76 years ago, the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in occupied Poland was liberated. The day is commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year, pandemic restrictions in Germany mean the anniversary is being mostly marked virtually.
76 years ago, the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in occupied Poland was liberated. The day is commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year, pandemic restrictions in Germany mean the anniversary is being mostly marked virtually.
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Fueled by Black turnout, Democrats scored stunning wins in Georgia in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Now, Republicans are trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. GOP lawmakers in the once reliably red state are rolling out an aggressive slate of voting legislation that critics argue is tailored to curtail the power of Black voters and undo years of work by Stacey Abrams and others to increase engagement among people of colour, including Latino and Asian American communities. The proposals are similar to those pushed by Republicans in other battleground states: adding barriers to mail-in and early voting, major factors in helping Joe Biden win Georgia's 16 Electoral College votes and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff take the two Senate seats that gave Democrats control of the chamber. But one aspect of their plans, a proposal to eliminate early voting on Sundays, seems specifically targeted at a traditional get-out-the-vote campaign used by Black churches, referred to as “souls to the polls." It's led many to suggest Republicans are trying to stop a successful effort to boost Black voter turnout in Georgia, where they make up about a third of the population and have faced a dark history of attempts to silence their voices in elections. “It's a new form of voter suppression, the Klan in three-piece suits rather than white hoods,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald III of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which has participated in souls to the polls events. “They know the power of the Black vote, and their goal is to suppress that power.” In previous elections, souls to the polls campaigns were festive, with vehicles and people parading to election offices during early voting windows. Churches would sometimes playfully compete to see which could bring the most voters, said McDonald, who described the GOP legislation as “spiteful.” In Georgia and elsewhere, Republicans say proposals to tighten voting access are meant to bolster confidence in elections, though they have been some of the loudest proponents of meritless claims that the election was fraudulent. The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy group, has counted 165 bills in 33 states this year meant to limit access to voting. In Georgia, Republicans control state government and have introduced dozens of legislative measures that would restrict voting access. GOP state Rep. Barry Fleming is chief sponsor of a wide-ranging proposal that would ban Sunday early voting, require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the time when an absentee ballot could be requested, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be placed and curb the use of mobile voting units, among other changes. In committee hearings, Fleming has cast the legislation as “an attempt to restore the confidence of our public in our election system.” He didn’t respond to an email or phone message requesting comment. Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project that Abrams founded in 2014, called the GOP measures a backlash “to our multiracial, multilingual progressive majority that is winning elections." Biden beat former President Donald Trump by roughly 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democrat to win a presidential contest in Georgia since 1992. Biden received nearly double the number of absentee votes as Trump in a state that became a major target of Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. Biden's win there was confirmed in three separate counts, including one by hand. "These measures, in our opinion, are not based on any objective, data-driven, evidence-based assessment of the issue but solely with the intention to undermine Black voters and other communities of concern,” said Democratic state Rep. Michael Smith, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Policy Committee. Because Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, at least some form of their proposals are likely to become law. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, has called for a photo ID requirement for absentee voting but has yet to back a specific proposal. His office said it was still reviewing the legislation. Republicans are trying to limit ways to vote that have been wildly popular. After states expanded access to mail-in and early voting during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 70% of all ballots cast nationwide came before Election Day. An estimated 108 million people voted by mail, early in person or by dropping off absentee ballots. In Georgia, over 4 million voters cast early or absentee ballots. “They realize if they continue to allow individuals to vote by mail, it is going to be an uphill battle for Republicans to win at the polls and maintain their position,” Democratic state Rep. Debra Bazemore said. At the federal level, Democrats are pushing for a sweeping overhaul of how Americans vote. House Democrats are expected to vote next week on a measure that would establish federal election standards like early voting periods, same-day voter registration and other policies that Republicans have dismissed as federal overreach. And they are expected to introduce another bill to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had triggered federal scrutiny of election changes in certain states and counties with histories of discrimination. Georgia was among the states that previously had to get approval for voting changes. “If left to their own devices, Republicans will try to limit the ability of minority voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat co-sponsoring the bill on federal election standards. “It's open season on voting rights in Georgia,” he said. ___ Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York. ___ Associated Press coverage of voting rights receives support in part from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Anthony Izaguirre And Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem says the central bank is seeing early signs that people may be purchasing homes solely because they believe prices may go up. Macklem says rising prices in particular for single-family homes are still a long way from the heated market the country observed about five years ago. Fuelling the increase has been a combination of demand for more space as millions of workers do their jobs remotely, constrained supply and rock-bottom interest rates driven low by central bank actions. The bank's key policy rate has been at 0.25 per cent for about 11 months, and its quantitative easing program is trying to reduce the rates paid on things like mortgages to drive spending. Macklem says the central bank is surprised by the rebound in the housing market. He adds there are early signs of what he called "excess exuberance," with people maybe expecting the recent increases in prices to go on indefinitely. "What we get worried about is when we start to see extrapolated expectations, when we start to see people expecting the kind of unsustainable price increases we've seen recently go on indefinitely," Macklem said during a question-and-answer session with chambers of commerce in Edmonton and Calgary. "We are starting to see some early signs of excess exuberance, but we're a long way from where we were in 2016-2017 when things were really hot." The central bank plans to keep its key rate low until the economy recovers, expected sometime in 2023, and adjust its bond-buying program over time. Macklem says there is still a need for considerable monetary policy support to generate a complete recovery. In the meantime, the bank will keep an eye on debt levels, as mortgage debt rises as households pay down other debt like credit cards and personal loans, Macklem says. "We are acutely aware that in a world of very low interest rates, there is a risk that housing prices could get stretched, households could get stretched, and certainly that's a risk we want to guard against," Macklem told reporters following the speech. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
THUNDER BAY — A new website launched this week features various services and tools to support victims and survivors of local human trafficking, says the co-chair of the Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking. Thunder Bay has been identified as one of the top six hubs in Ontario for human trafficking says Kristal Carlson, human trafficking youth and transition worker at Thunder Bay Counselling and co-chair of the Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking. “This crime is rampant in Thunder Bay,” she said Monday, Feb. 22. The website was created to provide victims and survivors of human trafficking with access to free services and to also spread awareness and education in the community about the crime. “The Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking created the website to help community members, potential survivors and business people alike to be able to acknowledge, identify and potentially intervene if they should see human trafficking in young peoples’ lives,” Carlson said, adding the crime is often under-reported. For women, only one in 10 will report and for men only one in 20 will report to police, Carlson said. “It is such an under-reported crime so any sex-based crime we know that only six per cent will ever end in conviction so it is really hard to convince people to come forward when there is not the likelihood that something will happen,” she said. And while groups such as the Thunder Bay Coalition To End Human Trafficking exist to support victims of the crime, it is important to note they do not classify themselves as a “rescuing people” group, Carlson said. “We support individuals to move forward when they are ready in the way that is going to best suit them in their current situation,” she said. Last year alone, through various programs across the Coalition more than 60 people were successful in leaving their current situation, Carlson said. The creators of the new website also hope to address misconceptions around human traffickers that are often presented in media and movies. “Human trafficking, more times than not, is somebody being exploited by the person they identify as their boyfriend, their best friend or somebody that they know so that happens in more than 85 per cent of cases,” she said. The other most common form of trafficking is the exploitation of young people by family members, extended family members, caretakers or guardians. “More times than not it’s happening by the person they believe to be their boyfriend, girlfriend or best friend,” Carlson said. The website also teaches individuals how to identify signs and risk factors of human trafficking. “We also want to raise the education in the city of Thunder bay because we are identified as one of the top six hubs in the province of Ontario and Ontario makes up two-thirds of all human trafficking that takes place in our country,” Carlson said. Carlson also points out that coming forward doesn’t mean individuals have to report to the police. “The Thunder Bay Police have started to do some really amazing work in being able to meet survivors exactly where they are at and not needing to move forward with charges but to support them for when they are ready to do that if they are ever ready to do that,” she said. “We just want [survivors] to know they are not alone and that there are people to support you no matter where you are, whether you are currently at risk, entrenched, or you looking to exit, there are people here to support you.” For more information, visit Thunder Bay Coalition’s new website by clicking here. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Brooklyn’s organic licensed cannabis producer, Aqualitas, is partnering with Colorado-based Sana Packaging to bring ocean-sourced packaging to the recreational and medical markets. Aqualitas CEO Myrna Gillis described the arrangement as a significant step for the company. “We think, from a leadership perspective, this is really important to us as being in a coastal community. Obviously, taking garbage from our oceans is really important, and we’re just very happy that we were able to work with a forward-thinking company that had the same sort of ideas and visions about bringing it to fruition,” she said in an interview with LighthouseNOW. In a recent press release, Josh Adler, Aqualitas’s director of operations, suggested that while the facility is a low energy and low water consumer due to its LED lights and aquaponic systems, “we wanted to do more.” He added that it’s been two years in the making to source packaging material, connect with a manufacturer, get the product certified, conduct impact investigations and make the whole thing work during a pandemic. Sana Packaging is working with Oceanworks, a global marketplace for reclaimed ocean materials and products, to make its 100-per-cent reclaimed plastic packaging. “It’s basically packaging that is taken from our oceans, waterways and shorelines. It’s separated and graded, and the product we would use would be food-grade [food safe], reclaimed plastics. “It’s a way to effectively recycle waste that didn’t make its way into our recycling stream.” According to the release, the first order for packaging from Sana reclaimed 1.8 million tonnes of ocean plastic. The packaging will be used for the company’s flower products and exclusively in all its medical offerings, along with for some of its branded products and for lids on glass jars of other products. “We have a fully sustainable package line that consists of ocean-sourced packaging, including the ocean-sourced lids on glass jars, as well as omnidegradable and biodegradable bags and cardboard,” said Gillis. “We are now at the point where all of our products are in sustainable packaging.” Gillis said the changeover in packaging will not affect the cost of any of their products, despite a rise in cost for the company to introduce the sustainable packaging. She added that Sana Packaging has offered competitive pricing and they are able to absorb the extra cost. The new packaging will launch coast-to-coast via Aqualitas’s medical platform in five-gram jars, and in Nova Scotia in the recreational market, via its Reef Organic product line later this month. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
Golf superstar Tiger Woods needed surgery after a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday that left him with multiple leg injuries. Officials say he was conscious when pulled from the wrecked SUV and the injuries are not life threatening.
A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers plans to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday to discuss supply chain issues, including semiconductor chips, three people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. One of the sources said the lawmakers, from both the Senate and the House of Representatives, are expected to learn more about an executive order the Biden administration has been discussing on supply chain issues. The White House declined to comment.
Dr. John C. Wickwire Academy in Liverpool and North Queens Community School in Caledonia are among the Queens County schools engaging students in various activities in recognition of February as Nova Scotia’s African Heritage Month. The theme in this year’s celebration is Black History Matters: Listen, Learn, Share and Act. Erica Langille, the teacher for Grades 1 to 2 at Wickwire, said the students began discussions in January about the famed American social rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. They read a book about him and watched part of his speech. “It wasn’t so much about what he said, for my students, but how he said it,” observed Langille. The discussions focused on his dream, racism and segregation, and culminated in what the students could do to change the world. Earlier this month, discussions also touched upon different symbols that represent African culture. According to Langille, Kente cloths that are bright and worn for celebrations are what stand out for her. The students made some with paper and discussed what the colours they chose meant to them. They also talked about African American inventors. “I think it’s very important, because for many years we suppressed these people and did not allow them to speak about their history and culture,” commented Langille. ‘I think they need to be celebrated and their culture expressed. If we don’t teach our students about their history, how do we ever build upon that culture?” Meanwhile, Phil Prendergast, a behaviour support and resource teacher at North Queens Community School, has been leading activities in that school this month. “We are focusing on achievements and celebration – historical and contemporary,” he said. “Usually the standard for African Heritage Month is to just put up a poster. We didn’t want to stop there, but to go above and beyond that.” While the students did put up posters, the artwork included cut-outs of different colours of hands from elementary students that were placed around the poster. Staff and students also started a trivia contest for the school. Each day Grade 7 students ask a question during the announcements. Students from Grades 2 to 12 then can look up the answers. The classes with the most participation can win a weekly prize and, at the end of the month, a pizza party will be held for the winning class. Elementary students also were expected to begin making bracelets adorned in African colours, and one class had started a “history gram,” highlighting the accomplishments of African Canadians. The aim of African Heritage Month is to recognize the important legacy of people of African descent and their long-standing history in the development of Canada. It also brings focus and increased awareness of racialized issues and further calls on people to listen, share and act to make society a better place. Paul Ash, the regional executive director for the South Shore Regional Centre of Education, maintained that recognizing the contributions and learning about African Nova Scotians is “absolutely critical.” “It is extremely important that our students and communities see themselves reflected in our formal and informal curriculum,” Ash, who is of Canadian-African descent, commented in an email. “It is equally important that all of our students are exposed to learning opportunities to understand different lived experiences and histories as they prepare to enter into a much smaller world than previous generations.” While Ash recognized the value in having a designated month recognizing African Nova Scotians, he suggested more has to be done to break down social barriers. “Celebrations and activities are extremely important, but it will be the daily conversation and interactions that will impact our student level of knowledge and understanding of our African Nova Scotian/African Canadian Community,” he said. Nova Scotia has more than 50 historic African Nova Scotian communities with a history dating back more than 400 years. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
(Michel Corriveau/Radio-Canada - image credit) Wishful thinking and poor forecasting have led NB Power to consistently miss profit and debt reduction targets in recent years with major new expenditures on the horizon, according to an unflattering assessment of the utility's financial management by New Brunswick Auditor General Kim Adair-MacPherson. "It is ultimately management's decision to reduce debt," said Adair-MacPherson, in a 65-page review of the utility she presented to MLAs on Tuesday. NB Power ended the 2020 fiscal year with $4.9 billion in net debt, about $700 million higher than targets set for it by the Legislature in 2013. That's a concern, according to the auditor general, because the province guarantees what NB Power owes and significant new spending requirements are approaching. "It's the largest contingent risk to the province," she told MLAs, about NB Power's liabilities. Debt reduction, her report said, is "not a top priority" of utility management, who she said failed to meet financial targets "year after year" by engaging in "optimistic" and "inaccurate forecasting" of utility expenses. The report notes how in 2016 the utility projected $549 million in profits for itself over the following four years in its planning but managed to achieve actual profits over the period of just $54 million, less than 10 per cent of what it had suggested. Damaging storms, spotty performance by the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station, low hydro production during dry summers and other problems have all taken turns upsetting the utility's financial plans, but Adair-MacPherson said those risks need to be better accounted for in corporate planning. An ice storm that hit the Acadian Peninsula in 2017 downed dozens of power lines and cost NB Power a record-setting $30 million in cleanup expenses. She also expressed concern about whether the utility will be able to significantly improve its finances before 2027, when up to $4 billion in major expenditures will be needed for a rebuild of the Mactaquac Dam and other projects. "NB Power does not have a definitive plan to do this," she wrote about the need for significant short term debt reduction. Although NB Power charges some of the lowest rates for electricity in Atlantic Canada, Adair-MacPherson questioned whether that makes business sense given its financial position. "While maintaining a consistently low annual rate may be advantageous to NB Power consumers, it is likely contributing to its failure to meet the debt to equity target and ever-increasing debt level," she said. Adair-MacPherson's report comes as NB Power is coping with yet another major unbudgeted cost, the unexpected breakdown of the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station last month. The Point Lepreau nuclear generating station appeared to have its reliability issues resolved in the last two years, until the utility had a surprise problem with its turbines in January. Turbine problems forced a shutdown of the plant in mid January and more than a month later it remains offline at an approximate cost to the utility of $1 million per day. In its response to the report, NB Power defended its forecasting practices and expressed confidence it will get its debt level down to the required 80 per cent level by 2027. However, it also promised to do better budgeting for trouble. "NB Power agrees to evaluate additional means to quantify the impact of significant future cost uncertainties outside management's control and to include this information in its planning process," said the utility's response.
TORONTO — An isolation centre where migrant farm workers in southwestern Ontario recover from COVID-19 may have to close next month due to a funding shortfall created by a shift in federal support. In a letter to federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu, the mayor of Windsor, Ont., says a decision by Ottawa to shift responsibility for the centre's funding from one government department to another resulted in $2 million in costs not being covered. That means the city, which already pays to staff the centre located at a local hotel would have to take on additional costs it can't afford as pandemic expenses continue to mount. "The City of Windsor has been forced to consider if we are able to continue with this temporary foreign worker isolation and recovery centre," Mayor Drew Dilkens said in his letter on Feb. 17. When the centre first opened in November, the program was funded through Public Safety Canada, and administered by the Canadian Red Cross. In December, the federal government notified the city it would shift funding to the Public Health Agency of Canada, and required the local officials to complete a new application form. During the lengthy application process, Dilkens said it became clear that a 12 per cent fee paid to the Red Cross to administer the centre would not be covered and the city would be on the hook for it. He said additional new criteria from the public health agency would require the centre to shift its mandate and make its services available to the general public. Dilkens said the city already maintains a second centre for the homeless and people in vulnerable communities and adding new "complexities" of an additional open site would require further resources. In his letter to Hajdu, he proposes a compromise - grandfathering the current agreement and conditions into the new terms with Public Health Canada. "Should (public health) reject these modest amendments, included in our application, then the City of Windsor will not be in a position to accept any grant funding and the (isolation centre) will close at the end of March 2021," he wrote. The city's chief administrative officer also wrote the federal public health agency last week to make the case for maintaining the current funding arrangement. Onorio Colucci said the city is projecting a $38-million budget shortfall this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that does not include the additional costs for the isolation centre. "The current funding for the isolation and recovery centre will end on March 31, 2021, but the need for this site remains," Colucci said. "We expect site usage to grow in the coming weeks as the region welcomes thousands of temporary foreign agri-farm workers ... this spring." He said the isolation centre has been used by 490 farm workers who have contracted COVID-19. Health Canada did not immediately provide comment. Thousands of migrant workers take up jobs at Ontario farms and greenhouses every spring. During the first wave of the pandemic, dozens of farm outbreaks were reported across the province. More than 1,780 temporary foreign workers in Ontario tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020, and three died of the virus. NDP MP Brian Masse, who represents a Windsor riding, said he can't understand why the previous arrangement needs to change. "It seems like an incredible amount of effort to sabotage something that was really working well," he said. Masse said if the federal government allows the centre to close it will likely have to set up some kind of alternative in the months ahead, and that will cost time, money and possibly lives. "We had people die by themselves in hotel rooms," he said. "So, we know we have a record of heartbreak, sorrow and regret. .... I think we're going to be liable in different ways." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
Le bilan lavallois pointe désormais à 739 cas actifs selon les données émises par le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de Laval. Cela représente une baisse de 39 cas actifs par rapport à la veille. On décompte toutefois 66 nouveaux cas confirmés en date du 23 février. Ils s'ajoutent au total lavallois et portent celui à 24 212 cas confirmés depuis le début de la pandémie. Le nombre de décès augmente à 866 (+2). Parmi les personnes porteuses du virus, 34 sont hospitalisées, dont 13 aux soins intensifs. Le CISSS de Laval confirme que 15 employés de son réseau sont présentement absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Il y a maintenant trois secteurs de l'île Jésus qui comptent moins de 100 cas actifs sur leur territoire respectif. Sainte-Dorothée/Laval-Ouest/Laval-Les Îles/Fabreville-Ouest/Laval-sur-le-Lac (-10) rejoint Duvernay/Saint-François/Saint-Vincent-de-Paul (-7) et Fabreville-Est/Sainte-Rose (-3). Les trois secteurs ont respectivement 95, 86 et 96 cas actifs. Ce dernier présente d'ailleurs le plus bas taux d'infection du territoire avec 127 cas actifs par 100 000 habitants. Ce sont toutefois les secteurs Pont-Viau/Renaud-Coursol/Laval-des-Rapides (-15) et Chomedey (-11) qui présentent les baisses les plus importantes du jour. De son côté, Vimont/Auteuil est le seul en augmentation avec sept nouvelles personnes porteuses du virus, ce qui porte son total à 120 cas actifs. *** Prendre note que tel qu’indiqué sur le site Web du CISSS de Laval, ces données par secteur incluent l’ensemble des cas des citoyens testés positifs à la COVID-19, qu’ils résident dans des milieux fermés ou ailleurs dans la communauté. Les milieux fermés incluent des milieux de vie comme les centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée (CHSLD), les résidences privées pour aînés (RPA), les ressources intermédiaires (RI), ainsi que les centres correctionnels. Les données présentées sont calculées en fonction du lieu de résidence. Le CISSS tarde à déterminer le foyer de 48 cas jusqu’ici, dont 5 actifs. Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
(Frank Gunn/Canadian Press - image credit) Public health officials are looking to contact six people who shared a ride in a van from Toronto to Ottawa last week, after a seventh occupant later tested positive for COVID-19. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said the white van left Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre around 1 p.m. last Tuesday with six passengers and a driver aboard. OPH didn't name the private operator, but said the trip had been advertised on Kijiji. At the time, Toronto was still under a stay-at-home order, while Ottawa's was lifted that same day. OPH said the van arrived in Ottawa around 6 p.m., dropping off passengers at Bayshore Shopping Centre, Rideau Centre and St. Laurent Shopping Centre. The passenger who tested positive for COVID-19 would have been contagious at the time of the trip, OPH confirmed. Health officials recommend people only get into a vehicle with members of their own household. Anyone who has to share a ride with others should wear a mask, avoid sharing food and drinks, and stay home if they're sick. Anyone who thinks they may have travelled in the van last Tuesday is asked to contact OPH at 613-580-6744 to arrange a COVID-19 test.
CAIRO — Rescue workers searched a second day Tuesday for at least five people missing after a tour boat capsized on a lake near Egypt’s Mediterranean city of Alexandria. Officials said nine passengers, including three children, were dead. The boat was carrying at least 20 people and capsized late Monday in the Lake of Mariut, while returning from a tour to an island in the lake, they said. Rescue workers retrieved nine bodies, including children ages 1, 1 1/2 and 4, and were searching for others, ambulance officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The top prosecutor's office said in a statement at least six people survived the mishap, and rescue workers were still searching for at least five others. Authorities arrested the boat owner, who was also the voyage captain, the statement said. Any survivors still in the lake, located west of Alexandria, could go into shock as temperatures fell Tuesday in the already cold waters. Relatives spent the night on the shoreline, hoping their loved ones could be rescued or their bodies retrieved. Calls for volunteer divers to help in the search were circulated on social media. Citing relatives, local media reported that the victims, all from the same family, were returning from a voyage to an island in the lake. The passengers arrived on the island in two groups but they were all packed on a single boat for their return, the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm daily reported. Alexandria’s governor, Mohammed el-Sharif, said in comments late Monday the boat was small and overcrowded, suggesting a possible cause of the capsizing. Most boats on the lake work without licenses, he said. Samy Magdy, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is reporting three new COVID-19 infections today as well as three more cases of a novel coronavirus variant. The three cases of the variant B.1.1.7 — first identified in the United Kingdom — involve two people in the Halifax area who had travelled together, and one person in the western zone who is not connected to the other two. Health officials say the three people were tested earlier this month and their cases are being reinvestigated. The new cases reported today include two in the Halifax area: one related to travel within Atlantic Canada and the other involving a close contact of a previously reported travel case. The third new case is in the western zone and is under investigation. Officials have identified a total of six U.K. variant cases in the province; Nova Scotia has 20 active reported infections. "With more variants identified in the province, I want to thank Nova Scotians for their continued efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19," Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said in a news release. "The best way to protect one another is by following all public health measures." Health officials also said that as of Monday, 27,966 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered, with 11,532 people having received their required second dose. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Veteran fullback Justin Morrow and centre back Eriq Zavaleta have re-signed with Toronto FC. The signings do not come as a surprise, given both players have been at Toronto's training camp, which opened last week. But they needed new deals after their contracts expired at the end of last season. In keeping the two defenders in the fold, TFC retains experience and continuity. The 33-year-old Morrow is entering his eighth season with the club while the 28-year-old Zavaleta is starting his seventh. Morrow has made 229 appearances for Toronto in all competitions, second only to midfielder Jonathan Osorio (263). Captain Michael Bradley is third (214) on the list. Morrow, a U.S. international who doubles as executive director of Black Players for Change, is respected on and off the field. His new deal covers the 2021 season. "Justin has been a fixture with TFC and it’s great to have him signed," Toronto GM Ali Curtis said in a statement. "His versatility on the field, veteran presence in the locker-room and overall leadership on and off the field have been critical for the club for a long time and we’re thrilled that will continue." Zavaleta adds depth to a defence that lost veteran backup Laurent Ciman since last season. The Indiana native has made 136 appearances in all competitions for TFC. His deal is for one year with an option for the 2022 season. He has served as a backup for first-choice centre backs Omar Gonzalez and Chris Mavinga in recent years. “Eriq is another veteran who’s given a lot to the club,” said Curtis. “This is a big year for Eriq. He comes to the training ground every day ready to work and is a great role model as an all-around professional for our young players.” Zavaleta, originally acquired in a trade with the Seattle Sounders in January 2015, is one of 12 players to have made 100 appearances or more for TFC and currently ranks eighth all-time in club history in appearances. He saw action in five regular-season games in 2020, including three starts. Morrow, joined Toronto in 2014 after four seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes. He was an MLS all-star in 2012 with the Quakes and was named to the MLS Best XI in 2017 when Toronto won the MLS Cup, MLS Supporters’ Shield and Canadian Championship. Morrow, who has 17 career goals and 19 assists for Toronto, made US$330,000 in 2019, the last year the MLS Players Association released salary figures for. That ranked 11th among TFC players. When healthy, Morrow has been a fixture at left fullback for Toronto with Richie Laryea and Brazil's Auro normally splitting right back duties. Morrow had made it clear he wanted to return to Toronto. "This organization, this city has given me so much as a professional athlete and as a man," he said during the off-season. "And I just want to have a chance to win more trophies here and play in front of our fans again. That is something that I'm desperate for and I know the rest of our team is desperate for." Morrow saw action in 15 of Toronto's 23 regular-season games in 2020 with 11 starts. But he missed most of the stretch drive due to injury. The team finished out the 2020 season playing out of East Hartford, Conn., due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. The club is looking at playing home games in Florida to start the 2021 season, which kicks off April 17. Morrow played collegiate soccer at Notre Dame, appearing in 89 matches over four seasons with the Fighting Irish. San Jose selected him in the second round (28th overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. Zavaleta is a former U.S., youth international who began his MLS career with Seattle and Chivas USA after a collegiate career as a forward at Indiana University. --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island announced the start of a COVID-19 testing pilot project Tuesday for travellers arriving in the province by air. Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison told reporters the four-week project will assess the feasibility of using rapid tests on travellers. Air travellers will have two swabs taken when they land on the Island: one for a rapid test and another that will be sent for confirmation at a provincial laboratory. Morrison said the test on arrival does not exclude travellers from the mandatory 14-day isolation period for people arriving from outside the province. She said authorities are looking to detect COVID-19 cases among travellers more quickly. Morrison said it would likely be at least six weeks before conditions in the Atlantic region are stable enough to allow for travel within the four-province bubble that existed until rising case numbers ended it in November. She said the province is looking closely at other jurisdictions as they loosen restrictions to monitor the spread of various variants of the virus. No new cases of COVID-19 were reported in P.E.I. on Tuesday, leaving just one active reported infection. The province has had a total of 115 cases since the pandemic began. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — One of the world's better known fans of mystery novels, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is now writing one. Clinton is teaming up with her friend, the Canadian novelist Louise Penny, on “State of Terror,” which has a plot that might occur to someone of Clinton's background: A “novice” secretary of state, working in the administration of a rival politician, tries to solve a wave of terrorist attacks. The novel comes out Oct. 12, and will be jointly released by Clinton's publisher, Simon & Schuster, and Penny's, St. Martin's Press. “Writing a thriller with Louise is a dream come true," Clinton, who has expressed admiration for Penny and other mystery writers in the past, said in a statement Tuesday. "I’ve relished every one of her books and their characters as well as her friendship. Now we’re joining our experiences to explore the complex world of high stakes diplomacy and treachery. All is not as it first appears.” Penny, an award-winning author from Quebec whose novels include “The Cruelest Month” and “The Brutal Telling,” said in a statement that she could not “say yes fast enough” to the chance of working with Clinton. “What an incredible experience, to get inside the State Department. Inside the White House. Inside the mind of the Secretary of State as high stake crises explode," she said. "Before we started, we talked about her time as Secretary of State. What was her worst nightmare? ‘State of Terror’ is the answer.” Fiction writing and worst-case scenarios have become a favourite pastime for Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. He collaborated with James Patterson on the million-selling cyber thriller “The President is Missing,” and on a new novel, “The President's Daughter,” which comes out in June. Hillary Clinton, secretary of state during Barack Obama's first term, has written a handful of nonfiction works. They include the memoir “Living History"; “Hard Choices,” which covered her time with Obama, who defeated her in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary; and “What Happened,” which focuses on her stunning loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 election. “State of Terror” appears to draw not just on her years as secretary of state, but on her thoughts about the Trump administration's “America First” foreign policy. According to Simon & Schuster and St. Martin's, the main character is “tasked with assembling a team to unravel the deadly conspiracy, a scheme carefully designed to take advantage of an American government dangerously out of touch and out of power in the places where it counts the most.” Financial terms were not disclosed. Clinton was represented by the Washington attorney Robert Barnett, whose other clients include Obama and Bill Clinton. Penny was represented by David Gernert, whose New York-based Gernert Company has worked with, among others, John Grisham, Stewart O'Nan and Chasten Buttigieg, husband of Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
WABASCA-DESMARAIS, Alta. — RCMP have arrested a man on 15 sex charges in a remote northern Alberta community and say there could be more. Police say the allegations involve five women and took place between 2013 and 2018 in the Desmarais area, about 275 kilometres north of Edmonton. Mounties say they began investigating in December after receiving reports of sexual offences. Police say the suspect and the women know each other. Daniel Michael Balanger, who is 36, is charged with five counts of sexual assault, five counts of sexual interference and five counts of sexual exploitation. Balanger has been remanded in custody and is to appear in Desmarais provincial court on Thursday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Quebec will begin vaccinating the general population next week, beginning with Montreal-area seniors aged 85 and up, Premier Francois Legault said Tuesday. All seniors in the province born in 1936 or earlier will be able to make an appointment for vaccination through an online portal or by telephone as early as Thursday, Legault told reporters at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, a future mass vaccination site. The vaccination campaign will begin in Montreal, however, where the greatest number of active reported infections in the province are found. Legault said the government's vaccination plan is well underway: all long-term care residents, about half of residents in seniors homes and almost 200,000 health-care workers have received a first dose. The province has not begun giving booster shots. All of Quebec's oldest and most vulnerable seniors should be vaccinated within a few weeks, the premier said. "We finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not so far away." Legault, however, said Quebecers must continue to be careful, warning that it takes about three weeks for the vaccine to reach full effectiveness. In the meantime, Quebec will have to contend with an ever-rising number of coronavirus variant cases, as well as a spring break week that authorities fear could cause new cases to bound upwards. "What happened during the holiday must not happen, with people gathering," he said about Quebecers getting together over the Christmas and New Year's period, which preceded a rise in cases. "Nobody wants a third wave." Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter that Quebec is expecting to receive more than 107,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 28,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week, which he said will allow the province to accelerate the pace of immunizations. Dube said vaccinations for the 85-and-up cohort should be complete within two weeks, after which the province will continue with other age groups, from oldest to youngest. Those with underlying health conditions will also be prioritized, he added. All Quebecers who want the vaccine should receive it by September, as long as deliveries keep up, he said. Dube said the province has enough staff to administer the vaccines at the rate they’re currently arriving but is looking to train an additional 1,000 vaccinators for an expected ramp-up later in the spring. The province has also approached large companies to see if they are willing to deliver vaccines on-site when the vaccination campaign expands, Legault said. Quebec reported 739 new cases Tuesday and 13 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including one that occurred in the past 24 hours. COVID-19-related hospitalizations dropped by nine, to 680, and the number of intensive care patients rose by three, to 120. The number of suspected cases of coronavirus variants continued to rise on Monday, up to 484 from 415 the day prior, according to Quebec's government-mandated public health institute. The number of confirmed cases remained unchanged at 23. Dube said about 10 per cent of positive COVID-19 tests are coming back as suspected variant cases, which he said is in line with Ontario. Quebec has reported a total of 10,330 deaths linked to the virus and 283,666 infections. Legault also raised the prospect of further easing restrictions to allow indoor sports to resume and concert halls and churches to reopen in the coming weeks, but he said he wants to wait to see what happens with the spread of new variants and the spring break week. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press