Justin Timberlake may just have had a second baby boy, but he's got an album about to pop, too!
Justin Timberlake may just have had a second baby boy, but he's got an album about to pop, too!
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. That delay stood in contrast to the immediate approval for National Guard support granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities last spring as an outgrowth of racial justice protests, Walker said. As local officials pleaded for help, Army officials raised concerns about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, he said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed to officials on the call “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Even as Walker detailed the National Guard delay, another military official noted that local officials in Washington had said days earlier that no such support was needed. Senators were eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for that day. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
C’est un petit pas pour Natashquan, mais un grand pas pour Pointe-Parent : le 29 février, les propriétaires résidents du hameau signaient leur entente avec le ministère des Transports du Québec, qui agit en tant que représentant du Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones (SAA) pour cette portion du dossier. Deux avenues étaient offertes aux résidents permanents de Pointe-Parent dans le cadre du rachat de leur propriété. Dans un premier cas, les propriétaires désirant s’établir à l’extérieur de Natashquan recevront le montant de l’évaluation faite par le représentant mandaté par le gouvernement du Québec en 2018. Dans un second cas, les propriétaires qui choisiront d’acheter une habitation ou un terrain sur le territoire de Natashquan auront droit à un montant supplémentaire en plus de celui de l’évaluation. Cette somme additionnelle servira à couvrir les coûts de réinstallation ou de construction des propriétaires. Si le processus avait été enclenché avant les Fêtes, plusieurs des résidents permanents ont été surpris d’apprendre, vendredi matin, qu’ils devaient signer leur entente et la faire parvenir avant le 1er mars à l’évaluateur. Le document d’une page, que le journal a pu consulter, était concis : il comprenait le montant de l’offre de base, la somme supplémentaire advenant un déménagement à Natashquan et quelques modalités, dont le choix du notaire qui revenait aux propriétaires. Adèle Bellefleur, résidente de longue date de Pointe-Parent, s’est dite satisfaite de l’offre du SAA et de la progression du dossier. « C’est sûr que c’est arrivé vite, mais on savait que ça se préparait. Je suis très contente du déroulement. » La mairesse de Natashquan, Marie-Claude Vigneault, a tenu à saluer « le travail rapide » du SAA. « On sait que [les représentants] ont mis les bouchées doubles et c’est rassurant de savoir [que le ministère] nous a écoutés. » Plusieurs questions demeurent en suspens, notamment sur le coût total de ce premier avancement pour le SAA (incluant les dédommagements pour les infrastructures municipales à Pointe-Parent) et d’où proviendront les sommes affectées à ce dossier, sur le calcul de l’incitatif financier, sur les détails de l’évaluation des propriétés et sur l’échéancier pour les propriétaires non-résidents. Le Journal n’a pas été en mesure de confirmer combien des 12 résidents permanents du hameau avaient signé l’entente de rachat du SAA. Le Directeur des négociations et de la consultation pour le SAA, Olivier Bourdages Sylvain, a décliné notre demande d’entrevue, tandis que ni le SAA, ni le MTQ n’avaient donné suite à notre requête médiatique au moment d’écrire ces lignes. Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
Terrace RCMP arrested two men that had visited someone in COVID-19 isolation and tried to hit a police officer with a chair, according to an RCMP media release. On Feb. 17, RCMP received a report about two men who were visiting a person in COVID-19 quarantine at the Sunshine Inn. The occupant of the room, who is a client of ‘Ksan Society, called the front desk for help after the men refused to leave. The front desk called ‘Ksan Society, who then called who called the RCMP. When police arrived, they told the men they were unwelcome and needed to leave. “The men became combative with police, lifting a chair and attempting to strike the member with it, shouting expletives and threatening to kill police officers on scene,” the release states. The men were arrested for assault with a weapon, resisting arrest and uttering threats. They were later released by police undertaking to address the matter in court. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
Elder Mabel Clarke, who lives at Birdtail Sioux Dakota Nation, wants her front door fixed. She said there are more elders on the reserve who have similar complaints. Clarke had a list of issues she said are not being dealt with: duplexes that do not have back doors, and therefore no emergency exit in case of fire, and elders are not receiving their home visits from nurses. "The chief and the nurses don’t look at us. I gathered all the elders to have a meeting. I told the chief, and he pushed us away about four times," said Clarke. "And the nurses never come to see the elders. They phone the health office and there’s never anybody there. I’m not the only one saying that. There’s a few other ladies that were saying that." On the list of repairs needed, Clarke includes doors needing repairs and some houses need ramps. "We have to hang blankets on our doors," she said. The Brandon Sun spoke to Chief Ken Chalmers on Tuesday. He addressed each concern, while noting 14 major renovations are currently occupying all available contractors. In five years, he has spent $5 million on homes on the reserve. Every penny and house number is recorded with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) or with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), who provide funding for houses and house repairs. On the matter of meeting with the elders, he cited COVID-19 concerns. A meeting would have meant almost 30 people gathered indoors, which would have contravened pandemic-related provincial public health orders and created a super-spreading event As for Clarke’s house, Chalmers said that’s a far more complicated matter. Her home was fully renovated three and a half years ago to the tune of almost $50,000, but Clarke’s grandson went on a rampage, kicking in the doors and breaking the windows. Chalmers said that’s a regular occurrence. One year, Clarke’s grandson not only kicked in the doors and broke windows, but also destroyed a wall, "electrical wires hanging down and everything." One year, Clarke’s grandson also burned down the reserve church and went to jail for it. Each time, Chalmers said, repairs have been done to Clarke’s home. He said he has all the records, and he figures he has spent $100,000 to $120,000 repairing the house that, in 2018, was in excellent condition. "Every time, we fix it all up," said Chalmers. Chief and council passed a resolution to banish the grandson from the reserve, but he can’t actually be removed unless Clarke presses charges. Chalmers said other family members have tried to get her to press charges. "She’s a nice, nice lady, but she has to press charges on this guy. She refuses," said Chalmers. "She lets him back in. Unconditional love." Chalmers describes a man who drinks, is addicted to methamphetamine, is violent and causes a lot of trouble. "And she’s taking the brunt of it," he said. Chalmers also said others on the reserve are getting tired of it, because some also need home repairs. Nevertheless, he said her home would be repaired. He has to find the money for it, but he won’t get it from CMHC or Indigenous Services. "They’ll just outright refuse," he said. Chalmers did say that once the 14 major projects are completed, his crew would turn to other smaller repairs. As for the duplexes — they have windows meant to serve as fire exits. Chalmers said all building blueprints have to be approved before a build begins, and the buildings are fully inspected by an outside inspector. There is an entire process for that, which is tied to the funding. When it comes to ramps, there is also a process. To begin with, a band member must qualify for a ramp for health reasons. The band has put in temporary emergency ramps until funding can be acquired from Health Canada to build a permanent one. "We’ve been building those like crazy. We’re only allowed one or two ramps a year, but we usually build them ourselves. We built many this year already," said Chalmers. "People call us — we need a ramp here, we need a ramp there. But they need a doctor’s note. There’s special funding for that. I just gotta know where you need a ramp and I’ll put it up." Finally, home visits by nurses — Chalmers did not know what was going on with that. He leaves the health department to do its thing. He said it was the first he had heard of issues. Chalmers, who was in Brandon for a meeting, suggested the Sun call the health centre and speak with the health director to find out what might be going on with home visits. He suggested it might be related to the pandemic. The Sun did call, but there was no answer. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
TORONTO — Canadian filmmaker Barry Avrich has started production on a feature documentary on the late Montreal-raised jazz legend Oscar Peterson. A news release from Avrich's Melbar Entertainment Group says Kelly Peterson, the widow of the virtuoso pianist, will act as consulting producer on "Oscar Peterson: Black and White." The film is billed as a "docu-concert" and will include archival concert footage as well as interviews with family members and musicians who played with the Grammy winner, who died in 2007 at the age of 82 in Mississauga, Ont. It will also feature new performances from artists playing Peterson's music, including Dave Young, Larnell Lewis, Jackie Richardson, Robi Botos, and Measha Brueggergosman. Melbar says the doc will explore Peterson's life and acclaimed career, from his artistic influence and mentorship of other artists, to the racism that he endured and his legacy as "an uncompromising musician with a sense of racial pride." The film is set for a release in the fall and comes on the heels of the release of Historica Canada's Heritage Minute on Peterson. "It is a privilege and career highlight for me to tell Oscar's inspiring story and further immortalize his relentless yet iconic music in this film," said Avrich, a Canadian Screen Award-winning producer and director behind scores of live TV specials and documentaries, including last year's "The Howie Mandel Project." Peterson dazzled audiences with his piano playing around the world and worked with a jazz giants including Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole. His 1962 composition "Hymn to Freedom" became an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, while his 1964 recording “The Canadiana Suite” was in honour of his home country. Avrich and Mark Selby will produce the doc. Avrich will also executive produce, alongside Jeffrey Latimer and Randy Lennox. Other musicians who will perform in the film include Joe Sealy, Stu Harrison, Denzal Sinclaire, and Daniel Clarke Bouchard. “It is gratifying that Oscar’s legacy continues to resonate and inspire music lovers and musicians everywhere," said Kelly Peterson. "I am delighted that this documentary will capture his story, his journey and his place in music history now, and forever." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
It’s been a tough year for Alberta physicians. Pandemic aside, doctors across the province have been practising in an insecure partnership with the Alberta government since the province unilaterally terminated the master agreement with the Alberta Medical Association in an order of council on Feb. 20, 2020. Negotiations between the government and AMA had been mired for months before the government pulled the plug. The central issue was the province’s insistence that physician compensation remain at $5.4 billion a year, which doctors said didn’t fairly compensate clinics experiencing inflation and rising numbers of patients requiring care. Last Friday, Health Minister Tyler Shandro and AMA president Paul Boucher announced a new, tentative agreement had been reached. Minister Shandro said negotiations proceeded on the basis of fiscal sustainability, fair and equitable solutions for physicians, and maintaining focus on patient care. “I’m confident that what we’re presenting doctors with is an agreement that provides certainty, provides stability, and it does so in the best interests of patients, the best interests of doctors, and the best interests of all Albertans,” he said. Finally reaching a deal, added Dr. Boucher, was a critical step in helping the province get through the pandemic and bringing the health-care system back to full strength. “This year of Covid-19 has changed the health-care system and Albertans forever,” Dr. Boucher said. “I know we will find a way through the pandemic, but we also need to look beyond it.” No specific details of the agreement have been publicly released, as the tentative deal must be ratified by the AMA. One hundred and forty members of the representative forum, which makes up the AMA medical leadership, will meet virtually this week to discuss the agreement. If approved, the forum will recommend to the AMA’s board of directors that the matter be presented to a general AMA membership vote. The process is anticipated to take about three weeks. The tentative agreement is a step in the right direction, says Dr. Sam Myhr of the Associate Clinic in Pincher Creek. “We obviously work better together, and that’s been the goal all along,” she says. Dr. Myhr represents the province’s rural physicians in the representative forum as the sectional president of rural health. Rural physicians have faced multiple challenges this past year, she says, and terminating the master agreement had an especially detrimental effect on rural practices as the lack of stability deterred recruits from committing to rural areas. Pincher Creek, for example, lost two such physicians who initially expressed interest in coming to the community. The lack of formalized agreement establishing doctors’ working relationship with the government led local physicians to notify the government last summer they would discontinue hospital care at the Pincher Creek Health Centre unless a master agreement was signed. Though at the request of town council the group never fully withdrew care, Dr. Myhr says the local advocacy of physicians and community members helped move the situation toward the tentative deal. “It was tough; those were not easy times,” she says. “But it helped keep the issue in the limelight, and it would have been easy for it to sort of get swept under the rug if there weren’t places like Pincher Creek and other rural sites that have been continually standing up and saying no, this isn’t OK.” Community members, she adds, are especially to be credited for their advocacy with elected officials and for their public support of doctors that “kept us going.” Moving forward in co-operation, Dr. Myhr continues, is now the best step, though she acknowledges the actions of the provincial government last year will still weigh on physicians’ minds as they consider voting on the new agreement. “We all need to put down our swords to some degree and just work together, but I think everyone is quite wary,” she says. Rebuilding trust with physicians will require concrete action from government officials, such as the health minister visiting the Pincher Creek hospital, which was initially scheduled back in January but was postponed due to rising Covid-19 cases. The visit is still something that Dr. Myhr feels is important, as it would showcase what rural physicians are able to accomplish and why decisions made in Edmonton have such a dramatic impact on rural medicine. “It would be an important step to show they are willing to hear us, that they are willing to collaborate, and they are willing to try and understand rural medicine better,” she says. The health minister’s office has expressed interest in rescheduling the visit but says plans to do so will proceed once the number of Covid diagnoses is low enough to make such a visit safe to do. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
ANKENY, Iowa — The discovery of a live pipe bomb at a central Iowa polling place as voters were casting ballots in a special election forced an evacuation of the building, police said. Officers called to the Lakeside Center in Ankeny around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday found a device that looked like a pipe bomb in grass near the centre. Police later confirmed in a news release that the device was a pipe bomb. The banquet hall was being used as a polling place for an Ankeny school district special election. Police evacuated the building, and the State Fire Marshal and agents with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were called in. Technicians safely detonated the device, and the centre was reopened around 12:30 p.m. — about three hours after the device was discovered, police said. No one was injured. Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald described the device as a metal piece with two end caps, and said in a Twitter post that a couple walking their dog Tuesday morning had discovered the device. “I want to also add that there is no way of knowing how long this device had been at the Lakeside Center,” Fitzgerald said in a tweet, saying officials don't know whether the pipe bomb was related to the election. Fitzgerald and police said other polling places in Ankeny were checked an no other bombs or suspicious devices were found. An investigation into who left the device is continuing, police said. The Associated Press
China wields so much power on the global stage these days that it is less concerned about how foreign media makes the country look than in the past, says Keith Richburg, director of the University of Hong Kong's Journalism and Media Studies Centre and a former China correspondent for the Washington Post.
MOSCOW — Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday urged police to track down people who encourage children to join in unsanctioned demonstrations, a move that follows a wave of protests against the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Speaking to top officials of the Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, Putin said they should more actively monitor social platforms and track down those who “draw the underaged into unlawful actions.” “It's a violation of the law to draw the children into illegal and unsanctioned street actions, and it's necessary to respond accordingly,” Putin said. Last month, Russian authorities charged Leonid Volkov, a chief strategist for Navalny, with encouraging minors to take part in unauthorized rallies, which could land him in jail for up to three years. Volkov, who has lived abroad since 2019, has rejected the charges. The government of Lithuania, where he now lives, has bluntly rejected the Russian court's demand for his arrest. Navalny, who is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most determined political foe, was arrested on Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have rejected the accusation. Last month, he was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating the terms of his probation while convalescing in Germany — charges he dismissed as a Kremlin vendetta. Protests against his arrest drew tens of thousands of people across Russia, and authorities responded with a massive crackdown. The Associated Press
With the hope of alleviating one of the problems plaguing the long term care system during the pandemic, the provincial government announced on Feb. 24 that it is investing over $115 million to train up to 8,200 new personal support workers for high-demand jobs in Ontario's health and long-term care sectors. The initiative plans to have up to 8,200 new supporter workers ready for the long term care workforce by the fall of 2021. The province has collaborated with Colleges Ontario, and all 24 publicly assisted colleges will offer this fully-funded plan, set to begin next month. "We are taking monumental steps to protect our most vulnerable and provide the highest quality of care when and where residents need it," said Premier Ford. "We will achieve this by recruiting and training some of our best and brightest to be PSWs. This will improve the quality of life for our seniors and begin to correct the decades of neglect in this sector." The Accelerated PSW Training Program will offer free tuition for up to 6,000 new students enrolled in the personal support worker course. The course, which begins Apr. 5, will allow students to graduate with full credentials in six months, compared to the eight months it would usually take to complete. It will include three months of coursework, and experiential, or hands-on learning, in a clinical setting. Students will complete the final three months in paid onsite training in a long-term care home or in a home and community care environment. The province is also offering tuition assistance to students who are close to finishing an existing program at one of Ontario's publicly-assisted colleges. Nearly 2,200 students will be eligible to receive a $2,000 tuition grant to help them complete their studies, as well as a stipend to complete the clinical placement part of their training. According to Georgian College, the new accelerated training program for personal support workers will produce a huge increase in PSW training at Ontario’s colleges. “This is a major step to help fill the demand for personal support workers in our communities,” said Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes, president and CEO, Georgian College. “PSWs are the backbone of care in Ontario – and there simply aren’t enough of them. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in a new career in this critical field.” “Our graduates provide essential care to many of our most vulnerable citizens,” Dr. West-Moynes said. “We were pleased to collaborate with the province and our community health-care partners to create this new opportunity for students who will graduate job ready with high-quality, essential skills.” Those interested in applying to the provincially funded PSW program with intakes starting in April or May at Georgian, should check https://www.ontariocolleges.ca on or after March 8 for details. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
LONDON — Prince Philip is “slightly improving” and the royal family is keeping its fingers crossed for the hospitalized duke's recovery, his daughter-in-law Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, said Wednesday. Philip, 99, has been hospitalized since being admitted Feb. 16 to King Edward VII’s Hospital in London, where he was treated for an infection. On Monday, he was transferred to a specialized cardiac care hospital, St. Bartholomew’s, to undergo further treatment alongside testing and observation for a pre-existing heart condition. Camilla said during a visit to a coronavirus vaccination centre in London that Philip is “slightly improving,” but he “hurts at moments.” “We keep our fingers crossed,” said the duchess, who is married to Prince Charles, eldest son of Philip and Queen Elizabeth II. The comments were reported by broadcasters covering the visit. Buckingham Palace said Monday that Philip was “comfortable and is responding to treatment but is expected to remain in hospital until at least the end of the week.’” The two-week stay is already Philip’s longest-ever stint in hospital. Philip, who retired from royal duties in 2017, rarely appears in public. During England’s current coronavirus lockdown, Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, has been staying at Windsor Castle, west of London, with the queen. Philip married the then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and is the longest-serving royal consort in British history. He and the queen have four children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. The Associated Press
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Sky Regional Airlines Inc. will shut down at the end of March after Air Canada said it was ending its contract with the company. Sky Regional had partnered with Air Canada to operate flights along regional routes in Canada and the U.S. under the Air Canada Express brand. Air Canada said Monday it would consolidate all regional service under Jazz Aviation LP and end its business agreement with Sky Regional as of March 31. Russ Payson, Sky Regional's chairman and CEO, said the company's 25 Embraer aircraft will be transferred to Air Canada and that its pilots, including those on layoff, will be transferred to Jazz. Sky Regional employed 800 people before the pandemic, Payson said. Sky Regional is the first Canadian airline to wind down operations since the start of the pandemic as a lack of travel takes a heavy toll on the aviation industry. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:AC) The Canadian Press
LONDON — Britain’s treasury chief on Wednesday announced an additional 65 billion pounds ($91 billion) of support for an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, extending job support programs and temporary tax cuts to help workers and businesses in his annual budget. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak told the House of Commons that it is too soon for the government to rein in spending, saying that his plans would “protect the jobs and livelihoods of the British people” through September as the government slowly lifts lockdown restrictions that have shut businesses across the U.K. At the same time, he said Britain must be prepared to cut the deficit, announcing plans to increase the tax on corporate profits and boost revenue from personal income taxes in 2023. “An important moment is upon us,” Sunak told the House of Commons. “A moment of challenge and of change. Of difficulties, yes, but of possibilities, too. This is a budget that meets that moment.” U.K. public borrowing has risen to levels not seen since World War II as the government seeks to cushion the fallout from COVID-19, which has reduced gross domestic product by 10% and cost more than 700,000 people their jobs. Projections released Wednesday by the Office for Budget Responsibility show that the economy will still be 3% smaller five years from now than it would have been without the pandemic. Sunak said government support programs have succeeded in mitigating the impact. The unemployment rate is now expected to peak at about 6.5%, rather than the 11.9% forecast last July, he said, citing estimates from the Office for Budget Responsibility. The economy is forecast to grow 4% this year and 7.3% in 2022. On Wednesday, Sunak announced plans to extend those support programs for six months. They include a furlough program, under which the government pays 80% of the wages for private employees unable to work during the pandemic, as well as grants for self-employed workers, a temporary increase in welfare payments and tax relief for businesses. Looking to the future, Sunak said the government will in 2023 increase corporation tax to 25%, from the current rate of 19%, and freeze personal income tax thresholds, which will increase revenue as inflation boosts incomes. But opposition leader Keir Starmer accused Sunak of failing to address deep-seated economic problems and banking on a “consumer spending blitz” to bail out the economy. Starmer said the budget fails millions of key workers who are having their pay frozen, businesses swamped by debt, and families paying higher local property taxes. “The central problem in our economy is a deep-rooted insecurity and inequality, and this budget isn’t the answer to that,” Starmer said. “So rather than the big, transformative budget that we needed, this budget simply papers over the cracks.” Ian Blackford, the Scottish National Party’s leader in Parliament, criticized Sunak for continuing a strategy of temporary support that leaves businesses and consumers unsure of the future. The budget leaves Scottish voters with a clear choice as the SNP campaigns to hold a second referendum on independence from the U.K., Blackford said. “For the people of Scotland, this budget comes at a critical moment of choice,” he said, echoing Sunak’s language. “Post-Brexit and post-pandemic, Scotland now has a choice of two futures: The long-term damage of Brexit and more Tory austerity cuts, or the opportunity to protect her place in Europe and to build a strong, fair and green recovery with independence.” ___ Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
One woman is dead and two others are injured after a head-on crash in North Vancouver, B.C., late Tuesday. Two cars crashed on Low Level Road around 11 p.m. PT, according to RCMP. A statement said an Audi driving west crossed the centre line and collided with an eastbound car driven by the woman and carrying a male passenger. The two people in the eastbound car and the Audi driver were taken to hospital, where the woman was pronounced dead. The passenger remains in critical condition. The male driver of the newer model Audi had serious but non life-threatening injuries. RCMP said he refused to give a breath sample. RCMP believe alcohol was a factor in the crash. "We are currently in the midst of an investigation of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and refusal to provide samples of breath for purposes of an impaired investigation," said Sgt. Peter DeVries. "It is a very sad day for this person's family and friends and our thoughts and prayers go out to them," DeVries said of the woman who was killed. Lower Level Road remains closed between East 3rd Street and St. Andrews Avenue.
CALGARY — Power generator TransAlta Corp. says it has set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 after cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 60 per cent below 2015 levels by 2030. The Calgary-based utility company is in the process of retiring its Edmonton-area thermal coal mining operations and converting all of its coal power generation in Canada to natural gas by the end of 2021, while eliminating its coal generation at a facility in Washington State by the end of 2025. In a news release, retiring CEO Dawn Farrell says 2020 was a "pivotal year" for TransAlta, noting that it completed its first coal-to-gas Alberta power plant conversion. She says the company cut an additional 4.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions compared with 2019 and deployed 77 megawatts of net wind and energy storage while continuing to build affiliate TransAlta Renewables Inc. TransAlta reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $167 million on revenue of $544 million for the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with a net profit of $66 million on $609 million in the same period of 2019. Analysts had expected a loss of $102 million on revenue of $492 million, according to financial data firm Refinitiv. "We are well into our emissions reduction journey as a company and we feel our clean electricity strategy is well aligned with a longer-term carbon neutral goal," said chief operating officer John Kousinioris, who is to take over as CEO at the end of March. "Setting this (carbon neutral) goal provides a meaningful internal signal to our team as we execute our growth strategy but provides flexibility over the coming decades." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:TA, TSX:RNW) The Canadian Press
Licence to Kill, the 16th James Bond film produced, was initially titled Licence Revoked. Producers decided to change the title after test audiences in the United States thought the title referred to having driving privileges removed. As a result of government-mandated shutdowns, businesses across the province likely felt their own business licences were revoked as many were forced to temporarily close. Crowsnest Pass council considered altering the cost of renewing business licences during its Feb. 23 regular council meeting after a local business owner submitted a letter requesting fees for the 2021 business licence be reconsidered. General, resident business licences cost $125. General non-resident licences are $360. The municipality typically collects about $68,000 each year. With establishments like hair salons, barbershops and restaurants being unable to operate for the full term their 2020 licence permitted, Mayor Blair Painter said adjusting expectations for 2021 was not unreasonable. “There’s already a big enough hardship on them,” he said. While acknowledging some municipalities in the province have outrightly waived licence fees for small businesses, council was unsure how it would best determine if a business actually needed support. “I would have no problem with the approach if a business could show a certain amount of loss,” said Coun. Dean Ward, “but I know several businesses that had their best year ever and collected $60,000 from the federal government, 20 of which they don’t have to pay back. I don’t want to see us get into that kind of situation.” With over 75 per cent of businesses having already purchased their 2021 licences, Coun. Sygutek added, waiving fees for the whole community just wasn’t feasible and probably wouldn’t make much of a difference. “If 125 is going to make or break your business, then you got problems from Day 1,” she said. “Reimbursing 300 business licences would also be a tremendous amount of work.” Rather than forgiving fees, Coun. Sygutek continued, council could simply forego charging interest on late payments until the summer. Chief administrative officer Patrick Thomas suggested a route similar to overdue taxes could also be an option. “If someone requires or needs it for this year, we look at a payment plan [for licence fees] instead,” he said. “We do that with taxes, utilities — when someone gets behind you set up a payment plan so someone else can identify that they’re at least paying towards it and they’re not just ignoring it,” CAO Thomas continued. “If they are just going to ignore it, they’ll fall under the normal processes that we’ll try to pursue to deal with it.” Council accepted the suggestion and approved creating an option for businesses to utilize a payment plan for their 2021 licence fees. The next regular council meeting will be held Tuesday, March 9, at 7 p.m. at the MDM Community Centre in Bellevue. Agenda packages are available online at https://bit.ly/CNPagenda. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
The global semiconductor chip shortage led General Motors Co on Wednesday to extend production cuts at three North American plants and add a fourth to the list of factories hit, and Stellantis to warn the pain could linger far into the year. The extended cuts do not change GM's forecast last month that the shortage could shave up to $2 billion from this year's earnings. GM Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson subsequently said chip supplies should return to normal rates by the second half of the year and he was confident the profit hit would not worsen.
In December 2020, the Senate became gender-equal, offering up the promise that women's interests will be represented in the upper chamber.
Some students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) have created a smartphone app to improve access to Naloxone, the drug that is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The idea is to add a level of privacy for those who wish to get a Naloxone kit either for themselves or for individuals they know, who might be at risk for an opioid overdose. The new app has been developed by Jordan Law, MacKenzie Ludgate and Owen Montpellier; all fourth-year students who developed the application as a free and confidential service that can have a Naloxone kit delivered to your front door. NOSM said with the opioid death rate continuing to rise in Northern Ontario, medical students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) saw a way to improve access to Naloxone. Ludgate, a medical student and pharmacist, said the pandemic has made the crisis worse. “Opioid-related death rates in many parts of Northern Ontario are higher during this pandemic and significantly higher than the numbers being reported elsewhere in Ontario,” he said. Montpellier, who also worked on the app, said the privacy aspect is one that might allow for more people to consider obtaining one of the life-saving kits, where in other circumstances they might not have one. “This app offers privacy and access to people who want to have a Naloxone kit on-hand, but who are uncomfortable facing the stigma or fear associated with asking for one in person at a pharmacy or clinic,” he said. Law, who is also a pharmacist and fourth-year student, said the new app could be a welcome thing for Northerners living in isolated areas. “The Naloxone North app also provides improved access for those living in remote, isolated or rural communities in Northern Ontario,” said Law. “As long as you have an Ontario Health card, you can order the kit through the app and request that it be shipped to your preferred location.” The NOSM news release said the students followed the guidelines of the Ontario Ministry of Health’s Naloxone Program to meet the applicable policy requirements for safe Naloxone administration, education and distribution. "Advocacy-focused projects — like Naloxone North — were incorporated into NOSM’s fourth-year MD curriculum as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the early stages of the pandemic, NOSM faculty worked quickly to introduce a new curriculum that focused on building advocacy leadership skills at a time when students were not able to work on the frontlines," said the school. Dr. Marion Maar, Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology and faculty advisor on the project, commented that aside from the obvious life-saving benefit, the initiative should also provide valuable research. “The app provides a simultaneous opportunity to conduct research that will determine whether it is an effective way to support opioid recovery in Northern Ontario. I’m proud of the innovative ideas that NOSM students have implemented to address some of the longstanding issues in our region. During a difficult time of change, they embraced a new curriculum and are indeed making an impact." said Marr. Statistics from Public Health Ontario (PHO) show the opioid-related death rates in many parts of Northern Ontario are significantly higher than the numbers being reported in other parts of Ontario, said the school. A NOSM research team received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to study recovery in the opioid crisis in Northern Ontario. They will leverage their work to support ongoing development of the Naloxone North app and study its uptake in rural, Francophone and Indigenous communities. The research is being conducted in collaboration with First Nations and led by Drs. Marion Maar, Darrel Manitowabi, Lorrilee McGregor, and Diana Urajnik, in partnership with the medical students. The medical students would like to thank Dr. Nicholas Fortino, emergency physician at Health Sciences North, for his guidance with the app, which is currently available for free for both Android and iPhone. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com