expenditures will be needed for a rebuild of the Mactaquac Dam and other projects. "NB Power does not have a definitive plan to do this," she wrote about the need for significant short term debt reduction. Although NB Power charges some of the lowest rates for electricity in Atlantic Canada, Adair-MacPherson questioned whether that makes business sense given its financial position. "While maintaining a consistently low annual rate may be advantageous to NB Power consumers, it is likely contributing to its failure to meet the debt to equity target and ever-increasing debt level," she said. Adair-MacPherson's report comes as NB Power is coping with yet another major unbudgeted cost, the unexpected breakdown of the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station last month. The Point Lepreau nuclear generating station appeared to have its reliability issues resolved in the last two years, until the utility had a surprise problem with its turbines in January. Turbine problems forced a shutdown of the plant in mid January and more than a month later it remains offline at an approximate cost to the utility of $1 million per day. In its response to the report, NB Power defended its forecasting practices and expressed confidence it will get its debt level down to the required 80 per cent level by 2027. However, it also promised to do better budgeting for trouble. "NB Power agrees to evaluate additional means to quantify the impact of significant future cost uncertainties outside management's control and to include this information in its planning process," said the utility's response.