Months-long protests in India escalated on Tuesday as thousands of farmers clashed with police in New Delhi over new laws that they say will push small farmers out of the market and let private corporations exploit them.
Months-long protests in India escalated on Tuesday as thousands of farmers clashed with police in New Delhi over new laws that they say will push small farmers out of the market and let private corporations exploit them.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Australia's economy expanded at a much faster-than-expected pace in the final quarter of last year and all signs are that 2021 has started on a firm footing too helped by massive monetary and fiscal stimulus. The economy accelerated 3.1% in the three months to December, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed on Wednesday, higher than forecasts for a 2.5% rise and follows an upwardly revised 3.4% gain in the third quarter. The Australian dollar rose about 10 pips to a day's high of $0.7836 after the data while bond futures nudged lower with the three-year contract implying an yield of around 0.3% compared with the official cash rate of 0.1%.
Yes, Michelle Obama's co-stars are a pair of puppets.
REGINA — Saskatchewan is looking to follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says information from that province as well as from Quebec and the United Kingdom suggests that a first shot effectively protects against the novel coronavirus. He says he hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. Shahab says if that were to happen, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. He says all adults in the province could be vaccinated with a first dose by June. Premier Scott Moe says such a shift would be a game-changer for how long public-health restrictions would stay in place. "What that (would) look like over the course of the next number of weeks as opposed to having that conversation over the course of the next number of months," Moe said during a briefing Tuesday. The province said when it first outlined its vaccine rollout that it would wait between 21 and 28 days between shots as recommended by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. The province says about 80,000 vaccinations have been given across the province. It says at least one of the approved vaccines to fight COVID-19 has made its way into every long-term care home. Health officials say 91 per cent of residents opted to get their first shot of the two-dose vaccination. Second doses have gone into the arms of long-term residents in about 53 per cent of facilities. The province says it expects to receive about 15,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot approved by Canada last week. Shahab says Saskatchewan will follow advice from a national panel of vaccine experts that it be used on people under 65. The vaccine's effectiveness in people older than that hasn't been sufficiently determined because there were not enough seniors in clinical trials. Another 134 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Tuesday as well as two deaths. Shahab and Moe say daily case numbers and hospitalizations have stabilized and continue to decrease — signs they say could lead to some public-health measures being relaxed. Moe said he would like to see some way for people to have visitors in their homes. That hasn't been allowed under public-health orders since before Christmas. The current health order is to expire March 19. Moe said his government could provide details as soon as next week on what restrictions might be eased. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside says six new rapid response teams will help schools in B.C. identify gaps in COVID-19 safety plans to help reduce exposure risk. The government says in a statement the teams will work with staff at schools, school districts and health authorities to review significant exposures to the virus. They will review school or district safety plans and policies, assist in their implementation and make recommendations for improvements when needed. The teams will also help schools and districts with communication plans. The provincial government is spending $900,000 in federal funding to support one team for each health authority and a separate team to help independent schools. Whiteside says gaps in safety plans and their implementation in some cases have been identified through reviews in cases of exposure, including classroom configuration problems and the sharing of supplies. "We know that when our safety plans in schools are in place and being adhered to and we don't have any gaps in those safety plans, we know that is when our schools are safest," she said on Tuesday. Funding for the teams was first announced Feb. 4. A lead school district has been selected for each health region and in Fraser Health, where outbreaks have been concentrated, the Education Ministry says there has also been additional support. Lead school districts include Surrey for the Fraser Health region, Nanaimo-Ladysmith for Island Health, Central Okanagan for Interior Health, Peace River North for Northern Health and Vancouver for Vancouver Coastal Health. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
CALGARY — The founder and CEO of Good Earth Cafes Ltd. says the Calgary-based chain could potentially double its 45 locations across Canada through a program to take over coffee shops being closed down by international chains such as Starbucks.In January, Seattle-based Starbucks said it would complete its plan to close up to 300 coffee shops across Canada by the end of March as part of a "transformation strategy'' to respond to changes in consumer habits during the COVID-19 pandemic.Michael Going of Good Earth says his company is already looking at potential sites to be redeveloped and is recruiting partners for multi-unit franchises as well as single unit owner operators.Good Earth says it has hired Stan Boniferro of Stabon Enterprises to work with landlords and developers in identifying sites with proven performance, infrastructure and good growth prospects. The first Good Earth shop opened in Calgary in 1991. The chain says it aims to offer ethically sourced coffee and fresh food while promoting community interaction and environmental responsibility.Going says franchisees would cover the cost of renovating the former Starbucks to match Good Earth's theme and design. He declined to give a specific target number for Good Earth's program."We're not going to take 300. First of all, there's not 300 good locations they're leaving behind," said Going."We could double the number of locations we have now in a couple of years time."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
On Wednesday, the verdict in Toronto’s van attack trial will be revealed. Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Erica Vella reports.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, has withdrawn her nomination after she faced opposition from key Democratic and Republican senators for her controversial tweets. Her withdrawal marks the first high-profile defeat of one of Biden's nominees. Eleven of the 23 Cabinet nominees requiring Senate approval have been confirmed, most with strong bipartisan support. “Unfortunately, it now seems clear that there is no path forward to gain confirmation, and I do not want continued consideration of my nomination to be a distraction from your other priorities,” Tanden wrote in a letter to Biden. The president, in a statement, said he has “utmost respect for her record of accomplishment, her experience and her counsel” and pledged to find her another role in his administration. Tanden’s viability was in doubt after Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and a number of moderate Republicans came out against her last month, all citing her tweets attacking members of both parties prior to her nomination. Manchin, a key moderate swing vote in the Senate, said last month in a statement announcing his opposition that “her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget.” Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, meanwhile, cited Biden’s own standard of conduct in opposing Tanden, declaring in a statement that “her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend.” Tanden needed just 51 votes in an evenly-divided Senate, with Vice-President Kamala Harris acting as a tiebreaker. But without Manchin’s support, the White House was left scrambling to find a Republican to support her. One potential Republican vote, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, told reporters earlier Tuesday on Capitol Hill she still had not yet made up her mind on Tanden’s nomination. The White House stuck with her even after a number of centrist Republicans made their opposition known, insisting her experience growing up on welfare and background working on progressive policies as the president and CEO of the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress made her the right candidate for the moment. White House chief of staff Ron Klain initially insisted the administration was “fighting our guts out” for her. Tanden faced pointed questions over her past comments about members from both parties during her confirmation hearing. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and prominent progressive lawmaker, accused her of issuing “vicious attacks” against progressives, and hadn’t said whether he’d support her nomination. Tanden apologized during that hearing to “people on either the left or right who are hurt by what I’ve said.” Just prior to the hearing, she deleted hundreds of tweets, many of which were critical of Republicans. Collins cited those deleted tweets in her statement, saying that the move “raises concerns about her commitment to transparency.” She said Congress “has to be able to trust the OMB director to make countless decisions in an impartial manner, carrying out the letter of the law and congressional intent.” As recently as Monday, the White House indicated it was sticking by Tanden’s nomination, with press secretary Jen Psaki noting Tanden's “decades of experience” in defending their pick. “We will continue of course to fight for the confirmation of every nominee that the president puts forward,” Psaki insisted, but she added, “We'll see if we have 50 votes.” The head of the Office of Management and Budget is tasked with putting together the administration's budget, as well as overseeing a wide range of logistical and regulatory issues across the federal government. Tanden's withdrawal leaves the Biden administration without a clear replacement. The apparent front-runner on Capitol Hill to replace Tanden was Shalanda Young, a former staff director for the House Appropriations Committee who has been actively pushed by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Other names mentioned include Ann O’Leary, a former chief of staff for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Gene Sperling, who served as a top economic adviser to both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
McMurray Métis elder Anne Michalko said she felt like she was on her way to freedom when she learned she would be getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Michalko, 83, spent much of the past year in quarantine. On Thursday, she made a rare venture outside her home for her first vaccine shot. Her second shot comes one month before her birthday in May. She hopes she can celebrate turning 84 with family. “Can you imagine feeling excited to go out and get a needle?” she said. “I’m looking forward to sitting around the fire pit and enjoying each other’s company. Maybe I’ll take my great grandson for a walk.” Alberta’s vaccine rollout plan entered Phase 1B on Feb. 7, allowing anyone born before 1946 to get a vaccine. Anyone living in retirement centres, senior citizen lodges and other supportive living homes can also get vaccinated. There have been 546 people in Fort Chipewyan that have had their first vaccine dose. The community has been prioritized because of its remote location and limited health care services. The rollout has given some relief to a community with a long memory that includes the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which wiped out three-quarters of the community. One victim was Chief Alexandre Lavoilette, the first chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Chief Allan Adam of ACFN remembers stories of the Spanish Flu from his late grandmother. She was 18-years-old when the pandemic hit the community, he said. “She said people were lost because they had also lost their chief,” said Adam. “Nobody knew where to go.” Adam is thankful Fort Chipewyan has not experienced anything like the Spanish Flu over the past year. He said he is proud of the work the work the community is doing to keep people safe. “A lot of history was lost from the older people at that time,” he said. “We were lucky and we dodged a bullet this time.” Chief Peter Powder of Mikisew Cree First Nation said stories of the Spanish Flu made some people anxious to get vaccinated. “That’s where people’s heads were at, just hearing about that and how bad it was back in the day,” said Powder. Powder said encouraging young people to get vaccinated has been a priority, since they are more likely to travel outside the community. Some people have been excited to get vaccinated, but Angela Conner, a nurse with Nunee Health, said she has seen some hesitancy in the community. Nunee Health is promoting vaccination and trying to fight false information shared online. The hamlet received a second shipment of vaccines on Feb. 28. “Everything that we use is evidence-based,” said Conner. “We’ve been opening up our facility here for any questions. Quite a few people have called and we did have our nurse practitioner open for any kind of consults.” Other Métis leaders feel they have been left out of Alberta’s vaccination program. Since the first vaccines arrived in Alberta, elders on First Nations or Métis settlements have been getting vaccinated if they are between 65 and 74. Some communities that are mostly Métis are not considered settlements, meaning those elders must wait until the general public can be vaccinated in the fall. A community like Conklin, for instance, is mostly Métis and has seen 11 per cent of its population get COVID-19. But the community is considered a rural hamlet under the responsibility of the municipality. Fort McKay’s Métis community is also on municipal land and not considered a settlement. McMurray Métis has 45 elders between 65 and 74 who will be left out of Phase 1B because the Local is based in Fort McMurray. “In Alberta, it is recognized that Indigenous elders are part of a first priority,” said Bryan Fayant, McMurray Métis’ disaster and recovery strategist. “Our elders are a part of the regular rollout and I just don’t think that’s enough.” firstname.lastname@example.org Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
There still isn’t a trial date one year after a Kindersley mom was arrested and charged with second-degree murder for the death of her infant daughter. In Saskatoon Provincial Court in November 2020, Teenie Rose Steer elected to be tried by judge alone without a jury. Her case was then moved from the provincial court level to Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench. Her matter was on Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench pre-trial list Nov. 13, 2020, to set a trial date. That pre-trial conference was adjourned to Dec. 18, 2020, and then it was adjourned to Feb. 12, 2021. The matter has now been adjourned to March 31. Pre-trial conferences are closed to the public and media. They are informal meetings in chambers between the Crown and defence. Steer was arrested 13 months ago. According to the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada Jordan Rule, once charges are laid provincial cases must be heard within 18 months and superior court cases within 30 months or the charges can be dismissed. RCMP arrested steer February 2020 and charged her with killing her one-month-old infant three years ago. On Sept. 27, 2018, police responded to a home after receiving a report of a baby in cardiac arrest. First responders and doctors at the Rosetown hospital attempted life-saving measures but the infant was pronounced dead in hospital. A September 2018 autopsy revealed information that led investigators to believe the baby’s death was suspicious and RCMP Major Crimes took over the investigation. RCMP didn't reveal details of that information. The charges against Steer haven’t been proven in court. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Two and a half years ago, longtime safe drug supply advocate Dr. Mark Tyndall imagined an ATM-like machine that could dispense opioids. Now these machines are operating in four cities to help address the overdose crisis. The federal government announced nearly $3.5 million in funding for the MySafe project, an initiative that provides people medical-grade opioids through a biometric vending machine. This comes on the heels of the BC Coroners Service reporting 165 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in January — the largest-ever number of lives lost due to illicit drugs that month, accounting for an average of 5.3 lives each day. This is a jump from the 4.7 deaths per day recorded in B.C. last year, which saw the most people ever die due to overdose in that province. “We need to meet people where they’re at and that’s what harm reduction is all about,” said parliamentary secretary Darren Fisher, who made the funding announcement Tuesday on behalf of Health Minister Patty Hajdu. “Creative solutions like this one will help us change the course of the overdose crisis.” In order to access the MySafe machines, people must undergo a medical assessment and have a physician prescribe them the hydromorphone pills that the machine supplies. The machines are programmed to only provide the amount prescribed by the physician. They are also tamper-proof, bolted to the floor, and can only be accessed after a person scans their palm. While the machines mean no human contact, people are supervised by a health practitioner and can be connected to treatment and other health and social services. So far, more than 5,000 packets have been dispensed, according to the MySafe Society. The new funding will go towards operating and evaluating the existing five sites that were launched in late 2020. Two machines are in Vancouver, with one each in Victoria, London, Ont., and Dartmouth, N.S. Each machine can provide medication to up to 48 people, totalling about 240 people nationwide, according to Health Canada. This funding is part of the $66 million the federal government pledged in the 2020 fall economic statement to support community-based organizations responding to substance use issues. Tyndall, a University of British Columbia professor who specializes in public health, says the best way to alleviate the problem is through preventative measures. “We really need to step back and not just wait for people to overdose and intervene, but to try to offer them an alternative to prevent overdoses in the first place,” Tyndall said. While Tyndall says the five machines aren’t enough to curb the spiking overdose deaths, he notes they’re able to quickly get a safe supply to those who need it. “We’re going to continue to lose people if we’re just waiting for everybody to get into recovery or drug treatment,” Tyndall said. “All these things need to happen, but it’s just too slow.” There are 15 other machines awaiting deployment, which Tyndall hopes can be put to use in the next few years in other parts of the country. Yasmine Ghania, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
TOPEKA, Kan. — Former Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas has entered a diversion program to avoid trial over allegations that he voted illegally in a 2019 municipal election. Watkins, a Republican from Topeka who served only one term in the U.S. House, was facing three felony charges. He was accused of listing a postal box at a UPS store as his home on a state registration form when he was living temporarily at his parents' home. He was also charged with lying to a detective who investigated the case. The Shawnee County district attorney filed the charges just weeks before the August 2020 primary, and Watkins lost to now-Rep. Jake LaTurner. “I regret the error in my voter registration paperwork that led to these charges. I fully co-operated from the beginning and had no intent to deceive any one, at any time. I am glad to resolve the ordeal,” Watkins said in a statement Tuesday. Watkins acknowledged he lied to the detective when he said he did not vote in the Topeka City Council election, The Kansas City Star reported. Under the diversion agreement entered into Monday, Watkins' prosecution will be deferred for six months. If he meets the terms of the agreement, the case will be dropped by September. The Associated Press
OTTAWA — A House of Commons committee is unanimously urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to promise he won't call a federal election while the COVID-19 pandemic rages across Canada. In a report by the procedure and House affairs committee, even Liberal members supported a recommendation calling for a commitment that there will be no election during the pandemic, unless Trudeau's minority Liberal government is defeated on a confidence vote. The committee makes no similar call for opposition parties to promise not to trigger an election during the pandemic by voting non-confidence in the government. However, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has vowed his party won't vote to bring the government down as long as the country is in the grip of COVID-19. That should be enough to ensure the survival of the minority Liberal government for the foreseeable future, unless Trudeau decides to trigger an election himself. Trudeau has repeatedly insisted he has no interest in forcing an election but opposition parties remain suspicious. "Unfortunately, the Liberal government has already indicated their desire to recklessly send Canadians to the polls at whatever time they deem to be the most advantageous for the prime minister," the Conservatives say in a supplementary report to the committee's report. Indeed, the Conservatives assert, without explanation, that Trudeau has already tried to orchestrate his government's defeat. They thank Liberal committee members for taking "a stand against the whims of the prime minister, who has been eagerly pressing towards an election for the last few months." At the same time, Conservatives have been pursuing a strategy that could give Trudeau justification for calling an election: They've been systematically blocking the government's legislative agenda, including repeatedly delaying a bill authorizing billions in pandemic-related aid. They have also blocked debate on a bill that would give Elections Canada special powers to conduct an election safely, if need be, during the pandemic. Bill C-19 is the government's response to chief electoral officer Stephane Perrault, who has said special measures are urgent given that a minority government is inherently unstable and could theoretically fall at any time. However, some opposition MPs view the legislation as proof that the Liberals are planning to trigger an election. In their own supplementary report, New Democrats argue that an election in the midst of the pandemic "has the potential to undermine the health of our democracy." They point to the current delay in Newfoundland and Labrador's election due to a COVID outbreak as an example of the "delays, confusion and unforeseen barriers in voting" that could undermine Canadians' confidence in the outcome of a federal election. "This raises the spectre of a government whose political legitimacy is openly challenged," the NDP committee members say, adding that could lead to the kind of crisis that provoked a riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters of former president Donald Trump. The Capitol riot, sparked by Trump's unfounded claims that mail-in ballots were fraudulent, appears to have been on the minds of opposition committee members when it comes to other recommendations for how to safely conduct an election, if necessary, during the pandemic. Anticipating a massive increase in mail-in ballots, the chief electoral officer has, among other things, suggested that mail-in ballots received one day after the close of in-person polls should still be counted. The Conservatives say the procedure and House affairs committee should have rejected that proposal, arguing that "the election should end on Election Day and Canadians deserve to know the results without delay." Bloc Quebecois committee members, in their supplementary report, similarly argue that extending the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots "would delay the election results, which would fuel voter suspicion and undermine confidence in the electoral system, which is obviously undesirable." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (18,421.60, up 121.98 points.) Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Up 52 cents, or 2.03 per cent, to $26.11 on 26.6 million shares. Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB). Energy. Up 29 cents, or 0.66 per cent, to $44.25 on 11.4 million shares. Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX). Materials. Up $1.05, or 4.37 per cent, to $25.08 on 11.1 million shares. Zenabis Global Inc. (TSX:ZENA). Health care. Down half a cent, or 3.85 per cent, to 12.5 cents on 10 million shares. Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC). Financials. Down three cents, or 0.12 per cent, to $25.98 on 9.8 million shares. MediPharm Labs Corp. (TSX:LABS). Health care. Down 13 cents, or 19.12 per cent, to 55 cents on 9.6 million shares. Companies in the news: Spin Master Corp. (TSX:TOY). Up $6.95, or 23.9 per cent, to $36.01. Spin Master Corp. recorded meteoric growth in its digital games business in the latest quarter as users of its Toca Life World app filmed themselves playing the game and shared the videos on social media. The Canadian toymaker’s digital games revenue increased by more than 400 per cent to $31.8 million in its fourth quarter, driven by the Toca Life World platform. While it's free to download the app, Spin Master makes money through the in-game purchases and upgrades. The Toronto-based company said revenue for the quarter was US$490.6 million, up from US$473.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX:WEED). Up 56 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $44.47. Canopy Growth Corp. will deepen its U.S. presence by launching four sparkling cannabidiol waters there before possible federal legalization. The Smiths Falls, Ont.-based cannabis company said four drinks from its Quatreau brand will be available online to U.S. customers Tuesday. They will contain 20 milligrams of CBD; come in ginger and lime, cucumber and mint, blueberry and açaí, and passion fruit and guava flavours; and be Canopy’s first CBD drinks to cross the border. The beverages, which have been available in Canada since last fall, will join Martha Stewart, BioSteel and This Works CBD products Canopy already sells in the U.S. as part of an expansion strategy. Industry observers believe those U.S. opportunities will multiply this year because U.S. President Joe Biden and his Democratic party have favoured legislation to relax cannabis laws. George Weston Ltd. (TSX:WN). Up $1.97, or 2.1 per cent, to $96.59. George Weston Ltd. reported its fourth-quarter profit fell compared with a year ago as it was hit by one-time charges. The company, which operates through Loblaw, Choice Properties and Weston Foods, says it earned a profit available to common shareholders of $289 million or $1.88 per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31. The result was down from a profit of $433 million or $2.81 per diluted share a year earlier. However, on an adjusted basis, George Weston says it earned $2.03 per diluted share, up from an adjusted profit of $1.69 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2019. Revenue was $13.81 billion, up from $12.11 billion a year earlier when George Weston's fourth quarter only had 12 weeks. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Health Minister Christian Dubé occasionally offers cues at his media appearances that he is about to say something profound, or at least important. At a news conference Tuesday, it was the phrase "I'm weighing my words here." This he followed with the admission, "We're scared of this situation." Dubé was talking about variant coronavirus strains, which are gaining ground despite the province's best efforts to keep a lid on them. The plateauing daily COVID-19 infection toll obscures an incipient wave, he said. But there is also good news. Vaccines, Dubé said, are Quebec's "weapons of mass reduction" when it comes to the coronavirus, variant or not. And as the province works to vaccinate another 700,000 people before the end of the month, he remains hopeful the race against the variants can be won. Strict measures likely to continue The fact that the variant curve shows signs of pointing upward, however, means Quebecers probably shouldn't expect the restrictive public health measures, like the curfew, to be lifted in the near future. "[Variants] must be taken into consideration as we make big decisions," Dubé said. Most of the wariness centres on Montreal, which has the largest number of confirmed cases of variants, and where the B117 strain (first identified in the United Kingdom) could soon become the dominant form of the virus. But the problem is bigger than the province's largest city. Specialized screening reveals about 12 to 15 per cent of the daily positive tests in the province are due to a variant, a proportion that keeps increasing. Dozens of suspected variant cases are currently being investigated in multiple regions. The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region has reported 40 cases of the B1351 variant discovered in South Africa, which is demonstrated to reduce the effectiveness of some vaccines. Nearly three-quarters of those cases can be traced back to an outbreak in January, but 12 appear to be linked to a school in the town of Landrienne, where an outbreak occurred in mid-February. "We received the news on Saturday night, the South African variant is, in fact, present in our region ... it wasn't a surprise given the outbreaks in the school in Landrienne, a CPE and now in a [seniors' residence]," said Dr. Lise Landry, the region's public health director. Deploying an aggressive approach According to Dr. Omobola Sobanjo, the region's medical advisor, the infectiousness of the strain, which has also been reported just over the provincial border in North Bay, Ont., may require reconsidering risks of infection. Sobjano noted that many of those who were infected with the South African variant appeared to be contagious even in the latter stages of their 14-day isolation period. Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said Tuesday he is scared' by the coronavirus variants that are proliferating in the province and urged people to continue observing public health measures until vaccination catches up.(The Canadian Press) Quebec has taken a stouter approach generally toward outbreaks in recent weeks, notably at four schools in the Quebec City area that were shut down entirely rather than on a classroom-by-classroom basis. It's very much by design. "We are taking a very aggressive approach in terms of our interventions.... We are working under the assumption all over Quebec that these are all variants," Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's public health director, said at Tuesday's news conference. Arruda said the epidemiology suggests that while infection rates have plateaued for the time being, there are still worrying signs. "The ocean is calm at the moment ... but underneath there are sharks," he said, "and I'll tell you what those sharks are: they're the variants." Vaccination campaign moves to regions On Tuesday, Dubé said that while the initial focus of the mass vaccination ramp-up is Montreal, it will soon be arriving in other regions as logistical hurdles are cleared. The Montérégie, for example, has large numbers of seniors' residences, which makes for slow going because each must be served by a mobile vaccination unit. The deal concluded with pharmacies last week means that when the roll-out arrives in outlying areas at mid-month, it will accommodate larger numbers. The effort will be aided by the impending arrival of about 120,000 doses of the recently approved AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which is easier to store and preserve. But about half of Canada's initial shipment of the vaccine arrives with a best-before date of April 2, and the provincial immunization committee hasn't yet issued guidance on how best to use it. Daniel Paré, the coordinator of the provincial vaccine effort, said the guidelines are expected any day now. He also made a promise: no dose will reach its expiry date unused.
The Downtown Eastside is dealing with two serious public health issues — a rise in COVID-19 cases and an outbreak of shigellosis, a highly contagious bacterial infection caused by unsanitary conditions. A tenant who lives in the Hazelwood, a single-room occupancy hotel in the Vancouver neighbourhood, says she’s concerned about her neighbours after learning from staff in her building that at least 20 residents have tested positive for COVID-19. In SRO hotels, residents live in small rooms and usually share bathrooms and kitchens, so it’s difficult to self-isolate. The Tyee is not identifying the tenant because of fears that she will face repercussions if others learn she lives in the building, including risks to her safety. She said she has been vaccinated, so she’s not that worried about her own health. “I’m concerned more about my neighbours, because they are part of the vulnerable population,” she said. Residents include heavy drug users and people “with multiple disabilities and probably very low immune systems, and lots of co-existing health problems,” she said. The tenant is also questioning why it appeared to take so long for notices warning residents of the outbreak to be posted in the building. Notices posted by Vancouver Coastal Health and reviewed by The Tyee say the exposure started Feb. 10 and is ongoing. “That notice was posted on Feb. 24, so that’s two solid weeks where the tenants here had no clue they were in danger,” said the tenant. The CEO of the company that operates the Hazelwood says there are currently 100 cases in two buildings operated by Atira Women’s Resource Society or Atira Property Management, a for-profit subsidiary of the society. Between Feb. 7 to 20, 142 new COVID-19 cases were recorded for the local health area that includes the Downtown Eastside. Janice Abbott declined to speak to The Tyee about the COVID-19 clusters, referring The Tyee to Vancouver Coastal Health. Vancouver Coastal Health did not respond to The Tyee by publication time. But in a Twitter post, Abbott said there are currently two clusters of cases in one building in the Downtown Eastside and another building outside the neighbourhood. Abbott said an outbreak of another disease called shigellosis, caused by the shigella bacteria, is also a concern. On Saturday, Vancouver Coastal Health warned that over 10 people from the Downtown Eastside had been hospitalized over the past few weeks after contracting shigellosis. Shigella is a bacteria present in feces that can spread when people don’t have access to proper hand washing, safe food preparation or clean bathrooms. It causes diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps and some people can become severely ill and need treatment with antibiotics to recover, according to a notice Vancouver Coastal Health sent to Downtown Eastside housing and social service providers. It can also be transmitted through sexual contact. Shigella infection is a major cause of dysentery. Vancouver Coastal Health told housing providers to ensure that bathrooms and showers are kept clean, staff and tenants have access to frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer, and bathrooms are regularly stocked with soap and hand sanitizer. The Hazelwood tenant The Tyee spoke to said that her building is kept fairly clean, but “it definitely could be better.” The Tyee previously reported on complaints that the Gastown Hotel, a provincially-owned SRO also operated by Atira Property Management, is not being cleaned properly. According to the Hazelwood tenant, Atira Property Management paid tenants earlier in the pandemic to regularly sanitize common touch points like elevator buttons and doorknobs. However, that program was recently cut, according to the tenant. Abbott declined to respond to questions about that program. “I feel like leaving people in the dark really contributed to the rapid spread” of COVID-19, the tenant said. “And also, the lack of cleaning and sanitization.” Over the past few weeks, Vancouver Coastal Health has been working to give COVID-19 vaccines to people who live in the Downtown Eastside and are homeless, live in shelters or reside in supportive housing. Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, has said that people from the Downtown Eastside who get COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized. According to Abbott, 115 residents of Atira-operated buildings, or five per cent of total residents, have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Of Atira staff, 91 people have tested positive, or seven per cent of total staff. Three residents have died after contracting COVID-19. The Tyee has asked Vancouver Coastal Health for more information about the shigellosis outbreak and will update this story when we receive the health authority’s response. Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa on Wednesday launched a search for eight people to join him as the first private passengers on a trip around the moon with Elon Musk's SpaceX. The first stage of the selection process runs to March 14, with applicants needing to pass medical checks and, eventually, an interview with Maezawa. The entrepreneur, who sold his online fashion business Zozo Inc to SoftBank in 2019, is paying the entire cost of the voyage on SpaceX's next-generation reusable launch vehicle, dubbed the Starship.
WASHINGTON — FBI Director Christopher Wray bluntly labeled the January riot at the U.S. Capitol as “domestic terrorism” Tuesday and warned of a rapidly growing threat of homegrown violent extremism that law enforcement is scrambling to confront through thousands of investigations. Wray also defended to lawmakers his own agency's handling of an intelligence report that warned of the prospect for violence on Jan. 6. And he firmly rejected false claims advanced by some Republicans that anti-Trump groups had organized the deadly riot that began when a violent mob stormed the building as Congress was gathering to certify results of the presidential election. Wray's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, his first before Congress since the insurrection, was one in a series of hearings centred on the law enforcement response to the Capitol insurrection. Lawmakers pressed him not only about possible intelligence and communication failures ahead of the riot but also about the threat of violence from white supremacists, militias and other extremists that the FBI says it is prioritizing with the same urgency as the menace of international terrorism organizations. “Jan. 6 was not an isolated event. The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now and it’s not going away anytime soon,” Wray told lawmakers. “At the FBI, we’ve been sounding the alarm on it for a number of years now.” The violence at the Capitol made clear that a law enforcement agency that remade itself after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to deal with international terrorism is now labouring to address homegrown violence by white Americans. President Joe Biden’s administration has tasked his national intelligence director to work with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to assess the threat. And in applying the domestic terrorism label to conduct inside the Capitol, Wray sought to make clear to senators that he was clear-eyed about the scope and urgency of the problem. In quantifying the scale of the FBI's work, Wray said the number of domestic terrorism investigations has increased from around 1,000 when he became director in 2017 to roughly 1,400 at the end of last year to about 2,000 now. The number of arrests of white supremacists and other racially motivated extremists has almost tripled, he said. Many of the senators' questions Tuesday centred on the FBI's handling of a Jan. 5 report from its Norfolk, Virginia, field office that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington the following day. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, and the former chief of the department has said he received no intelligence from the FBI that would have led him to anticipate the sort of violence that besieged them on the 6th. Five people died that day, including a Capitol Police officer and a woman who was shot as she tried to climb through a smashed window into the House chamber with lawmakers still inside. Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw, unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” “We did communicate that information in a timely fashion to the Capitol Police and (Metropolitan Police Department) in not one, not two, but three different ways,” Wray said, though he added that since the violence that ensued was “not an acceptable result,” the FBI was looking into what it could have done differently. He said he was “reluctant to armchair quarterback anyone else in their jobs,” but the FBI was determined to prevent a repeat of Jan. 6. “We find it personally infuriating any time we are not able, as I said, to bat 1,000. And we’re going to keep working to get better,” he said. The sprawling Justice Department investigation into the riot has already produced hundreds of charges, including against members of militia groups and far-right organizations. The crowd in Washington that day ranged from protesters who did not break any laws to a smaller group that arrived determined to commit violence against police and disrupt Congress from its duties, Wray said. “Some of those people clearly came to Washington, we now know, with the plans and intentions to engage in the worst kind of violence we would consider domestic terrorism," he said. Asked whether there was evidence that the attack was planned or carried out by antifa — an umbrella term for leftist militants — or by Trump opponents posing as his loyalists, Wray said that there was not. Some on the right have made such false contentions. Even as the FBI prioritizes its efforts to counter domestic violent extremism, there are challenges confronting law enforcement, including in separating mere chatter from actual threats and in First Amendment protections that give ample leeway to espouse racist or otherwise abhorrent viewpoints. "The amount of angry, hateful, unspeakable, combative, violent even, rhetoric on social media exceeds what anybody in their worst imagination (thinks) is out there,” Wray said. Wray has kept a notably low profile since the Capitol attack. Though he has briefed lawmakers privately and shared information with local law enforcement, Tuesday's oversight hearing marked his first public appearance before Congress since before November's presidential election. ____ Follow Eric Tucker at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP. Eric Tucker And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Canadian actor Jahmil French of "Degrassi: The Next Generation" fame has died. His agent, Gabrielle Kachman, confirmed the news to The Canadian Press through a statement. Kachman did not provide details on his death but noted French "will be remembered by many for his passion for the arts, his commitment to his craft, and his vibrant personality." French played high-school student Dave Turner on the Toronto-shot teen series "Degrassi: The Next Generation." In a statement, "Degrassi: The Next Generation" co-creator and executive producer Linda Schuyler said she was "heartbroken" to hear the news Tuesday. "Jahmil was an extraordinary talent and a bright light on and off the screen," Schuyler said. "He was a joy to work with on 'Degrassi: The Next Generation.' "He brought an authenticity and burst of life to every scene he was in and infused his character 'Dave' with an airy lightness. Off screen Jahmil would always make me smile. He will be deeply missed.” French's other credits include the Netflix series "Soundtrack," the Pop TV show "Let's Get Physical," and the Canadian film "Boost," for which he earned a 2018 Canadian Screen Award nomination for supporting actor. According to various bios online, he was 29. Fans and friends of the performer shared tributes on social media Tuesday, including fellow "Degrassi" alum Annie Clark, who tweeted she's "heartbroken over the loss." She also posted a video of him dancing on a stage, noting that's how she'll always think of him. "So full of energy and fun. He was always dancing. A true talent and a great friend. We will all miss you so much Jahmil," Clark wrote. Dylan Everett, who also acted on "Degrassi: The Next Generation," tweeted that French was "kind, funny, and talented." "One of the first people I met on 'Degrassi,' he immediately made me feel welcome," Everett wrote. "He disarmed you with a smile and his confidence and energy was infectious. You’ll be missed, brother." Toronto-based Salvatore Antonio tweeted French was a longtime acting student of his, his mentee and "a special human." "He was fearless and brilliant in his pursuit, and I’m so sad we won’t get to see more of his gift," Antonio wrote. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
HOLTVILLE, Calif. — An SUV packed with 25 people pulled in front of an oncoming tractor-trailer on a two-lane highway cutting through farmland near the Mexican border early Tuesday, killing 13 and leaving bodies strewn across the roadway. When police arrived some of the passengers were trying to crawl out of the crumpled 1997 Ford Expedition, the front end of the rig still pushing into its left side and two empty trailers jackknifed behind it. Other victims were wandering around the fields. Twelve people were found dead when first responders reached the highway, which winds through fields in the agricultural southeastern corner of California about 125 miles (201 kilometres) east of San Diego. Another person died at a hospital, California Highway Patrol Chief Omar Watson said. “It was a pretty chaotic scene,” Watson said, who also described it as “a very sad situation.” The injuries ranged from minor to severe and included fractures and head trauma. Six people were being treated at El Centro Regional Medical Center. Four were flown to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, where one person is in critical condition and the others were stable, spokesman Todd Burke said. The 22-year-old driver of the Ford Expedition was from Mexicali, Mexico, and was killed. The 69-year-old driver of the big rig, who is from nearby El Centro, was hospitalized with moderate injuries. The crash occurred around 6:15 a.m. at an intersection just outside the agricultural community of Holtville, which dubs itself the world’s carrot capital. Authorities said the tractor-trailer and its two empty containers were northbound on State Highway 115 when the SUV pulled in front of it from Norrish Road. It's not clear if the SUV ran a stop sign or had stopped before entering the highway. It's not yet known how fast the tractor-trailer was travelling. The deceased ranged in age from 20 to to 55. Among the injured, the youngest is 16 years old. The investigation will look into why so many people were crammed into the 1997 Ford Expedition, a vehicle built to hold only about eight people safely. “Obviously, that vehicle is not meant for that many people,” Watson said. “It’s unfortunate that that many people were put into that vehicle because there’s not enough safety constraints to safely keep those people in that vehicle.” The speed limit for tractor-trailers on the highway is 55 mph (88.5 kph), according to CHP Officer Jake Sanchez. The other road is also 55 mph for vehicles. A 1997 Ford Expedition can carry a maximum payload of 2,000 pounds. If it had 25 people inside, that would exceed the payload limit — which would tax the brakes and make it tougher to steer, said Frank Borris, former head of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation. “You’re going to have extended stopping distances, delayed reactions to steering inputs and potential over-reaction to any type of high-speed lane change,” said Borris, who now runs a safety consulting business. SUVs of that age tended to be top-heavy even without carrying a lot of weight, Borris said. “With all of that payload above the vehicle’s centre of gravity, it’s going to make it even more unstable,” he said. Officials were still working on identifying the dead and said they did not know if the SUV was carrying farm workers or migrants crossing into the country illegally. The Mexican consulate was assisting since so many people in the region live and work on both sides of the border. The harvest of lettuce and other winter vegetable crops runs from November until March, when buses and SUV carrying farmworkers are often rumbling down the rural roads to the fields in the early morning hours. The area has also seen smugglers carrying in migrants in trucks and vehicles. Hundreds of migrants who died after crossing the border are buried in unmarked graves in Holtville’s cemetery on the edge of town. The crash occurred amid verdant farms that grow a wide variety of vegetables and alfalfa used for cattle feed. Hours after the accident, a crew of a few dozen worked the fields near the scene. Macario Mora, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection in Yuma and El Centro, said the Border Patrol was helping other law enforcement with the crash. He said the immigration status of those in the SUV was unknown and being investigated. “It was an unusual number of people in an SUV, but we don’t know who they were,” Mora said, adding that they could have been farmworkers. ___ Associated Press reporters Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles, Julie Watson in San Diego and Anita Snow in Phoenix contributed. Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press