Former President Donald Trump has clashed again with his Republican Party, demanding that three Republican groups stop using his name and likeness for fundraising, a Trump adviser said on Saturday. The adviser, confirming a report in Politico, said lawyers for Trump on Friday had sent cease-and-desist letters to the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Campaign and National Republican Senate Campaign, asking them to stop using his name and likeness on fundraising emails and merchandise.
MONTREAL — Brendan Gallagher scored twice in a four-goal second-period surge as the Montreal Canadiens finally found a way to beat Winnipeg, thumping the Jets 7-1 Saturday. Montreal (11-6-6) was coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to Winnipeg and had won just one of its last seven — a stretch that included three losses (two in overtime) to the Jets. Winnipeg (15-8-1) had won two straight and six of its last seven. But that form was not on display Saturday. Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli, Joel Armia, Paul Byron and Jeff Petry also scored for Montreal. Gallagher (two goals and an assist) and Tomas Tatar (three assists) each had three-point nights. With Winnipeg trailing 7-0, Mathieu Perreault finally beat Carey Price with a power-play goal at 11:14 of the third. Connor Hellebuyck was pulled in the second period after the Habs' fourth goal. He stopped 15 of 19 shots. Winnipeg outshot Montreal 29-28. Returning after a three-game absence due to a lower-body injury. Anderson started on a line with Toffoli and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. After a cagey start, the game began to open up and Hellebuyck stopped Jonathan Drouin on a breakaway with less than six minutes remaining after a stretch pass from Gallagher. Anderson took advantage of a fortuitous bounce after Kotkaniemi, fighting for the puck in the Winnipeg end, fired the puck into the corner. Hellebuyck went behind the goal to corral the puck but it hit the entrance used by the ice cleaner and bounced back in front of goal. Anderson, Johnny-on-the-spot, knocked it into the empty net past defenceman Nathan Beaulieu at 15:29 for his 10th of the season. The Canadiens broke the game open in the second period with four goals in nine minutes two seconds. After Kotkaniemi won a faceoff in the Winnipeg end, Jets defenceman Tucker Poolman had a chance to clear but only sent the puck to the blue line. Shea Weber poked it back towards the slot where Toffoli's high wrist shot beat Hellebuyck for his 15th of the season at 7:03. Failure to clear the puck cost Winnipeg again less than four minutes later with Gallagher knocking Phillip Danault's no-look cross-ice pass into a gaping net. Gallagher, left alone on Hellebuyck's doorstep, then made it 4-0 at 14:25 with his 10th of the season after the Habs hemmed the Jets in their own zone. Laurent Brossoit took over in the Winnipeg goal and was promptly beaten by Armia's low wrist shot at 16:05 after a Montreal rush up the ice that drew hardly a challenge. Byron made it 6-0 at 4:20 of the third, backhanding a fat rebound home after Brossoit failed to handle a long-distance shot from Jake Evans. Seconds earlier Jets forward Trevor Lewis was hit on the hand by a Nate Thompson shot. Petry added to the Jets' pain at 8:20 with a wrist shot through traffic from the blue line. Saturday's game was the fifth under interim Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme, who is now 2-1-2 at the helm. Four of the games were against Winnipeg. "You kind of get sick and tired of battling the same guys," Montreal defenceman Brett Kulak, speaking before the game, said of playing the same team for the fourth time in 10 days. "We've played this team a lot right now. So yeah, there's a little bit of hatred for each other there, but I think it's good. And it brings the competitive level of the game up a little more," he added. Montreal starts a six-game road trip Monday with the first of two straight in Vancouver. The Jets, on a five-game road trip, open a three-game series in Toronto on Tuesday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021 The Canadian Press
Britain's Prince Charles paid tribute to the courage shown throughout the Commonwealth in response to coronavirus in a broadcast that will air on Sunday, hours before Prince Harry and Meghan talk about stepping down from royal duties on U.S. television. The prince was joined by other royals, including his elder son and heir Prince William, in talking about the impact of COVID-19 in messages recorded for a programme marking Commonwealth Day dedicated to the countries, mainly from the former British empire, that maintain links with Britain. "The coronavirus pandemic has affected every country of the Commonwealth, cruelly robbing countless people of their lives and livelihoods, disrupting our societies and denying us the human connections which we so dearly cherish," Charles said in the message.
DHARMSALA, India — The Dalai Lama, the 85-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader, was administered the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine on Saturday at a hospital in the north Indian hill town of Dharmsala. After receiving the injection, he urged people to come forward, be brave and get vaccinated. “In order to prevent some serious problems, this injection is very, very helpful,” he said. Dr. G.D. Gupta of Zonal Hospital, where the shot was administered, told reporters that the Dalai Lama was observed for 30 minutes afterward. “He offered to come to the hospital like a common man to get himself vaccinated,” he said. Ten other people who live in the Dalai Lama's residence were also vaccinated, Gupta said. All eleven received the Covishield vaccine, which was developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca, and manufactured by India's Serum Institute. India has confirmed more than 11 million cases of the coronavirus and over 157,000 deaths. The country, which has the second-highest caseload in the world behind the U.S., rolled out its vaccination drive in January, starting with health care and front-line workers. Earlier this month, it expanded its inoculation drive to older people and those with medical conditions that put them at risk. The Dalai Lama made Dharmsala his headquarters in 1959, fleeing Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. China doesn’t recognize the Tibetan government-in-exile and accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking to separate Tibet from China. The Dalai Lama denies being a separatist and says he merely advocates for substantial autonomy and protection of the region’s native Buddhist culture. The Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi Historical Society is honouring several scholars and groups, including a commission that designed a new state that voters adopted in November. The society presented awards during its annual meeting Friday. The lifetime achievement award went to retired professor Alferdteen Harrison, who co-founded a Black history museum in the capital city of Jackson. She was honoured for her scholarly research and preservation of Mississippi history, the society said in a news release. Harrison was president of the society in 1991 and is former director of the Margaret Walker Alexander Center at Jackson State University. She helped found the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center and is now working to preserve the Scott-Ford House in Jackson’s Farish Street Historic District. Awards of Merit were presented to several groups, including a commission that designed a new state flag that features a magnolia surrounded by stars and the phrase, “In God We Trust.” The commission was created when legislators voted in June to retire the last state flag in the U.S. that featured the Confederate battle emblem. The award for the best Mississippi history book of 2021 went to “Steeped in the Blood of Racism: Black Power, Law and Order, and the 1970 Shootings at Jackson State College,” by Nancy Bristow. She is a professor and chairwoman of the History Department at the University of Puget Sound. Robert Luckett, historian and current director of JSU's Margaret Walker Alexander Center, received the Journal of Mississippi History article of the year award for “James P. Coleman (1956-1960) and Mississippi Poppycock." It was published in the journal's spring/summer 2019 issue. The Woodville Civic Club received the Outstanding Local Historical Society Award for work preserving its community. Theresa Moore, who teaches fifth and sixth grades at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Hattiesburg, received the Teacher of the Year award. The Associated Press
KABUL — A suicide car bombing killed the Afghan intelligence directorate’s chief prosecutor Saturday, an official said, amid an increase in violence in the war-ravaged country. Sayed Mahmood Agha was on his way to his office in the southern city of Lashkargah when an attacker driving a car full of explosives targeted Agha's convoy, killing him, said Attaullah Afghan, provincial council chief for Helmand province. One of Agha's bodyguards was also killed and eight others, including two civilian passersby, were wounded. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Afghanistan is experiencing a nationwide spike in bombings, targeted killings, and other violence as peace negotiations in Qatar between the Taliban and the Afghan government continue. The Islamic State group’s local affiliate has claimed responsibility for some of the attacks, but many go unclaimed, with the government putting the blame on the Taliban. The insurgents have denied responsibility for most of the attacks. In another incident at the Sheikh Abu Nasre Farahi crossing in Afghanistan’s western Farah province on the Iranian border, at least three terminals storing diesel fuel caught fire, causing a massive blaze that consumed at least two trucks carrying natural gas and fuel, according to Afghan officials and Iranian state media. It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the fire. Taj Mohammad Jahid, western Farah governor told the Associated Press that the Afghan first responders did not have the means to put out the huge fire and had requested firefighting support from Iran, which helped extinguish the blaze. It was the second massive fire incident on on the Afghan-Iranian border in the past three weeks. ——— Nassir Karimi in Tehran, Iran contributed to this story. Tameem Akhgar, The Associated Press
Nova Scotia reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 29. One new case is in the eastern health zone and is related to travel outside the region. Another is in the northern health zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case. There are four cases in the central health zone. Three are close contacts of previously reported cases and one is related to travel outside the region. All of the new cases are self-isolating. In a news release, Premier Iain Rankin made note of the increase in new cases. "The case count is a little higher today but it's good to see that none of the new cases are from unknown sources," he said. Nova Scotia Health labs performed 4,404 COVID-19 tests on Friday. Two people are in hospital as a result of the virus with one in ICU. More cases at Halifax Regional Police, RCMP On Saturday, Halifax Regional Police reported three more COVID-19 cases at one of its facilities. One previous positive employee test had been reported on Feb. 26. It is unclear if the three new cases are included in the provincial figures. A news release from the HRP said it had been working with Public Health and following physical distancing and cleaning protocols. "We are also considering the possibility of temporary flexible work arrangements and re-deployments that could offer extra protection to our employees while causing minimal disruption to service delivery," the release said. The RCMP confirmed on Saturday that one of its members in the Halifax district had tested positive for COVID-19. In a statement, an RCMP spokesperson said the person did not "have contact with the public in the course of their duties." "Contact tracing is taking place, and those exposed are following the directions of public health regarding isolation," he said. Details of when the case was identified were not provided. Some restrictions lifted Friday On Friday, Nova Scotia lifted some restrictions on the Halifax area . Many of the restrictions that came into effect Feb. 27 around restaurant hours, sport competitions, performances and non-essential travel ended. Some restrictions will remain in place until March 27, including allowing visits from just two designated caregivers for residents in long-term care facilities, and the need for venues to have an approved plan to have spectators or audiences. New vaccine coming At a news conference on Friday, Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said the province expects to receive its first doses of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine at some point next month. The vaccine requires a single dose and does not need to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures. Atlantic Canada case numbers MORE TOP STORIES
TORONTO — Ontario's New Democrats say they would create a new cap-and-trade carbon pricing system if elected in 2022. The official Opposition made the promise in an environmental policy plank of their election platform, released today at a morning news conference. Party leader Andrea Horwath says the province needs the carbon pricing system to help fight climate change. She says the system would generate $30 billion in revenue, and the NDP would raise another $10 billion through the sale of "green bonds", over four years. The NDP says that cash would be used to pay for green building retrofits, to ramp up electric vehicle sales, and to plant a billion trees by 2030. The platform also promises to give each household in the province $600 to add an electric car charging station. Ontario's Progressive Conservative government scrapped the province's cap-and-trade system in 2018, a regime introduced by the previous Liberal government. Horwath said the NDP carbon pricing system will ensure polluters pay for their emissions and promised it will not add costs to low and middle income Ontarians. The party says the plan would help Ontario reach a target of net-zero emissions by 2050. "I think more and more people have come to the realization that we must tackle the climate climate crisis," Horwath said. "A just transition means we will really look after our people while we look after our climate." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021. The Canadian Press
Two people died in a fire at an apartment building Saturday morning in in Hilden, N.S. RCMP say they responded to a report of a fire on Truro Road at 6:55 a.m. A media release stated that local fire departments were able to extinguish the fire. No other details were provided. The cause of the fire is being investigated by Colchester District RCMP, the Northeast Nova Major Crimes Unit and the Office of the Fire Marshal. The RCMP does not believe the fire is suspicious, according to the release. The Red Cross tweeted that the building had 22 units and that 46 tenants are displaced. It has set up a comfort centre at the Hilden fire hall to assist anyone from the apartment building with emergency needs. MORE TOP STORIES
The head of a Veterans Affairs department that started up about a year ago to support women and LGBTQ veterans says she's disappointed about continued allegations of sexual misconduct within the Canadian Forces, but she's hopeful her office will find ways to make things better. Admiral Art McDonald abruptly stepped aside last month as Canada's top military commander after questions were posed to the Department of National Defence about a sexual misconduct investigation into allegations against him. CBC News has learned those allegations involve a female crew member and an incident a decade ago aboard a warship. There is also an ongoing investigation into McDonald's predecessor, Gen. Jonathan Vance, after allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with a female subordinate. 'A power to be reckoned with' Christina Hutchins, director for the Office of Women and LGBTQ Veterans at Veterans Affairs, which is based on P.E.I., said she's hopeful the work of her office has helped create a safe space for victims to come forward with allegations. "Women veterans themselves are a power to be reckoned with, I guess, so I don't think this will go away. So there will be continued pressure to make the appropriate changes," she said. A big part of the work she's been doing since the office opened last March has been building trust with groups who have felt invisible or unheard in the past, she said. Hutchins said in the past year a three-day virtual conference was held to hear directly from veterans who identify as female and/or part of the LGBTQ community. She said she's heard concerns about health care, inequalities in employment, pay equity and safety. Her office has also had seminars with experts about gender identification and expression. "People seem more comfortable having some of those difficult conversations," she said. "They're bringing that topic up. It's not taboo or it's not something that you don't bring up at a meeting. People, I think, are getting more comfortable asking kind of more probing questions, digging a little bit deeper." Small actions like deliberately changing language to be more inclusive and avoiding gender stereotypes will help in the long run, she said. "If enough people do enough little things, then that will result in a bigger change," she said.
WASHINGTON — An exhausted Senate narrowly approved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Saturday as President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies notched a victory they called crucial for hoisting the country out of the pandemic and economic doldrums. After labouring through the night on a mountain of amendments — nearly all from Republicans and rejected — bleary-eyed senators approved the sprawling package on a 50-49 party-line vote. That sets up final congressional approval by the House next week so lawmakers can send it to Biden for his signature. “We tell the American people, help is on the way," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Citing the country's desire to resume normalcy, he added, “Our job right now is to help our country get from this stormy present to that hopeful future.” The huge package — its total spending is nearly one-tenth the size of the entire U.S. economy — is Biden’s biggest early priority. It stands as his formula for addressing the deadly virus and a limping economy, twin crises that have afflicted the country for a year. Saturday's vote was also a crucial political moment for Biden and Democrats, who need nothing short of party unanimity in a 50-50 Senate they run because of Vice-President Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. They also have a a slim 10-vote edge in the House. A small but pivotal band of moderate Democrats leveraged changes in the bill that incensed progressives, not making it any easier for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to guide the measure through the House. But rejection of their first, signature bill was not an option for Democrats, who face two years of trying to run Congress with virtually no room for error. The bill provides direct payments of up to $1,400 for most Americans, extended emergency unemployment benefits, and vast piles of spending for COVID-19 vaccines and testing, states and cities, schools and ailing industries, along with tax breaks to help lower-earning people, families with children and consumers buying health insurance. The package faced solid opposition from Republicans, who call the package a wasteful spending spree for Democrats’ liberal allies that ignores recent indications that the pandemic and the economy could be turning the corner. “The Senate has never spent $2 trillion in a more haphazard way," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Of Democrats, he said, “Their top priority wasn't pandemic relief. It was their Washington wish list.” The Senate commenced a dreaded “vote-a-thon” — a continuous series of votes on amendments — shortly before midnight Friday, and by the end had dispensed with about three dozen. The Senate had been in session since 9 a.m. EST Friday. Overnight, the chamber was like an experiment in the best techniques for staying awake. Several lawmakers appeared to rest their eyes or doze at their desks, often burying their faces in their hands. At one point, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, at 48 one of the younger senators, trotted into the chamber and did a prolonged stretch. The measure follows five earlier ones totalling about $4 trillion that Congress has enacted since last spring and comes amid signs of a potential turnaround. Vaccine supplies are growing, deaths and caseloads have eased but remain frighteningly high, and hiring was surprisingly strong last month, though the economy remains 10 million jobs smaller than its pre-pandemic levels. The Senate package was delayed repeatedly as Democrats made eleventh-hour changes aimed at balancing demands by their competing moderate and progressive factions. Work on the bill ground to a halt Friday after an agreement among Democrats on extending emergency jobless benefits seemed to collapse. Nearly 12 hours later, top Democrats and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, perhaps the chamber's most conservative Democrat, said they had a deal and the Senate approved it on a party-line 50-49 vote. Under their compromise, $300 weekly emergency unemployment checks — on top of regular state benefits — would be renewed, with a final payment made Oct. 6. There would also be tax breaks on some of those payments, helping people the pandemic abruptly tossed out of jobs and risked tax penalties on the benefits. The House's relief bill, largely similar to the Senate's, provided $400 weekly benefits through August. The current $300 per week payments expire March 14, and Democrats want the bill on Biden's desk by then to avert a lapse. Manchin and Republicans have asserted that higher jobless benefits discourage people from returning to work, a rationale most Democrats and many economists reject. That agreement on jobless benefits wasn't the only move that showed the sway of moderates. The Senate voted Friday to eject a House-approved boost in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, a major defeat for progressives. Eight Democrats opposed the increase, suggesting that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and other progressives pledging to continue the effort in coming months will face a difficult fight. Party leaders also agreed to restrict eligibility for the $1,400 stimulus checks that will go to most Americans. That amount would be gradually reduced until, under the Senate bill, it reaches zero for people earning $80,000 and couples making $160,000. Those amounts were higher in the House version. Many of the rejected GOP amendments were either attempts to force Democrats to cast politically awkward votes or for Republicans to demonstrate their zeal for issues that appeal to their voters. These included defeated efforts to bar the bill's education funds from going to schools closed for the pandemic that don't reopen their doors, or that let transgender students born male to participate in female sports. One amendment would have blocked aid to so-called sanctuary cities, where local authorities balk at helping federal officials round up immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Friday's gridlock over unemployment benefits gridlock wasn't the bill's lengthy delay. A day earlier, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., forced the chamber's clerks to read aloud the entire 628-page relief bill, a wearying task that lasted nearly 11 hours. ___ Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Kevin Freking contributed to this report. Alan Fram, The Associated Press
A COVID-19 outbreak at Bowness High School in northwest Calgary is causing all grades to transition to online classes starting Monday. The Calgary Board of Education sent a letter to parents Friday detailing that the school was placed on outbreak status for the provincial COVID-19 map. According to the provinces' website, an outbreak refers to schools with five to nine cases. The CBE said classes will be held online until March.16 and will impact around 1,184 students in grades 10-12. Students will continue their coursework through a variety of virtual classroom programs but will not be able to transfer to Hub online learning, the CBE said in the letter. The province considers an outbreak investigation completed when there have been no new confirmed cases in the school for 28 days.
A Northwest Territories Power Corporation employee is in hospital after sustaining an injury at the Jackfish Lake generating plant in Yellowknife. In an email, a power corporation spokesperson confirmed the incident happened Friday afternoon. "Our thoughts are with our employee and his family. We will provide them with whatever support we can at this difficult time," read a statement by Noel Voykin, the president and CEO of the power corporation. The power corporation is not providing any further information about the identity or condition of the employee at this time. An update is expected early next week, the spokesperson says. The power corporation said the incident has been reported to the Workplace Safety and Compensation Commission.
The Dalai Lama, who is 85, was administered the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine on Saturday at a hospital in the north Indian hill town of Dharamsala.
A new study shows the behaviour and reproduction of ground-nesting bees, like those that pollinate squash and pumpkins, is severely impacted when farmers treat the soil with neonicotinoid insecticide at the time of planting. While other studies have looked at the impacts neonicotinoid insecticide, or neonics, have had on honey bees and bumblebees, this study from University of Guelph researchers is the first to look at ground-nesting bees. It's crucial to understand how these particular bees are impacted, because they're often the ones pollinating those very crops, says Guelph professor and researcher Nigel Raine. "We know that they nest in farm fields so the likelihood is that they might be exposed to pesticides if they're applied to those crops," said Raine, who also holds the Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation. The research was led by student Susan Chan over a three-year period. The researchers grew squash plants and applied three treatments: a neonicotinoid insecticide called imidacloprid applied to the soil, a neonicotinoid called thiamethoxam that coated the seeds of the plants and a chlorantraniliprole spray applied when the plant had five leaves, but before they flowered. There was also a control group. Each treatment had three hoop houses dedicated to each treatment and the control group. Eight bees were introduced to each hoop house when the plants started to flower. "We didn't know which treatments were assigned to which hoop house but boy, oh boy, you could quickly tell something was going on in three of those hoop houses," Chan said. "The extent of it was quite surprising. Shocking, as a matter of fact." Raine said the most significant impact was in bees where the neonics were applied as a soil treatment. "We found that those bees initiated 85 per cent fewer nests, so they dug fewer nests, they collected much less pollen, they left more than five times as much pollen … unharvested on the male flowers in our hoop houses and over the three years of the experiment, we found they produced 89 per cent fewer offspring than the untreated controls," he said. The researchers set up hoop houses to grow squash plants, applied pesticides, then introduced the bees into the hoop houses just as the plants were beginning to flower. The testing was blind, so researchers didn't know which treatments were in which hoop houses, but researcher Susan Chan says it became clear pretty quickly that bees were negatively impacted by one particular treatment.(Nigel Raine/University of Guelph) Information farmers need While educating the public on how neonics impact bees is important, Chan says she hopes her research reaches regulators, such as the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, as well as farmers. "This is really information that farmers need to have and I totally trust farmers to make good decisions once they have good information and often they're not given good information," she said. Regulators, she added, "haven't paid attention to the idea that bees could be exposed to pesticides in soil." Chan says previously, farmers who have been made aware of her research have changed the way they use insecticides. "It won't surprise me at all if they make changes," she said. Raine says regulators tend to look at risk assessments involving honey bees, but honey bees are not representative of most bee species. About 75 per cent of bee species are solitary, ground-nesting bees while honey bees will live in a hive or other opening above ground. He added farmers are in a difficult position: They need to grow crops, they need to control pests, but they rely very heavily on squash bees to pollinate those crops. "They don't want to be doing unintended harm to their pollinators so being able to pass out the information that certain pesticides may be more detrimental to those pollinators than others, then that may be informing their choices," he said. Regulatory review Geoffroy Legault-Thivierge, a spokesperson at Health Canada of which the Pest Management Regulatory Agency is part of, says they are aware of the study and are reviewing the research conducted by Chan and Raine. Health Canada began a special review in 2014 of three neonicotinoids: thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid. In 2019, Legault-Thivierge said the agency re-evaluated the three neonics. "Health Canada cancelled the soil uses of these pesticides on cucurbits [gourd crops], which the research article identified as posing a risk to the bees. The seed treatment uses did not pose a significant risk to squash bees in the Guelph research or in Health Canada's 2019 pollinator re-evaluation decisions," he said. He noted pesticides are registered for use in Canada "only if the science-based assessments indicate that they do not pose risks to human health or the environment." When there are "reasonable grounds" to believe the pesticides may pose a risk to the environment or human health, they can initiate a special review. Chan and Raine's research was published in the journal Scientific Reports in February.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister: She wept as she told him two of his nephews may have been shot in broad daylight as they left a bar in Portland, Oregon. He drove there as fast as he could. An officer told him one of his nephews was heading to the hospital and the other, Tyrell Penney, hadn't survived. “My sister, Tyrell’s mom, was on the phone; I just said, ‘He’s gone.’ And I just heard the most horrific scream that you could ever imagine,” Yarborough said. When Penney was killed last summer, unrest was roiling liberal Portland as protesters took to the streets nightly to demand racial justice and defunding police. At the same time, one of the whitest major cities in America was experiencing its deadliest year in more than a quarter-century — a trend seen nationwide — with shootings that overwhelmingly affected the Black community. Responding to the calls for change in policing, the mayor and City Council cut several police programs from the budget, including one Yarborough believes could have saved his nephew. A specialized unit focused on curbing gun violence, which had long faced criticism for disproportionately targeting people of colour, was disbanded a month before Penney, a 27-year-old Black man visiting from Sacramento, California, was killed on July 25. Yarborough and some other families wonder if ending the unit is partly to blame for Portland's dramatic spike in shootings, but officials and experts attribute increased gun violence in cities nationwide to the hardships of the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment, economic anxiety and stress on mental health. “Without a doubt, I think it is a possibility that my nephew could still be alive if (the Gun Violence Reduction Team) was not dissolved,” said Yarborough, a crisis response volunteer for Portland police who responds to shootings to support victims’ families. “I cannot say for sure if he would, but what I will tell you is had it not been my nephew that was saved, it probably could have saved the life of someone else,” he said. More people died of gunfire last year in Portland — 40 — than the entire tally of homicides the previous year. The number of shootings — 900 — was nearly 2 1/2 times higher than the year before. The spike has continued this year, with more than 150 shootings, including 45 people wounded and 12 killed so far. Police had warned of possible repercussions of ending the unit, pointing out cautionary tales in other cities that had made a similar choice. Portland police quoted former Salinas, California, Police Chief Kelly McMillin: “Not to be overly dramatic, but if you lose the unit which focuses on removing firearms from the hand of violent offenders, people will die. It’s really just that simple.” Stockton, California, began disbanding and defunding police units dedicated to gun violence in 2010. In 2011 and 2012, the city’s homicide rates reached record highs. After the city restored the units, homicides significantly declined, according to data reported by police. While policing has been refocused in Portland, experts and officials say it's unlikely those changes caused spikes in gun violence. “I believe if (the Gun Violence Reduction Team) were (around) today, we would still see a substantial, if not identical increase, in shootings in Portland,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said in January. “This is clearly part of a larger national trend.” Wheeler, who is also police commissioner, announced the unit's disbanding last June and reassigned its 34 officers to patrol. He described it as an opportunity to reimagine policing and redirected $7 million in police funds toward communities of colour. The push was led by Jo Ann Hardesty, the first Black woman elected to the City Council. She cited a 2018 audit showing nearly 60% of people stopped by the gun violence team were Black — though they make up less than 6% of the city’s population. Nearly half of the 55 total homicide victims in 2020 were people of colour, many of them from Portland's historically Black neighbourhoods, according to city statistics. So far this year, there have been 17 homicides — a concerning number considering there had only been one homicide in the same period in 2020. Among the people of colour shot to death last year were a 23-year-old Iraqi refugee stopping to pick up an Uber fare; an 18-year-old recent high school graduate; and a 53-year-old woman caught in gang crossfire and killed in front of her husband. The violence has left leaders and community members scrambling for solutions. Some say the loss of the unit’s seasoned detectives has hurt the city, while others push for new approaches. Last month, police launched a squad of 15 officers and six detectives focusing on gun violence investigations. Officials say it's only part of the solution, as leaders partner with community groups, work to increase transparency and use proactive approaches that don't rely on the stop-and-frisk tactic. That’s little solace to Penney’s three children, the friends he was visiting in Portland or his family, who moved to California when he was child to avoid the exact reason he died — gun violence. Yarborough, Penney's uncle, was a gang member in the 1990s and had been arrested by officers with Portland's gun violence team. Despite that, he described the unit as "the CIA” of the police department and said they often stopped shootings before they happened because of their deep community knowledge. “They built relationships with gang members and knew who the perpetrators were,” Yarborough said. “They ... were able to band together to stop it, or at least refer people impacted to programs to help change their lives.” ___ Cline is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Sara Cline, The Associated Press
Canadian internationals Evelyne Viens and Vanessa Gilles both scored in French league play Saturday. Viens' 90th-minute goal closed out the scoring in Paris FC's 4-1 win at Stade Reims. The 24-year-old from L'Ancienne-Lorette, Que., is on loan from Sky Blue FC, which selected the University of South Florida forward fifth overall in the 2020 NWSL draft. Gilles' header off a 19th-minute corner opened the scoring in Girondins Bordeaux's 2-0 victory at Dijon. The 24-year-old centre back from Ottawa is coming off an impressive performance for Canada against the U.S. at the SheBelieves Cup. Viens made her debut for Canada at the SheBelieves Cup. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021 The Canadian Press
An Israeli-Canadian lobbyist hired by Myanmar's junta said on Saturday that the generals are keen to leave politics after their coup and seek to improve relations with the United States and distance themselves from China. Ari Ben-Menashe, a former Israeli military intelligence official who has previously represented Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Sudan's military rulers, said Myanmar's generals also want to repatriate Rohingya Muslims who fled to neighboring Bangladesh. The United Nations says more than 50 demonstrators have been killed since the Feb. 1 coup when the military overthrew and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy party won polls in November by a landslide.
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 10:30 a.m. Ontario is reporting comparatively low COVID-19 case figures today, logging 990 new infections and six virus-related deaths over the past 24 hours. Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 284 new cases in Toronto, 173 in Peel Region, and 82 in York Region. Two of those long-standing hotspots, Toronto and Peel, are due to rejoin the province's COVID-19 response framework at the grey lockdown level starting on Monday. The province is also reporting a single-day high of 39,698 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered since Friday's update. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021. The Canadian Press
A power outage in southern Alberta on Saturday left over 8,300 customers without power for hours. Fortis, an electricity distribution utility which supplies power to people outside of major centres in Alberta, says Brooks, Alta. as well as Tilley, Newell County, Scandia, Dutchess, Chisholm, and the Westlock area had been impacted by large electrical outages. Fortis told CBC News that the cause of the outage was due to infrastructure damage and that technicians were needed to make emergency repairs. Altalink tweeted their control centre was alerted to the outage at the Brooks Substation at 7 a.m., where they identified the damaged equipment. The cause of damage is unknown at this time. According to Fortis' Twitter, power in the region should be restored by 12 p.m.