Check out this powerful volcanic activity from the southeast crater of Mt. Etna in Sicily. Amazing!
Check out this powerful volcanic activity from the southeast crater of Mt. Etna in Sicily. Amazing!
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia said Saturday it intercepted a missile attack over its capital and bomb-laden drones targeting a southern province, the latest in a series of airborne assaults it has blamed on Yemen’s rebel Houthis. The Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen’s yearslong war announced the Iran-allied Houthis had launched a ballistic missile toward Riyadh and three booby-trapped drones toward the province of Jizan, with a fourth toward another southwestern city and other drones being monitored. No casualties or damage were initially reported. There was no immediate comment from the Houthis. The attack comes amid sharply rising tensions in the Middle East, a day after a mysterious explosion struck an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman. That blast renewed concerns about ship security in the strategic waterways that saw a spate of suspected Iranian attacks on oil tankers in 2019. The state-owned Al-Ekhbariya TV broadcast footage of what appeared to be explosions in the air over Riyadh. Social media users also posted videos, with some showing residents shrieking as they watched the fiery blast pierce the night sky, which appeared to be the kingdom’s Patriot missile batteries intercepting the ballistic missile. Col. Turki al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said the Houthis were trying in “a systematic and deliberate way to target civilians.” The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh issued a warning to Americans, calling on them to “stay alert in case of additional future attacks.” Flight-tracking websites showed a number of flights scheduled to land at Riyadh’s international airport diverted or delayed in the hour after the attack. A civil defence spokesman, Mohammed al-Hammadi, later said scattered debris resulted in material damage to one house, though no one was hurt, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported. As Yemen's war grinds on, Houthi missile and drone attacks on the kingdom have grown commonplace, only rarely causing damage. Earlier this month the Houthis struck an empty passenger plane at Saudi Arabia's southwestern Abha airport with a bomb-laden drone, causing it to catch fire. Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition has faced widespread international criticism for airstrikes in Yemen that have killed hundreds of civilians and hit non-military targets, including schools, hospitals and wedding parties. President Joe Biden announced this month he was ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, including “relevant” arms sales. But he stressed that the U.S. would continue to help Saudi Arabia defend itself against outside attacks. The Houthis overran Yemen’s capital and much of the country's north in 2014, forcing the government into exile and months later prompting Saudi Arabia and its allies to launch a bombing campaign. __ Associated Press writer Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report. Isabel Debre, The Associated Press
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is expected to ask President Joe Biden to consider sharing part of the U.S. coronavirus vaccine supply with its poorer southern neighbor when the two leaders hold a virtual summit on Monday, U.S. and Mexican officials said. Biden is open to discussing the matter as part of a broader regional effort to cooperate in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic but will maintain as his “number one priority” the need to first vaccinate as many Americans as possible, a White House official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Lopez Obrador has been one of the most vocal leaders in the developing world pressing the richest countries to improve poorer nations’ access to the vaccines.
Security forces battling a decades-long insurgency in Indian-controlled Kashmir are alarmed by the recent arrival in the disputed region of small, magnetic bombs that have wreaked havoc in Afghanistan. "Sticky bombs", which can be attached to vehicles and detonated remotely, have been seized during raids in recent months in the federally administered region of Jammu and Kashmir, three senior security officials told Reuters. "These are small IEDs and quite powerful," said Kashmir Valley police chief Vijay Kumar, referring to improvised explosive devices.
(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine overview: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations," Sharma said, based on a preprint. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. AstraZeneca is working on reformulating its vaccine to address more transmissible variants of coronavirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. WATCH | Performance of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine so far: There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
Bullet casings were reportedly found in Yangon after reports of gunfire at an anti-coup protest in the capital.View on euronews
GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany — Schalke fired coach Christian Gross on Sunday after two months in charge along with three senior club staff in a desperate bid to avoid Bundesliga relegation. The Gelsenkirchen-based club is last in the league and nine points from safety with 11 rounds remaining. Gross was fired a day after a 5-1 loss at Stuttgart, leaving Schalke looking for its fifth coach of a turbulent season. The 66-year-old Swiss coach arrived in December with more than 30 years of coaching experience around the world, including a spell with Tottenham in 1997 and 1998, but hadn’t coached in Europe since 2012. He led the team to its only win of the season to end a 30-game winless run in the Bundesliga, but couldn't build on that, with Schalke earning two points from nine games since then. David Wagner was fired as coach in September before his successor Manuel Baum followed in December. The team played two games under stand-in coach Huub Stevens before appointing Gross. Sporting director Jochen Schneider, who was due to leave at the end of the season, was also fired, as was the team co-ordinator Sascha Riether and lead fitness coach Werner Leuthard. Schneider on Saturday denied reports of mutiny within the squad amid reports that several players had asked for Gross to be replaced. Schalke didn't name a new coach and said Monday's training session would be conducted by fitness coaches. The club said Peter Knäbel, who heads the youth department, would take over Schneider's sporting director role until further notice, with “a view to planning for the new season”, a sign the club is preparing for its first season in the second tier since 1991. Former Germany striker Gerald Asamoah moves up from overseeing the under-23 team into Riether's co-ordinator role. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
(Canadian Community Services Organization handout - image credit) Volunteers masked up outside Flemingdon Health Centre on Saturday to hand out free healthy snack kits, along with masks and hand sanitizer, for hundreds of the neighbourhood's children. Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe Park have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19. Tens of thousands of people live close together in the community in high-rise buildings. Many of the residents are racialized, living off low incomes and working essential jobs — all of which puts them at increased risk for catching and spreading the virus. The kits are a gesture of support for struggling parents, and the reaction has been "amazing," said Masood Alam, president of the Canadian Community Services Organization, a volunteer effort which launched back in April in response to the pandemic and only recently incorporated into a non-profit. "We started with 50 families," Alam said. "Now, they're helping us out… volunteering with us." To date, he said the group has distributed 2,500 adult masks and 900 kid masks. Moving forward, the Kids Healthy Snacks Drive will provide 300 children weekly with healthy snacks and personal protective equipment, including more masks for their parents. It's a small but meaningful volunteer initiative, and Saturday's efforts were bolstered by the latest report from Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. WATCH | COVID-19 means sacrifices, stress for residents of Thorncliffe neighbourhood The provincial group released a report Friday recommending vaccines be distributed based not just on age but neighbourhoods too. The recommendation stems from the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 "on residents of disadvantaged and racialized urban neighbourhoods throughout the province," said the report. "This vaccine strategy will maximize the prevention of deaths … and best maintain health-care system capacity." Per expert projections, a strategy involving age and neighbourhoods could prevent an additional 3,767 cases, as well as 168 deaths, compared with a strategy that prioritizes based on age alone. "There's a big need in this community," said Alam, who added that the group is also trying to spread awareness about the vaccine "to help the community be ready to get [vaccinated]." Ahmed Hussein, executive director of The Neighbourhood Association, is one of the community advocates who's been pushing for the prioritization of vulnerable communities like Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park. "The science advisory group really followed the science so that's the logical thing," he said. "We hope the government will do that." A neighbourhood approach makes sense as part of a public health approach, said Jen Quinlan, the chief executive officer at Flemingdon Health Centre. "You want to make sure you can vaccinate and address the pandemic in the quickest way, and in my opinion it only makes sense to start with those who are most vulnerable to negative health outcomes," Quinlan said. She said she understands that conversations around vaccine access are "very sensitive" and that many people are concerned and worried the rollout isn't fast enough. However, Quinlan said, the stakes are different for Torontonians who are able to work from home safely and haven't seen a big drop in income throughout the pandemic. "Many Torontonians are not in that position," she said. "They're delivering your food, they're stocking your grocery aisles, they're packing all of your Amazon orders, and if we want to address the spread of COVID-19 across Toronto we should start with those who are most likely to spread it and who are most exposed." WATCH | The push to prioritize some neighbourhoods for COVID-19 vaccines Until neighbourhood residents start getting injected with the vaccine, Quinlan said a key part of the Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe Park approach is encouraging more people to get tested. They're even using decommissioned TTC buses to set up testing facilities in the parking lots at the base of high-rise apartment buildings, she said. Despite the fatigue after a long winter under stay-at-home orders, Quinlan said she's "really proud of community leaders" and intends to "keep public health messaging alive and well."
TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $12 million jackpot in Saturday night's Lotto 649 draw.However, the draw's guaranteed $1 million prize went to a lottery player in Ontario.The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on Mar. 3 will be approximately $15 million. The Canadian Press
Hong Kong police on Sunday detained 47 pro-democracy activists on charges of conspiracy to commit subversion under the city's national security law, in the largest mass charge against the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's opposition camp since the law came into effect last June. The former lawmakers and democracy advocates had been previously arrested in a sweeping police operation in January but were released. They have been detained again and will appear in court on Monday, police said in a statement. They allegedly violated the national security law that was imposed by Beijing for participating in unofficial election primaries for Hong Kong's legislature last year. The defendants include 39 men and eight women aged between 23 and 64, police said. The move is part of a continuing crackdown on the city's democracy movement, with a string of arrests and prosecutions of Hong Kong's democracy proponents — including outspoken activists Joshua Wong and Jimmy Lai — following months of anti-government protests in 2019. The pro-democracy camp had held the primaries to determine the best candidates to field to win a majority in the legislature and had plans to vote down major bills that would eventually force Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to resign. In January, 55 activists and former lawmakers were arrested for their roles in the primaries. Authorities said that the activists' participation was part of a plan to paralyze the city's legislature and subvert state power. The legislative election that would have followed the unofficial primaries was postponed by a year by Lam, who cited public health risks during the coronavirus pandemic. Mass resignations and disqualifications of pro-democracy lawmakers have left the legislature largely a pro-Beijing body. Among those arrested on Sunday was former lawmaker Eddie Chu. A post on his official Twitter account confirmed that he was being charged for conspiracy to commit subversion and that he was denied bail. “Thank you to the people of Hong Kong for giving me the opportunity to contribute to society in the past 15 years,” Chu said in a post on his Facebook page. Another candidate in the primaries, Winnie Yu, was also charged and will appear in court on Monday, according to a post on her official Facebook page. American lawyer John Clancey, a member of the now-defunct political rights group “Power for Democracy” who was arrested in January for his involvement in the primary, was not among those detained on Sunday. "I will give full support to those who have been charged and will be facing trial, because from my perspective, they have done nothing wrong,” Clancey told reporters. The security law criminalizes acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers to intervene in Hong Kong's affairs. Serious offenders could face a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. Nearly 100 people have been arrested since the law was implemented. Zen Soo, The Associated Press
An Israeli-owned ship hit by an explosion in the Gulf of Oman strategic waterway has arrived at a port in Dubai, where is it is due to be assessed in dry dock. Israel's defence minister on Saturday said that an initial assessment had found that Iran was responsible for the explosion. The blue and white ship is now berthed in Dubai's Port Rashid, having sailed from its position off the coast of Omani capital Muscat, where the explosion occurred.
(PARO - image credit) Reginald (Dutch) Thompson's column The Bygone Days brings you the voices of Island seniors, many of whom are now long-departed. These tales of the way things used to be offer a fascinating glimpse into the past. Every few weekends CBC P.E.I. brings you one of Dutch's columns. Back in the days when most Islanders lived on a farm, they had only to say "I just got home from the Royal," and their friends would turn green with envy. The Royal was and is the Royal Winter Fair, held every November in Toronto — except 2020, when it was cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tens of thousands of spectators come to mingle with judges and entrants and see the best in Canadian agriculture. According to its website, organizers are planning for the 99th annual fair to go ahead in 2021. Dutch Thompson is an award-winning historian and storyteller. He has published a book about P.E.I.'s bygone days. A win at the Royal was a big deal then as it remains today, whether it's for pickling or prize-winning pork, horses or Holsteins. Islanders have always won more than their share of ribbons and trophies at the Royal, for things like Guernsey or Jersey cattle, Percheron or Belgian heavy horses, fancy chickens, or potatoes. 6 generations of winners Vimy Jones was born in 1917, to Katherine and J. Walter Jones. They farmed in Bunbury and in 1940, Walter became premier of P.E.I. He was an innovator, and was instrumental in introducing the potato crop to the Island. In 1935, he received the King George V medal as the best farmer in the province and so later was known as the "farmer premier." Vimy Jones Siegrist of Bunbury, P.E.I., was the last surviving child of famous 'farmer premier' J. Walter Jones. "He was the first master breeder of Holsteins in Canada," Vimy told Dutch. "He really had, for some years in the '30s, the best herd of Holsteins in Canada, and he started it all himself right from scratch." That began around the time Vimy was born, she said. "So as far as I was concerned, it was cattle and horses." Her grandfather Franklin Bovyer also farmed in Bunbury, and was famous for breeding prize-winning silver foxes. J. Walter Jones grew up on his family's farm in Pownal and first become an educator, teaching at several P.E.I. schools, an award-winning athlete, and later an agronomist and then premier. He won the King George V medal in 1935 for the best farm in P.E.I. "We still have trophies that he won at The Royal in 1924," Vimy said. "When my granddaughter [Vimy Henderson] showed a pony at The Royal last fall, she was the sixth generation to have exhibited at The Royal." Vimy Jones Siegrist died in 2011 at age 93. Vimy Henderson with her pony Flirt was champion in the pony hunter class at The Royal in 1997, and was the 6th generation of her family to show at the fair in Toronto. Calves were fox feed Another frequent winner from P.E.I. was Angus Johnston from White Sands, who collected dozens of red ribbons For years, he and his father, Albert, were butchers and meat peddlers in Murray River. Angus Johnston of Murray River was a meat peddler and an award-winning chicken showman. "I used to sell meat to Mrs. MacKay when she had the old cookhouse," Johnston told Dutch. "Probably in 1929, '30.... She fed the fishermen. Great woman she was, and a great family, yeah." Johnston said he and his father would go to different farmhouses or see cows out at pasture, and drop in to see if the farmers wanted to sell any. They were all kinds of cattle, too — beef and dairy cows. "When my father first started butchering in Murray River, there were no young cattle — the calves were sold the minute they were born, for fox feed." Some of those foxes may have belonged to the Joneses in Bunbury, and become champions at the Royal. Quite a school project But Johnston didn't become famous for raising cattle — as a boy, he raised barred rock chickens. The barred Plymouth Rock chicken breed was developed in the U.S. in the late 1800s and was the most popular breed for about 100 years. Angus Johnston of Murray River won many prizes for his barred Plymouth Rocks. "I used to bring in eggs from Ontario, and set them and raise chickens out of them. Showed them at school fairs. When I was 12," he said, showing Dutch where he had accidentally sawed off the end of his thumb while making a cage to carry the chickens to school. Those barred rock poultry are handsome birds, with their eye-catching black-and-white stripes. In 1947, Johnston packed up his knives and meat saws and moved to Toronto. Then in 1954, the family moved to Fonthill and Welland just west of Niagara Falls. Angus went back on the road, making lots of new friends as a meat peddler. However he didn't travel by horse and wagon this time, but instead had a refrigerated Chevy truck. The family owned a few acres where they could keep some hens, and Angus rekindled his chicken-raising hobby. Soon he was setting records at the Royal: one year he won 86 of 91 prizes at the fair. He also showed and won with his poultry at dozens of other fairs in Ontario. 'Shipped cornies to B.C.' "I just happened to have an eye on the type. Type means a lot, feather means a lot," he said. "Sold a lot of them, I shipped cornies to B.C." Them big shows, you have to wash your chickens, soap and water then rinse them with vinegar and warm water. — Angus Johnston Johnston was more proud of shipping his chickens across North America than all the prizes he won. You might wonder how one prepares a chicken for judging at the Royal. For Johnston, it was with a bottle of shampoo and a bar of Irish Spring soap. "Oh sure, them big shows, you have to wash your chickens, soap and water then rinse them with vinegar and warm water," he said. "Make sure their toenails are clean. You got to make sure they don't have too many spikes in their head, their comb." Johnston moved home to P.E.I. in 1974 and worked as a butcher in Montague, where some of his customers were the same ones he'd had more than 25 years earlier as a meat peddler. He eventually retired, but kept his hand on the knife working part-time at the Co-Op and at the Queen Street Meat Market in Charlottetown, and dusting off all the red ribbons he'd won at the Royal. More from CBC P.E.I.
SHANGHAI — Chinese Super League champion Jiangsu FC announced Sunday it would “cease operations” with immediate effect, just three months after winning its first title. Nanjing-based Jiangsu, which is owned by retail giant Suning that also holds a majority stake in Italian league leader Inter Milan, said on social media that it hoped that a new backer could be found after the company pulled out. “Even though we are reluctant to part with the players who have won us the highest honours, and fans who have shared solidarity with the club, we have to regretfully make an announcement,” a Jiangsu FC statement said. “From today, Jiangsu Football Club ceases the operation of its teams.” Suning had reportedly tried to sell Jiangsu, which has debts estimated to be around $90 million. Also folding are Jiangsu’s successful women’s team and various youth teams. Earlier this month, Suning owner Zhang Jindong said the group would cut back on non-retail activities after a difficult year in which revenues had been hit by COVID-19. “We will focus on retail business and close and cut down our businesses that are not connected to businesses,” he said. There have been reports in Italy that Suning, which bought a majority stake in Inter in 2016, is looking to sell the Milan club. Jiangsu will be the second Chinese team to withdraw from the Asian Champions League that kicks off in April. Shandong Luneng was kicked out of the competition for breaching rules regarding outstanding salary payments. There are concerns that Jiangsu may soon be followed by Tianjin Tigers. Club owner Teda has cut investment in the team it has owned since 1998 after the Chinese Football Association ruled this year that all team names must be free from corporate titles. Last year, the city’s other club, Tianjin Tianhai, went bankrupt. Chinese soccer became one of the biggest-spending leagues in the world over the past decade. Star players including Hulk, Oscar and Paulinho arrived in the country along with World Cup winning coaches Marcello Lippi and Luiz Felipe-Scolari. In a bid to cut costs, a new salary cap has been imposed for the 2021 season that will limit club expenditures to $90 million a year. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
(Shutterstock/HTWE - image credit) The Ontario government's new Combating Human Trafficking Act is a welcome start to tackling a widespread issue, but there may be a significant gap that needs to be addressed, the Opposition says. Bill 251 was introduced in the provincial legislature on Feb. 22 — National Human Trafficking Awareness Day — by Ontario Attorney General Sylvia Jones. "We are making bold leaps to raise awareness among the public, protect victims, support survivors, and hold perpetrators accountable," Jones said. More human trafficking is reported to police in Ontario than in any other part of the country, she said. One of the bill's cornerstones for rescuing victims recognizes the fact that they are often taken to hotels and motels to be sexually exploited. The first section of the proposed legislation requires hotels to maintain a registry of every guest who checks in — including their name and address. It also allows police officers and First Nations constables to more quickly gain access to a hotel's registry if "there are reasonable grounds to believe information recorded in the register will assist in locating or identifying a person who is currently a victim of human trafficking or is at imminent risk of being trafficked." But the bill doesn't specify whether people operating other types of lodging, including short-term rentals such as Airbnb, will be subject to the same requirements, said Chris Glover, an NDP opposition MPP. "There is a real need to not just go after hotels ... in terms of you know, regulating and asking them to participate," Glover said. "There's also a real need to get Airbnb involved and other short-term rental agencies to stop human trafficking in their sites as well." In addition to hotels, the bill says, "businesses in a prescribed class are also required to keep these registers." CBC News asked the Ontario government to clarify whether or not that would include Airbnb, but it was unable to provide a response by deadline. The bill also includes a provision for the attorney general or other government ministers to make additional regulations, including identifying other businesses to be included, after the the act becomes law. But Glover and other advocates say it's important to recognize that human trafficking occurs in many different types of short-term accommodations by specifying that in the legislation itself. "If it's not clear on its face when you read the act who is a 'prescribed class' or what lodging services apply, then it needs to be right in legislation so that everyone knows who it applies to," said Christa Big Canoe, legal advocacy director at Aboriginal Legal Services. Indigenous women and girls are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking in Canada. "One of the things we heard over and over again in the national inquiry [on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls] was the role of hotels or this type of temporary residence or living situations that sees Indigenous women put through sexual exploitation and trafficking at a huge rate," she said. Christa Big Canoe, legal advocacy director for Aboriginal Legal Services, says human trafficking and sexual exploitation happens in every form of lodging from five-star hotels to motels to short-term rentals, including Airbnb. Most people don't realize how often human trafficking happens, often "in plain sight," Big Canoe said. People often picture rundown, roadside motels when they think of trafficking, she said. It definitely happens there, but traffickers also exploit their victims in all sorts of lodging, from large five-star hotels to Airbnb rentals. "It's way more insidious than most people are aware. It's almost like society has a willful blindness," Big Canoe said. "It's like we see it and we look away, or we might suspect it but we don't act." In addition to keeping a registry of guests, hospitality workers should be trained to look for signs of trafficking, she said. For example, if a group of people check in and only one of them is a girl or woman, that can be a potential signal. Human traffickers often take their victims' credit cards — or steal their names to apply for new credit cards — and use them to book rooms, said Richard Dunwoody, executive director of Project Recover, a not-for-profit organization that helps survivors to regain their financial footing. Among more than 120 survivors the organization helped last year, Dunwoody said, credit card receipts showed their traffickers used hotels and services like Airbnb about equally. Both Glover and Big Canoe say they hope the bill will be amended as it moves through second and third readings before receiving royal assent and becoming law. Who to call if you believe human trafficking is happening Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-833-900-1010 Click here to see the hotline's website or to use the chat function.
OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don't want an election in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic but the Conservatives appear to be pursuing a strategy that could give the Liberals justification for calling one. Liberals are accusing the Conservatives of systematically blocking the government's legislative agenda, including bills authorizing billions in pandemic-related aid and special measures for safely conducting a national election. The Conservatives counter that the Liberals have not used the control they have over the House of Commons' agenda to prioritize the right bills; other parties say both the government and the Official Opposition share the blame. "They're playing politics all the time in the House. It's delay, delay, delay and eventually that delay becomes obstruction," the Liberals' House leader Pablo Rodriguez said in an interview. "It's absurd. I think it's insulting to Canadians and I think people should be worried because those important programs may not come into force ... because of the games played by the Conservatives." He pointed to the three hours last week the Commons spent discussing a months-old, three-sentence committee report affirming the competence of the new Canadian Tourism Commission president. That was forced by a Conservative procedural manoeuvre, upending the government's plan to finally start debate on the pandemic election bill, which contains measures the chief electoral officer has said are urgent given that the minority Liberal government could fall at any time if the opposition parties unite against it. A week earlier, MPs spent three hours discussing a committee report recommending a national awareness day for human trafficking — something Rodriguez said had unanimous support and could have been dealt with "in a second." That debate, also prompted by the Conservatives, prevented any progress on Bill C-14, legislation flowing from last fall's economic statement with billions in expanded emergency aid programs and new targeted aid for hard-hit industries. That bill was introduced in December but stalled at second reading, with Conservative MPs talking out the clock each time it did come up for debate. After eight days of sporadic debate — more than is normally accorded for a full-fledged budget, Rodriguez noted — Conservatives finally agreed Friday to let the bill proceed to committee for scrutiny. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has argued that "modest debate" is warranted on C-14, which he maintains is aimed a fixing errors in previous rushed emergency aid legislation. Last December, the Conservatives dragged out debate on Bill C-7, a measure to expand medical assistance in dying in compliance with a 2019 court ruling. For three straight days last week, they refused consent to extend sitting hours to debate a motion laying out the government's response to Senate amendments to C-7, despite a looming court deadline that was extended Thursday to March 26. Conservatives note they offered the previous week to extend the hours to allow a thorough debate but the government waited five days before tabling its response to the amendments. For Rodriguez it all adds up to "a pattern" of obstruction aimed at blocking the government's legislative agenda. Procedural machinations are commonly used by opposition parties to tie up legislation. But Rodriguez argued it's inappropriate in a pandemic when "people are dying by the dozens every day." If the government held a majority of seats in the Commons, it could impose closure on debates. But in the current minority situation, it would need the support of one of the main opposition parties to cut short debate — something it's not likely to get. In a minority Parliament, Rodriguez argued, all parties share responsibility for ensuring that legislation can at least get to a vote. But Conservative House leader Gérard Deltell lays the blame for the legislative impasse squarely on Rodriguez. "The government House leader has failed to set clear priorities, and has therefore failed to manage the legislative agenda," he said in a statement to The Canadian Press, adding that "my door is always open for frank and constructive discussions.” Bloc Québécois House leader Alain Therrien agrees the Liberals have "mismanaged the legislative calendar and must take their responsibilities." But he doesn't exempt the Conservatives. He said their obstruction of the assisted-dying bill and another that would ban forcible conversion therapy aimed at altering a person's sexual orientation or gender identity is "deplorable." "These are files that require compassion and rigour. It is inexcusable to hold the House hostage on such matters," Therrien said in an email, suggesting that O'Toole is having trouble controlling the "religious right" in his caucus. As far as NDP House leader Peter Julian is concerned, both the Liberals and Conservatives are trying to trigger an election. "We believe that is absolutely inappropriate, completely inappropriate given the pandemic, given the fact that so many Canadians are suffering," he said in an interview. Julian accused the Liberals of bringing forward unnecessary legislation, like the election bill, while "vitally important" bills, like one implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and another on net-zero carbon emissions, languish. The Liberals' intention, he said, is to eventually say there must be an election because of "all these important things we couldn't get done." And the Conservatives "seem to want to play into this narrative" by blocking the bills the government does put forward. Veteran Green MP Elizabeth May, however, agrees with Rodriguez, who she says must be "at his wits' end." "What I see is obstructionism, pure and simple," she said in an interview. She blames the Conservatives primarily for the procedural "tomfoolery" but accuses both the Bloc and NDP of being "in cahoots," putting up speakers to help drag out time-wasting debates on old committee reports. "It's mostly the Conservatives but they're in league," May said. "They are all trying to keep anything orderly from happening that might possibly let the Liberals say we've accomplished a legislative agenda. Whether the bills are good, bad or indifferent is irrelevant in this strategy." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
MEXICO CITY — Ten men and a boy were killed and a woman and another boy were wounded in a shooting attack on a home in western Mexico Saturday. Prosecutors in the state of Jalisco said the bullet-ridden bodies of the 10 men were found by police on the sidewalk in front of the home. The body of a boy was found inside, and a woman and another boy were located at a local hospital. The prosecutors’ office said the attack was carried out by unidentified assailants travelling in an SUV. The state is home to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, one of Mexico’s most violent and powerful. More bodies have been found in clandestine burial pits in Jalisco there than in any other state in recent years. The cartel has been fighting a breakaway faction in and around Guadalajara. Earlier this month, police found 18 plastic bags full of hacked-up body parts on the outskirts of Guadalajara, the state capital. In November, Jalisco authorities recovered 113 bodies and additional human remains from a secret grave in the town of El Salto, just outside Guadalajara. A total of 189 corpses were discovered in the town throughout 2020. The Associated Press
HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding and mind foggy from his yearlong battle with COVID-19, he wonders when a clinic to treat his symptoms might emerge in Atlantic Canada. "My fear is that I'm going to be like this forever," the 50-year-old Halifax resident said in a recent interview. The issue of a lack of timely treatment for the so-called "long haulers" — people who suffer symptoms such as shortness of breath and physical exhaustion months after their first bout of the illness — has been raised across the country by support groups. Specialized clinics have opened in Western and Central Canada, in some instances offering access to occupational therapists, nutritionists, psychologists, nurses and referrals to specialists. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service announced the formation of a network of 60 such clinics in December. However, on Canada's East Coast, patients say they are still searching for a similar, one-stop site to treat symptoms that range from difficulty drawing a breath to tingling pain in their limbs. "In Atlantic Canada, we're at the mercy of how well we've done containing the virus, leading to our low numbers of infected patients," Hoskin said. "It's had an impact on what we can expect to see from the provincial government in terms of specialized clinics." International studies currently predict about 10 per cent of COVID-19 patients develop longer term symptoms. In Atlantic Canada, where about 4,100 cases have been officially documented, this suggests long haulers may eventually number in the hundreds, rather than the thousands expected in larger provinces. But Hoskin argues the lower infection rates shouldn't mean he and others are left to rely solely on family doctors, who may be unaware of how to treat their symptoms, while they spend months awaiting appointments with cardiologists, neurologists and other specialists. In New Brunswick, which is fighting a second wave of infections that emerged earlier in the year, Emily Bodechon says she has largely assembled her own treatment effort. "While it's great that our COVID-19 case count is low, it's not been great as a patient to find out nobody knows how to treat you," she said in an interview last week. Almost a year since her infection, the 45-year-old health worker still has respiratory issues, searing headaches and "brain fog" that makes it hard to process new information. Bodechon sought online information from a post-COVID-19 clinic in New York and took part in video calls for patient information. "I went through a six-week program on my own, and it was the most helpful thing I had," she said. She said she hopes provincial governments in the region collaborate to set up centralized clinics that employ telemedicine, so that she can actually speak to doctors with expertise. In Halifax, a senior physician with Nova Scotia Health says doctors with the province's health authority are turning their attention to potential pilot projects. Dr. Christy Bussey, the medical lead for COVID-19 in-patient care in the authority's central zone, said in an interview on Thursday that in the longer term, family doctors will need training on how to care for the lingering impacts of the illness. But in the short term, she's advocating for a post-COVID-19 clinic, potentially attached to an existing clinic in Fall River, N.S., which already treats people with conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome. She said she has noticed "a gap in the system for following patients who developed new or ongoing symptoms." The physician added it's too early to know how much additional provincial or national funding is needed for an Atlantic post-COVID-19 clinic, as a formal proposal has yet to be completed, but she argues the need for added resources is evident. "Some of these patients are nearly completely disabled by the symptoms they're having," she said. Dr. Alexis Goth, a lead physician at the Fall River clinic, said the first long haulers are starting to trickle into her clinic. She is hopeful resources can be added to pay for a larger numbers of patients by early summer. She said one model for COVID patients may be an adapted version of an eight-week, Zoom-based treatment the clinic uses for fibromyalgia, an illness that can cause muscle pain, fatigue and sleep issues. She said the online treatment could be combined with one-on-one therapy, making use of the occupational therapist, nurses and other experts at the clinic. Susie Goulding, the leader of a national long-haulers support group, cautions that as new clinics and research projects emerge, they should be open to the many patients who didn't receive a formal diagnosis of COVID-19, often due to a lack of testing in the early months. “Most people don’t have a positive test,” she said in a recent interview. “They should still be included." Meanwhile, Hoskin said he's continuing to search for placement in a research study that includes treatment, finding he still feels like collapsing after a brief trip to buy groceries. "At 50 years old, my heart rate is often at 110 (beats per minute) when I stand up, and I still can't smell and taste other than very basic odours," he said. "We really need to find out what is causing this." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press
The Ailuromania Cat Cafe, which was the Middle East's first cat cafe when it opened in 2015, hopes the relaxing properties of its 25 rescue and shelter cats will help find them their forever homes. Now Ailuromania hosts cats from a government-run animal shelter in the neighbouring emirate of Ras al Khaimah, hoping to increase adoptions. The cafe's name Ailuromania is a play on the Greek-derived English word for a lover of cats: ailurophile.
(John Woods/The Canadian Press - image credit) Lawmakers in Maine are discussing how the state could plug into a proposed Canadian electricity grid that is meant to make renewable energy more accessible and affordable for the Atlantic provinces and Quebec. Christopher Kessler, a Democrat in the Maine House of Representatives, introduced a bill last month that would see the state lobby for a seat at the negotiating table for an interconnected clean energy grid called the Atlantic Loop. The Atlantic Clean Power Planning Committee — made up of officials from federal and provincial governments, and major electric utilities — has been talking about the Atlantic Loop since 2019, and released a rough map of the grid in a report last summer. The Trudeau Liberals gave the Atlantic Loop a nod of support in last fall's Throne Speech. The loop would likely rely on some upgrades to existing energy lines, and some new construction, but no detailed plan has been made public. This map of a possible Atlantic Loop route was included in an interim report from the Atlantic Clean Power Planning Committee in August 2020. The committee is expected to release a final report in March. Maine looking to export renewable energy Kessler said he wants his state to be part of the loop because Maine and Atlantic Canada have similar goals for removing carbon from their electric grids, and linking up could be mutually beneficial. He said it would also help Maine with its goal of eventually selling renewable energy to other jurisdictions. "Maine has an interest in not just having access to renewable energy to help stabilize our grid and make it more reliable, but Maine also has goals to be a renewable energy exporter," Kessler said in an interview. He pointed out that Maine already has infrastructure linking it to New Brunswick and Quebec, but whether those links will connect with the rest of the Atlantic Loop is unclear. "It's all completely up in the air as to how [the Atlantic Loop] would look. That's the exact point of this starting of the conversation, is so we can have those discussions and do that analysis and see if there is something where both Maine and the Atlantic provinces can work together so we can reach our decarbonization goals." Should Kessler's bill pass, it would require the governor to voice interest in the Atlantic Loop directly to the prime minister and the premiers of all the involved provinces, and ask for "equal footing" in all negotiations. Governor's office suggests staying out of negotiations The bill went to a public hearing at a committee of the state legislature earlier this month. Next, it will be debated further by committee members, who will decide whether to advance it to the whole House of Representatives. If it passes at the house, it would move to the state senate for a final vote. Workers are shown on the construction site of the hydroelectric facility at Muskrat Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador in 2015. The Atlantic Loop would be fed, in part, by hydroelectric projects like Muskrat Falls. One of the testimonies submitted to the public hearing was from the Governor's Energy Office. Office director Dan Burgess wrote that rather than pushing for a place at the negotiating table, "it may be more productive for Maine to continue monitoring the ongoing planning initiative and any advancements of the Atlantic Loop concept." Kessler disagreed. "I think that being actively involved is the only option … We will miss out on any potential opportunities if we don't ask. And we certainly need to be an active participant rather than a spectator," he said. Since that public hearing, Kessler said, he's been working with the governor's office to come up with some solutions for the points Burgess raised. MORE TOP STORIES
(Submitted by Shyla Augustine - image credit) Shyla Augustine is hoping to help give her children and others a chance to learn a bit of the language of her ancestors. Along with illustrator Braelyn Cyr, Augustine has created an alphabet book that includes the Mi'kmaw word for the animals used to highlight each of the letters from A to Z. Augustine is a member of Elsipogtog First Nation now studying education at St. Thomas University in Fredericton. In an interview with CBC's Shift-NB, she said she got the idea for the book while volunteering at the University of New Brunswick's Early Childhood Centre. "The kids were really curious about the Mi'kmaq language and how to count in Mi'kmaw, and words, and because my son was actually attending the childhood centre at the time, he just so happened to be there." After realizing that she didn't know many words in the language herself, she decided to create an alphabet book she could share with the children at the centre. Augustine, an education student at St. Thomas University, has created an alphabet book that includes the Mi'kmaw word for the animals featured in it. "[I thought] maybe my son could read through it with them and teach them some more of his own language, and so he could learn some more of his own language as well." Growing up, Augustine said she spoke some Mi'kmaw while going to school on-reserve, and she picked up some listening to members of her household speak it. She later transferred to a school off-reserve, where the language wasn't spoken or taught. She said her shyness as a girl also kept her from practising it much. As an adult, she's hoping to reconnect with her language and give that same opportunity to her children. "I really want my children to know their own language and who they are and where they come from, because that's an important thing to know about yourself. And I want them to be proud of who they are." The book features a series of animals representing each letter of the alphabet, along with the Mi'kmaq translation of each animal. Augustine said her family members even offered some inspiration for the animals to include in the book. Deer, her son, Laken's spirit animal, is the one used to represent the letter D. That animal is called "Lentuk" in Mi'kmaw, she said. And otter, which is used to represent the letter O, was inspired by her brother, who lives with cystic fibrosis. "My children are very close with him and they love him too, so we decided that we were going to put a representation in my book of him as well. "It was really made with love." Augustine said the book is being published by Monster House Publishing and copies will go on sale next month.
HYDERABAD, India — A man was killed by a rooster with a blade tied to its leg during an illegal cockfight in southern India, police said, bringing focus on a practice that continues in some Indian states despite a decades-old ban. The rooster, with a 3-inch knife tied to its leg, fluttered in panic and slashed its owner, 45-year-old Thangulla Satish, in his groin last week, police inspector B. Jeevan said Sunday. The incident occurred in Lothunur village of Telangana state. According to Jeevan, Satish was injured while he prepared the rooster for a fight. “Satish was hit by the rooster’s knife in his groin and started bleeding heavily," the officer said, adding that the man died on the way to a hospital. Jeevan said police filed a case and were looking for over a dozen people involved in organizing the cockfight. If proven guilty, the organizers can be jailed for up to two years. Cockfights are common in the southern Indian states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka despite a countrywide ban imposed in 1960. Animals rights activists have for long been calling to control the illegal practice, which is mainly organized as part of local Hindu festivals usually attended by hundreds of people, though the crowds sometimes swell to thousands. The cockfights are often held under the watch of powerful, local politicians and involve large sums of betting money. Last year, a man was killed when a blade attached to his bird’s leg hit him in the neck during a cockfight in Andhra Pradesh. In 2010, a rooster killed its owner by slashing his jugular vein in West Bengal state. According to police, the rooster involved in last week's incident was among many other roosters prepared for the cockfight betting festival in Lothunur village. As the practice goes, a knife, blade or other sharp-edged weapon is tied to the leg of a bird to harm its rival. Such fights continue until one contestant is either dead or flees, declaring the other rooster the winner. Officer Jeevan said the rooster was brought to the police station before being taken to a local poultry farm. “We may need to produce it before the court,” he said. Images of the rooster tied with a rope and pecking on grains at the police station were widely viewed on social media. Omer Farooq, The Associated Press