This Muskoka, Ontario sled track will keep the kids entertained all winter long.
This Muskoka, Ontario sled track will keep the kids entertained all winter long.
China's medical products regulator said on Thursday that it had approved two more COVID-19 vaccines for public use, raising the number of domestically produced vaccines that can be used in China to four. The two newly cleared vaccines are made by CanSino Biologics Inc (CanSinoBIO) and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm). They join a vaccine from Sinovac Biotech approved earlier this month, and another from Sinopharm's Beijing unit approved last year.
(Walter Strong/CBC - image credit) Final arguments were heard in N.W.T Supreme Court last Friday in the trial of Chad Beck, who is accused of second-degree murder. In an agreed statement of facts, Beck fatally struck Cameron Sayine in the head with an axe two years ago, on July 1, in Fort Resolution. Sayine flew to the ground, resting by his friend's feet, when he was hit again in the back. He died as a result of the first blow, the court heard. Beck attempted to plead guilty for manslaughter, but the Crown rejected that offer. Beck's lawyer, Peter Harte, maintained that his client should be convicted of manslaughter, not second-degree murder. Death result of a sudden reaction, defence argues In court, Harte argued that the level of Beck's intoxication meant he was not of sound mind, and argued that Sayine had provoked Beck. According to the agreed statement of facts, Sayine had attacked Beck numerous times that day, resulting in a gash above his eyebrows in addition to bruises on his face. The pair had a history of violence. They'd known each other their entire lives, Beck testified in court on Feb. 17. He said they had even been best friends at one point, but that relationship soured after an altercation between the two when Sayine stole alcohol from Beck's grandmother. Beck ran after Sayine to retrieve what was stolen, but they fought instead. Things were never the same after that, Beck testified in court. During hi's testimony, Beck went on to describe a series of events where Sayine would "beat him up" and break in and enter his home. Harte argued that Beck had not intended to kill Sayine, but even if he had, it was because he was provoked. Sayine was described as a bully, whom Beck grew scared of. Harte told the court that Beck grabbed the axe upon entering the house for the purpose of scaring Sayine away, but then panicked, and swung at his head instead. In his testimony, Beck told the court, "I was thinking, what if sees me with an axe and hits me and takes it away. I just panicked. I swung the axe as a reaction." Crown prosecutor Jill Andrews told the court a “grizzly and horrible murder had taken place” in the cabin pictures pictured above, in Fort Resolution. It was a sudden reaction after a series of violent attacks, Harte said. Due to how much Beck had been drinking that day, Harte also argued that it was unclear whether Beck could connect bodily harm with death. When Beck testified, he said that he struck Sayine again because he did not think the first strike to the head had killed him. Harte told the court that Beck was a quiet guy, who respects his elders and does not like to get into fights. In other words, the nature of violence inflicted that day was out of character for Beck. But the Crown prosecutors told a different story. Crown says Beck intentionally struck Sayine Crown prosecutor Jill Andrews told the court that a "grizzly and horrible murder had taken place." She said Beck had intentionally struck Sayine with the axe after he grew tired of putting up with his bullying, and ensured that he stayed down, Andrews said. Sayine was a "nuisance" to Beck, she said. Instead of feeling remorse, Andrews argued Beck mutilated his body, when he struck Sayine several times after he was already dead, demonstrating he had "no respect for Sayine, in life and in death." Andrews questioned the defence's argument that Beck was too intoxicated to recognize that an axe would be lethal because Beck was able to recall the events that took place that day in detail. Also, Beck was able to wield the axe with no issues, showing that his motor skills were also intact. Beck also disposed of the axe, moved the body all the way down the property, and was coherent with police when he was eventually arrested, Andrews said. She argued that this showed he was self-aware, contradicting the defence's stance that he was significantly impaired, when he may have been just mildly intoxicated. Andrews assured the court that the Crown has proven Beck is guilty of second-degree murder without a reasonable doubt. Beck "killed his bully in the most unambiguous way," Andrews concluded. Justice Shannon Smallwood will announce her verdict on May 21, 2021.
The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was full of uncertainty. Almost a year later, people and businesses have found ways to adapt and help each other in the community. In March 2020, local teen Ray Calder created the Rainy River District COVIDelivery group on Facebook, that aimed to help deliver essential groceries and supplies to those unable to go out themselves due to self-isolation or being part of a high risk group. “I think we had around 25 volunteers the first time around probably late March or the first part of April last year, right when things were just starting to shut down and a lot of people were returning from travels and having to quarantine for 14 days. We had quite a few requests in the early days because of that,” said Lisa Brockie, who handles calls and messages for the Rainy River District COVIDelivery. The initial response was overwhelming because many people were self-isolating after returning from trips and many seniors could not risk leaving their homes, Brockie said, adding that since then, requests have decreased. Brockie got involved with the service as a volunteer and later came on board to help Calder when the requests were too overwhelming to handle on his own, but they have not had any requests this month. Brockie said they did just over 100 deliveries in total from March until now. There were not many requests in June so they decided to suspend the service, Brockie added. “We thought that was the end of it and then we got a handful in January,” Brockie said. “A lot of our volunteers who were off work last year are now back so we had a smaller group of volunteers sign up to help and then all of a sudden, we didn’t get any more calls.” Brian Cawston, owner of Einar’s Foods in Fort Frances, has quite a popular grocery delivery service. Cawston said the service was busy because of the pandemic but has now gone back to its usual flow. Cawston said he is happy that the delivery service which runs twice a week, has been steady. He said that more people are opting for it or for curbside pickup. “We have some people who do more curbside,” Cawston said. “A lot of people phoning in and we get ready for them and then they just come in and pick it up.” Brockie said she thinks one of the reasons the demand for the COVIDelivery service dropped was because stores were pivoting to curbside pickup and that many people were able to get family members to buy their necessities. “Overall I think it was really positive, especially back when there weren’t really many options for people and there was a lot of fear when we didn’t know much about the virus, how it was spread and who was most at risk,” Brockie said. “There was a lot of gratitude from the people who were getting the delivery to know that they didn’t have to put their health at risk or go without their necessities.” Brockie said the service is currently running but they are in discussion of whether to continue it. Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
Alphabet Inc's Google will change procedures before July for reviewing its scientists' work, according to a town hall recording heard by Reuters, part of an effort to quell internal tumult over the integrity of its artificial intelligence (AI) research. In remarks at a staff meeting last Friday, Google Research executives said they were working to regain trust after the company ousted two prominent women and rejected their work, according to an hour-long recording, the content of which was confirmed by two sources. Teams are already trialing a questionnaire that will assess projects for risk and help scientists navigate reviews, research unit Chief Operating Officer Maggie Johnson said in the meeting.
(Tyler Pidlubny/CBC - image credit) Five people have been arrested after allegedly invading a home more than a year ago in the city's University Park East neighbourhood. The incident took place in the afternoon on Jan. 20, 2020 on Westminster Road. Regina Police Service said three male suspects were dropped off at the home by two others. The three masked men forced their way into the home of a 71-year-old woman after threatening her with a Taser, said police. They allegedly stole 14 pellet guns, prescription medicine and a laptop before fleeing in the woman's Chevrolet Impala, just as two other residents were coming home, police said. The five suspects were arrested between December 2020 and Feb. 23, 2021. They are jointly charged with break-and-enter and robbery. One male suspect faces an additional charge of assault.
De nouvelles voix s’élèvent pour s’opposer publiquement au modèle de financement que souhaite implanter la Fédération des clubs de motoneigistes du Québec (FCMQ) afin de réduire les écarts de revenus entre les divers clubs de la province. Depuis deux semaines, les instances de plusieurs clubs d’un peu partout se mobilisent contre le nouveau modèle, Objectif 2020, auquel ils ont adhéré sous forme de projet-pilote. En vertu de ce modèle, appliqué à l’invitation de la FCMQ, une somme de 200 $ est accordée pour chaque kilomètre de sentier reconnu auquel s’ajoute une somme de 70 $ pour chaque heure de surfaçage effectué ainsi que 10 $ par membre d’un club ayant acquis un droit d’accès. Sous la formule traditionnelle, chaque club reçoit de la FCMQ 160 $ par droit d’accès acquis. Depuis la sortie médiatique de mardi faite dans Le Quotidien par des dirigeants de clubs du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, certains dirigeants de clubs de la région des Laurentides et de Québec ont tenu à faire part de leur opposition au projet Objectif 2020. Soulignons au départ que tous ont convenu de la nécessité de mieux répartir les revenus tirés des droits d’accès entre les clubs dits « riches » et ceux plus « pauvres ». Clément Belval, trésorier du Club de motoneige Blizard, qui opère un réseau de 2473 kilomètres dans les secteurs Sainte-Marguerite du Lac Masson, L’Esterel, Entrelacs et Saint-Hippolyte, accuse la FCMQ de vouloir s’approprier tout l’argent des clubs locaux au détriment de leur autonomie, et ce, avec l’établissement d’une formule uniforme à travers toute la province, sans tenir compte des réalités régionales ou locales. « Il y a deux ans, la FCMQ a voulu nous embarquer dans sa nouvelle formule. Les 21 clubs des Laurentides, on s’est réunis pour établir un partage régional. On a proposé ça à la FCMQ et on n’a même pas eu de réponse », affirme-t-il. Il précise que dans le cadre du projet proposé, la région des Laurentides aurait dû transférer ses surplus de 300 000 $ à 400 000 $ pour éponger le déficit des clubs gaspésiens. M. Belval prédit que si la nouvelle formule est appliquée à l’ensemble de la province, c’est le sentiment d’appartenance et le bénévolat au sein des clubs qui risquent de s’effriter, tandis qu’on assistera à une hausse des droits d’accès. Il compare la situation à l’organisation du Canada, dans lequel le fédéral, assimilé à la FCMQ, disposerait de tout l’argent, alors que les provinces (clubs) devraient quémander l’argent alors qu’ils fournissent les bénévoles sur le terrain, la négociation des droits de passage, etc. Dans la région de Québec, une autre réalité a été exprimée par Mario Bernier, président du Club de motoneige Le Petit Sentier Saint-Émile. Ce club compte 750 membres et entretient 35 kilomètres de sentiers en milieu fortement urbanisé, entre le marché Jean-Talon, la réserve de Wendake et Stoneham, Lac-Saint-Charles et le Haut-Charlesbourg. Il s’agit d’un secteur névralgique où passe le sentier 3 reliant l’est et l’ouest de la province. M. Bernier affirme qu’il n’est pas question d’embarquer dans Objectif 2020, même s’il est d’accord pour une meilleure redistribution des revenus entre les clubs, à la condition de ne pas déshabiller les plus riches au profit des plus pauvres. « Le point d’accrochage avec la FCMQ est la façon dont on redistribue l’argent. On ne tient pas compte de la réalité des milieux. Nous ici, on doit négocier huit droits de passage pour traverser un kilomètre de sentier. Avec la nouvelle formule, la FCMQ veut nous couper les deux tiers de nos revenus », affirme-t-il. Selon lui, avec 33 000 kilomètres de sentiers à entretenir et plus d’une centaine de clubs actifs, il serait peut-être temps de parler de fusions et de rationalisation du réseau. Il ajoute que la volonté d’établir le nouveau modèle tel qu’il a été élaboré est inacceptable pour la majorité des clubs de la province et qu’il revient aux membres des clubs de prendre les décisions et non à la FCMQ de décider pour la base. « Ça prend une décision de nous tous. La FCMQ est là pour nous représenter, ce qui n’est pas le cas actuellement », conclut-il. Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
BUDAPEST, Hungary — The advocate general for European Union's highest court on Thursday urged the court to rule that Hungary violated the bloc's laws on asylum when it passed legislation narrowing the possibilities for asylum-seekers to receive international protection. The non-binding opinion from the European Court of Justice's Advocate General, Athanasios Rantos, states that the 2018 amendments to Hungary's asylum laws — which prohibited asylum-seekers who passed through safe countries en route to Hungary from receiving international protection — violated EU law. “By introducing that ground for inadmissibility, Hungary has failed to fulfil its obligations under the Procedures Directive,” Rantos wrote, referring to the EU's asylum protocols. Opinions by advocates general are often but not always followed by the European Court of Justice, which will make a final ruling on the case at a later date. The European Commission, the bloc's executive branch, brought the case before the court as part of an infringement procedure it launched against Hungary in 2018 over its non-compliance with asylum law. Rantos also advised the court to rule that a Hungarian law that cracks down on organizations and individuals that provide legal assistance to asylum-seekers violates EU law. The legislation, known as the “Stop Soros” law, was an amendment to Hungary’s criminal code that threatened aid workers and human rights advocates working with asylum-seekers with up to a year in prison. It was approved by the Hungarian parliament in 2018. The law was named after Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros, a pro-democracy advocate who has long been a target of the Hungarian government. Hungary's right-wing government has been a staunch opponent of immigration, and its treatment of migrants have brought it into frequent conflict with the rest of the 27-nation EU. Last year, the country closed its transit zones — enclosed areas along the southern border with Serbia used to hold asylum-seekers while their asylum requests were being decided — after the European court ruled they amounted to detention and thus violated EU law. Last month, the EU’s border control agency, Frontex, suspended operations in Hungary after the government in Budapest did not comply with a December ruling by the European court that ordered Hungary to grant protection to asylum-seekers as required by law and to stop returning them to Serbia. The country's prime minister, Viktor Orban, claims he is seeking to protect Hungary's conservative Christian identity and to defend Europe from immigration from the Mideast and Africa. ___ Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration Justin Spike, The Associated Press
The invitation to a foot race set Dave Murphy on the path to changing his life. In 2018 he was leaving the neighbourhood park with his daughter. The pair were walking back to their Calgary home when she asked her father if he wanted to race home. The now 45-year-old Murphy was pushing 400 pounds and still dealing with the ramifications of a late-night altercation in Ontario more than two decades earlier. He was 17 then and that altercation left the Grand Falls-Windsor native without part of the muscle in his left leg. Parents can have a hard time saying no to their children, and Murphy is no different. However, due to his health, he had to tell his daughter they couldn’t race. The look he was met with sparked something. “That look of disappointment on her face, I will never forget. That lit a fire under me,” said Murphy. “That was the thing and the biggest reason for her and my wife, to be around longer for them. “I was headed in a bad direction.” He was 391 pounds when he started, and he now sits at 235 pounds. Almost three years later, Murphy has dropped 155 pounds and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. When he started, Murphy set himself a 100-pound goal to reach. To help keep himself in check, he added a stipulation to that goal. For every pound he lost, he would make a $1 donation to military veterans and first responders. “First responders saved my life in 1994. I was attacked and knifed 13 times, so I wouldn’t have even made it if it wasn’t for first responders,” said Murphy. “So, I needed a way to stay motivated, so I made a pledge online that I was going to lose 100 pounds and donate a dollar a pound.” The son of preachers — his parents were Salvation Army officers — Murphy always believed in paying it forward. At each of his family's stops, he saw the benefits of giving and supporting something bigger than himself. First responders saved his life in Ontario, and he has spent the last two-plus decades paying them back. It started with dropping off a tin of coffee at fire stations every week and that morphed into several other initiatives that supported military veterans. Things like sending Tim Hortons gift cards to soldiers and The Gratitude Project were a way for Murphy to say thank you. “I just want to pay it forward and help as many people as I can,” said Murphy. To date, Murphy figures he’s donated more than $3,000 with the help of people who have matched his donations to the volunteer organization Can Praxis. Can Praxis is an organization that offers mental-health recovery programs to Canadian military veterans and first responders who have an operational stress injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. Founded in 2013, the Alberta-based group uses equine therapy to accomplish its goals. “Dave has done great and his support for Can Praxis and for veterans and first responders has been meaningful,” said Steve Critchley, a facilitator with Can Praxis. Weight loss journeys are never easy. Ask anyone in the middle of one. For Murphy, there were days when he didn’t want to hit the gym or head to his boxing sessions. On those days, he’d think of his family and of the first responders he was raising money for. “They're running into burning buildings and fires while people are running out of them, and here I am not wanting to go (to the gym),” said Murphy. “Whenever there is a day I don’t want to go, I think about those guys and I’m like, ‘alright, let's go.’” Benchmarks for success come in different forms. When looking at the work Murphy has done for his well-being, these benchmarks come in the form of his family. It was an interaction with his daughter that started him on his fitness journey and it’s another interaction with his daughter that reaffirms his commitment. Often the pair would go to a play centre near the family home. Whenever his daughter would hit the obstacle course, Murphy would sit on the benches and watch. There was no way he could muster the energy to join her. Before the centre’s shutdown due to the pandemic, Murphy was able to hit the course alongside his daughter. “I got a second chance at life,” said Murphy. Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
BERLIN — A German man has been charged with espionage for allegedly passing information on properties used by the German parliament to Russian military intelligence, prosecutors said Thursday. The suspect, identified only as Jens F. in line with German privacy rules, worked for a company that had been repeatedly contracted to check portable electrical appliances by the Bundestag, or the lower house of parliament, federal prosecutors said in a statement. As a result of that, he had access to PDF files with floor plans of the properties involved. The Bundestag is based in the Reichstag building, a Berlin landmark, but also uses several other sites. Prosecutors said, at some point before early September 2017, the suspect “decided of his own accord” to give information on the properties to Russian intelligence. They said he sent the PDF files to an employee of the Russian Embassy in Berlin who was an officer with Russia's GRU military intelligence agency. They didn't specify how his activities came to light. The charges against the suspect, who is not in custody, were filed at a Berlin court on Feb. 12. The court will have to decide whether to go ahead with a trial. Relations between Germany and Russia have been buffeted by a growing list of issues in recent years. In October, the European Union imposed sanctions on two Russian officials and part of the GRU agency over a cyberattack against the German parliament in 2015. In addition, a Russian man accused of killing a Georgian man in broad daylight in downtown Berlin on Moscow’s orders in 2019 is on trial in Berlin. And last year's poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was flown to Germany for treatment and then arrested immediately after he returned to Russia, has added another layer of tensions. The Associated Press
Voters in Placentia-St. Mary’s will have some more time to reflect on who they want to cast their vote for. Along with 17 other districts in the Avalon, voting for residents in Placentia-St. Mary’s has been delayed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the St. John’s Metro area. Meanwhile, Liberal incumbent Sherry Gambin-Walsh says her constituents have more than her word to hold her accountable; they have her record. “My record shows that I’ve brought millions of dollars to the district of Placentia-St. Mary’s, from $500 grants to million-dollar capital works projects,” said Gambin-Walsh, who has been the focus of two major controversies during her time in office: one involving former Liberal stalwart Eddie Joyce, whom she accused of bullying, and the other involving the leaking of cabinet information. “You should vote for me because I’m ready and available for you if you have an issue… I’m easy to access and I have no problem standing up and advocating for your issue.” Gambin-Walsh was elected in the 2015 provincial election and beat PC candidate Hilda Whalen in 2019 by just over 500 votes — a margin of about 10 percent. The margin was not quite as comfortable as her over 2,000 vote lead against PC candidate Judy Manning in 2015. Gambin-Walsh said residents in her district, which is geographically larger than most, have different concerns depending on where they live. For example, while employment on the Cape Shore is not a concern due to the landing of fishery boats in Branch, employment in St. Mary’s Bay area is a major issue. “We don’t have any good source of solid employment anymore,” said Gambin-Walsh. “Once upon a time, we did have a fish plant down in St. Mary’s. It’s dormant right now, but I do now that the operator is trying to get his license re-established. He hasn’t been successful yet, but I do really support that, because I have a significant number of people down there having to access programs, seek community enhancement programs and job creation programs, specifically because they have no other source of income. And to drive from Peter’s River to Tim Hortons in CBS for minimum wage, you’re in the negative, you’re not in the positive. The evidence is there. The dollar amount that has gone out in JCP this year alone is excessive, so that’s a problem in that area.” Another concern, is the defunct Admirals Beach fish plant, which “is currently falling into the ocean,” said Gambin-Walsh. “It’s going to cost anywhere from $700,000 to a million to get it down, and there’s no jobs created in taking it down because it will be tendered. There has been a study done that shows there are some environmental chemicals that are dangerous to the environment, so that’s an issue at Admirals Beach.” Meanwhile, residents throughout the district are worried about the future of Argentia and the White Rose offshore oil project, while residents in Dunville worry about the need for water infrastructure upgrades, estimated, said Gambin-Walsh, at about $10-11 million, while residents in Placentia wonder about the increased construction costs of a wellness centre. Across the district as a whole, residents decry the state of many provincial roads. “Roads, roads, roads, roads, roads, I’m constantly hearing about roads,” said Gambin-Walsh, who added that millions of provincial dollars have gone towards roads in the district over the years, but there are still roads that need to be done. Access to general and nurse practitioners is also an issue. “Another thing I’m hearing about, and this is something I’m experiencing myself, as my son is an individual with autism, is the access to GP’s,” said Gambin-Walsh. “People are having difficulty accessing GPs, and they’re having difficulty even accessing nurse practitioners to meet their needs.” Gambin-Walsh said constituents who do have access to family doctors and have been availing of virtual appointments during the pandemic have been mostly satisfied with the service, but there are still too many people without proper access to healthcare. “I have a number of constituents in my district who do not have access to a GP, and that is a problem, that is a huge problem,” Gambin-Walsh admitted. She said constituents haven’t raised concerns about her removal from cabinet last year following an RCMP investigation that showed she broke cabinet confidentially by leaking information regarding a promotion in the RNC. She was not charged, but Premier Andrew Furey did not reappoint her to cabinet. “With this RCMP investigation, constituents are not interested at all,” said Gambin-Walsh. “I was prepared and offering to answer questions at the door to my constituents directly, but they don’t want to hear about it, they don’t want to talk about it, they’re not interested.” Gambin-Walsh said constituents are, however, eager to hear details about her involvement in 2018 bullying allegations against former Liberal MHA Eddie Joyce. At the time Joyce, seen by many political watchers as perhaps the loyalist Liberal in the province having relinquished his seat in 1989 so Clyde Wells could serve in the legislature as Premier, was serving as Minister of Municipal Affairs and charged with making tough decisions about a sea of demands coming in from MHAs for funding from their towns. Gambin-Walsh said constituents are happy that she spoke up against Joyce, and that some have even gone so far as to read the official reports. After then Premier Dwight Ball allegedly failed to keep a private promise to back Joyce against the charges of bullying, he left the Liberal party and sat as an Independent, getting re-elected without party affiliation in 2019. “The 2018 situation with MHA Joyce, that got get a bit of attention, and people were very curious and did ask me a fair bit about that. They are interested in bullying and harassment though. And they’re happy that I spoke up against it,” said Gambin-Walsh. “When I look at my social media, my Twitter and my Facebook, when I see anyone saying something negative, when I check out their account, it’s ether a troll account or the person doesn’t live in my district.”. As to Furey, Gambin-Walsh said he is a more than capable leader. She added that despite cries from the PC and NDP that Furey should not have called the election during a pandemic or during the winter, people are actually more engaged in this election than in previous years. “I am finding that people are more interested in this election than they were in ’15 and ’19,” she said. “This time, people are truly interested in what’s happening with COVID, they’re interested in the economy, they’re interested in chatting with me and getting my opinion… I think, now I could be wrong, but I think we’re going to have a very high turn out by the end of this election.” Gambin-Walsh said there’s been another noticeable difference in this year’s campaign. “I can’t keep a sign up. I have about 50 signs gone. They’re destroyed. People have called and said they’re beat up and up in the dump,” said Gambin-Walsh, adding some constituents have had to display their signs in shed windows for fear of having them removed — again. “I’ve been firm in telling my volunteers not to touch the other signs, regardless of the number of signs we lose. Just keep going… this is not going to slow us down.” Voters will choose between Gambin-Walsh, PC candidate Calvin Manning, and NL Alliance hopeful Clem Whittle. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
SARAJEVO, Bosnia — A Bosnian court sentenced on Thursday a Bosnian Muslim man to six years in prison on charges that he fought for the Islamic State group in Syria. Jasmin Keserovic, who has spent nearly seven years in Syria, was also charged with inciting others to take part in terrorist activities. Judges said that by publicly calling on Muslims to kill Christian soldiers and civilians alike, the defendant “demonstrated specific ruthlessness.” Hudges rejected defence claims that Keserovic was in Syria for charity work to help the local population amid the war. He was part of a group of seven Bosnian men flown back to Bosnia from Syria on a U.S. Air Force flight in December 2019 along with 18 women and children. In 2014, Bosnia became the first country in Europe to introduce prison terms for its citizens who fought abroad. Fighters who have since returned to the country were tried and, in most cases, sentenced to prison. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket goods shot up 3.4% in January, pulled up by surge in orders for civilian aircraft. A category that tracks business investment posted a more modest gain, the Commerce Department rpeorted Thursday. Orders for goods meant to last at least three years have now risen nine straight months, another sign that manufacturing has proven resilient in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The January gain — triple what economists had expected — followed upticks of 1.2% in December and 1.3% in November. Orders for civilian aircraft and parts jumped 389.9%. Excluding transportation equipment, which can bounce wildly from month to month, durable goods orders were up 1.4%. A category economists watch for hints at future investment -- orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft — rose 0.5%. Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
ATHENS, Greece — Greece's prime minister on Thursday promised sweeping changes to the country's laws and labour regulations to combat sexual abuse and misconduct in the wake of an assault allegation made by Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou that has prompted more cases and triggered a nationwide debate. Speaking in parliament, conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government will introduce tougher sentencing guidelines, propose changes to statute-of-limitation rules for cases involving minors, and create a dedicated government agency to deal with abuse claims in workplaces and organized youth activities. Multiple cases of alleged sexual misconduct and abuse have been made public since former Olympian Bekatorou alleged she was sexually assaulted by a national sailing federation official in 1998. The people coming forward with accusations include other athletes, current and former university students, and stage actors. Mitsotakis said reports that unaccompanied minors were vulnerable to abuse at migrant camps on Greek islands also motivated him to take action. “There were children at the camps...and in Greek cities that were being exploited for sex for 5 and 10 euros ($6-12),” the prime minister told lawmakers. He noted that children and teenagers travelling alone no longer live at the island camps or are held in police cells for protection but have supervised, separate living quarters. The reports include a 51-page document from the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University in 2017 that said, citing camp informants, there were serious indications of child abuse at Greek migrant camps. Separately Thursday, a former director of Greece’s National Theatre appeared before a public prosecutor to respond to child abuse allegations. The 56-year-old suspect, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested Saturday and remains in police custody. Opposition parties have demanded that Mitsotakis replace his culture minister over the alleged scandal. A government official told the AP Thursday that new sentencing guidelines and details of the proposed legal changes would be announced “in the coming days.” ___ Follow Gatopoulos at https://twitter.com/dgatopoulos Derek Gatopoulos, The Associated Press
(Submitted by Helcim - image credit) Tech companies in Alberta are enjoying a bumper year in spite of the pandemic, but they say measures are needed from the province to stay competitive with other jurisdictions. Tech CEOs and conglomerates say retraining programs for workers, providing fiscal incentives to keep companies in Alberta and adjusting tax measures are major areas where the provincial government could make a huge difference for the industry. They're hoping to see some of those steps in Thursday's budget. "The government needs to re-establish investor incentives that promote interest in investing with Alberta-based tech companies. Alberta needs to be a competitive place to invest because, at the moment, other provinces are doing a better job to support their tech industries and investor interest," said Vince O'Gorman, the CEO of Vog App Developers. One of the biggest problems facing tech growth in Alberta is talent "brain drain" to other places, like the United States. O'Gorman says those tax and investor incentives would enable companies to attract and retain the skilled workers needed to expand the industry here. Helcim, a Calgary-based company, wants to see an emphasis on training — and retraining — Albertans to work in tech. "I hope to see the government continue to find new ways to support working with our post-secondary institutions on creating fast-track training for not just developers but data scientists, quality assurance specialists, financial analysts and more," said Nicolas Beique, CEO of the online payment company. His CFO echoed that priority. "We believe the Alberta government needs to create a clear financial path for more mature individuals to access retraining programs while supporting startups to hire more inexperienced talent. Investing in training junior talent brings a huge productive output to our tech industry in Alberta, but that output is delayed during the onboarding and training of new recruits," Marjorie Junio-Read said. Success needs a boost The tech sector has been an outlier during the pandemic, with many companies seeing growth in revenues and staffing. Calgary and Edmonton both broke records for venture capital investments in 2020. "Alberta is coming to play in the tech and innovation space," Minister Doug Schweitzer said shortly after being appointed to the jobs, economy and innovation file. The tech sector has been a personal focus of his in the months since. However, companies have warned policymakers that the success is precarious and won't be sustainable without the support of effective policy. The Council of Canadian Innovators has asked the province to consider four key pillars when developing tech sector measures for this budget: Securing access to capital, markets, talent and building a strong framework to retain promising companies in Alberta. "Any sort of investment or funding really needs to have metrics attached to it and really make sure that any investments are really getting value for the province," said Benjamin Bergen, the executive director of the council. "That's something that a lot of governments have struggled to do in the past, not just in Alberta, but nationally." The council has asked the government to use the budget to provide strategic funding to specific companies with proven concepts, along with investing in retraining and upskilling workers. Companies in Alberta have stated that incubator and accelerator programs, which have traditionally been used, often don't result in cash getting to smaller enterprises. While each expressed gratitude for the increased spotlight from the government on their industry, the companies said the dollars could be used more efficiently. Accidental damage to the private sector Sometimes the provincial government's efforts actually cause damage, according to the Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories. The council says private labs in Alberta are losing $10 million a year in business to a provincial program called InnoTech — run as a subsidiary of the government's Alberta Innovates program. "They use their tax favoured position to undercut private sector businesses and basically provide testing that is cheaper than the private sector is right now. So it's basically a case of waste and duplication as well as unfair competition," said Tony Araujo, president of the council. The council is calling on the government to privatize InnoTech in this budget. Araujo says the 90 labs he represents in Alberta don't want tax cuts or investor incentives, they just want the government to stop competing against them for contracts. "The fact that InnoTech Alberta is there in the way is actually discouraging innovation from private sector companies." A 2018 Conference Board of Canada report ranked Alberta as 19 out of 26 in a jurisdictional comparison of innovation. The Opposition has proposed its own plan for tech growth ahead of the provincial budget, saying an NDP government would create a $200-million venture capital fund for Alberta tech companies. All of the companies and organizations are keeping a wary eye on talent and innovation slowly draining from Alberta into other provinces and the U.S. They say that will be the biggest consequence of not having adequate incentives and programs introduced soon.
Le président de la Fédération des clubs de motoneigistes du Québec (FCMQ), Réal Camiré, rejette du revers de la main, les critiques exprimées par les dirigeants de trois clubs du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean au sujet de la mise en application du nouveau modèle de financement Objectif 2020. En entrevue avec Le Quotidien, M. Camiré a expliqué que la décision d’établir un nouveau modèle destiné à mieux répartir les revenus des droits d’accès entre les clubs de la province a été prise au congrès de 2018 et que, depuis, beaucoup de travail de consultation et d’information a été réalisé pour son peaufinement. « Il y a 10 clubs sur 13 qui ont embarqué sur une base volontaire, dans votre région. Tout a été expliqué lors de réunions régionales annuelles. On a donné tous les détails, les paramètres, le paiement par kilomètre. Ils ont présenté ça à leur conseil d’administration et ç’a été accepté », déclare-t-il. Les directions de clubs riches savaient au départ qu’il y aurait des fluctuations à la baisse dans les flux de trésorerie et que les surplus engendrés dans le passé seraient beaucoup moindres parce que l’intention est de mieux répartir la richesse, explique-t-il. M. Camiré ajoute qu’il existe du mécontentement en raison des faibles précipitations de neige dans certains secteurs de la région, touchant deux ou trois clubs, sauf que les autres clubs voient leurs finances stabilisées et améliorées. En ce qui a trait à la mécanique des paiements du surfaçage et le 200 $ du kilomètre reconnu, M. Camiré affirme que les opérations se déroulent rondement, les clubs n’ayant qu’à produire leur rapport mensuellement pour recevoir un paiement rapide. Les revenus des droits d’accès sont distribués en trois versements avant les Fêtes jusqu’à la mi-décembre, par versements électroniques, ce qui évite aux clubs d’avoir à mobiliser des bénévoles pour cueillir les fonds comme ça se faisait dans le passé. Un des aspects que n’ont pas fait ressortir les clubs récalcitrants, selon lui, est que dans le nouveau modèle, la FCMQ accorde désormais du financement aux clubs pour le remplacement des surfaceuses (90 %), la réparation des ponts et ponceaux jusqu’à 100 %, les réparations pour deux surfaceuses entre 75 % et 100 %, etc. Selon lui, lorsqu’il faut parler du nouveau modèle, il est important de mettre dans la balance tous les avantages et critères. Le président de la FCMQ se dit prêt à écouter les dirigeants de clubs qui ont des critiques à formuler, mais il n’est pas question de faire marche arrière. « Est-ce que deux ou trois clubs qui ne sont pas satisfaits vont faire revirer la situation lorsque 33 clubs sont satisfaits? Il y a des situations particulières au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. » Parmi ces situations qui ne font pas partie du nouveau modèle, M. Camiré fait référence aux compensations aux agriculteurs accordés pour les droits de passage par les instances municipales de Saguenay jusqu’à 100 000 $. Pas question de soutenir les clubs qui voudraient maintenir des relais à même leurs fonds. En ce qui a trait aux prétentions d’un club qui se plaint beaucoup au Saguenay, M. Camiré soutient qu’après vérification, il y aura une différence de 20 000 $ sur les revenus dans le nouveau modèle. Ceux qui prétendent qu’il en coûte 120 $ de l’heure pour le fonctionnement d’une surfaceuse doivent être questionnés afin de déterminer si, dans le calcul, on inclut les frais de fonctionnement de garages, selon lui, alors que certains clubs n’en disposent pas. Selon lui, le 70 $ du kilomètre couvre le taux horaire d’un opérateur à 20 $ et le 50 $ pour les frais de fonctionnement de la surfaceuse. Selon le président de la FCMQ, toutes les pierres doivent être retournées puisque l’argent payé par les motoneigistes doit avant tout servir au développement et l’entretien des sentiers. Ceci dit, M. Camiré se montre ouvert à ce que le modèle puisse être adapté aux réalités de certaines régions et revalidé. Il est possible que certains clubs aient été mal évalués. M. Camiré et son directeur général, Stéphane Desroches, auront l’occasion de discuter avec les directions des clubs régionaux, puisqu’ils seront de passage dans la région pendant trois jours, à compter de lundi, afin d’effectuer une virée dans le haut du Lac-Saint-Jean et sur les Monts-Valin. Dans les derniers jours, les conseils d’administration des clubs se sont rencontrés en prévision d’une rencontre. C’est le cas pour le Club du Fjord et le Club Lac-Saint-Jean. Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus will reopen high schools, gyms, pools, dance academies and art galleries on March 1 in a further, incremental easing of the country’s second nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, the government said Thursday. Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said easing the six-week-old lockdown should proceed “slowly, cautiously and in a controlled manner.” He warned that the situation could easily get out of hand again as the country’s infection rate remains slightly above safety limits set by the European Union’s disease prevention agency. According to Ioannou, the number of infections now stands at 164.3 per 100,000 people. Middle school students are scheduled to return to classrooms March 8, Ioannou said, signalling the reopening of all schools after weeks of online instruction. Primary schools are already holding in-person classes. But the minister made it clear that twice-daily excursions requiring SMS approval and a 9:00pm-5:00am curfew will remain in effect. “We'll do without certain things for the next two or three months, some measures will carry on until there's (sufficient) vaccination coverage which is estimated to happen by June," Ioannou said. A ban on public gatherings also continues to apply despite growing public fatigue that culminated with thousands demonstrating last weekend in the capital to protest the restrictions, alleged police heavy-handedness and corruption. Police didn’t intervene in that protest, but used a water cannon, pepper spray and stun grenades to disperse a much smaller group of left-wing demonstrators a week earlier. One young woman required surgery for an eye injury following a blast from the water canon. The force’s actions triggered a public outcry and prompted a probe to determine whether riot police used disproportionate force. On Wednesday, Amnesty International urged Cypriot authorities to lift what it called “an unlawful and disproportionate blanket ban” on demonstrations. Amnesty International Greece and Cyprus official Kondylia Gogou said police made “unnecessary and excessive use of force" during the earlier protest. She said the violence was also part of a “deeply worrying pattern" in Cyprus where “human rights are coming under sustained attack." ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
Hawksbills are the most beautiful of the sea turtles, and this video is proof! Check it out!
(Jennifer Harris/submitted - image credit) Lalia Halfkenny was the first Black New Brunswick woman to graduate from an institute of higher education at a time when few Black Canadians had access to any schooling at all. Halfkenny was the only Black graduate in her class at the Acadia Ladies Seminary in 1889. Theresa Halfkenny, who believes she is likely a descendant, said stories of accomplishments like Lalia Halfkenny's need to be kept alive. "When we first found out and heard about it, we were like, 'Oh my gosh'," she said. Like Lalia, Theresa is from Dorchester. She moved to Amherst, N.S. years ago, where she still lives. Theresa Halfkenny is a likely descendant of Lalia Halfkenny. She is on the board of the Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association, where she focuses on cultural events and stresses the importance of valuing and sharing history. Halfkenny is on the board of the Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association, where she focuses on cultural education. She helps to organize cultural events, and speaks in schools stressing the importance of valuing and sharing history. "There's so much here that is so rich," she said. "Those of us that are involved in trying to keep this alive, it's been a little bit difficult because sometimes it's hard to get the youth to come on board with it." But Halfkenny said there is a renewed interest in Black history since conversations around anti-black racism have become part of mainstream conversation. "It's so important that we do that for our youth, but then it's also important that we do that for others in the community." She said everyone is worse off when Black history is erased from the history books. Halfkenny said she wasn't aware of Lalia Halfkenny's achievements until about ten years ago. That's when her story was rediscovered by Jennifer Harris, professor of English at the University of Waterloo. She encountered Lalia Halfkenny's name when she was researching historic Black families in the Sackville area. Because it's such a distinctive name, Harris started tracing the family. Jennifer Harris, professor at Waterloo University, said it took two years of research to put together Lalia Halfkenny's life story. "I came across this reference to a Lalia Halfkenny in an educational context and I was surprised because I'd never heard of her," said Harris. Other prominent educated Black families like the Winslow sisters who were the first women to graduate from the University of New Brunswick and Edwin Howard Borden, the first Black Nova Scotian to graduate from Acadia University had been written about, but not Halfkenny. "I wanted to know more," said Harris. After two years of pouring over microfilm, writing to archives and ordering records, she'd put together a story that seems to have gone untold for decades. Lalia Halfkenny was born to an unwed mother in 1870 in the Sackville area. Soon after, the family moved to Dorchester to live with relatives. Despite Lalia's difficult beginnings, the Halfkenny family had a reputation as skillful stonemasons. "They traveled and built all kinds of fabulous buildings in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Maine," said Harris. Little access to education At the time, schools in New Brunswick were segregated, often denying Black children access to an education. According to Harris, in Dorchester, "it was a little bit easier for Black New Brunswick families to get into the school system for a whole host of reasons." In her research Harris found that Dorchester was better of financially than many communities and it's possible the Halfkenny's reputation as skilled labourers gained them access. Whatever the reason, Harris said under the circumstances, for Halfkenny to continue on to Acadia Ladies Seminary, "she must have excelled." Harris said family support played a major factor in Halfkenny's schooling. It's who you know "Lalia Halfkenny probably got to go to the Acadia Ladies Seminary because her great uncle Yates Hamilton was the janitor," said Harris. "He was the much beloved janitor who had a wonderful relationship with the president and he sponsored her." Having a member of her family at the school most likely gave her access to education other Black families would not have had. Harris said proof of Halfkenny's academic excellence was found in newspapers of the time, that talked about her giving talks in Halifax. She wanted to continue her education at the Boston School of Elocution, but didn't. "I suspect it was a funding issue," said Harris. Ushered into the kitchen Instead, Halfkenny looked for work. "What we know is that for Black women of a certain level of education in the 19th Century in New Brunswick, it wasn't easy," said Harris. Twenty-eight banners have been affixed to light posts along Fredericton's Queen Street to celebrate New Brunswick's Black history, including one featuring Mary Matilda Winslow. She refers to a quote from Mary Matilda (Tilly) Winslow, who graduated from UNB a few decades after Halfkenny. "Whenever she went to apply for a job, she was ushered into the kitchen," said Harris. "This is someone who'd been top in her class and she just kept being taken to the back." Like Winslow, Halfkenny went on to find success in the United States, working in Virginia as a teacher. Tragic end Halfkenny's life was cut short when she died at the age of 26, most likely of consumption. Harris said the trail blazer volunteered in a home for African American families who were living in poverty. "It seems quite likely she contracted something there and died relatively young." Her early death is another reason why Halfkenny's story may have faded for a time, but Harris says her death didn't go unnoticed. Records show that her students showed up at the train station and sang as her coffin was loaded aboard. "Which is heartbreaking," said Harris. Halfkenny's body was returned to Nova Scotia, "where there was a recognition of her life and her contributions." "She was very much a valued and beloved individual who made a difference in people's lives, even in such a short time frame," said Harris. Harris continues to study Black history in the Maritimes, but said there are others doing important work too. She notes Harvey Amani Whitfield at the University of Vermont and the founding director of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design's Institute for the Study of Canadian Slavery, Charmaine Nelson. Theresa Halfkenny said she's glad the work is being done to rediscover, and preserve the region's rich Black history. She's doing her part as well on a small scale with her own children and community, by putting a together a history of her own life. "I notice there are pieces of history that even I never shared with them, and so now they're asking questions," said Halfkenny. "I do believe we all have a story to tell and we all have something to offer and we always have things that were done that did contribute to the communities that we live in."
(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) THE LATEST: On Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry reported 395 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and 10 new deaths. There are now 4,489 active cases in the province. A total of 228 people are in hospital, including 62 in intensive care. To date, 1,348 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C. out of 78,673 confirmed cases. 239,833 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 68,157 second doses. In her Thursday update, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there had been a slight uptick in the seven-day rolling average province-wide and an increase in the virus reproduction rate to above the level of one. "This means potential for rapid growth if we are not careful," she said, saying it is too early to ease restrictions. On the topic of variants, Henry said there have been 116 cases of COVID-19 variants of concern found in B.C., of which nine cases are active. She said 95 cases were of the variant originally detected in the U.K. and 21 of the variant first detected in South Africa. Henry said two cases of the variant originally discovered in Nigeria are no longer considered a variant of concern, although monitoring continues. A new outbreak has been declared at the Revera Sunwood Retirement Residence in Maple Ridge, and the outbreak at Burnaby Hospital is now over. Health Minister Adrian Dix praised the vaccination efforts at long term care homes, which has helped abate the spread of the virus in the vulnerable population of residents. "We have seen the impact of that and it is heartening and has made a huge difference," he said. Earlier, B.C. health officials say that managing the mass vaccination program for COVID-19 is shaping up to be a "monumental task," and they're trying to balance speed with careful planning. In a written statement on Wednesday, Henry and Dix said that "countless" people are working to get everyone who wants the vaccine immunized as quickly and safely as possible. "Vaccinating our entire population is a monumental task that must account for the diversity of our geography and our population," they said. "We must consider how to safely deliver vaccine to rural and remote communities, how to connect with seniors and Elders everywhere, and how to ensure the process to get immunized is as simple as possible." Earlier this week, Henry announced that B.C. is expanding the workforce available to the vaccination program by allowing more health professionals to provide the shot. READ MORE: What's happening elsewhere in Canada As of 7 p.m. PT Wednesday, Canada had reported 855,126 cases of COVID-19, with 30,393 cases considered active. A total of 21,807 people have died. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Common symptoms include: Fever. Cough. Tiredness. Shortness of breath. Loss of taste or smell. Headache. But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia. What should I do if I feel sick? Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911. What can I do to protect myself? Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. Keep at least two metres away from people outside your bubble. Keep your distance from people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wear a mask in indoor public spaces. More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
(Dave Irish/CBC - image credit) Lionel Desmond struggled to transition to civilian life, at times reporting that he drank upward of 70 beers a week and ate fewer than 600 calories a day, the first psychologist who saw him after leaving the military testified Thursday. Dr. Mathieu Murgatroyd first met the veteran in June 2015. Desmond spent about a year in his care at the Occupational Stress Injury Clinic in Fredericton, a Veterans Affairs facility geared toward rehabilitating veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. But Murgatroyd testified that he and Desmond accomplished little in terms of therapy. Instead, the psychologist said he felt he sometimes took on the role of a case manager. In part, that's because Desmond was grappling with other issues: finding purpose outside the military, ongoing conflict in his marriage and isolation from his family. He also told his psychologist at one point that his financial situation was so poor that he might have to go to the food bank. CBC reporter Laura Fraser is live blogging the hearing: A stressful transition Those concerns are not unique to soldiers once they retire from the Canadian Forces, the psychologist said. In fact, Murgatroyd noted the usual stress of leaving the structure and camaraderie intrinsic to military life can worsen an underlying mental health issue. "We're talking about individuals that have several mental health issues and challenges, PTSD, depression ... which can lead to poor coping strategies," he testified. The inquiry seeks not to lay blame, but to examine the various institutions that came in contact with Desmond and his family before he fatally shot his wife, Shanna; his daughter, Aaliyah; and his mother, Brenda, before turning the gun on himself on Jan. 3, 2017 at a home in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S. Shanna Desmond worked as a registered nurse in Antigonish, N.S. Inquiry Judge Warren Zimmer is seeking answers about whether changes to public policy connected to those institutions can prevent future deaths. While the inquiry unfolding in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., is provincial in nature — and the mandate does not technically extend to the Canadian Forces or Veterans Affairs — the need for better support during a time of transition has surfaced in testimony from multiple witnesses at the second session. Inquiry counsel Shane Russell asked Murgatroyd on Thursday whether Desmond might have benefited from other supports to help him navigate the stress associated with the transition to civilian life, including a caseworker who could arrange marital counselling or check on the status of his pension and finances, or someone to drop by his home. The psychologist agreed that, in hindsight, that support would have been helpful. Lionel Desmond is seen with his mother, Brenda, and his daughter, Aaliyah. Other roadblocks to treatment But another roadblock to Desmond's treatment seemed to be that he just wasn't showing up. He split much of his time in the year after his release between his house in New Brunswick and his family home in Nova Scotia. The evidence underscores an issue faced by freshly released veterans: the potential for transience and the barriers that can create when accessing mental health services. In Desmond's case, after his first two appointments with Murgatroyd in July 2015 — when he reported having "homicidal thoughts without intent" — he cancelled his third visit over the phone, saying he was in Nova Scotia. They wouldn't see one another until October 2015. That pattern of intermittent visits continued until May 2016, when Desmond was accepted into an in-patient psychiatric program at Ste. Anne's Hospital in Quebec.