Liz Loza & Dalton Del Don discuss the Philadelphia Eagles trading QB Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts. How does this move affect Philadelphia & Indianapolis skill players heading into the 2021 season?
Liz Loza & Dalton Del Don discuss the Philadelphia Eagles trading QB Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts. How does this move affect Philadelphia & Indianapolis skill players heading into the 2021 season?
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. That delay stood in contrast to the immediate approval for National Guard support granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities last spring as an outgrowth of racial justice protests, Walker said. As local officials pleaded for help, Army officials raised concerns about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, he said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed to officials on the call “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Even as Walker detailed the National Guard delay, another military official noted that local officials in Washington had said days earlier that no such support was needed. Senators were eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for that day. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Ottawa will not license any Indigenous "moderate livelihood" fishery in Atlantic Canada unless it operates within the commercial season, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said Wednesday, siding with a key demand from the region's commercial fishing industry, while angering Indigenous leaders. The statement is a major development in the dispute over treaty rights-based fishing that sparked violence last fall when the Sipekne'katik band launched its own self-regulated 'moderate livelihood' lobster fishery. The fishery in St. Marys Bay in southwest Nova Scotia took place outside the commercial season, angering other fishermen who said it was both unfair and bad for conservation. "Seasons ensure that stocks are harvested sustainably and they are necessary for an orderly, predictable, and well-managed fishery," Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said in a statement, confirming a CBC News report earlier in the day. "In effort-based fisheries such as lobster, seasons are part of the overall management structure that conserves the resource, ensures there isn't overfishing, and distributes economic benefits across Atlantic Canada." WATCH | The history of the Mi'kmaw fishery: DFO indicated a willingness to discuss other details with affected First Nation communities. But Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack urged Mi'kmaw bands in Atlantic Canada to reject the federal government's position and told reporters his First Nation will continue to operate its fishery outside DFO seasons in 2021. "They're trying to divide and conquer and throw a carrot to a band or two and have them sign and just hurt everybody's case. So I hope that no other communities do sign. They don't take that low hanging fruit," he said. Sack restated his position that the treaty right was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada's Marshall decision, and accused DFO of trying to divide and conquer the Mi'kmaq. In 1999, the court affirmed the Mi'kmaw treaty right to fish in pursuit of a "moderate livelihood," but under federal government regulations for conservation. Ottawa spent half a billion dollars integrating Indigenous bands into the commercial fishery through licence buy-backs and training, but it never defined "moderate livelihood." Jordan cited part of the Marshall ruling to justify her authority. She noted the Supreme Court said "treaty rights are subject to regulation provided such regulation is shown by the Crown to be justified on conservation or other grounds of public importance." "That is what we are implementing," Jordan said in her statement. The department is offering Indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia a pathway to sell lobster harvested in a moderate livelihood fishery. Right now, that catch does not have DFO's stamp of approval. Without authorization, they can't legally sell their catch to licenced buyers, such as lobster pounds and processors. Bands that accept DFO's position will receive a moderate livelihood licence that will allow them to sell the catch in 2021. Under provincial rules, only fish products harvested under federal commercial licences can be purchased by shore processors. The federal government "will balance additional First Nations access through already available licences and a willing buyer-willing seller approach, protecting our stocks and preserving the industry for generations to come," Jordan's statement said. Sipekne'katik First Nation Chief Michael Sack, right, halted talks with the federal Fisheries Department in December after reaching an impasse.(Paul Withers/CBC) The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Chiefs called the government's conditions "unacceptable" and condemned them as part of a "colonial approach" to the rights-based fishery recognized by the Supreme Court. "DFO continues to dictate and impose their rules on a fishery that is outside of their scope and mandate," said Chief Gerald Toney, the assembly's fisheries lead, in a statement. The right to a livelihood fishery isn't, and shouldn't be, driven by industry or the federal government, he said. "It is something that needs to come from the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia. Imposing restrictions independently, without input of the Mi'kmaq, on our implementation of Rights is an approach that must stop." Mi'kmaw leaders and some academics have insisted the fishery in St. Marys Bay poses no risk to stocks because it is too small. It's a claim the commercial industry rejects. One organization representing commercial fishermen said the DFO has made public what it had been telling the industry in private. "This position needs to come from them and they need to come out publicly, more often," said Martin Mallet, executive director of the Maritime Fishermen's Union. Mallet said commercial fishermen expect the DFO to enforce its rules if bands operate out of season, including pulling traps and "potentially arresting individuals that are not keeping up with the law." A group representing harvesters in southwestern Nova Scotia said the government's position "can provide certainty" for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishermen. "However, lasting and consistent enforcement that is fair to all harvesters will be critical," the Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance said in a statement. The ambiguity over moderate livelihood led to violence last year when several bands launched self-regulated lobster fisheries — all taking place outside of commercial lobster seasons. In October, two facilities storing Mi'kmaw catches were vandalized, including one that was later burned to the ground. Indigenous harvesters also said hundreds of their traps were pulled by non-Indigenous commercial fishermen. After tensions abated, the DFO pulled hundreds of Mi'kmaw traps out of the water, many bearing band moderate livelihood tags. On Wednesday, the DFO returned to Sipekne'katik more than 200 traps it had seized last fall. Sipekne'katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack, shown in October, said Wednesday his band will continue to operate its moderate livelihood fishery outside DFO seasons in 2021.(Pat Callaghan/CBC) When defending the self-regulated fisheries, the Mi'kmaq point to the huge number of commercial traps in the water compared to those from bands. The Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance, which represents shore buyers, said that is misleading. Stewart Lamont of Tangier Lobster said he accepts the treaty right but maintains the fisheries must take place within commercial seasons. "The lobster biomass is extremely vulnerable during certain months of the year, most particularly late July, August, September, October, when lobsters are going through their annual molt," said Lamont. "They're literally hungrier than normal. They've taken on a new shell. They are far more readily embraced into a trap." He said hauling lobster at that time is short-sighted. "By the same token, they are of far lesser quality. They tend to be soft and medium shell. It's not a premium product." Commercial lobster fishing season varies across Nova Scotia, in part to maintain a steady supply to the market, and to protect stocks when they are vulnerable. MORE TOP STORIES
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — Auditor general Michael Pickup says he has long-running concerns with the way the British Columbia government counts the money it receives from other levels of government. Pickup outlined Tuesday what he describes as a nine-year accounting difference of opinion his office has with B.C. over the way federal funds for capital projects are added to the province's annual budget totals. He says the federal money B.C. gets for projects like bridges and highways should be recorded as revenue under generally accepted accounting principles, but B.C. reports the funds in smaller amounts that are calculated over the life of a project. Pickup says the accounting difference means that B.C.'s 2019-20 budget deficit of $321 million should actually have included accumulated revenue of $5.7 billion, producing a surplus of $5.4 billion. He says the budget amount has been growing since 2011-12 when the office of the auditor general first raised the issue. Pickup's audit includes a statement from B.C.'s office of the comptroller general that says the province prepares its financial statements in accordance with the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act, which establishes the government's framework for financial reporting. The Ministry of Finance was not available for further comment Tuesday. "Not following these accounting standards results in under-reporting revenue, which I believe clouds the province's true financial position," Pickup told a news conference. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
MINAMISOMA, Japan — Because of radiation released by the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster a decade ago, farmers in nearby Minamisoma weren't allowed to grow crops for two years. After the restriction was lifted, two farmers, Kiyoko Mori and Yoshiko Ogura, found an unusual way to rebuild their lives and help their destroyed community. They planted indigo and soon began dying fabric with dye produced from the plants. “Dyeing lets us forget the bad things” for a while, Mori said. “It’s a process of healing for us.” The massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, caused three of the reactors at the nuclear plant to melt and wrecked more than just the farmers’ livelihoods. The homes of many people in Minamisoma, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the plant, were destroyed by the tsunami. The disaster killed 636 town residents, and tens of thousands of others left to start new lives. Mori and Ogura believed that indigo dyeing could help people in the area recover. Mori said they were concerned at first about consuming locally grown food, but felt safe raising indigo because it wouldn’t be eaten. They checked the radiation level of the indigo leaves and found no dangerous amount. Ten years after the disaster, Mori and Ogura are still engaged in indigo dyeing but have different missions. To Mori, it has become a tool for building a strong community in a devastated town and for fighting unfounded rumours that products from Fukushima are still contaminated. She favours the typical indigo dyeing process that requires some chemical additives. But Ogura has chosen to follow a traditional technique that uses fermentation instead as a way to send a message against dangers of modern technology highlighted by nuclear power. Mori formed a group called Japan Blue which holds workshops that have taught indigo dyeing to more than 100 people each year. She hopes the project will help rebuild the dwindling town’s sense of community. Despite a new magnitude 7.3 earthquake that recently hit the area, the group did not cancel its annual exhibition at a community centre that served as an evacuation centre 10 years ago. “Every member came to the exhibition, saying they can clean up the debris in their houses later,” Mori said. Ogura, who is not a member of the group, feels that a natural process is important because the nuclear accident showed that relying on advanced technology for efficiency while ignoring its negative aspects can lead to bad consequences. “I really suffered during the nuclear accident,” Ogura said. “We escaped frantically in the confusion. I felt I was doing something similar again" by using chemicals. “We seek too much in the way of many varieties of beautiful colours created with the use of chemicals. We once thought our lives were enriched by it, but I started feeling that wasn’t the case,” she said. “I want people to know what the real natural colour looks like.” Organic indigo dyes take more time and closer attention. Ogura first ferments chopped indigo leaves with water for a month and then mixes the result with lye which is formed on the surface of a mixture of hot water and ashes. It has to be kept at about 20 degrees C (68 degrees F) and stirred three times a day. Part of the beauty of the process, Ogura says, is that it’s hard to predict what colour will be produced. With the support of city officials, Ogura started making silk face masks dyed with organic indigo. She used to run an organic restaurant where she served her own vegetables before the disaster, but now runs a guesthouse with her husband in which visitors can try organic indigo dyeing. Just 700 metres (2,300 feet) from Ogura’s house, countless black bags filled with weakly contaminated debris and soil are piled along the roadside. They have been there since after the disaster, according to Ogura’s husband, Ryuichi. Other piles are scattered around the town. “The government says it’s not harmful to leave them there. But if they really think it's not harmful, they should take them to Tokyo and keep them near them,” he said. The radiation waste stored in the town is scheduled to be moved to a medium-term storage facility by March next year, a town official said. Chisato Tanaka, The Associated Press
Australia's economy expanded at a much faster-than-expected pace in the final quarter of last year and all signs are that 2021 has started on a firm footing too helped by massive monetary and fiscal stimulus. The economy accelerated 3.1% in the three months to December, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed on Wednesday, higher than forecasts for a 2.5% rise and follows an upwardly revised 3.4% gain in the third quarter. The Australian dollar rose about 10 pips to a day's high of $0.7836 after the data while bond futures nudged lower with the three-year contract implying an yield of around 0.3% compared with the official cash rate of 0.1%.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Former Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas has entered a diversion program to avoid trial over allegations that he voted illegally in a 2019 municipal election. Watkins, a Republican from Topeka who served only one term in the U.S. House, was facing three felony charges. He was accused of listing a postal box at a UPS store as his home on a state registration form when he was living temporarily at his parents' home. He was also charged with lying to a detective who investigated the case. The Shawnee County district attorney filed the charges just weeks before the August 2020 primary, and Watkins lost to now-Rep. Jake LaTurner. “I regret the error in my voter registration paperwork that led to these charges. I fully co-operated from the beginning and had no intent to deceive any one, at any time. I am glad to resolve the ordeal,” Watkins said in a statement Tuesday. Watkins acknowledged he lied to the detective when he said he did not vote in the Topeka City Council election, The Kansas City Star reported. Under the diversion agreement entered into Monday, Watkins' prosecution will be deferred for six months. If he meets the terms of the agreement, the case will be dropped by September. The Associated Press
At the press conference today March 2, 2021 Premier Moe and Dr. Shahab shared that over 80,000 doses of vaccine have been given in Saskatchewan and that 100% of long-term care homes have now been able to vaccinate all the residents who chose to be vaccinated. Fifty-three per cent of those residents have been given both doses of the vaccine. Approximately nine per cent of residents in long-term care facilities did not receive the vaccination due to a change in health status, not being available at the time of the vaccinations, or declined to receive it to name but a few of the various circumstances which led to not receiving the vaccination. As for personal care homes, ninety per cent have been given their first vaccine and forty-three per cent have received both. Premier Moe stated that with the increased numbers of the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna and now the vaccine from AstraZeneca, Saskatchewan should see over 115,000 doses of vaccine arrive in the province this month. Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Shahab, stated that the province is considering following the lead of Quebec and British Columbia and extending the time between the delivery of the first and second doses of the vaccines. Current protocol for the Pfizer vaccine is 28 days but an extension up to 42 days was declared as acceptable back in January. The Moderna vaccine comes with the prescribed booster shot required in 21 days. The AstraZeneca vaccine is the only one of the three which manufacturers say has a strong efficacy for up to four months before a booster is needed. Dr. Shahab stated that his colleagues in the United Kingdom have been administering all vaccines at the same interval as the AstraZeneca and report that they have not seen any reduction in efficacy of the vaccines by doing so. Dr. Shahab will continue to review the available data before a decision is made, but if the province proceeds it will rapidly accelerate the time frame for everyone in the province who wishes to be vaccinated to receive the first dose. “Giving one dose to the vast majority of people by June and then completing the second dose … will help us prevent a potentially devastating variant-fuelled third wave,” Dr. Shahab said. The province is working closely with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and is waiting for their recommendation which he thinks will support the delay of the second dose. “If we are able to do that, we can see most of our population 18 and older potentially getting the first dose by June,” said Shahab. NACI currently is not recommending the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in individuals aged 65 years and older “due to the insufficiency of evidence of efficacy in this age group at this time.” Health Canada evaluated the data available from AstraZeneca’s clinical trials and determined that this vaccine is safe to be administered in people over 65 years of age and older, the agency said in a statement on Monday. With the current state of vaccine deliveries, the Premier and Dr. Shahab felt that most likely all residents in the 65 years and older age group would be receiving either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines since these will be the most prevalent in the province for the upcoming weeks. Also of note in the press conference was the hint that restrictions on household gatherings could be easing as early as next week. Dr. Shahab noted that when it comes to relaxing restrictions there are three key things he considers: the trend of case numbers, testing rates and contact tracing, and the hospitalizations. All three of those areas are trending in the correct direction according to Shahab. Case numbers in the province are trending downwards, testing rates are staying stable (but it would be even better if they were increasing while the test positivity rate dropped) and the hospitalization rates are trending downward. With that the Premier asked everyone to “hang tight for just a few more days.” He said that he has frequent discussions about lifting restrictions with Dr. Shahab, adding, “We should have more to say about household restrictions, possibly by early next week. We’ll be taking a close look at all of the other public health orders that are set to expire on March 19th.” Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
VANCOUVER — The British Columbia government says the provincial health officer has to strike a balance between curbing the spread of COVID-19 and religious practice, which may at times affect certain rights under the Canadian charter. Lawyer Gareth Morley told the B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday that Dr. Bonnie Henry is using "non-pharmaceutical interventions" to ensure the population remains healthy until vaccines are prevalent. Morley, who works for the legal services branch of the Attorney General Ministry, said it is agreed that the province is in the middle of a pandemic. "And measures taken to protect public health, to protect lives, to protect people from serious illness, and to protect the ability of the health-care system itself to respond, that those are the sorts of measures that can limit charter rights, including freedom of religion." Henry has a duty under the Constitution to "proportionally and reasonably" limit freedoms by preventing the gathering of people to ensure their health and safety, Morley said. Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson asked who decides whether the limits are proportional or reasonable, adding that he wants to understand how the provincial health officer is making her decisions. "Aren't the churches entitled to know why if you go to the bar and watch a hockey game for an hour or two, you can't sit in a church for an hour or two? It is a point I struggle with." Hinkson said he understands Henry has a difficult job, but she hasn't explained why or how she is making the decisions. "If she chooses not to share her thought process with the court, there's no oversight," he said. Morley said the decisions are made after careful review by health officials and experts. So balancing religious rights and protecting people from an "out-of-control epidemic" is a matter of judgment, he said, adding that Henry met with religious leaders and health officials while making her decisions. Earlier Tuesday, a lawyer for several British Columbia churches told the court the province's COVID-19 restrictions substantially interfere with their right to freedom of religion. Paul Jaffe argued religion is far more than belief, thoughts and opinions — rather, it's the "actual practice" of those things in ways that are an important part of the faith. "There couldn't be, I say, a more substantial interference with religious freedom than to prohibit them from gathering to worship — absolutely integral to their faith," he said. Hinkson said there are no COVID-19 restrictions on people's religious freedoms and it's the safety of those who are gathering that is at issue. Jaffe said church is as much a part of people's lives as school, gyms and shopping. He repeated an earlier argument to the court, saying the orders do not prohibit outdoor assemblies over matters of public interest or controversy. Religion is a matter of public interest, but there is a restriction on gatherings, he said. "In my submission, it's entirely arbitrary," he said. "And for some reason stereotyping of churches in a way which presents them with some kind of risk." Jaffe works with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Calgary-based legal advocacy group that's also asking the court to dismiss tickets of up to $2,300 each for alleged violations of the orders. His clients — which include the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack — have been careful to adopt safety protocols similar to those approved by Henry in places that remain open. A separate petition was filed Tuesday by representatives of 10 other churches that are part of the Canadian Reformed Churches, which has about 3,000 members. The group wants the court to quash the provincial health officer's restrictions that forbid in-person services. The Roman Catholic archbishop of Vancouver is challenging the restrictions in court as well, filing a petition on Friday arguing the orders are unconstitutional. The petition seeks an exemption to allow religious gatherings including mass, weddings and baptisms. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Hina Alam, The Canadian Press
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the decision to delay second doses of COVID-19 vaccine by four months is based on scientific evidence combined with real-world data from the province’s immunization campaign that began in late December.
A Hong Kong court on Wednesday adjourned for a third day the bail hearing of 47 pro-democracy activists charged with conspiracy to commit subversion, a case that has exacerbated international concern over freedoms in the financial hub. The marathon bail proceedings have gone on late into the night for three consecutive days, causing five of the defendants to fall ill and seek medical assistance. Local media footage showed the defendants dressed in the same clothes for four days since they were formally charged on Sunday, some looking exhausted.
CAMEROON, Cameroon — The United States demanded Tuesday that the status of tens of thousands of civilians detained in Syria during the country’s 10-year conflict be made public, and that the bodies of those who died be returned to their loved ones. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield made the demand at an informal high-level U.N. General Assembly meeting on human rights in Syria where she denounced the “brutality” and “untold suffering” caused by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and the “appalling atrocities” it has committed. “The Assad regime continues to imprison tens of thousands of innocent Syrians -- women and children, the elderly, doctors and providers, journalists, human rights defenders,” she said. “At least 14,000 Syrians have been reportedly tortured and tens of thousands forcibly disappeared.” Her demand for the status of detainees and return of bodies “with the time, place and cause of death” follows Monday’s release of a new report by the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria which said the Syrian government arbitrarily arrested and detained individuals and committed “war crimes and crimes against humanity in the context of detention.” Other parties in the conflict also committed crimes by unlawfully and arbitrarily depriving individuals of their liberty, it said. Since Syria’s conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests that led to a civil war, rival groups have been blamed for atrocities. They run jails where wide violations are reported against detainees. The Syrian conflict has killed nearly half a million people, displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million, including 5 million who are refugees abroad. Large parts of Syria are destroyed and tens of thousands still live in tent settlements. Thomas-Greenfield said “the United States stands with the Syrian people, Syrian civil society, and a wide group of international partners in demanding accountability and supporting a political solution” set out in a Security Council resolution adopted in December 2015 which unanimously endorsed a road map to peace in Syria adopted in Geneva on June 30, 2012. It was approved by representatives of the United Nations, Arab League, European Union, Turkey and all five permanent Security Council members — the U.S., Russia, China, France and Britain. The roadmap calls for a Syrian-led political process starting with the establishment of a transitional governing body, followed by the drafting of a new constitution and ending with U.N.-supervised elections. In late January, U.N. special envoy Geir Pedersen expressed disappointment that five rounds of talks failed to lead to the start of drafting a new constitution, hinting that the Syrian government delegation was to blame for the lack of progress. Germany’s U.N. Ambassador Christoph Heusgen said a political resolution must be in line with the 2015 resolution, “but this political solution can only be reached if Russia in particular puts pressure on the regime to agree to a real political solution.” He called vetoes by Russia and China of a U.N. resolution that would have kept more than one border crossing point for the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria “inhumane.” And he said “it remains very disappointing that Russia blocked the International Criminal Court” from investigating possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria, stressing that accountability is key to reconciliation. Russian Senior Counselor Stepan Kuzmenkov, whose country is Syria’s most important ally, dismissed the “unverified accusations, lies and conjecture” about the country’s human rights. He said it was “a pity” that speakers didn’t talk about the real problems that Syria and its government have been dealing with -- fighting against “terrorist groups” especially in northwest Idlib and “the illegal occupation of its territory by the United States and the violation of its natural resources.” “Today’s meeting has nothing to do with international co-operation in the promotion and protection of human rights,” Kuzmenkov said. “Accordingly, the discussion imposed on us cannot help stabilize the situation in Syria or international efforts to find a settlement in that country.” Mazen Darwish, president of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, called for a nationwide cease-fire and an urgent meeting under the aegis of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of all countries concerned by the Syrian conflict to draw up a roadmap to implement the 2015 Security Council resolution “in its entirety.“ He told the assembly by video link there must also be an end to the death penalty, a list and inspection of all detention sites and detainees, and the release of all those arbitrarily detained, “first and foremost" women, children, the sick and elderly. “There cannot be lasting peace in Syria without transitional justice,” Darwish stressed. “Äny attempt to achieve a political agreement which guarantees the interest of warlords, disregarding the grievances of victims that simply want justice will ultimately only lead to a new war for revenge,” he warned. Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
The union representing workers at a Red Deer slaughterhouse is calling for its potential reopening this week to be delayed, saying in an open letter that employees do not feel safe after a deadly outbreak of COVID-19. Alberta Health Services (AHS) declared an outbreak at the Olymel Red Deer Food Processing Plant on Nov. 17, and by the end of February it had been linked to at least 500 cases and three reported deaths. The plant temporarily closed more than two weeks ago, and nearly three weeks after the first death related to the outbreak — Darwin Doloque, a 35-year-old permanent resident who immigrated to Canada from the Philippines. A few weeks later, Henry De Leon, 50, died, followed by a third woman in her 60s. In a letter obtained by CBC News, plant manager Rob Ackerblade informed employees on Feb. 28 that if a March 1 inspection by AHS and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) should be successful, gradual reopening dates for the Olymel plant could be March 3 for the slaughterhouse and March 4 for the cutting room. "The purpose of this memo is to inform you of a potential upcoming and gradual reopening of the facility subject to the recommendation of the health authorities [AHS]," Ackerblade said. However, Olymel spokesperson Richard Vigneault told Radio-Canada that there is no set date to reopen the plant, as the company is still waiting for a green light from AHS. He said some training will get underway Wednesday for employees regarding the reopening plan and the measures that will be in place. UFCW Local 401 president Thomas Hesse said in an open letter of his own on Monday that the union conducted a survey of employees ahead of the plant's potential reopening, and found "definitive trends" had emerged among responses. "These results make a few things clear: Olymel workers still do not feel safe at the plant, they do not trust either Olymel or government officials to keep them safe," Hesse wrote in part. Union requests 'action items' before reopening More than 75 per cent of nearly 600 employees surveyed said that they feel nervous or scared to return to work, while 75 per cent also indicated they do not fully trust Olymel to keep them safe, the letter said. Meanwhile, more than 80 per cent of respondents said they are unsure the plant is safe, while more than 50 per cent of respondents indicated they do not fully trust government officials to keep them safe. The union's letter listed more than 20 "action items" that it said should be fulfilled before reopening is considered, in order to regain the confidence of employees and ensure their safety. The list included the installation of barriers, additional staff to clean and sanitize the space, and full compensation for employees during the time the plant was closed. The union also noted that plant management appeared to be preparing to reopen before recommendations and conclusions were made by those tasked with reviewing the plant's safety, and called this "disturbing." "How can anyone possibly be ready to deem the plant safe for reopening before those bodies have provided their findings?" Hesse wrote. 'Consequences will be on your conscience' CBC News asked Alberta Health for confirmation that the plant was intending to open, and what safety measures had been put in place since the outbreak. A government spokesperson advised CBC News to direct questions to the plant's management and union representatives, but said AHS is working with the plant. "AHS continues to work in partnership with Olymel management, union representatives and community partners in responding to the outbreak and ensuring that staff have the supports they and their family require," the statement said. For its part, Ackerblade said in his letter that the Olymel plant would not reopen until the AHS inspection was completed and a recommendation was issued. "These gradual and potential reopening dates will be valid only if the AHS inspection comes up with a positive reopening recommendation," Ackerblade's letter said. He also told employees in the letter that additional measures have been put in place to make the plant safer. "Olymel has reviewed and adjusted many of the health measures put in place since the start of the pandemic, even adding more spaces to further promote social distancing," he said. "A possible reopening also means that supervisors and staff assigned to overseeing the application of protective measures should receive an update in their training in this regard." But Hesse concluded his letter by stating the consequences "somewhat bluntly," he said, of failing to secure the plant's safety. "Please know that unless you can guarantee no one else will become ill and no one else will die, the rushed reopening of Olymel's Red Deer plant and the resulting consequences will be on your conscience – and yours alone."
CALGARY — A Calgary man has admitted to slitting his girlfriend's throat and, days later, stabbing to death his mother and stepfather. Crown prosecutor Shane Parker said Tuesday that Dustin Duthie, 27, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murders of Taylor Toller and Shawn Boshuk and the first-degree murder of Alan Pennylegion. An agreed statement of facts said Toller, Duthie's girlfriend of five years, was last seen on video footage from outside her condo unit about 4 a.m. on July 26, 2018. Duthie was captured on video leaving the condo alone about an hour later. Police found Toller, 24, five days later with her throat slit and "tucked into her bed as if she was asleep." The agreed statement of facts mentions a torn-up note in which Duthie explains why he killed Toller, but the document does not detail the note's contents. On the same day Toller was found, Duthie stabbed Boshuk, his mother, six times in their home and covered her with a plastic sheet, the statement said. Boshuk had messaged Toller's grandmother a day earlier, concerned about how her son would react to police contacting him about Toller's disappearance. The statement said Pennylegion witnessed Duthie cleaning his mother's blood in the kitchen and Duthie attacked his stepfather, stabbing him eight times. Duthie and his stepfather had a tense relationship at the time and Duthie had threatened violence against Pennylegion over the years, the statement said. One of Duthie's pit bulls was stabbed but survived with surgery. Pennylegion's pet dog, Odie, found with his owner in the main floor bathroom, was also stabbed and died. The statement said Duthie shaved his head, showered, and changed his clothes after killing his mother and stepfather. About 10:50 a.m. on July 31, he called 911 and confessed to the killings. The document said he was "contemplating 'suicide-by-cop.'" A sentencing date has not yet been set. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 The Canadian Press
While many things were shut down due to the pandemic, Tabitha McLoughlin and her team responded to increased demand in their community for fresh food by opening another farmers market. McLoughlin is the executive director of Grow Local Tricities, which manages the Port Moody and Coquitlam farmers markets. In June, the organization started its Port Moody summer market as an emergency response for farmers in their area. “We did it in response to knowing that we had farmer vendors who were losing contracts to restaurants and losing contracts to food suppliers, because those guys were shutting down or being closed down, and they had crops in the ground,” she said. “And it was well enough attended that we’ll continue to do it again this year.” McLoughlin has worked with Grow Local for 15 years and said she wasn’t surprised the new market was so well-received. She has seen a steady interest in farmers markets over the past five to eight years, and COVID-19 has only fast-tracked it. “I think the media really started to push ‘buy local’ ... because, as much as we have preached it for years, the importance of the economic impact that is generated by buying from places within your own community is now being seen on such a massive scale,” she said. McLoughlin said it was interesting seeing farmers markets being used in such a utilitarian manner during the pandemic, after trying on so many different hats to appeal to consumers. “What we saw was people coming specifically to buy at the market ... We have spent years building the farmers markets to be these destinations where you and your kids can do a craft, watch a food demonstration,” she said. “We had to throw all that out the window and be like, 'OK, we need you to come in and shop as fast as you possibly can.'” Jen Candela, communications manager with Vancouver Farmers Markets (VFM) since 2007, said the last decade has seen a lot of growth on their end. The VFM has operated markets since 1995 and now supports 280 small farms and businesses. “I think people are a lot more concerned about where their food comes from than they were 20 years ago,” she said. “Vancouver is also a health-conscious city, so people want the freshest, healthiest food they can find. Unless you grow your own food, farmers markets are the best place to find that.” There is little data on farmers markets in Canada. The last nationwide survey was done in 2009 by Farmers Markets Canada, a now-defunct organization. Even then, total direct sales from farmers markets across Canada was estimated to be $1.03 billion. Although the markets may be expanding and growing, McLoughlin said the sentiment behind them remains the same. “I think (people’s reasons) for putting these things together was always greater than just simply bringing the food into the community,” she said. “Now as it's become more and more common, it's not just like the hippies in the parking lots anymore. It's way more mainstream, to the point where it's almost become trendy.” Cloe Logan / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Cloe Logan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
OTTAWA — Canada's chief public health officer says new COVID-19 cases are starting to tick back up after a month-long decline, giving urgency to the question of who should receive doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to arrive in Canada Wednesday. The "moderate increase" at the national level noted by Dr. Theresa Tam is in keeping with models forecasting a spike in cases over the next two months unless stricter public health measures are imposed to combat more contagious strains of the virus. “The concern is that we will soon see an impact on hospitalization, critical care and mortality trends," Tam said Tuesday. Canada saw 2,933 new cases on average over the past week, a figure similar to last Friday's numbers that revealed week-over-week increases of between eight and 14 per cent in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The uptick comes as provinces figure out how to allocate their various vaccines, especially as Canada receives 500,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India. About 445,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are also arriving this week, said Procurement Minister Anita Anand. Guidance on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has caused some confusion. Health Canada authorized its use last week for all adults but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends it not be administered to people 65 and over. The advisory committee cites concern over limited data from clinical trials for older patients. Health Canada also acknowledges that issue. But the advisory panel, which recommends how vaccines should be used, says the limitation means seniors should take priority for the two greenlighted mRNA vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — where dearth of data is not an issue. Alberta's health minister said Monday the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine to anyone over 65. British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Prince Edward Island are on similar courses, though details on who will get those jabs is not always clear. "With clinical testing of AstraZeneca limited to those under 65, we will need to adjust our plan to look at a parallel track for some of these more flexible vaccines in order to cast the widest net possible," the B.C. health ministry said in an email. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. will use the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to target younger people who have more social interactions and who would have to wait much longer for the other vaccines. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott characterized Oxford-AstraZeneca as "very versatile " because it lacks the same cold-storage requirements as the two other vaccines in use in Canada. It won't go to seniors, but she said shots might be administered in correctional facilities for that reason. P.E.I. will target AstraZeneca at "healthy younger individuals who are working in certain front-line, essential services," said Dr. Heather Morrison, the province's chief medical officer of health. Health officials in Quebec and New Brunswick say they await further advice from health authorities and are taking time to examine how to deploy the latest vaccine. Nova Scotia's chief medical health officer Dr. Robert Strang said the province has yet to give an answer to Ottawa "about whether we actually want to take the vaccine." All provinces must provide a response by midday Thursday, he said. Two experts say essential workers who are more likely to contract and transmit COVID-19 should be prioritized for immunization with the Oxford-AstraZeneca doses. Caroline Colijn, a COVID-19 modeller and mathematician at Simon Fraser University, and Horacio Bach, an adjunct professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia, also say the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine could be better promoted by provincial health officials as a strong alternative to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Oxford-AstraZeneca reported their vaccine is about 62 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 while Pifzer-BioNTech and Moderna have said the efficacy of their vaccines is about 95 per cent. But Colijn and Bach say the fact there have been no hospitalizations from severe illness and no deaths among those receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine needs to be underscored because people awaiting immunization seem to be fixated on the higher efficacy data for the first two vaccines approved in Canada. "If the AstraZeneca vaccine will prevent you from getting really sick that's still a win for you," Colijn said. "I see this huge, huge benefit of vaccinating young people, particularly people with high contact, essential workers, sooner." No province has been spared from the increase in new variants circulating across the country, though several continue to ease anti-pandemic restrictions. Modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada projected a steep surge in new cases starting late last month — and reaching 20,000 new cases a day before May — if public health measures weren't tightened. Since that Feb. 19 forecast, restrictions in many regions have loosened as Canadians return to restaurants, cinemas and hair salons. But Tam said Canada is gaining ground on "the vaccine-versus-variants leg of this marathon" every day. "Canada is prepared, and Canada remains on track," she said. Provinces have now reported 1,257 cases of the B.1.1.7 mutation that was first identified in the United Kingdom, 99 cases of the B. 22.214.171.124 strain first identified in South Africa, and three of the P. 1 variant first identified in Brazil. There have been 870,033 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 22,017 deaths as of Monday night. There were 30,430 active cases across Canada, with an average of 42 deaths reported daily over the past week. Provinces are also figuring out whether to stick to the original injection schedules or extend the interval between doses beyond three or four weeks. The national advisory committee is expected to update its recommendations this week. Ontario is waiting for that guidance, while B.C. is pushing ahead with its plan to prolong the interval to four months. Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, said Monday the decision was based on local and international evidence that shows the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provides "miraculous" 90 per cent protection from the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. — With files from Camille Bains, Kevin Bissett, Laura Dhillon Kane and Holly McKenzie-Sutter. Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Channing Phillips, a Justice Department official during the Obama administration, will return as acting U.S. attorney in the nation’s capital, a Justice Department official told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Phillips will assume the role Wednesday leading the largest U.S. attorney’s office in the country, which has been historically responsible for some of the most significant and politically sensitive cases the Justice Department brings in the U.S. In recent weeks, prosecutors in the office have brought nearly 300 federal cases following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Hundreds of other people are still being sought by investigators. The office was involved in some of the most tumultuous and controversial decisions made by the Justice Department under President Donald Trump, including a decision by then-Attorney General William Barr to reverse the sentencing recommendation by career prosecutors in the case against Trump ally Roger Stone. The outgoing acting U.S. attorney, Michael Sherwin, will remain in Washington for a “brief period” to help ensure a smooth transition overseeing the riot investigation and the prosecutions, the Justice Department official said. Sherwin, who for years worked as a career federal prosecutor on drug trafficking, white-collar and top national security cases, will later return to the U.S. attorney’s office in southern Florida, the official said. The official could not publicly discuss the personnel matter and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. Phillips served as U.S. attorney in Washington beginning in October 2015 and was a longtime Justice Department official, having been a senior counsellor to the attorney general and deputy associate attorney general. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets roared back with vengeance Tuesday, downing the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. The result came after the home side was blanked 4-0 by the Canucks the night before. Mason Appleton sparked the scoring for Winnipeg (14-7-1) early in the first period on Tuesday. Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler each added a goal and two assists, and Mathieu Perreault and Paul Stastny also found the back of the net. Mark Scheifele tacked on three assists. Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller responded for Vancouver (9-15-2), and Brock Boeser registered a pair of helpers. It was a busy night for Vancouver goalie Braden Holtby, who stopped 34-of-38 shots. Winnipeg’s Laurent Brossoit had 30 saves. The Canucks pulled Holtby with just over three minutes to go. Wheeler buried an empty-net goal with 2:10 on the clock. Stastny gave Winnipeg some breathing room 9:13 into the third period, blasting a wrist shot past Holtby from the bottom of the slot to make it 4-2. Wheeler nearly restored the Jets' two-goal lead seconds earlier, ringing a shot off the post. The Canucks were down 3-1 late in the second when they whittled the lead to a single goal on a power play. Winnipeg defenceman Tucker Poolman was called for interference after bringing down Nils Hoglander near the Jets blue line. Vancouver capitalized with the extra player when Miller ripped a one timer past Brossoit with 4.7 seconds left on the clock. The Canucks were 1 for 2 on the power play Tuesday. Winnipeg was 1 for 3 with the man advantage. The Jets power-play tally put the home side up 3-1 early in the second frame. Wheeler wove a pass through several defenders in front of the Canucks net, landing the puck on Connor's tape. The winger released a low show, sliding the puck through Holtby's pads. Winnipeg's first of the night came 5:19 into the first period. Holtby made a stop on Adam Lowry but couldn't corral the rebound. The puck popped out to Lowry, who shovelled it into the net to put the Jets up 1-0. It was Appleton's third goal against the Canucks this season. The Canucks were quick to respond. Boeser, deep in the Jets end, swept a pass to Pettersson at the top of the slot. The Swedish centre took a few strides and fired a wrist shot past Brossoit to even the score. Some sloppy defensive play by Vancouver helped Winnipeg take a one-goal lead into the first intermission. Brandon Sutter dove, trying to sweep the puck from the Canucks zone. Instead, it was picked up by Perreault, who waltzed in and fired a shot past Holtby with 2.6 seconds left in the period. Both teams will be back in action Thursday, with the Canucks hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs in Vancouver and the Jets visiting the Canadiens in Montreal. NOTES: Poolman returned to the Jets lineup after missing three games with an undisclosed injury. … Canucks winger Jake Virtanen played his 300th NHL game. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Another temporary modular housing project may soon be built in Richmond. BC Housing has applied for a three-year permit for properties on Smith Street and Bridgeport Road. The intention is to construct a three-storey supportive housing building with 40 studio units. “I’m excited to see another modular housing (project) come in,” said Coun. Carol Day. The city’s director of development Wayne Craig said a memorandum of understanding will be developed between the non-profit operator, the construction company and BC Housing to ensure the security of the space. The existing modular housing project on Elmbridge Way will serve as a model for the new proposed project. “Elmbridge was very successful and it’s continuing to be successful,” said Coun. Bill McNulty. “I think we need to tell people about the successes that we have. This modular housing is working, and this is our second one, and we should continue maybe to do a third one somewhere down the road.” If approved by council, the building’s completion and occupancy is targeted for early next year. The issue will be discussed at a March 15 public hearing. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
Alberta says it will continue to fund injectable opioid agonist treatment (iOAT) for current patients under a two-year grant. It comes as the government faces a lawsuit brought by 11 patients who say Alberta's move to end funding for the life-saving program is a violation of their Charter rights. Staff were told about the grant in a conference call on Tuesday morning, two AHS employees with knowledge of the iOAT program told CBC News. CBC is not naming the two AHS employees because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the grant. With the $6-million, two-year grant, iOAT clients are expected to receive the same level of care when they are transferred to opioid dependency programs, the employees said. "The name iOAT is disappearing at the end of March, the program and services continue with no change," an AHS employee said. There are 88 patients in the iOAT program, 44 in Edmonton and 44 in Calgary, according to AHS. But no new patients will be accepted, spokesperson Kerry Williamson confirmed. Scott Monette, one of the plaintiffs, said he was relieved to learn about the funding decision. "Today is a very good day and I feel like a lot has been accomplished," he said. "It's been a nightmare not knowing whether or not it's going to close or open," he said. "We're talking about the difference between life and death here." Injectable hydromorphone is considered a last-resort treatment option for people with severe opioid addictions when oral-based options offered at opioid dependency programs, such as methadone, prove ineffective. Patients started to disengage from the program after the government announced last March it would end the program, according to an affidavit from Dr. Krishna Balachandra filed in the lawsuit. One patient died after being discharged, he said. After the lawsuit was filed, government lawyers announced the province would continue to offer existing iOAT clients with hydromorphone. But despite the name, injectable treatment is just one aspect of iOAT — and questions remained about the continued availability of other wraparound services. "It's been a nightmare not knowing whether or not it's going to close or open." - Scott Monette, iOAT client and lawsuit plaintiff The judge found some primary care treatment would not be available to clients transferred to the opioid dependency program clinic, with referrals offered instead. Court documents show some clients feared it could limit care for lung and blood disorders and HIV, among other conditions. The judge also said the level of psychosocial support, from trauma therapy to housing services, would be reduced at opioid dependency clinics But in dismissing the plaintiffs' injunction application last Thursday, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Grant Dunlop said the impacts would be "minor". No job losses, AHS says Avnish Nanda, the clients' lawyer, filed an appeal yesterday. But he said Tuesday's announcement helped to end a year of government-generated uncertainty. "If there's one thing that the government takes away from this, it's that the lives of people who use drugs, people who live with opioid use disorder matter," he said. "And that other Albertans will fight and organize to ensure that they receive the type of treatment, the type of care that they need to continue to live." In a statement, the press secretary for Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Kassandra Kitz said the government "always said that these individuals in iOAT would not be cut off from programming." "In fact, the Government committed to support these clients before the court case, during the court case, and after it was completed," she said. The government revealed its plan to provide existing iOAT patients with hydromorphone through its lawyer after the lawsuit was filed — six months after it announced iOAT was set to close. The opioid dependency program in Edmonton will move into the current iOAT clinic, AHS said. While iOAT services in Calgary will continue to be offered at the Sheldon Chumir Centre. Williamson, AHS spokesperson, said no clients have been transferred yet, as timing and planning is underway. There will be no job losses due to the transition. The iOAT program was first launched as a two-year, $14-million pilot by the NDP government in 2018. The Alberta government announced last March it would extend funding for a year to provide time for patients to be transferred into other programs. Last year marked the most deadly year for overdoses in Alberta on record, with data up to the end of November showing 997 people had died.