Director Lee Daniels and actors Evan Ross and Trevante Rhodes discuss what they learned about the legendary jazz singer while making "The United States vs. Billie Holiday." (Feb. 17)
Director Lee Daniels and actors Evan Ross and Trevante Rhodes discuss what they learned about the legendary jazz singer while making "The United States vs. Billie Holiday." (Feb. 17)
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool’s woeful home form is developing into a full-blown crisis after Chelsea’s 1-0 victory on Thursday inflicted a fifth straight league loss at Anfield on the Premier League champions — the worst run in the club’s 128-year history. With Liverpool's title defence already over, this was billed as a battle for a Champions League place and Mason Mount’s 42nd-minute goal lifted Chelsea back into the top four. Chelsea’s previous win at Anfield, in 2014, effectively ended the title hopes of Brendan Rodgers’ side. This one was a blow to Liverpool’s chances of a top-four finish under Jurgen Klopp. Klopp’s side is four points adrift of Chelsea and with Everton and West Ham also ahead. Liverpool has now gone more than 10 hours without a goal from open play at Anfield. The hosts failed to register an effort on target until the 85th minute and Georginio Wijnaldum’s weak header was never going to beat Edouard Mendy. They have taken one point from the last 21 on offer at home since Christmas and scored just two goals, one of which was a penalty. None of Liverpool's established front three — Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino — impressed but the sight of Salah, the Premier League’s leading scorer, being substituted just past the hour mark was baffling. The Egypt international certainly thought so as he sat shaking his head, having been replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chelsea, by contrast, looked full of threat with Timo Werner — a player Liverpool was interested in but decided it could not afford last summer — a constant problem. Despite one goal in his previous 17 league outings, he caused problems with his movement, drifting out to the left then popping into the middle to give Fabinho a real headache on his return to the side. The Brazil midfielder, replacing Nat Phillips after he became the latest centre back to pick up an injury, was partnering Ozan Kabak in Liverpool’s 15th different central-defensive starting partnership in 27 league matches. Faced with a statistic like that, it is perhaps understandable why there was a lack of cohesion at the back and Werner should really have profited. He fired one early shot over and then failed to lift his effort over Alisson Becker, back in goal after the death of his father in Brazil last week. Even when Werner did beat Alisson, VAR ruled the Germany international’s arm had been offside 20 yards earlier in the build-up. Liverpool’s one chance fell to Mane but Salah’s first-time ball over the top got caught under his feet and Mane missed his shot with only Mendy to beat. Chelsea was still controlling the game and caught Liverpool on the counterattack when N’Golo Kante quickly sent a loose ball out to the left wing, from where Mount cut inside to beat Alisson having been given far too much time to pick his spot. All five of Mount’s league goals have come away from home. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel spent the first five minutes of the second half screaming at his players to press harder and play higher up the pitch but Liverpool’s players were equally vocal when Firmino’s cross hit the raised arm of Kante from close range. No penalty was awarded. Andy Robertson cleared off the line from Hakim Ziyech after Alisson parried Ben Chilwell’s shot as Chelsea continued to look more dangerous. Klopp’s attempt to change the direction of the game saw him send on Diogo Jota for his first appearance in three months, along with Oxlade-Chamberlain. Jota’s first touch was a half-chance from a deep cross but he was not sharp enough to take it. Werner, meanwhile, was doing everything but score as Alisson’s leg saved another shot as he bore down on goal. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
The Town of Magrath is the newest partner to team up with the recently created Ridge Utilities as a marketing associate. “Council wanted to explore innovative ways to support the long term financial sustainability of recreation in our community,” said Magrath CAO James Suffredine in a recent media release. Ridge Utilities and the village of Stirling have made a number of presentations to councils in the region about their new venture and plan to improve community sustainability in Southern Alberta. Magrath council is excited to join in this initiative, and Suffredine shares that “a partnership with Ridge Utilities allows us to create a new and incremental revenue stream beyond property taxes and user fees” (https://www.ridgeutilities.net/townofmagrath.html). Elizabeth Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new COVID-19 cases today, four of which are in the eastern health region that includes St. John's. Health officials say the four cases in the eastern region involve people between the ages of 40 and 69; three involve close contacts of prior cases while the fourth is related to domestic travel. Officials say the fifth case is located in the western health region, involves a person between the ages of 20 and 39 and is related to international travel. Eight people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care. Officials say they are still investigating the source of an infection involving a health-care worker at a hospital in the rural town of St. Anthony, located on the Northern Peninsula. Newfoundland and Labrador has 121 active reported COVID-19 infections. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
One of Canada's top public health officials sought to reassure Canadians today that a recommendation from a federal vaccine advisory committee to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses is a sound one. Yesterday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that 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 due to limited supplies. Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the advice is based on real-world data that shows doing so would lead to more people being protected from COVID-19 in a shorter time period. "This recommendation is based on clinical trial reports and emerging real-world evidence from around the world. Data shows that several weeks after being administered, first doses of vaccines provide highly effective protection against symptomatic disease, hospitalization and death," Njoo told a technical briefing today. Confusion over conflicting advice Njoo's comments appeared to be addressing the confusion created by the fact that NACI's recommendation conflicts with those issued by Health Canada when it granted regulatory approvals for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. Regulatory documents provided by Health Canada upon approval of each vaccine state that the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech should be taken three weeks after the first, the second Moderna shot should come four weeks after the first, and the second AstraZeneca dose should be delivered between four and 12 weeks after the first. All of those recommendations are in line with the product monograph provided by the manufacturers. Adding to the confusion, NACI recommended on Monday against giving the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to people 65 and older, although Health Canada has authorized it for use in adults of all ages. But Njoo said the discrepancies can be explained by the fact that Health Canada is a regulator and NACI is an advisory body made up of medical experts. "You have likely noticed that NACI's recommendations are sometimes different, possibly broader or narrower than the conditions of vaccine use that Health Canada has authorized. As the regulator, Health Canada authorizes each vaccine for use in Canada according to factors based on clinical trial evidence, whereas NACI bases its guidance on the available and evolving evidence in a real-world context, including the availability of other vaccines," Njoo said. "What we expect is that NACI recommendations will complement — not mirror — those of Health Canada." WATCH: Njoo comments on NACI recommendation to delay second COVID-19 vaccine doses The issue burst into the open on Monday when 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. Some medical experts questioned that decision. Canada's chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, said doing so without proper clinical trials amounts to a "population level experiment." Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., told the Washington Post that the science doesn't support delaying a second dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. He said there isn't enough evidence to determine how much protection is provided by one dose of those vaccines, and how long it lasts. Despite those warnings, several provinces followed Henry's lead and even more have indicated they intend to stretch the dosage interval. While it appeared to some at the time that Henry was moving faster than the science, Njoo said that NACI's experts briefed provincial medical officers of health over the weekend on the results of their analysis before releasing their recommendations publicly. NACI concluded that stretching the dosing interval to four months would allow up to 80 per cent of Canadians over the age of 16 to receive a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, without compromising vaccine effectiveness. "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. As for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, Njoo said it is safe and that evidence shows it provides protection against very serious disease and death in people of all ages. He said Health Canada has a rigorous scientific review process and only approves vaccines that meet high standards for safety, efficacy and quality. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said expert advice will continue to change as more data becomes available from ongoing mass vaccination campaigns, and she urged provinces and territories to consider recommendations and evidence from both bodies when making decisions about their vaccine strategies. "The messaging would be simpler if we had one set of data and we had one message and it never changed, but that's not what science does," said Sharma. Decision on Johnson and Johnson imminent At today's briefing, health officials also indicated that a regulatory decision on whether to approve Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is expected soon. "The review of the Johnson & Johnson submission is going very well, it's progressing, and we're expecting to have that completed and a decision in the next few days. I would say in the next seven days or so," said Sharma. The company has said its vaccine is 66 per cent effective at preventing moderate to severe illness in a global clinical trial, and much more effective — 85 per cent — against the most serious symptoms. Canada has agreed to purchase up to 38 million doses if it is approved. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for use in that country last Saturday. The approval of a fourth vaccine would give a significant boost to Canada's vaccine rollout. Johnson and Johnson's vaccine is widely seen as one of the easiest to administer because it requires only one dose and can be stored for long periods of time at regular refrigerator temperatures. Njoo said additional vaccines, coupled with the NACI recommendation on dosage intervals, could allow Canada to meet the goal of inoculating all adults who want a vaccine "several weeks" before the current target date of the end of September. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada's COVID-19 vaccine logistics, said that while more vaccines would be good news, the current target remains the end of September.
YELLOWKNIFE — Residents of the Northwest Territories who are from Norman Wells and Fort Simpson can now self-isolate at home if they leave the territory. A previous public-health order required anyone who left N.W.T. to isolate for 14 days in Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Hay River or Inuvik. The territory's chief public health officer, Dr. Kami Kandola, says the order was changed because Norman Wells and Fort Simpson both have a wastewater surveillance program to test for COVID-19. The two communities also have adequate medical resources to support new infections. Kandola says only residents of Normal Wells and Fort Simpson will be allowed to self-isolate there. They must also submit a self-isolation plan to the territory's public-health office. There are currently two active cases of COVID-19 in the territory. The Canadian Press
Vancouver's parks board is taking action to control the increasing numbers of messy and aggressive Canada geese. A statement from the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation says it is developing a management plan to reduce the number of geese in city parks, beaches and on the seawall. The board is particularly concerned about humans feeding the birds, saying it brings flocks of geese to high-traffic areas such as Stanley Park and the beaches of English Bay and Sunset Beach. A key part of the management plan asks residents to identify Canada goose nests on private property so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled, and left in the nest so adults continue to brood, rather than lay again. The board estimates Vancouver's population of more than 3,500 Canada geese grows every year because the habitat is ideal and the birds have no natural predators. Several Okanagan cities are asking permission to cull growing flocks of Canada geese that foul area beaches and parks, but Vancouver's board says egg addling, a measure supported by the SPCA, is its only control measure. In addition to calling for public help in identifying nests, which can be on roofs, balconies or in tall, topped trees, the park board is urging people not to feed Canada geese. “Supplemental feeding by humans can also contribute to geese being able to lay more than one clutch of eight eggs per season; meaning that if one clutch does not hatch, they can replace it," the statement says. "In nature, without food from humans, this wouldn’t happen." Canada geese have inefficient digestive systems and the parks board says the birds produce more excrement for their size than most other species. The park board says it hopes to step up egg addling, saying wildlife specialists believe the practice must be tripled in order to cut Vancouver's goose populations. A web page has been created on the City of Vancouver website to report the location of nests so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Two projects at Queen’s University have received close to $10 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to significantly advance their research. This funding is part of an announcement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday, Mar. 3, 2021, stating that more than $518 million in research infrastructure funding will support 102 projects at 35 post-secondary institutions and research hospitals across Canada. Queen’s is also a collaborator on a third project, led by Carleton University. According to a release from Queen’s University, dated Thursday, Mar. 4, 2021, the funding will be used for infrastructure that will help to combat climate change, treat cancer, and understand the fabric of the universe. The Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) and Queen’s researcher Annette Hay (Medicine) and Jonathan Bramson, of McMaster University, have received CFI support of more than $5 million for their project to develop a national cellular therapy translational research platform, the first of its kind globally, Queen’s said in the release. ExCELLirate Canada: Expanding CELL-based Immunotherapy Research Acceleration for Translation and Evaluation is a collaboration between Queen’s, McMaster University, University of Calgary, University of Ottawa, Université de Montréal, and Canadian Blood Services. CFI funds will support research activities from novel cell therapy development to point-of-care cell manufacturing and multi-centre clinical trial testing for cancer treatment. Queen’s says this project aims to develop cell therapies as safe and viable treatment options through identifying biological mechanisms affecting safety and designing cost-effective methods for the harvest, expansion, manipulation, purification, and delivery of the cells. The second project, which received close to $4.5 million in funding from CFI, has Queen’s civil engineering researchers Andy Take, Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical Engineering, and Ian Moore, Canada Research Chair in Infrastructure Engineering, aiming to improve the future resiliency of Canada’s civil engineering infrastructure in the face of climate change with their project CASTLE. The Climate Adaptive infraStructure Testing and Longevity Evaluation (CASTLE) Innovation Cluster is a collaboration between Queen’s and the Royal Military College of Canada. As Canada’s landmass spans diverse geographic regions, current and future infrastructure must be made resilient against the unique impacts of climate change affecting remote northern regions to southern urban centres, according to the release. Queen’s says the objectives for CASTLE are to improve storage of mine waste, ensure safety and improve resilience of transportation infrastructure, such as roads, railways, and pipes, and coastal defense structures, as well as ports and harbours, against the direct and triggered geotechnical hazards of climate change. In furthering Canada’s leadership in the field of dark matter, Queen’s is also a collaborator on a project to develop the next generation liquid argon dark matter detector and an underground argon storage facility at SNOLAB. Understanding the nature of dark matter, which makes up 85 per cent of the universe, is one of science’s unsolved mysteries, according to Queen’s. This project will include upgrades to the DEAP-3600 experiment, contributions to the Darkside-20k experiment, and the development of the ultimate ARGO detector at SNOLAB. By enabling further scientific discovery at SNOLAB, the location where Queen’s researcher Arthur McDonald conducted his Nobel Prize winning research, this project has the potential to develop technical and commercial innovations in digital light sensors and offer training opportunities to junior researchers and students, Queen’s said in the release. “This support will allow Queen’s to build on exceptional international strengths and have a direct impact on how we live and understand the world around us,” said Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice Principal (Research) at Queen’s University. “Thank you to the Government of Canada for investing in the tools that advance research.” For more information on projects funded through the Innovation Fund 2020, visit the CFI website. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
A nearly $4 million investment into Newmarket-Aurora will help victims of human trafficking access the services and supports they need to recover. On Friday, Jill Dunlop, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, announced an infusion of $3.8 million over the next five years to two Newmarket-based organizations: BridgeNorth and Cedar Centre. Their community-based programs will help the organizations create two new programs “to provide more young victims and survivors of human trafficking in York Region with access to the supports they need.” “These new programs will help more people who have experienced sexual exploitation heal and rebuild their lives,” said Minister Dunlop in a statement following the virtual announcement. “Victims and survivors of human trafficking need specialized, trauma-informed supports to help them recover. Providing more dedicated services for children and youth will help address critical needs in this Region.” With their share of the pot, BridgeNorth will provide a survivor-led peer mentoring and day program for children and youth, providing supports from early intervention through to stabilization, transition and reintegration. Cedar Centre will provide trauma-specific, rapid-response therapy to help children and youth who have experienced sexual exploitation. “Our government has made it a priority to end human trafficking and protect our most vulnerable from this terrible crime,” said Newmarket-Aurora MPP Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Health. “We are proud that this investment will create new critical programs in Newmarket to provide victims and survivors of human trafficking with the help they deserve and support their recovery.” Last week’s announcement is part of Ontario’s $46 million investment to increase supports, with a special emphasis on survivor-led programming. “Voices of survivors and those with lived experiences are being heard,” says Cassandra Diamond, Survivor and Founder of BridgeNorth. “For years, we have been asking to have peer-led services, and today, because of our government’s strong and wise leadership, it is a reality.” Added Alison Peck, Executive Director of Cedar Centre: “We are very excited by this opportunity and humbled by the trust in us to work in partnership with the government to provide this critically-needed service for children and youth who are at risk of, or have experienced human trafficking in York Region.” More than 70 per cent of known human trafficking victims identified by police Ontario-wide are under the age of 25 and 28 per cent are under the age of 18, according to the Ministry. Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
BOSTON — Distance running, traditionally one of the world's most genteel sports, has been roiled by an ugly mid-pandemic squabble over who should get a shot at a coveted Boston Marathon medal. Rival camps in the running world began snapping at each other's heels this week. It began after the Boston Athletic Association, which still hopes to hold a truncated in-person edition of the planet's most prestigious footrace in October, said it will award medals to up to 70,000 athletes if they go the distance wherever they are. Practically within minutes of the BAA's announcement greatly expanding its virtual version of the race, a boisterous social media maelstrom ensued. On one side: Runners who've spent years training to qualify to run the real thing, including some who complain that mailing medals to people who run the 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometres) in Dallas or Denver will cheapen the iconic Boston experience. “A dagger through the heart to someone who has worked hard to finally earn the qualifying standard,” one runner, Mark Howard of Salisbury, North Carolina, groused on Twitter. On the other: Pretty much everyone else, including the plodding masses and runners who raise millions for charities, who counter that anything that helps the 125-year-old marathon survive the COVID-19 crisis is worthwhile. “A virtual Boston race that invites everyone is a reason to celebrate,” said Maria Arana, a marathoner and coach in Phoenix. “It in no way takes away from my personal Boston Marathon experience or anyone else’s.” The bickering seems to have caught many off-guard, if only because road racing has long had a reputation as a kind and egalitarian sport. It's one of the few disciplines where ordinary amateurs compete in real time on the same course as elite professionals, and where trash-talking is rare. As four-time Boston champion Bill Rodgers famously said: “Running is a sport where everyone gets along.” A notable exception to that gentility was the 1967 race, when race director Jock Semple ran after Kathrine Switzer — the first woman to run with an official bib number — and tried unsuccessfully to pull her off the course. It also comes as the Boston Marathon and other big-city races are struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic and looking for creative ways to keep runners engaged online. The BAA put on a virtual version of the marathon last year, after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to first postpone its usual April running to September, and then cancel in-person racing altogether. But that was limited to athletes who had already qualified to race or had registered as charity runners. This time, the first 70,000 people aged 18 or older who sign up and pay a fee will be able to earn a finisher's medal simply by covering the classic distance wherever they happen to be. They don't even need to run — they can walk. “For the first time in our history, most everyone will have the opportunity to earn a Unicorn finisher’s medal,” BAA president and CEO Tom Grilk said in a statement. Grilk said the in-person race, if it comes off as scheduled on Oct. 11, will have a reduced field to help keep athletes and spectators safe. Typically the Boston field is capped at around 30,000; the BAA hasn't said how much smaller it will be this autumn. Josh Sitzer, a San Francisco runner who's qualified for the Boston Marathon three times, initially was among those who trashed the idea of giving out 70,000 medals as “a blatant money grab.” “Respect yourself and the game. Don’t do Boston unless you earn it,” he tweeted. Then he had a change of heart, tweeting: “I was wrong. It's not the same as the actual Boston Marathon, and it doesn't devalue” the experience of those who meet strict qualifying standards for a chance to line up in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. It's been a bad look, acknowledges Erin Strout, who covers the sport for WomensRunning.com. “If there ever was a time to put our elitism and cynicism aside, it’s now,” she wrote in an opinion piece. “Let’s welcome each other in, cheer each other on, and seize the opportunity to bring back running bigger, better, and more inclusive than it was before.” ___ This story has been corrected to delete a reference to a $70 entry fee for the virtual marathon; organizers say they haven't yet decided on entry fees. ___ Follow AP New England editor Bill Kole on Twitter at http://twitter.com/billkole. William J. Kole, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Health Canada says it won't require new clinical trial data from vaccine makers on booster shots being developed to target new variants of COVID-19. Instead, the regulator will rely more heavily on lab tests on blood samples, which can show how many antibodies develop following vaccination. Those antibodies are a good indicator of how well the human body will fight off an infection. The decision should help the regulator authorize the boosters for use in Canada much quicker and is in line with the process used to approve new flu vaccines each year. At least three variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating in Canada and are believed to spread more easily and possibly cause more serious illness. Having vaccines adjusted to target those new strains is a critical part of managing the COVID-19 pandemic. But Health Canada's chief medical adviser, Dr. Supriya Sharma, said there won't be corners cut on safety in evaluating new boosters. "They still need to demonstrate that the vaccine that comes out is still safe, effective and high quality," she said in an interview with The Canadian Press earlier this week. Canada has authorized three vaccines, from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca, and all are working on various boosters against variants. The documents supporting Thursday's decision note that demanding full clinical trials, as was the case for authorizing the original vaccines, would create a serious delay. "This may also be problematic from a public health perspective since delay in updating a vaccine, where needed, bears the risk that the virus is evolving even further, potentially making a new vaccine version outdated at the time of approval again," the document says. Coronaviruses don't mutate as quickly as flu viruses, but do change as they spread among people and the more they spread, the more they change. "So a virus is not going to mutate as much when it can't replicate," Sharma said. The existing vaccines have shown reduced effectiveness against the variants of concern, though Sharma cautions the vaccines are still useful even against the variants. The vaccines Canada has authorized are performing well in countries like the United Kingdom and Israel, where the B.1.1.7 variant is now dominant. That variant is thus far the most common of the three variants of concern in Canada, accounting for more than 90 per cent of about 1,430 variant cases confirmed so far. Many provinces are now screening all confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the variants of concern, and as many as 10 per cent of all confirmed cases are fully sequenced to look for any mutations to the original virus. The B.1.351 variant that first arose in South Africa is the most concerning to date in its potential to evade existing vaccines. As of Wednesday, there were 103 confirmed cases of it in Canada. South Africa stopped using AstraZeneca's vaccine altogether after lab tests suggested it wouldn't be very effective against mild illness for B.1.351, which is dominant in that country. That decision has contributed to growing concerns that AstraZeneca's vaccine is less desirable but Sharma said the details aren't that simple. "Now, if you look at severe disease, or more severe cases, it actually looked like it was still quite protective," she said. "But in a country where that is your dominant circulating stream, and in a country where they had potentially had access to another vaccine shortly, they made the decision that maybe they weren't going to go ahead with that," she said. If B.1.351 becomes a dominant strain here, and current vaccines don't show effectiveness against it, they'll be pulled, Sharma said. "We wouldn't leave a vaccine on the market if we think that it wouldn't be effective for the overall population." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Efforts to ban applying Kentucky's death penalty to some people with severe mental illnesses ran into resistance Thursday, but the bill mustered just enough votes to be sent to the full state Senate. The measure was advanced by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 6-4 vote, leaving it potentially one step away from being sent to the governor. But that final hurdle could be a formidable one in the Senate after the bill won 75-16 House passage this week. Republicans control both chambers. Afterward, the committee’s chairman, Republican Sen. Whitney Westerfield, said the bill’s prospects in the Senate appeared to be “dimmer.” Westerfield, who supports the bill, put its chances of passing the Senate at “50-50,” adding: “I’m not as confident as I once was.” The measure would block use of the death penalty for people who, at the time of the offence, have a documented history of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder or delusional disorder. “This is not, despite all the rhetoric we’ve been hearing, going to do away with the death penalty," said Republican Rep. Chad McCoy, the bill's lead sponsor. "It is a very, very narrow bill.” The bill reflects a long-running goal of mental health advocates in Kentucky. The measure drew opposition from prosecutors Thursday. Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron objected to the bill's reference to a person's documented history of disorders. He said it's too “loose a term” that would cause more legal disputes in cases that already can drag on for years. The bill's critics worry that a decades-old diagnosis could prevent that person from being held accountable for a heinous crime later in life. Disorders listed in the bill are seen frequently in criminal cases, and defence attorneys could try to have the proposal applied to existing death row cases if the measure became law, Cohron said. “The odds of this not being challenged and litigated retroactively is zero,” he said. McCoy insisted the bill applies only apply to future cases where the death penalty might be considered. “I don’t think we could be more clear on the retroactivity,” McCoy told the committee. Offenders with a history of such disorders would still face severe punishment if the bill became law, he said. “This is not a decision of whether somebody’s not going to be tried or not going to be punished,” McCoy said. “They’re still going to get life in prison without parole.” ___ The legislation is House Bill 148. Bruce Schreiner, The Associated Press
Since Aurora began enforcing a three-bag limit on garbage collection, the community has seen a significant reduction in the amount of waste going to landfill. But, in some cases, a three-bag limit isn’t cutting it for residents and some flexibility is in order. This was the view that Mayor Tom Mrakas and Councillor Harold Kim presented to Council last week in a joint motion which could lead to a bag tag program for the Town of Aurora. Approved by Council on February 23, the motion has tasked municipal staff with drafting a report on various options for a garbage bag tag policy to be implemented “as soon as possible.” Among the reasons citied by lawmakers for adding some flexibility for waste collection were households with large families and homes that have tenanted secondary suites such as basement apartments. “It just seems like a more pragmatic solution to have a tag system,” said Councillor Kim. “There are a lot of options out there and this motion is asking staff to look at those options and see which is the best solution for Aurora.” Mayor Mrakas, however, already had one particular option in mind: allocating households a specific number of tags each year and letting them use them as they see fit. “There is one thing that is in common with almost every single municipality that provides a limit and that is there is a tag policy in place,” he said. “The difference with some of them [is] you get a full amount for the year and I believe that is probably the best approach. I think if we provide everyone with a full amount for the year… we have 26 weeks of garbage [collection]…you provide 78 tags to everyone. It becomes a very simple process for GFL and our waste diversion: if you don’t have a sticker, it does not get picked up. You can still get extra tags on top of that, but this also, I believe, allows us to follow our strategic goals [from an environmental perspective].” Although Council has not yet pinned down a specific bag tag method, the motion calling for options was warmly received. Councillor Wendy Gaertner, for instance, said she has received feedback on the three-bag limit from a resident with “quite a large family” and options would be welcome. “There will be families who have more than one generation and they need that,” she said. “For homes that have registered secondary dwelling units… I don’t think we should be charging them for extra bags of garbage because they are providing affordable housing.” Al Downey, Aurora’s Director of Operations, said legal secondary units are a “challenge” with the three-bag limit and there are a variety of ways to address that. “One of the options that we provided to Council was to provide tags to those residents so they could tag the additional bags,” he said. “If you had three dwelling units, you would be able to put out nine bags. Six of those bags would be tagged. There is also a system where you can put an icon on the building itself identifying the number of dwelling units on that icon and when the garbage collector comes to that site, they are aware there [is more than one] dwelling unit.” Whatever options ultimately come forward, however, Councillor Michael Thompson sought re-assurances they would fit into the Town’s stated commitments on waste reduction. “As a whole, we have made a strategic commitment to reduce waste and continue to look at ways to do that,” he said. “We all know there are some costs to it… not just from a financial perspective, but a social perspective as well. I would be interested seeing in that report any evidence or anecdotal information that supports a bag tag policy as being able to reduce our waste or not. I would be interested in knowing how this can help us further align with our strategic goals when it comes to the reduction of waste in the environment.” Since Aurora began looking at ways to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill, the figures have dropped by 31 per cent, said Mr. Downey, a five-year low. “We have never put so little garbage in landfill, so it has had a very positive impact,” said Mr. Downey. “There are some challenges and I think that we need to address those challenges and [the report will tackle] some of those challenges. Secondary dwelling units are an issue and people want to know how we can deal with secondary units more effectively. I believe the bag tag system will help with that. We will be providing some options. As you know, Aurora has the highest bag limit within York Region, so no one [municipality] has more than three bags. We are already at the upper level, however there are situations where people may want to put out more bags and this report will help address those things. “I am very happy to say we have had a very dramatic impact in just the first month.” Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
RCMP are asking witnesses to a violent incident to come forward, after a man was discovered seriously injured outside a Richmond, B.C., shopping mall Wednesday afternoon. Police were called around 2:40 p.m. PT to the parking area on the north side of the Lansdowne Centre, where the 40-year-old man was found lying injured on the ground, according to an RCMP statement Thursday. The Vancouver resident was taken to a local hospital where he remains in critical condition, police said. RCMP say the incident does not appear to have any criminal connections, and there doesn't appear to be any risk to the public. Anyone who might have witnessed Wednesday's incident is asked to contact the Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 if they want to remain anonymous.
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
One person is dead after an early morning crash near Tisdale, Sask. Tisdale RCMP say a northbound SUV collided with a westbound truck coming off a grid road that crosses highway 35 about four kilometres north of Tisdale at around 6:30 a.m. CST on Thursday. Tisdale is about 195 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. A 65-year-old man was declared dead at the scene and a woman was taken to hospital with serious injuries. The highway was closed Thursday morning, with traffic being diverted around the area for the rest of the day while officers conduct an investigation.
A retired judge who called for the "massive transformation" of New Brunswick's mental health system 12 years ago, says nothing has been done to fix it. In 2009, Mike McKee published his report, Together into the Future. He received input from more than 2,000 people, including service providers to people with mental illness and their families. The report included 80 recommendations to revamp the mental health system in New Brunswick. Chris Daken with daughter Lexi, when she was about 2 years old. (Submitted by Chris Daken) "It's obvious the system is broken and we need to address it," said McKee. "We have to decide, do we want to rebuild the house or do we just want to paint the living room?" McKee's report aimed to make mental health a government priority for everyone and that it would be treated like any other illness "rather than continuing to be a poor second cousin." 'People want us to do more' McKee, who's also a former cabinet minister in Frank McKenna's Liberal government, said he was disappointed to learn about the death of Lexi Daken last week. The Grade 10 student who had previously attempted suicide, was taken to the emergency room at Fredericton's Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital on Feb. 18, by a school guidance counsellor who was concerned about her mental health. She waited for eight hours without receiving any mental health intervention. Lexi took her own life less than a week later. Lexi Daken, centre, with friends Darian Crouse, left, and Karly Crouse.(Submitted by Chris Daken) "I don't remember really the last time my heart was troubled like this over someone that I didn't even know," said the mental health advocate. "It's sad and it doesn't have to happen." In order to fix the broken system, McKee said the province needs to stop reacting to situations like Lexi's and instead work with people living with mental health issues, Indigenous communities, the homeless and those living in rural areas. "People want us to do more than just tinker with the status quo." If the 80 recommendations in his report had been implemented, McKee said the province would have already addressed the mental health needs of New Brunswickers. But it didn't. McKee's report said children and youth should have access to in-province assessment, government departments should work collaboratively within a coordinated system and the province should also have a full range of effective services are available in community and correctional facilities. "I'm not happy with the outcome or reaction." Public inquiry won't happen On Wednesday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told reporters the province will not call for a public inquiry into Lexi's suicide but will ask the child and youth advocate to review mental health services in New Brunswick. McKee said he doesn't want to put his focus on whether their should be a public inquiry, but the report itself and how to prevent situations like this from happening again — such as more qualified psychologists inside New Brunswick schools. "We have far too many people who don't have the support, who don't have the treatment to avoid those situations occurring in the first place." It's still not clear whether the public will ever know what happened during Lexi's eight-hour wait at the ER, or why she was allowed to leave without having received help. McKee said it's possible they'll never know. "People aren't going to put up with this," he said. "Enough is enough."
There are now seven more cases at the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC). The cases are still contained to the same unit where the initial 14 were identified over the weekend, said Richard Dionne, president of the CNCC Local 369. The corrections officer said he could not share the total number of inmates in that wing, but noted that the area remains isolated. "I don't know the full count and I can't give it to you anyway for security reasons," said Dionne, speaking to MidlandToday. He said he was thankful that no staff cases have been identified at this time. "Hopefully, it stays that way," said Dionne. "The health unit came in the other day to offer voluntary staff testing. I don't know how many staff got tested, but none of those that did, to my knowledge, have come back positive." He said the same safety protocols are being followed with staff wearing increased PPE when interacting with inmates and those incarcerated being provided with masks if needed. "There haven't been any additional measures put into place right now," said Dionne. As for the virus possibly spreading in the air, he said, every unit functions independently in terms of ventilation. "I'm very hopeful we can contain it to the one unit and not have it spread to the entire institution," Dionne said, adding the stress level among staff remains high. "The workload has increased just based on the way that the operation changes because we're limiting day-room use and following protocol around higher use of PPE. And it's also the same for inmates, he added. "They just get more and more frustrated being locked down," Dionne said. "Increased cell time is never good for anyone. That's been put out there by a number of professionals that time locked in the cell by yourself or with one other person isn't beneficial." A request for comment from the province was not received by publication time. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
People returning to the Northwest Territories will now be able to isolate in Norman Wells and Fort Simpson, says the territorial government. Premier Caroline Cochrane and Dr. Kami Kandola, the territory's chief public health officer, made the announcement during a news conference on Thursday. The changes come into effect at 5 p.m. Previously, anyone arriving in the N.W.T. had to self-isolate for 14 days in Fort Smith, Hay River, Inuvik or Yellowknife, with few exceptions. The self-isolation rules differ for essential workers. "Allowing the residents of Fort Simpson and … Norman Wells to safely isolate in their home communities will address some of the challenges that come with self-isolation," Cochrane said, adding that this includes having better access to family and isolating in a more familiar setting. "We've been in this for over a year and people are past COVID fatigue, they're COVID exhausted. So being able to open it up will help improve it with mental health issues we are seeing across the Northwest Territories." Missed the update? Watch it here: Kandola says the territory had been reviewing exemption requests over the months since the travel restrictions were in place, and many came from those two communities. They also got correspondence from leaders there. Kandola says the territory was, in part, waiting for wastewater surveillance to be added to Norman Wells and for the second dose clinics to roll out, which are set to be complete by end of day Thursday, before changing isolation rules. She added both communities have adequate medical resources to support potential COVID-19 patients, including the stabilization of any severe cases, pending transport to another centre. Cochrane says there are local enforcement officers in each community to ensure people comply with self-isolation rules. Restrictions could be further eased later in Spring There were three active COVID-19 cases and 66 recovered as of Thursday. These numbers include cases in residents and non-residents. Kandola says the territory is still in phase 2 of its Emerging Wisely plan, but that it could move to phase 3 in late spring. She says that depends on vaccination uptake and if it's safe to do so. So far, 44 per cent of the territory's adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. The territory's goal is to get at least 75 per cent of the adult population vaccinated. "We won't get to phase 3 all at once," she said, "and maybe it's not happening as quickly as some would like, but we are getting there."
A group of Indigenous youth called on supporters to block a Vancouver intersection leading to the port in protest of an elder who was sentenced to 90 days in jail for anti-pipeline actions in 2019. For most of the day March 3, the police held off traffic around the intersection of Hastings St. and Clark Drive in east Vancouver where police say 43,000 vehicles pass through daily. But in the evening they moved in to disband the blockade, arresting four adults for mischief and intimidation by blocking a roadway, both criminal offences, according to a police spokesperson. Those arrested were released that night under orders to appear in court. The blockade, organized by a group called the Braided Warriors, was peaceful. There were elders, youth, and many non-Indigenous supporters gathered in the intersection. People were sitting on blankets reading, chatting in small groups, all wearing masks. A sacred fire was lit in the centre of the intersection, and people sat around it in picnic chairs. The mood was peaceful and somber, punctuated occasionally with songs and chants. RELATED: Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester RELATED: A dozen faith-based protestors blockade Burnaby Trans Mountain site in prayer The Braided Warriors shared on social media that they were there in solidarity with elder Stacy Gallagher who had been sentenced the night before to 90 days in prison. A police spokesman says the group marched from the courthouse to the East Vancouver intersection late Tuesday following the sentencing. The Braided Warriors shared an update mid-Wednesday that Gallagher was released on bail, but the blockade continued until VPD moved in. After police broke up the blockade, the protest moved to the nearby jail as they awaited the release of the four who were arrested. RELATED: Arrests at anti-pipeline protest call Vancouver police actions into question In February the Braided Warriors coordinated a protest in the lobbies of two insurance companies who are backing the Trans Mountain Pipeline Extension. That protest went on for three days before being disbanded by police on Feb. 19, where four people were arrested. Arrests at that time are under investigation for allegations of aggression and violence. The Braided Warriors said they would file complaints with the UN Human Rights Tribunal with regards to the treatment from police. Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: email@example.com Zoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette