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The most grueling and intense Premier League season appears to be catching up with Manchester United's misfiring players. It may yet cost them a place in next season's Champions League. There were worrying signs in United's third straight 0-0 draw, this time in the fog at Crystal Palace on Wednesday. Bruno Fernandes was sloppy in possession, Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford exchanged angry words in the second half and — maybe most alarming of all — there was never any sign of the kind of late onslaught United teams down the years have been renowned for. Perhaps it is no surprise that United, which is now 14 points behind Manchester City in what is becoming a procession to the title, is running out of steam. Due to its involvement in the Europa League and going deep in both domestic cups, United has played games every midweek in this condensed, pandemic-affected season except for during international breaks. A last-16 double header against AC Milan in the Europa League is coming up over the following two weeks, and before that a Manchester derby on Sunday. No wonder energy levels seem to be down and there's no attacking spark in Solskjaer's side. “It’s been a long season,” Solskjaer said after United's sixth 0-0 draw in the league, the most of any team this season. There's still 2 1/2 months left of it, more than enough time for United to lose its spot in the Premier League's top four if it's not careful. The same applies to third-place Leicester, which was held 1-1 at relegation-threatened Burnley on Wednesday and might also be feeling the effects of an arduous season that has included a Europa League campaign, too. United and Leicester have won just five of their last 16 league games combined and they are giving their top-four rivals a big opportunity to reel them in. West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton are all within eight points and have games in hand, while Tottenham and Arsenal further back should not be discounted now. Leicester recovered from conceding a goal in the fourth minute to Matej Vydra, with Kelechi Iheanacho volleying in the equalizer in the 34th. Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers considered it a decent result given the injury problems in his squad, which is currently depriving him of attacking midfielders Harvey Barnes, James Maddison, Dennis Praet and Ayoze Perez, along with Jonny Evans and James Justin. BATTLING BLADES Sheffield United's players aren't leaving the Premier League without a fight. Chris Wilder's last-place team held on after a 57th-minute red card to veteran centre back Phil Jagielka to beat Aston Villa 1-0. With 11 games left, Sheffield United is 12 points from safety so securing a third straight season in the top flight remains highly unlikely. The players aren't giving up, though. “We’re all still fighting for our future and for this club,” said striker David McGoldrick, who scored the winner from close range in the 30th minute. "The saying is, ‘It’s not over till the fat lady sings.’ We’re all fighting to the end.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80 Steve Douglas, The Associated Press
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
SAN DIEGO — Former NFL player Kellen Winslow II was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in prison for multiple rapes and other sexual offences against five women in Southern California, including one who was homeless when he attacked her in 2018. The 37-year-old son of San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame receiver Kellen Winslow appeared via videoconference at the hearing in San Diego Superior Court in Vista, a city north of San Diego. He declined to comment before his sentence, saying his lawyers had advised him not to speak. San Diego County Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman said Winslow can only be described with “two words and that is sexual predator." He said he selected women who were vulnerable because of their age or their living situation with the idea that “hopefully he would get away with it in his mind." Winslow was once the highest-paid tight end in the league, earning more than $40 million over his 10 seasons before he left in 2013. The 14-year-sentence was the maximum allowed under a plea deal. He was convicted of forcible rape, rape of an unconscious person, assault with intent to commit rape, indecent exposure, and lewd conduct in public. The forcible rape involved a woman who was homeless in his home town of Encinitas, a beach community north of San Diego. She was among four of the women who gave statements Wednesday, including one victim who had the prosecutor read hers. All described suffering years after their attacks from fear and emotional trauma. The woman who was homeless called into the hearing via video conference from the San Diego County District Attorney's office, where she was watching the proceedings with another victim. She said since she was raped she has had trouble raising her head and walking, and she feels afraid constantly, checking under beds and in closets, and cannot be alone. “It's affecting my life every day and every night," she said. “I don’t ever feel safe inside or outside. You brought so much damage to my life." Winslow's attorney Marc Carlos said Winslow suffered from head trauma from the many blows to his head playing football, which can only explain why he “went off the rails" going from a star athlete to a convicted sexual predator. He said his client has accepted responsibility and intends to get help. Winslow was convicted of forcible rape and two misdemeanours — indecent exposure and a lewd act in public — after a trial in June 2019. But that jury failed to agree on other charges, including the alleged 2018 rape of a 54-year-old hitchhiker, and the 2003 rape of an unconscious 17-year-old high school senior who went to a party with him when he was 19. Before he was retried on those charges, he pleaded guilty to raping the teen and sexual battery of the hitchhiker. Those pleas spared him the possibility of life in prison. The father of two, whose wife filed for divorce after he was convicted, had faced up to 18 years in prison for all the charges. But both sides agreed to reduce the sexual battery charge to assault with intent to commit rape last month. That reduced the maximum sentence to 14 years. Julie Watson, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The White House warned that the U.S. may consider a military response to the rocket attack that hit an air base in western Iraq where American and coalition troops are housed. A U.S. contractor died after at least 10 rockets slammed into the base early Wednesday. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, the first since the U.S. struck Iran-aligned militia targets along the Iraq-Syria border last week. “We are following that through right now," President Joe Biden told reporters. “Thank God, no one was killed by the rocket, but one individual, a contractor, died of a heart attack. But we’re identifying who’s responsible and we’ll make judgments” about a response. White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested that the “calculated” U.S. airstrikes last week could be a model for a military response. Those strikes were in response to an attack on American forces in northern Iraq earlier in February. “If we assess further response is warranted, we will take action again in a manner and time of our choosing,” Psaki said. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. contractor “suffered a cardiac episode while sheltering” from the attack and died shortly afterward. He said there were no service members injured and all are accounted for. British and Danish troops also are among those stationed at the base. The U.S. airstrikes last week, which killed one member of the Iran-aligned militia, had stoked fears of another cycle of tit-for-tat attacks as happened more than a year ago. Those attacks included the U.S. drone strike in January 2020 that killed Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani in Baghdad and set off months of increased troops levels in the region. Wednesday's death of the contractor heightens worries that the U.S. could be drawn into another period of escalating attacks, complicating the Biden administration's desire to open talks with Iran over the 2015 nuclear deal. The latest attack also comes two days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq despite concerns about security and the coronavirus pandemic. The much-anticipated trip will include stops in Baghdad, southern Iraq and the northern city of Irbil. The rockets struck Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province early in the morning, U.S.-led coalition spokesperson Col. Wayne Marotto said. Kirby said the rockets were fired from east of the base, and that counter-rocket defensive systems were used to defend forces at the base. Kirby said the U.S. can't attribute responsibility for the attack yet, and that the extent of the damage was still being assessed. It's the same base that Iran struck with a barrage of missiles in January of last year in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani. Dozens of U.S. service members suffered concussions in that strike. The Iraqi military released a statement saying that Wednesday's attack did not cause significant losses and that security forces had found the launch pad used for the rockets — a truck. Video of the site shows a burning truck in a desert area. British Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Hickey condemned the attack, saying it undermined the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group. “Coalition forces are in Iraq to fight Daesh at the invitation of the Iraqi government,” he tweeted, using the Arabic acronym for IS. “These terrorist attacks undermine the fight against Daesh and destabilize Iraq.” Denmark said coalition forces at the base were helping to bring stability and security to the country. “Despicable attacks against Ain al-Asad base in #Iraq are completely unacceptable," Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod tweeted. The Danish armed forces said two Danes who were at the base at the time of the attack are unharmed. Last week's U.S. strike along the border was in response to a spate of rocket attacks that targeted the American presence, including one that killed a coalition contractor from the Philippines outside the Irbil airport. After that attack, the Pentagon said the strike was a “proportionate military response.” Marotto, the coalition spokesperson, said the Iraqi security forces were leading an investigation into the attack. Frequent rocket attacks in Baghdad targeting the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy, during Donald Trump’s presidency frustrated the administration, leading to threats of embassy closure and escalatory strikes. Those attacks have increased again in recent weeks, since President Joe Biden took office, following a lull during the transition period. U.S. troops in Iraq significantly decreased their presence in the country last year and withdrew from several Iraqi bases to consolidate chiefly in Ain al-Asad, Baghdad and Irbil. ___ Kullab reported from Baghdad. Associated Press writer Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report. Samya Kullab And Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
Toronto officials are recommending that the city enter the grey-lockdown level of the province’s coronavirus response framework next week, which would see the loosening of some restrictions. Toronto Mayor John Tory said moving to the grey zone will allow the city to begin to reopen “with caution” and stay open as vaccines continue to be administered.
CALGARY — Waterous Energy Fund says it has prevailed in its takeover of private junior oilsands producer Osum Oil Sands Corp. It says a total of 45.7 million Osum shares, about 34 per cent of the outstanding total and more than 50 per cent of the shares the fund didn't already own, were deposited to its offer of $3 per share by the expiry date. The fund says it intends to buy the remaining shares within four months. Osum leaders reversed their strong opposition to the Waterous deal last month after the initial offer of $2.40 per share was increased by 25 per cent. Waterous, a Calgary investment firm established in 2017 and headed by CEO Adam Waterous, said it bought 45 per cent of the outstanding shares last July from Osum's three largest shareholders. It says five of Osum's directors and four executive officers, including CEO Steve Spence, have voluntarily resigned. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia will get 13,000 doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine next week. Health officials said today the upcoming shipment must be used by April 2 and therefore all 13,000 doses will be administered to residents across the province aged 50 to 64 years starting March 15. The vaccine will be given out at 26 locations in Nova Scotia on a first come, first served basis. Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended Tuesday that it not be administered to people 65 years of age or older. Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine was found to be 62 per cent effective in clinical trials, unlike the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines, which boast effectiveness rates of over 90 per cent. Officials say the delivery of the new vaccine won’t interfere with the scheduled rollout of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines for people aged 80 years and up. Health officials in Nova Scotia reported three new cases of COVID-19 today, all of which involve close contacts of previously reported cases. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
Canadian librarians and educators are reassessing several Dr. Seuss titles that are being pulled from publication because of racist and insensitive imagery.The business that preserves the legacy of Dr. Seuss says it's ceasing sales of six titles — including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” — that portray people in ways that are hurtful.In response to the decision, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board in southern Ontario says it's removing these "harmful" books from its libraries. A Toronto Public Library spokeswoman says a group of librarians are reviewing the titles, and if they identify racial or cultural representation concerns may recommend to pull the books from the stacks or move them out of the children's section.A spokesman for Vancouver Public Library says it's also launching a review of the materials to determine if further action is needed.Books by Dr. Seuss, who was born Theodor Geisel in 1904 and died in 1991, have faced mounting criticism in recent years over the way Blacks, Asians and others are depicted.— With files from The Associated PressThis report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
A Nova Scotia man who purported to be someone else on social media in order to befriend three women and swindle them out of thousands of dollars has been sentenced to 220 days in jail. In a provincial court decision, Judge Ronda van der Hoek described Tyler Fairrae as a "serial fraudster whose actions are increasing in seriousness over time." The decision said Fairrae, 26, stole details of another man's identity from social media profiles and used that new identity to connect with the three victims online in 2019. Once Fairrae had established a level of trust with the women, the Annapolis Valley man told them he was stranded in Newfoundland and Labrador without access to his bank accounts. "He asked the women to help him out of this untenable position by cashing a pay cheque or cheques and depositing the money into a specific bank account," said the decision released Tuesday. "One woman later said she thought she was simply 'helping a new friend.'" Women asked to deposit fraudulent cheques Fairrae sent images of cheques to his victims, which the women were then able to deposit electronically into their own accounts before transferring the money to Fairrae's account. It wasn't long before their banks contacted the women to say the cheques had bounced. According to the decision, one woman cashed more than 10 cheques over a week in May 2019 and lost over $5,000. A second victim was initially reluctant to cash a $1,000 cheque from Fairrae until he threatened to report her to the police. She lost $1,000. The third victim lost $772 when the cheque she deposited bounced. Fairrae, who was arrested in November 2019, was on probation for previous offences when he passed the bad cheques. He pleaded guilty to fraud charges. Fairrae remorseful for actions According to the decision, Fairrae is remorseful and has accepted responsibility for his actions. It noted Fairrae's mental health issues and drug addiction are said to be contributing factors to his crimes. The decision also said Fairrae, who is now sober, "is disgusted with himself and does not know how he can do these things." "It must be an ongoing road to self-discovery because these things have been going on for some time," the judge's decision said. Fairrae has several previous convictions, including fraud and uttering threats. The Crown asked for an eight-month jail term, followed by 18 months probation. The defence was seeking a 12-month conditional sentence order. In rendering the sentence, van der Hoek said she considered the impact of the offences on Fairrae's victims. Impacts of 'well-orchestrated fraud' on victims According to victim impact statements, one of his victims had to cash in an RRSP she'd been planning to use to buy a house in order to pay back the money from the bounced cheque. She's also facing tax implications from the missing money. One victim sought counselling and said her hair fell out because of the financial stress. "After considering and balancing the mitigating and the aggravating factors, I am left concluding Mr. Fairrae perpetrated a purposeful, well-orchestrated fraud on numerous victims that required time and attention on his part and a demonstrated lack of concern for his victims," the judge wrote in her decision. In addition to the jail term, Fairrae will be placed on probation for 18 months. He's also been ordered to pay back the money he defrauded from the women. MORE TOP STORIES
The U.S. economic recovery continued at a modest pace over the first weeks of this year, with businesses optimistic about the months to come and demand for housing "robust," but the job market showing only slow improvement, the Federal Reserve reported on Wednesday. "Economic activity expanded modestly from January to mid-February for most" of the Fed's 12 regional districts, the U.S. central bank said in its latest "Beige Book" compendium of anecdotes about the economy. The Fed, however, reported that the labor market, which remains about 10 million jobs short of where it was before the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, was not gaining as much traction as had been hoped.
A semi-truck hit power lines in an alley in Regina, resulting in the lines, a power pole and a transformer being downed late Wednesday morning. Police say they were called at 11:57 a.m. CST to the 2500 block of Broad Street to assist the Regina Fire Department. The semi-truck downed a nearby power pole, transformer and lines. (Kirk Fraser/CBC) Regina Fire Department Deputy Chief Neil Sundeen said there was a minor fire in the downed transformer, but it was quickly put out. Sundeen said there were no injures in this incident. "Power lines are always a hazard, but our crews are trained," he said. "It just is an inconvenience to the people in the area." A transformer was brought down by the collision. (Kirk Fraser/CBC) SaskPower spokesperson Scott McGregor said this doesn't happen often, but when it does the Crown corporation takes it seriously. He said at about 2:50 p.m. CST that power was restored to most buildings and the Canadian Blood Bank nearby had been given a generator. He said the lines are still down but not energized, so there is no danger to the public. SaskPower expects power to be fully restored and cleanup to be finished by around 8:00 p.m. CST.
Protesters attempting to protect some of the last stands of old-growth forest on southern Vancouver Island are facing arrest if a logging company gets court approval to disband their camps this week. Forestry company Teal-Jones has filed an application with the Supreme Court of British Columbia for an injunction to remove the Fairy Creek blockade at various entry points to its Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 46 near the community of Port Renfrew. The region encompasses the pristine old-growth forest at the headwaters of Fairy Creek with yellow cedars thought to be 1,000 years old, as well as other remaining groves on the Gordon River, Camper Creek and in the Upper Walbran Valley. A court decision is likely following an online hearing Thursday, said Kathleen Code, who is helping organize the defence against the injunction on behalf of the blockade residents. Activists from eight different camps have been blocking the logging company’s road building and forestry crews from accessing the area since August, Code said. “We want (the court) to disallow the injunction but that’s a very rare occurrence,” said Code. “So, our plan is to ask for an extension of three weeks, so that we can better prepare our defence.” Video courtesy of the Fairy Creek Blockade The group of forest defenders, the Rainforest Flying Squad, also hopes to file its own cross injunction against Teal-Jones, she said. “It’s a separate legal process that will have us filing an injunction against Teal-Jones themselves and bringing in the B.C. government as a third party,” Code said. “This way, we hope to make them accountable for the decades-long mismanagement of our forests.” Teal-Jones wants the court to prohibit the blockades until at least Sept. 4 and authorize the RCMP to arrest or remove protesters violating the order. The police force would determine when to enforce the potential order. Teal Cedar, a division of Teal-Jones, and its contractors have experience significant business disruption due to the blockades that threaten the company’s right to harvest timber but also the continued operation of its mills, the court application said. The company values the logs in TFL 46 to be worth $9 million, or approximately $19.4 million if turned into manufactured product. Teal Cedar also said it advised the Pacheedaht First Nation of its planned harvesting activities in its traditional territory, and after surveying the cut blocks, the nation told the company it’s permitted to harvest in those areas. However, Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones and some of his family are supporting the blockade and battle to protect the ancient temperate forest, Code said. Should the Teal-Jones application succeed, each individual forest defender will make the decision about whether they will risk arrest in the battle to protect the old-growth forest, she said. “But don't think Teal-Jones is going to waste any time,” Code said, adding the blockade isn’t about halting all forestry operations. “I want to make it really clear. We are not anti-logging,” she said. “We only obstruct areas where the old growth exist. “It's irreplaceable, and once you clear cut it, you have destroyed all of those ecosystems, destroyed the water systems, and you've destroyed the wildlife and their habitats.” Protests are being planned in various communities across the province on Thursday to protect Fairy Creek old-growth forest and in solidarity with the camp activists, Code said. Quadra Island resident Geraldine Kenny said a staggered, COVID-19-appropriate, “Last Stand” protest will be taking place in front of the office of North Island MLA Michele Babchuk in Campbell River all day. Support for the protest is coming in from communities around the North Island, said Kenny, a member of Sierra Quadra. “We want to show MLA Michelle Babchuk that her constituents … have fundamental concerns with regard to the government she represents and its protection of old-growth forests.” The Quadra senior has been trying to protect B.C. ancient temperate rainforests for three decades, and there’s precious little left, she said. Regardless of where people live on Vancouver Island, or in the province, the need to protect the last remaining stands of old growth is critical. “I started in 1987 with the Carmanah and the Walbran (forests), and here I am, a septuagenarian, and I’m still at it,” Kenny said, adding the argument of the necessity of intact forests to maintain biodiversity still holds true. “It’s old hat, and we’ve heard it so many times,” Kenny said. “However, the critical component now is climate change … maintaining old-growth forests is our best security and our best defence against global warming. “So, I want to stand as a forest defender and as a witness so that these trees, this ecosystem is preserved." Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
MILAN — Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares on Wednesday said the new car company formed from the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Peugeot would be a “disruptive” force in the industry, and that both sides would provide technologies to achieve the promised 5 billion euros ($6 billion) in cost savings each year. The Italian-American carmaker and the French mass-market automotive company completed their merger on Jan. 16, creating Stellantis, the world’s fourth-largest carmaker, despite a pandemic year that saw profits plunge. “Stellantis is not born from a crisis,’’ Tavares told a conference call after fourth-quarter earnings were released. “This is not only about implementing synergies, it will also be a disruptive plan. We do not accept to be cornered as a legacy carmaker.” Tavares cited the recent investment in the Archer aviation company to develop vertical flying devices for urban mobility as an example of how Stellantis intended to be a disruptive force. “We believe that this strategic investment is going to be highly convergent with the technology we need for the automobile world,’’ he said, citing energy management, lightweight batteries and quick-charging technologies. “We are not going to let ourselves be cornered as dinosaurs, that is clear,’’ Tavares said. Tavares also indicated that both FCA and PSA would contribute technologies that would help the company get rid of duplications and save money. He cited bigger engines from FCA, and smaller ones from Fiat, and said that PSA has been adept at achieving efficiencies through sharing components and platforms, while FCA has faster processes. “So if I combine both, I should go fast and I should be very efficient at the end of the day,” the CEO said. Offering its first financial guidance, Stellantis announced it was targeting an adjusted income margin of between 5.5% and 7% in its first year of operation as a new company. Tavares said one “strong caveat” to the guidance is that they cannot anticipate if there will be lockdowns or restrictions on business due to the pandemic. While strong North American performance is expected to help Stellantis meet the goal, Tavares said “three big gorillas’’ were providing headwinds: rising costs of raw materials, potential production losses due to a shortage of semiconductors and increased costs for electrification. Earlier Wednesday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Peugeot reported their last financial statements as independent companies, each contributing full-year profits of around 2 billion euros to the new company. Fiat Chrysler reported adjusted net profits in the pandemic year of 1.9 billion euros ($2.3 billion), down 57% from 2019. PSA reported earnings of 2.2 billion euros, a drop of 32%. Fiat Chrysler reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of 2.3 billion euros, a record 2.2 billion euros of those generated in North America, where the profit margin was 11.6%. As a result, about 43,000 employees represented by the United Auto Workers union will each get $8,010 profit-sharing checks on March 15, Stellantis said in a separate release. Last year the workers got $7,820, and the average hourly worker has received over $44,700 in profit sharing since 2009, Stellantis said. All regions and Maserati made a positive contribution to the results, for the first time since the first quarter of 2019, said Mike Manley, the former FCA CEO and current head of North American operations for Stellantis. The French mass carmaker said second-half operating margins hit 9.4% at record levels. “These figures demonstrate the financial soundness of Stellantis, bringing together two healthy companies,’’ Tavares said in a statement. ___ AP Business Writer Tom Krisher contributed from Detroit. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
The government of Ontario's announcement of funding of a wearable contact tracking device for workplaces raises concerns about privacy and surveillance.
FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government has ordered a review of mental health crisis care following the suicide of a teenager who waited eight hours at a hospital emergency room without being helped. Health Minister Dorothy Shepard says she has asked Norm Bosse, the province's child, youth and seniors' advocate, to conduct a review, although the terms have not been set. Lexi Daken, 16, took her own life on Feb. 24, less than a week after seeking help at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton. Shephard says the regional health authority has also been asked to identify possible improvements and report back by the end of the month. Green Leader David Coon was seeking a public inquiry into the care Lexi received and says urgent action is needed. Chris Daken, Lexi's father, says he hopes her death is not in vain and that it prompts government to make changes that will help others in the future. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Nolan Jespersen, the new Sexsmith district fire chief, introduced himself to council after starting last Monday. The district fire chief position was created in 2018 to manage the Sexsmith Fire Department and provide support to the La Glace, Bezanson and Teepee Creek stations. The previous district fire chief was Dale Widsten, who took the role in August 2018. Jespersen was previously deputy fire chief for Stony Plain starting in 2017 and an officer in Fort Saskatchewan helping that department transition to a staffed fire service in the last year, he said. EDAC provides update Shane Pospisil, Sexsmith’s economic development consultant, also gave an update on the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC). Pospisil said EDAC has met with industrial developers to promote the town during several recent meetings. Companies include Hammerhead, which updated EDAC on a project in Greenview, and Northern Eagle, which is considering establishing a biodiesel plant in town. EDAC is also looking at local infrastructure including Internet capacity, and is exploring options to improve connectivity, Pospisil said. No ATCO fee increase The town is renewing its electric franchise agreement with ATCO Electric, with no increase to the franchise fee billed to consumers. Under the agreement ATCO will deliver electricity to residents for approximately 10 years. The fee is currently 5.5 per cent, or a monthly average of $6.10 for a resident. The bylaw approving the agreement was given first reading Dec. 7 and received no objections from the public, according to administration. Councillors Clint Froehlick and Dennis Stredulinsky’s motions for second reading and passage were carried unanimously. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
OTTAWA — Former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne told a parliamentary committee Wednesday that he informed Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan of allegations of misconduct against Gen. Jonathan Vance during a “hostile” closed-door meeting three years ago. Walbourne’s remarks appear to contradict Sajjan’s own testimony to the same committee Feb. 19, when he said he was as surprised as anyone when Global News first reported Vance’s alleged misconduct in early February. At that time, Sajjan repeatedly refused to confirm media reports that Walbourne raised allegations against Vance when the minister and ombudsman met in March 2018. Sajjan cited confidentiality and also said any allegations brought to him were taken seriously and referred to the appropriate authorities. Walbourne, whose testimony is protected by parliamentary privilege, used his opening statement to the House of Commons' defence committee to publicly confirm the conversation for the first time. “Yes, I did meet with Minister Sajjan on March 1, 2018,” he said. “Yes, I did directly tell him about an allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour made against the chief of defence.” Global News has reported that Vance allegedly had an ongoing relationship with a woman he significantly outranked. He is also accused of having made a sexual comment to a second, much younger, soldier in 2012, before he became commander of the Armed Forces. Vance, who turned over command of the military in January after more than five years in the job, has not responded to requests for comment by The Canadian Press and the allegations against him have not been independently verified. Global says Vance, who as defence chief oversaw the military’s efforts to root sexual misconduct from the ranks, has denied any wrongdoing. Military police are now investigating the allegations against Vance. They have also launched an investigation of Vance’s successor as defence chief, Admiral Art McDonald, who temporarily stepped aside last week in response to unspecified allegations of misconduct. Walbourne did not spell out the specifics of the allegation that he presented to Sajjan, and confirmed earlier reports that no formal complaint was filed. However, he said he came to possess “irrefutable, concrete evidence” about Vance, which is what led him to raise the matter with the minister. Walbourne told the committee Sajjan refused to look at the evidence and later cut off all contact until the former ombudsman’s resignation on Oct. 31, 2018. Walbourne also said he asked Sajjan to keep the matter in confidence until they could figure out how to handle the allegation, but that the minister instead told the Privy Council Office, which asked the ombudsman for information about the complainant. Walbourne, who initially declined an invitation to appear before the committee before being formally summoned to testify, said he refused to provide that information because the complainant had not given permission to do so. The former ombudsman, who has repeatedly decried a lack of independence for the office, went on to draw a link between his meeting with Sajjan three years ago and the Department of National Defence cutting off his financial and staffing authorities. The ombudsman’s office was being investigated at that time following a whistleblower’s complaint. Walbourne was adamant the complaint had no merit, and instead alleged that it was used as an excuse to put pressure on him and his team. Asked if there was any attempt by the government to cover up for Vance, Walbourne said: “I don’t know if it was an attempt at a coverup, but I know it was a full-court press to get rid of me.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Northern Ontario is on high alert amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in the region that has hit the homeless community particularly hard. The health unit covering the Thunder Bay area returned to a lockdown this week after reporting more COVID-19 cases last month than in all of 2020. The Northwestern Health Unit, which covers the city of Kenora and other areas, says it’s closely watching the situation in Thunder Bay. It’s asking people to avoid travel to that city and to reduce contact with others for two weeks after returning home if they do. The health unit says it will hold a meeting with regional partners this week to discuss measures to prevent the virus from spreading among the homeless population. An Thunder Bay isolation centre for people exposed to or infected with COVID-19 is applying for extra funding after demand skyrocketed along with rising infections among the homeless. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
There were two deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the province on Wednesday. Both deaths were in the 80 plus age group and were located in Regina and Saskatoon. The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in the province is now 389. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. This was among 121 new cases reported in Saskatchewan. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 19 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 30 active cases and North Central 3 has 15 active cases. There are currently 153 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 133 reported as receiving in patient care there are 14 in North Central. Of the 20 people reported as being in intensive care there is one in North Central. The current seven-day average 154, or 12.5 cases per 100,000 population. The high was 312 reported on Jan. 12. Of the 29,059reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 1,431 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 27,239after 180 more recoveries were reported. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 29,059 of those 7,437 cases are from the North area (3,024 North West, 3,259 North Central and 1,154 North East). There were 1,358doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 81,597. There were 232 doses administered in the North Central zone yesterday. The other zones where vaccines were administered were in the North West, Far North Central, Central East, Far North Central, Far North East, Saskatoon and Regina. According to the province as of March 2, 50 per cent of Phase 1 priority healthcare workers received a first dose. This percentage includes healthcare workers from long term care and personal care home facilities. Pfizer shipments for the week of March 1 have arrived in Regina (3,510) and Saskatoon (3,510). North Battleford (2,340) and Prince Albert (4,680) shipments are expected by end of day March 3. There were 2,588 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Feb. 28. As of today there have been 582,829 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald