One of the greatest NHL careers hit a massive milestone with Sidney Crosby appearing in his 1000th game.
One of the greatest NHL careers hit a massive milestone with Sidney Crosby appearing in his 1000th game.
“Speak, Okinawa,” by Elizabeth Miki Brina (Knopf) Elizabeth Miki Brina’s “Speak, Okinawa” is a masterful memoir in which Brina examines the complex relationship she has with her interracial parents. Brina’s father, white and American, met her mother, who is from the island of Okinawa, while he was stationed there on a US military base. The two settled in the United States, where Brina’s mother spent decades feeling lonely and out of place. Brina grew up feeling close to her father and resenting her mother. Desperate to feel wholly American, she pushed her mother away, embarrassed of her accent and overall inability to truly assimilate. In this investigation of her childhood, Brina begins to see things differently. She looks at life from her mother’s perspective, and now, she starts to understand the depth of her pain, pain she endured from leaving behind all she knew and loved, and also the pain of calling occupied land home. “Speak, Okinawa” is both a mediation on Brina’s own family as well as a powerful history of the United States occupation of Okinawa, where it maintains a massive military presence to this day. Brina’s writing is crisp, captivating and profound. She is vulnerable, raw, and relatable, and her stories will no doubt cause readers to reflect on their relationships with their own parents. As educational as it is entertaining, “Speak, Okinawa” is well worth the read. —- Molly Sprayregen can be reached at her site. Molly Sprayregen, The Associated Press
(CBC News - image credit) New Brunswick MLAs from all parties voted Wednesday to call officials from the pension management agency Vestcor in front of the Legislature's public accounts committee, in a striking show of support for Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson in her ongoing dispute with the former Crown entity. But late in the day, Premier Blaine Higgs issued his own statement declaring his government would not alter legislation to force Vestcor to submit to Adair-MacPherson's oversight as she has requested "There is no plan to change legislation," said Higgs in the statement, which largely took Vestcor's side in its stand off with the auditor general "Vestcor was set up to operate independently, reporting to shareholders, who are the pension holders." The premier's tone on the issue was a stark change from the morning, when government and opposition MLAs spoke unanimously of their support of a motion aimed at advancing Adair-MacPherson's effort to review Vestcor's operations. "Members of the government side support the motion fully keeping in the spirit and the theme of government members supporting the auditor general fully at all times," said Progressive Conservative MLA Jeff Carr prior to casting his own vote to summon Vestcor to answer questions. Miramichi MLA and People's Alliance member Michelle Conroy, who noted the motion passed unanimously. Although the motion to summon Vestcor was originally made Tuesday by People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin, Green Party MLA Megan Mitton also spoke in favour of it, as did Liberal MLA Robert McKee "I think its important that we be able to ask questions of Vestcor," said McKee. People's Alliance MLA Michelle Conroy paused to make note of the unanimous support "Thank you everybody. We love to see a collaborative working government." Committee Chair and Liberal MLA Lisa Harris echoed Conroy's statement and congratulated all members for the non partisan support of the auditor general. "This is an example of how public accounts is supposed to work," said Harris after the vote to summon Vestcor was approved. "Bravo team." Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson says her office has the authority to audit Vestcor. Vestcor is the Fredericton-based organization set up to manage what is now $18 billion in New Brunswick government pension and other funds. Formally known as the New Brunswick Investment Management Corporation, it was created by the province and owned by it directly for more than two decades, with reviews by the auditor general's office of its operations commonplace.. However, in 2016, it was given its independence and rebranded as Vestcor. When Adair-MacPherson requested access to a number of its financial documents beginning in late 2019, the agency refused. In a statement released this week, Vestcor accused the auditor general of attempting to overstep her authority now that it is on its own. "Our analysis and advice have indicated that the auditor general should be much more limited with respect to access to Vestcor related information than what had been requested, and we therefore have had to respectfully decline these requests," read the statement Auditor general doesn't agree The defiance has been received cooly by Adair-MacPherson, who is adamant Vestcor is still subject to provincial oversight, and this week she turned to MLAs for help enforcing her point. In a written response to the vote by MLAs, Adair-MacPherson said she was pleased the public accounts committee so quickly agreed to call Vestcor to appear before it. "The hope of this recommendation, along with others in our report, is to prevent future disagreements over access so that my office can fulfil our legislated mandate as per Auditor General Act and conduct necessary audit work of over $18 billion in New Brunswick public sector related funds," she said. But within hours, her key request to the province that it change legislation to explicitly list Vestcor as falling under her jurisdiction to audit was rejected by Premier Higgs. In his statement he said he was not opposed to MLAs summoning Vestcor to answer questions and suggested it might enlighten some about the body's independence. John Sinclair is president of Vestcor, which maintains the auditor general has limited access to the company's information. "I understand it was voted on to have Vestcor appear at Public Accounts, and I hope that will result in the committee fully understanding the structure and reporting practices of Vestcor," said Higgs in the statement. Billions of dollars in funds Vestcor invests impact the New Brunswick government's financial statements and the province pays Vestcor millions of dollars in annual pension contributions on behalf of employees Last year, when hundreds of millions of dollars in nuclear decommissioning and spent fuel management funds managed for NB Power by Vestcor lost value in the COVID-19 market crash in March, it transformed the utility's profit into a loss and drove up the province's deficit. Adair-MacPherson insists those financial ties mean Vestcor is still within her authority to audit. "Vestcor is an auditable entity because, in substance, it is both a service provider on behalf of the Province and a funding recipient from the Province," she wrote in her report. "The auditor general is entitled to free access to information that relates to fulfilling her responsibilities, such as the audit of the Province's financial statements, which requires information from Vestcor." Other questions Adair-MacPherson also made the point Vestcor obtained its independence in part on suggestions it would be freed up to market its expertise and manage funds for public bodies outside New Brunswick "We have had preliminary discussions with some fairly big public sector pools of money, even outside the province," she quotes Vestcor CEO John Sinclair telling MLAs back in 2016. But no out of province pools of money have yet signed on and Adair-MacPherson told MLAs they should be asking questions about that. "In our view, potential growth outside New Brunswick was one of the main arguments Vestcor and its representatives used to convince legislators that Vestcor needed to be a private entity," said Adair-MacPherson in her report. "Since Vestcor has not grown its public sector client base outside of New Brunswick, an audit by the auditor general could verify and publicly report on what steps Vestcor is taking to grow its public sector client base." The motion voted on by MLAs requires Vestcor to appear before the public accounts committee in the coming days, but also puts it on a permanent list of "entities who are regularly called to appear before the committee."
CALGARY — The CEO of Crescent Point Energy Corp. says the company is poised to benefit from rising oil prices after two years of transformation through selling assets, cutting debt and reducing costs. The Calgary-based company's move last week to buy producing light oil shale assets in Alberta for $900 million from Royal Dutch Shell reflects that confidence, Craig Bryksa said. "We have built an asset portfolio that is well-positioned to benefit from a rising price environment given our light oil weighting and high netbacks," he said on a Wednesday conference call with analysts to discuss the company's fourth-quarter results. "We expect to generate $375 (million) to $600 million of excess cash flow this year at US$50 to US$60 WTI (West Texas Intermediate) prices." The company plans to devote most of that cash flow to paying down debt, he said, adding that it will evaluate increasing returns to shareholders over time. Shell is to receive $700 million in cash and 50 million Crescent Point shares under the deal and will wind up owning an 8.6 per cent stake in Crescent Point if it closes as expected in April. The companies say the assets are producing around 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from more than 270 wells. About 57 per cent of production is condensate, highly valued as a diluent blended with oilsands bitumen to allow it to flow in a pipeline. Analysts said the company beat their fourth-quarter estimates on production and average selling prices although both measures fell compared with the same period in 2019. "CPG closed the chapter on a highly successful year in its business transformation toward becoming a more sustainable producer generating significant free cash flow, which should be complemented by the upcoming (Shell) acquisition," Desjardins analyst Chris MacCulloch wrote in a report. Crescent Point reported producing 111,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, about 90 per cent crude oil and petroleum liquids, in the fourth quarter, down from 145,000 boe/d in the fourth quarter of 2019. It attributed the drop to capital spending cuts enacted early in 2020 as oil prices fell. It's average realized fourth-quarter oil price was $49.40 per barrel, down from $65.27 in the year-earlier period. It reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $51 million or 10 cents per share, compared with a loss of $932 million or $1.73 per share in the same period of 2019. On Wednesday, it confirmed 2021 production guidance released with the Shell announcement last week of about 134,000 boe/d, as well as a 2021 capital budget of about $600 million (both assuming the deal is closed). That's up from Crescent Point's average output of 121,600 boe/d during 2020 and down from actual 2020 capital spending of $655 million. The company reported net debt of about $2.1 billion at year-end, paid down by over $615 million during the year. It said it also removed about $60 million in budgeted operating expenses in 2020. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:CPG) Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
The latest developments on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada (all times eastern):1:50 p.m.Manitoba health officials are reporting one COVID-19 death today and 45 new cases. However, six cases have been removed due to data corrections, so the net additional count is 39.---1:50 p.m.Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for people aged over 95, or over 75 for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines had been directed at certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes.---12:45 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities are reporting the province's fifth death related to COVID-19.Officials say six more people are in hospital due to the disease.Public health is also reporting eight new cases, all in the eastern region, where an outbreak has been flaring for several weeks.Chief medical officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says though case numbers have been low these past few days, the province remains in lockdown and people must stay on guard.---12 p.m.The Manitoba government has announced the location of its fourth site for large-scale vaccine distribution. Health officials say a so-called supersite will open in early March at a former hospital in Selkirk. There are similar sites already in Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson.---11:30 a.m.Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 and now has 21 active infections.The new cases are in the Halifax area.One is a close contact of a previously reported case, while the other two cases are under investigation.As of Tuesday 29,237 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 11,658 people having received their required second dose.---11:15 a.m.Quebec is reporting 806 new COVID-19 cases and 17 more deaths attributed to the virus, including five in that past 24 hours.Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by 25, to 655, and the number of intensive care cases rose for a second consecutive day, with 10 more patients for a total of 130.The province says it administered 8,807 doses of COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, for a total of 376,910 since the campaign began.---11 a.m. Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says active cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities are declining access the country.Miller says there were 1,443 active cases and a total of 20,347 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in First Nations communities on-reserve as of yesterday.Miller says vaccinations have begun in 440 Indigenous communities and more than 103,000 doses have been administered.---10:45 a.m.Ontario plans to start vaccinating residents aged 80 and older against COVID-19 in the third week of March, depending on vaccine supply. Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, the head of the province's vaccine task force, says an online booking system and service desk will become available on March 15 and people in that 80 and older age range, or those booking for them, can access it.Hillier says the task force aims to then vaccinate adults aged 75 and older starting April 15, and shots will go to those 70 and older beginning May 1.He says people aged 65 and older will be vaccinated starting June 1.---10:40 a.m.Ontario says there are 1,054 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today and nine more deaths linked to the virus.Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 363 of those new cases are in Toronto, 186 are in Peel Region and 94 are in York Region. More than 17,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in Ontario since Tuesday's daily update.---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter There was a lot to talk about at last Tuesday's Strategic Priorities Committee. The full docket included a discussion led by Chief Administrative Officer Brent Kittmer regarding the service level reopenings following Huron Perth's move into the Orange - Restrict level of Ontario's reopening framework. Kittmer said that the move to the Orange - Restrict level places St. Marys about where it was at the holidays last year, which Kittmer admitted felt to him like a fast jump from being in a lockdown to being at a stage where services could be almost completely open. Because of the move, he is aware that there will be some expectation from some members of the community that the Town is automatically going to begin operating its service levels as much and as freely as possible. However, this is not what would be in the best interest of the Town, according to the CAO. Town staff believes a slow and cautious reopening is prudent. Kittmer went through their proposal for various service level reopenings for the Council members' consideration. Municipal offices would remain open for drop-ins with doors locked and a doorbell for service. However, virtual services are available and preferred when possible. The Yard Waste Depot is open, as is the Landfill, however, the latter is not accepting cash. The Station Gallery/VIA Rail Station is open with gathering restrictions in place. The plan for the St. Marys Public Library would be to reopen in-person service with gathering limits in place and encouraging virtual service use when possible. There would also be gathering limits and time limits for public computer use. The plan from Town staff also mentioned the Museum, which would continue with virtual and telecommunications programming until March 1st, when it would open three days per week from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for research only and with gathering limits in place. The proposal lists late April as a target to resume exhibits at the Museum. Speaking on the Pyramid Recreation Center, which drew the majority of the focus, Kittmer began with the pool. There is some delay in opening the pool given the recency of the reopening announcement and the need to recall staff. The plan would see the pool open on March 8th with registrations starting before that and done on a week-to-week basis. The capacity for the pool would be capped at 25 percent, meaning lane swims would be capped at four people, Aquafit classes capped at 10, and public swim capped at 20. Swimming lessons would also not be brought back yet due to an inability to take proper safety protocols. Moving to the ice pads, the ice remains uninstalled and ice users will have until February 26th to express interest in Spring ice in April and May. This will require a future discussion with Council as ice users come back with their requests. Lastly, for the Friendship Center, Wellness Programs and Services will continue, virtual programs and phone services will continue, a drive-thru Easter Lunch would be held at the end of March, and a target of early April to resume in-person programs with outdoor classes. Youth Center programming would also continue virtually. Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent
There may be a lockdown, but Paradise council still had a bevy of development applications to deal with last week. Councillor Alan English made inquires during the February 16 meeting of council as to whether a development application for Stapleton’s Road would have accommodation for potential flooding, given a history of flooding in the area. The application was for a two-lot infill subdivision at civic number 35-37. “One lot was previously subdivided from the original parcel, thus creating a three-lot total,” said councillor Sterling Willis, adding the planning and protective services committee recommended approval of the application subject to 14 conditions. That’s when English then raised his concerns. “We’ve had a lot of problems on Stapleton’s Road with flooding over the years,” he said. “Is there any anticipation of problems with these building lots or is there any particular requirement that they would have to fulfill in order to ensure that there is no flooding in that area?” Director of Planning and Protective Services Alton Glenn said each lot would have to have a grading plan submitted and approved by the Town’s engineering department. “So that the new lots couldn’t create any adverse conditions, such as flooding, or anything else, to the existing lots,” explained Glenn. English inquired further as to whether there would be any special requirements for culverts needed to access the lots. Director of Infrastructure and Public Works Chris Milley said there will be requirements for the culverts, but he did not have them on hand. Milley said he could provide the information at a later time. “But, yes there would be requirements for the size of the culverts going in there,” said Milley. “It would match what else is on the street.” English noted the culverts on the properties just below the lot are quite large, while the ones above are smaller. “The main consideration is that it’s going to be taken into account when the lots are finally approved,” summarized English. During the same meeting council approved an alcohol licence, subject to no objections received in response to the discretionary use and other conditions that were advertised, for an establishment on Topsail Road. “With the pandemic and everything going on, it’s not to see our business community is going strong and we’re continuing to grow our economy in the Town of Paradise,” said councillor Patrick Martin. Other applications included a baked goods and charcuterie board home based business on Beaugart Avenue (subject to no objections to the discretionary use notification and adherence to 10 conditions), a three unit row house on Dina Place (again, subject to no objections from a discretionary notice or nearby residents), and a five lot residential subdivision at Three Island Pond. That application was previously approved in principle following no objections from the public. Willis explained resident had expressed concerns about the submission deadline date. The date was extended, but Willis said the resident did not submit an objection. Councillor English said he spoke to the resident in question, and that the concern was primarily related to some confusion about the notice itself. “Subsequent to that Director Glenn and the Planning Department clarified that for him,” said English. “He didn’t express a particular concern about the development itself. He did, and I’m just throwing this out there as I have similar concerns myself, he did wonder how this can proceed on all lots where there is some issue with a river running through it, and the pond, and there has to be a septic system installed, and so on. So, as far as I understand it, these lots are approved, and Service NL will have to approve the septic systems which will legitimize the building lots.” All permit motions passed unanimously. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
TORONTO — A quarantine screening officer who allegedly demanded cash from a woman before sexually assaulting her at her home faces related charges, police said on Wednesday. The accused had been trained by the Public Health Agency of Canada as a designated screening officer under the Quarantine Act, Halton regional police said. According to a police statement, the accused was doing a quarantine compliance check at a home in Oakville, Ont., on Feb. 18. "The accused informed the victim that they were in violation of the quarantine order and demanded that a fine be paid in cash," police alleged. "When the victim declined to pay, she was sexually assaulted by the accused." Police said they arrested a man they identified only as Hemant, 27, of Hamilton, on Tuesday. He has been charged with sexual assault and extortion. Police also said he worked for one of four private security firms hired to help enforce isolation orders. Police refused to disclose the name of the security company that employs the man, but said he had been suspended. Const. Steve Elms, a police spokesman, said the accused, who is on bail pending a court appearance March 23, apparently goes only by one name. The investigation was prompted by a complaint from the alleged victim, said Elms, who had no other details. The Public Health Agency of Canada did not immediately respond to a request to comment. All people entering Canada are required to isolate for 14 days. Designated screening officers visit quarantine locations to confirm the person is where they said they would be in quarantine when they arrived in the country. Failure to comply can result in fines. Screening officers, contracted by the Public Health Agency of Canada, are not police officers and have no authority to issue a ticket or arrest anyone. As a result, police said, screening officers should never be demanding payment of any kind during a quarantine-compliance check. Police said other people might have been victimized and urged anyone who might have had a similar experience to contact their local police. Issues have previously arisen with quarantine guards. Last year, private security contractors at a quarantine hotel in Melbourne, Australia, were accused of sleeping with guests, the Herald Sun reported. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
The town’s iconic figure, Jasper the Bear, had great fun on Feb. 18 on the outdoor rink at Robson Park. His loop-de-loops and slides were entertaining to many who passed by. That includes nine-month-old Jenssen Andrene with her dad Jessie Andrene (pictured) and mom Janet De Suyo, close by. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Nikola Dimitrov of AIS Technologies Group in Windsor, Ont., discusses how the pandemic has affected supply lines.
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities say a fifth person in the province has died from COVID-19. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald teared up and paused for a moment during today's pandemic briefing and asked people to focus on the future. Officials are also reporting eight new cases of COVID-19 and say six people are in hospital with the disease. All of the infections announced today are in the eastern health region of the province, which includes the capital, St. John's, and where an outbreak has been flaring for several weeks. Officials say the outbreak was caused by the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first detected in the United Kingdom. Fitzgerald says though case numbers have been low over the past few days, the province remains in lockdown and people must stay on guard. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — The RCMP say a crash on Highway 16 west of Prince George has killed a Metro Vancouver man and injured a 20-year-old Alberta resident. An RCMP statement says the collision happened Monday as the Alberta man in a westbound pickup was overtaking an empty logging truck. The passing lane ended before the pickup had finished its manoeuvre and police say it collided with an oncoming car. Police say the driver of the car, who was in his 40s, died a short time later in hospital. Officers in Prince George are leading the investigation and want to speak with the logging truck driver, who stopped to assist but left before talking with police. Investigators are also appealing for dashcam video from anyone on Highway 16 between Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof at around 5:30 p.m. Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
Substantial increases in speed and avail-ability for broadband may be coming to Mono. Council heard a request from Rogers Communications Canada Inc., to support their application to the Federal government to become part of the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) program. Their aim is to supply the entire town of Mono with Fibre Optic Internet service. Currently, much of Mono is underserviced by the available service providers and this prevents many residents and businesses from taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by digital communications.Broadband connectivity is a key priority for Mono Council and is in fact, part of their Corporate Strategic Plan. Rogers’ “leave no home behind,” plan is a true game changer for Mono.Rogers build strategy commitment is to bring broadband to entire areas of under-served homes. If it is approved, it will bring the needed broadband service, to house-holds and businesses to enable them to avail themselves of digital opportunities. Espe-cially, in the fields of business, education, health and public safety.One of the other benefits to the propos-al, is that there is no suggested cost to the Town. A notation made by Deputy Mayor John Creelman, who has been spearheading the drive for better internet service in Mono. To this end, the deputy Mayor was deeply involved with helping Vianet set up the an-tennae on the Town water tower. Another potential benefit is that if two ser-vice providers are eyeing the same territory, the funder, in this case the Federal govern-ment will be the one to decide who may op-erate where. Also, any service must be an open access one, meaning that third party users must be allow access to the service for a reasonable cost.The proposed service, will have a mini-mum download speed of 50 megabits per second and a minimum upload speed of 10 megabits per second. There are purportedly, several service providers interested in servicing Mono. CAO Mark Early mentioned that he had recently been approached by V-Media from Concord, who are also interested in supplying internet services to Mono.Deputy Mayor Creelman noted that the SWIFT program is set to go along Hwy.10, from the 10th Sideroad north through Camil-la. If Rogers and Vianet are prepared to ser-vice the rest of Mono, this will allow SWIFT to move into other parts of Dufferin County, not adequately services with broadband.Innovation Canada expects that 90 per cent of Canada will have access to high speed internet by the end of 2021. Individ-uals are encouraged to reach out to their internet service providers to notify them about the UBF and encourage them to apply for funding. Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
Holyrood council has voted to become a member of the Grand Concourse Authority. Council hopes that membership will help trail development in the community. “The purpose of the Grand Concourse is to foster, promote, and enable the design, development , and operation by or for the members of an integrated network of walkways, amenities, and land owned or occupied by the members,” said councillor Kim Ghaney during the February 9 meeting. The benefits include access to trailway standards and maintenance planning, which Ghaney said will lead to credibility in trail planning and increase the likelihood of success in getting grants “And, as Deputy Mayor (Curtis) Buckle likes to say, it’s always better to get funding for these infrastructure pieces of work. It reduces the burden on the community, so we’re always looking for funding for that purpose,” said Ghaney. “We recognise that trail development has been a gap in our outdoor recreation offered in the town, and we look forward to the creation of new trails in our area, and by doing it in the right way, by adhering to the best practices and good standards outlined by the Grand Concourse Association.” Councillor Roger Myette assured residents the membership will not mean that ATV users will be booted from the T’railway. “This is by no means taking the T’railway and turning it into a walking path,” said Myette. “Because when people hear Grand Concourse, they think right away of CBS, when they came in and removed all motorized vehicles from that trail. This is not that intent of what we have. This is to help us with the other trails we have around the community, and to increase this trail as well. But, so far as we know, as of right now, it will still be motorized, there is no intent of taking motorized vehicles off the T’railway.” Ghaney agreed that it was a “great point,” and noted that any such changes would not happen without public consultation. Council voted unanimously to approve the membership. The Grand Concourse Authority is a non-profit, member-based charitable organization. It’s board of directors includes representatives from CBS, Paradise, Mount Pearl, and St. John’s. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
ATHENS, Greece — The former director of Greece’s National Theatre appeared Wednesday before a public prosecutor to respond to child abuse allegations in a case that has triggered a major political dispute and a debate on reforms needed to prosecute sex crimes. The 56-year-old suspect was taken into police custody on Saturday and resigned his position as the theatre's artistic director earlier this month. Defence lawyer Alexis Kougias denied the charges on behalf of his client and formally requested that the case be dismissed. He said the court granted a 24-hour extension to present a defence. Under Greek law, suspects are not named before trial unless exceptions are made to serve the public interest or they voluntarily identify themselves to assist their defence. Kougias has identified his client as prominent Greek actor-director Dimitris Lignadis, who was escorted in handcuffs by police to the court building and made no remarks to reporters outside Wednesday. Opposition parties argue that the culture minister in Greece’s centre-right government responded too slowly to the allegations and should be removed. Multiple cases of alleged sexual misconduct and abuse have been made public since Greek Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by a sailing federation official in 1998. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has promised to outline proposed legal changes in parliament on Thursday to make it easier for victims of sexual assault to report the crimes. The Associated Press
FREDERICTON — Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting two new cases of COVID-19 today. One case is in the Edmundston region in the northwest of the province and involves a staff member in their 70s at the Manoir Belle Vue long-term care home. That facility has reported more than 90 cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The other new case involves a person in their 50s in the Moncton region. There are now 64 active reported cases in the province and two people in hospital with the disease, including one in intensive care. New Brunswick has reported a total of 1,426 COVID-19 infections and 26 deaths linked to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
BATON ROUGE, La. — Trashed on social media and censured by Louisiana Republicans, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy described himself Wednesday as “at peace” with his vote to convict former President Donald Trump at his impeachment trial and dismissed the scorching GOP backlash he's received. Louisiana's senior Republican senator said he does not believe the criticism represents the feelings of many of his party's voters. He said the censure he received from the leadership of the state Republican Party represented “a small group of people,” not the “broader Republican Party.” “I am such at peace with that vote. I say that knowing that I’m getting criticized, but I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Cassidy said in a conference call with reporters on a variety of topics. Cassidy joined six other Senate Republicans in voting with Democrats on Feb. 13 to convict Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in an impeachment trial that saw the former president acquitted. Louisiana's other U.S. senator, Republican John Kennedy, voted against conviction. “I’ve received comments from folks who are Republican who object to the vote,” Cassidy said. “I’ve received a heck of a lot of folks who agree with me or, if they don’t agree with me, respect the kind of thought process that went into it.” He added: “There’s a diversity of opinion among Louisiana Republicans, even if there is not among a very small group of people.” Though the 57-43 Senate vote was short of the two-thirds majority needed to find Trump guilty, the seven GOP votes against Trump represented the largest number of lawmakers to ever vote to find a president of their own party guilty at impeachment proceedings. Some Republicans who voted to acquit Trump said they did not believe the Democrats proved their case that the former president was directly responsible for inciting hundreds of people to storm the Capitol building in a riot that left five people dead. Other Republicans said they simply did not believe Congress had jurisdiction over a president no longer in office. Cassidy has tried to change the conversation since the impeachment trial ended, sending out daily statements about a variety of subjects and talking about other issues, such as the confirmation hearings of President Joe Biden's cabinet appointments and recovery from the icy weather. But Trump supporters don't want to move on, and they've been slamming Cassidy on conservative talk radio and websites. They've called for Republicans to ban Cassidy from their events, and several local Republican groups have joined the executive committee of the state GOP in condemning Cassidy's vote to convict Trump. Cassidy, a doctor, overwhelmingly won reelection in November to a second term, with Trump's backing. Asked whether his vote to convict Trump could damage his chances of reelection in 2026, Cassidy replied: “It is six years off, but that's immaterial. I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution." ___ Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte. Melinda Deslatte, The Associated Press
(Emma Davie/CBC - image credit) A former Halifax-area paddling coach has signed a peace bond, agreeing to stay away from a woman who accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager. The decision this week by Donald Paul Henderson, 55, pre-empts a trial that was scheduled to go ahead in Nova Scotia provincial court. On Jan. 8, 2020, Henderson was sentenced to 90 days in jail, to be served intermittently, after pleading guilty to one charge of sexual touching involving another woman. That charge stemmed from the period between 1988 and 1990 when she was a 14-year-old girl and Henderson was her coach at Maskwa, a canoe and kayak club on Kearney Lake in suburban Halifax. Henderson is now married and has teenage daughters. At his sentencing hearing last year, a psychologist's report stated he had told the psychologist he would not allow someone in their 20s to date his children. The report also said that while Henderson now understands what he did was illegal, he struggles with the extent to which he did something wrong. The peace bond that Henderson signed requires him to stay 250 metres away from the woman who accused him. He's also to stay away from Lake Banook in Dartmouth, the scene of most canoe and kayak competitions and training sessions in the Halifax area. He faces a $1,000 penalty if he breaks the bond. MORE TOP STORIES
What does the ocean mean to you, your community, or your industry? How do you envision the best economic opportunities while restoring and maintaining its sustainability? These are but a couple of the nebulous questions at the heart of the federal government’s outreach to British Columbians, and Canadians on every coast, in its pursuit of the new Blue Economy Strategy. The strategy is intended to position the country as a global leader in ocean-based economies that create middle-class jobs while pushing for healthier oceans and sustainable ocean industries. Earlier this month the minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Bernadette Jordan, launched public engagements through a series of roundtables with key ocean-sector stakeholders. Today (Feb. 23) the minister announced the opening of an online engagement portal for the general public to also share their thoughts and perspectives. “A healthy ocean has more to give – it can feed more mouths, employ more people and create more opportunities for the entire country,” Jordan said. “Canada needs a Blue Economy Strategy that will harness the power and potential of our oceans to create a future that is more sustainable, more prosperous and more inclusive. The best way to ensure people are at the heart of the plan, is to have Canadians share their ideas so we can work towards this brighter future together.” Canadian ocean-based sectors currently account for about 300,000 jobs and just $31.7 billion, 1.6 per cent, of the country’s GDP. The government is leaning on the strategy to help drive economic recovery in a post-pandemic world, integrating growth with ocean conservation and climate action. Greater participation of Indigenous peoples, women and under-represent groups are strongly encouraged to participate in the online process. The feedback will inform government on the needs of communities that stand to grow an benefit from ocean investments and new policy. Topics so far leading the public engagement include products and technologies to foster a sustainable commercial fishing industry, offshore renewable energy, transportation, sustainable tourism, international trade and new green technologies in ocean-related fields. The strategy is a massive undertaking involving several federal departments, including Transport Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Infrastructure Canada, Global Affairs Canada, regional development agencies, and others. The online engagement portal is open until June 15. Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
TUCSON, Ariz. — It is now illegal in Tucson, Arizona, to enforce dress code or grooming policies that discriminate against hair texture and hairstyles in the workplace and public schools, officials said. The Tucson City Council voted Tuesday to adopt the Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or CROWN Act, joining multiple cities across the country in passing the ordinance, the Arizona Daily Star reported. The ordinance has been part of a national campaign promoted by Dove, the National Urban League, Color Of Change and Western Center on Law and Poverty. It also prohibits workplace discrimination based on headdresses worn for cultural or religious reasons. “We want to be sure there are no barriers for people in the workplace and in schools,” said Annie Sykes, president of Tucson’s Black Women’s Task Force. “These barriers are usually rooted in discrimination and prejudice.” Sykes cited a study showing that Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hair and 80% more likely to feel like they have to change their hair to fit in at work. “Your hair is your crown and it connects us to our culture and to our ancestry,” said Desiree Cook, a licensed hair stylist and founder of the local organization, I AM YOU 360. “So we ask that those crowns are honoured, whether it be in schools, in the community or the workplace.” The Tucson ordinance will be enforced through the human relations section of the city code and will apply to any facility or business with public accommodations, officials said. Violations can bring civil penalties. The Associated Press
Despite rising COVID-19 cases, especially in Metro Vancouver, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry didn’t announce new measures to curb the spread of the virus in a briefing today. Henry urged British Columbians to continue to stay home when sick, wear a mask in public spaces and not socialize outside their households — public health orders that have been in place for nearly five months. “It is concerning that we’re seeing an increase in our per-cent positivity and in our weekly average, particularly in the Lower Mainland,” she said. “We know what to do to manage.” The province need only stay the course to lower transmission as it continues to roll out vaccines to the most vulnerable to serious illness, she said. But recent data shows the number of people infected is beginning to climb again after a slow decline. Earlier this month, the province was reporting about 450 new COVID-19 cases each day. On Thursday, the province reported 617 new cases. Today, Henry said 559 new cases had been identified. And the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases has surpassed 500 for the first time since early January. Recent polling also suggests British Columbians are less likely to consistently follow COVID-19 guidelines than people in other provinces. Concerns have also increased after seven schools reported students and staff had been exposed to COVID-19 variants that are believed to be more easily transmitted and potentially more likely to cause serious illness. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside acknowledged the issue in a briefing Monday. “I can appreciate the anxiety,” she said. But she added that testing has shown the variants are not being spread within schools. Henry said the province is testing all positive cases for evidence of a variant, and genomic sequencing has been ramped up to confirm the extent of variants in the community. “We are paying extra attention, so we better understand how and where these are spreading,” she said. “We’re learning about the impacts of these variants of concern,” Henry said. “But we know what we have to do to manage it.” Henry said there are signs the province’s vaccination effort has saved lives, particularly in long-term care. More than 220,000 people have been vaccinated, and at least 55,057 of those have had two doses. The province reported one death due to COVID-19 today, an individual in assisted living. There have been no new cases or deaths in long-term care in the last 24 hours, and 92 per cent of residents have had their first dose of the vaccine, Henry said. Outbreaks in long-term care have also dropped from almost 60 in December to 12. There are five outbreaks in assisted living facilities. On Monday the province will announce the plan for vaccinating seniors over 80 living in the community, Henry said, which will begin shortly. “We are in a period of vaccine hope and pandemic reality,” she said. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee