The Toronto Raptors point guard played a game Thursday morning in the G League bubble and arrived shortly before tip-off against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Toronto Raptors point guard played a game Thursday morning in the G League bubble and arrived shortly before tip-off against the Milwaukee Bucks.
(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine safety: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations to the tune of 84 per cent," Sharma said. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902 ) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. An analysis of results from 2,000 adults older than 60 years suggested the vaccine was similarly effective and well tolerated in this age group. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
Syria said U.S. air strikes against Iranian-backed militias in the east of the country on Friday were a cowardly act and urged President Joe Biden not to follow "the law of the jungle". An Iraqi militia official close to Iran said the strikes killed one fighter and wounded four. U.S. officials said they were limited in scope to show Biden's administration will act firmly while trying to avoid a big regional escalation.
NASHVILLE — Maren Morris and Chris Stapleton are the leading nominees for the Academy of Country Music Awards, but only Stapleton joined the all-male ballot for the top prize of entertainer of the year. The academy announced on Friday that Morris and Stapleton both had six nominations ahead of the April 18 awards show, which will air on CBS from Nashville, Tennessee. Women were left out of the top category after Carrie Underwood and Thomas Rhett tied for entertainer of the year last year, the first time ever for a tie and the first time a woman had won the category since Taylor Swift in 2012. Also nominated for entertainer of the year are Rhett, Luke Bryan, Eric Church and Luke Combs. This year, Morris’ crossover pop hit “The Bones,” was nominated for single of the year and earned her two nominations as songwriter and artist for song of the year. She was also nominated for female artist of the year, which she won last year, and music video of the year for “Better Than We Found It.” She had another nomination for the all-star collaboration The Highwomen in group of the year. Stapleton, who released his fourth solo studio album last year, “Starting Over,” was nominated twice as artist and producer for album of the year, as well as twice for being the songwriter/artist for the title track for song of the year. He also has a nomination for male artist of the year. Country star Morgan Wallen, who won new male artist of the year last year, was declared ineligible by the ACMs after he was caught on camera using a racial slur earlier this year. His most recent record, “Dangerous: The Double Album,” has spent six weeks at the top of the all-genre Billboard 200 chart, despite being removed from radio stations and some streaming playlists. The album was not eligible for album of the year award because it came out in 2021, but Wallen likely would have been a strong contender for male artist of the year and singles such as “7 Summers” and “More Than My Hometown” would have qualified for other awards. Miranda Lambert, who is already the most nominated artist in ACM history, stretched her streak with five nominations. Lambert's song “Bluebird” earned her four nominations total as writer and artist in song, single and video of the year. Lambert is nominated in female artist of the year, a category she has won nine times. While women are absent from entertainer of the year, all five nominees for the single of the year are performed by women, a first for the ACM Awards. In addition to Lambert’s “Bluebird” and Morris’ “The Bones,” Gabby Barrett’s “I Hope,” Carly Pearce and Lee Brice’s duet “I Hope You’re Happy Now” and Ingrid Andress’ “More Hearts Than Mine” fill out the category. Four Black artists are also nominated this year across all categories, another first for the ACM Awards. Kane Brown was nominated for album of the year for his record “Mixtape Vol. 1” while Jimmie Allen was nominated for new male artist of the year again after first being nominated in the same category in 2018. Mickey Guyton was nominated again for new female artist of the year, after first being nominated in 2015. Her 2020 song “Black Like Me,” released after the death of George Floyd, never gained traction at radio, but brought her critical acclaim and a Grammy nomination for best country solo performance. Under ACM award criteria, artists can be nominated more than once in the new artist of the year categories as long as they haven't won it previously and have not yet released a single from their third studio album. Grammy winner John Legend has his first ACM Awards nomination for video of the year for his duet with Carrie Underwood on “Hallelujah.” The album of the year category also includes Luke Bryan for “Born Here Live Here Die Here,” Ashley McBryde for “Never Will” and Brothers Osborne for “Skeletons.” Kristin M. Hall, The Associated Press
The tech-heavy Nasdaq index rallied in choppy trading on Friday, even as sentiment remained fragile after the index's worst performance in four months the day before as fears of rising inflation kept U.S. bond yields near a one-year high. The S&P 500 ended little changed, while the Dow index closed lower after earlier dropping to a three-week low. The Dow still posted gains of nearly 4% for the month, as investors bought into cyclical companies set to benefit from an economic reopening.
Nissan Motor Co said on Friday it has reached a breakthrough in achieving a 50% thermal efficiency with its in-development e-POWER hybrid technology, which could lead to a further reduction of car CO2 emissions. This new thermal efficiency level would improve fuel consumption by 25% over the 40% thermal efficiency level in the upcoming e-POWER engine, the company said. "Nissan's latest approach to engine development has raised the bar to world-leading levels, accelerating past the current auto industry average range of 40% thermal efficiency, making it possible to even further reduce vehicle CO2 emissions," the company said in a statement.
OTTAWA — Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, the third to be given the green light for national use. Details of the approval and when Canadians might see doses begin arriving are due at a technical briefing later this morning in Ottawa. Canada has pre-ordered 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was co-developed by researchers at the University of Oxford. It will also receive up to 1.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX by the end of June. Vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna had already been approved by Health Canada. Approximately 1.7 million doses of those formulas have been administered in Canada. Health Canada is also reviewing two other vaccines. Approval of Johnson and Johnson's vaccine will likely not come until early March and Novavax is not expected until April. The European Union has also approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca formulas. AstraZeneca's vaccine, like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna's formulations, requires refrigeration and takes two doses for maximum efficacy. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
La production alimentaire locale tout au long de l’année est à notre portée et réduira l’impact de l’agriculture sur le climat – mais seulement si nous adoptons la technologie agricole.
The Berlinale, one of the world's most open and public film festivals, begins on Monday in a decidedly low-key, private fashion, being streamed to a select audience of journalists and industry professionals rather than playing to packed cinemas. The organisers of the Berlinale, or Berlin Film Festival, now in its 71st year, have always prided themselves on running screenings that are open to an enthusiastic public, unlike Venice and Cannes, its main rivals in the festival calendar. "It's a huge blow," said Scott Roxborough, Hollywood Reporter's Europe bureau chief and a Berlinale veteran.
Déplacement de la voie ferrée, agrandissement du parc industriel et construction d’un centre multiservice ferroviaire sont dans les cartons, à Mashteuiatsh. Pour que tous ces projets voient le jour, des investissements de plus 30 M$ seront nécessaires. Malgré les démarches initiées par Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan, Services aux Autochtones Canada n’a pas encore débloqué de financement pour l’agrandissement du parc industriel. Au cours des derniers mois, CMAX Transport, le comité de maximisation des grands projets dans la région, a analysé le réseau ferroviaire régional. Le but : proposer un plan d’optimisation du réseau ferroviaire pour le rendre plus fluide et ainsi faciliter le transport pour de futurs projets industriels. Avant de présenter le résultat de son travail, CMAX Transport rencontre les élus de la région pour présenter un tracé souhaité. Questionné à ce sujet, le responsable de CMAX transport n’a pas commenté, préférant attendre de dévoiler le projet publiquement au cours des prochaines semaines. Mais plusieurs informations ont commencé à filtrer, alors que les conseils municipaux et Katakuhimatsheta (Conseil des élus de Mashteuiatsh) votent des résolutions pour entériner le plan de CMAX Transport. Ce tracé comprend notamment des améliorations importantes de la voie ferrée entre Chibougamau et La Doré et l’ajout d’une surlargeur à l’entrée sud de Saint-Félicien, près de l’entreprise Granules LG. Les élus de Mashteuiatsh devraient confirmer, le 15 mars prochain, leur approbation pour les aménagements ferroviaires dans la communauté et le trajet proposé par CMAX Transport. Ce trajet prévoit la construction d’une nouvelle voie ferrée dans les terres, pour éviter de passer en plein cœur de la communauté ilnue, explique Stacy Bossum, conseiller responsable désigné à l’économie et aux relations grandes entreprises. De plus, deux représentants de Mashteuiatsh seront nommés pour siéger au Conseil de la régie intermunicipale ferroviaire. Si toutes les municipalités de la région entérinent le tracé, la régie intermunicipale pourrait alors déposer des demandes financières au nom de toute la région pour le réaliser. Selon les estimations, les travaux, d’une valeur de 7 à 10 M$ pour la portion de Mashteuiatsh seulement, pourraient être réalisés dans un horizon de 5 à 10 ans, selon les informations obtenues par Stacy Bossum. « En déplaçant le chemin de fer, ça améliorera beaucoup la sécurité, parce qu’on retrouve 16 passages à niveau dans la communauté, dit-il. Avec le nouveau tracé, il n’y en aurait que trois ». À l’heure actuelle, deux ou trois trains traversent Mashteuiatsh par jour, et ce nombre est voué à croître si les projets industriels se concrétisent. Sabin Côté, le maire de Roberval, se réjouit aussi à l’idée de dévier le transport ferroviaire. « C’est une bonne nouvelle pour notre plan de développement touristique sur la Pointe-Scott, parce qu’en déviant le trafic de Mashteuiatsh, les trains arriveraient directement à l’ancienne usine de Produits forestiers Résolu », dit-il. Des investissements structurants Mashteuiatsh ne souhaite pas seulement que le transport ferroviaire soit plus fluide. La communauté veut aussi tirer profit des grands projets industriels pour se développer économiquement. Lors de discussions à la Table régionale de transport ferroviaire, l’idée de construire un Centre multiservice ferroviaire a émergé. Ce centre, qui créerait une dizaine d’emplois, permettrait de faire l’entretien, le transbordement, la location et l’entreposage de wagons. Des études de faisabilité et un plan d’affaires ont été réalisés, grâce à des fonds du ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation et à des fonds autonomes de la communauté, permettant d’évaluer les coûts du projet à 30 M$, dont 17 M$ pour une desserte ferroviaire, qui relierait le parc industriel de Mashteuiatsh au réseau du CN, offrant de belles occasions de développement. Le problème : la réalisation du projet est dépendante d’un autre projet, soit l’agrandissement du parc industriel. Depuis que Mashteuiatsh a été agrandie, en achetant des terres pour que la communauté débouche sur la route 169, cette dernière souhaite agrandir son parc industriel. Ce projet, évalué à plus de 12 M$, a été soumis à Services aux Autochtones Canada (SAC) pour obtenir du financement en 2019. « Il y avait une bonne collaboration pour développer un projet pilote du genre dans une communauté autochtone, mais le projet est toujours reporté », souligne Stacy Bossum. Étant donné que SAC n’a toujours pas confirmé de financement pour l’agrandissement du parc industriel, le projet de Centre multiservice ferroviaire est bloqué. En attendant des développements, Mashteuiatsh a décidé de mettre le projet sur la glace, en décembre dernier. Si le projet de CMAX Transport va de l’avant, Mashteuiatsh n’aurait pas à trouver 17 M$ pour construire une desserte ferroviaire. Une analyse plus approfondie sera nécessaire pour déterminer les montants à investir de manière plus précise. Guillaume Roy, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
The European Union will consider potential lessons from the recent frenzied trading by retail investors on Wall Street in its broad review of consumer protection in markets, a senior European Commission official said on Friday. The rise of retail investors in share trading is a trend that cannot be prevented but it has to be managed, said John Berrigan, head of the EU executive's financial services unit. Online trading came to the fore last month after retail investors following the Reddit forum WallStreetBets piled into GameStop Corp share via the Robinhood platform, sending the retailer's stock rocketing more than 1,000% at the expense of prominent investors who had bet against the stock.
(Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit) Mayor Drew Dilkens says Windsor's chief of police has made the decision to provide naloxone to all officers. In an interview with CBC Radio's Windsor Morning Friday, Dilkens said the decision was connected to the opening of the aquatic centre as a shelter for COVID-19-positive people who are experiencing homelessness. The emergency shelter has 24-hour policing which is being carried out by officers from various units, not just the divisions that were previously equipped with the overdose-reversing drug. "So I know she's going to make the decision to arm all of the officers at Windsor Police Service with Naloxone, and we've always said this will be a data-driven decision and that these changes will happen as the facts change, and guess what — the facts are changing." Dilkens, who is chair of the Windsor's police services board, said chief Pam Mizuno is doing "the right thing." CBC News reached out to Windsor police for an interview, but Mizuno was did not provide comment. There is no information available from police about the cost or timing of the naloxone rollout. In October, CBC News looked at Windsor police reports that showed officers were first to respond to an opioid overdose in at least 14 cases over a 13 month span. This meant that officers had to sometimes wait for paramedics before naloxone could be administered. On one occasion, officers waited 39 minutes for paramedics to arrive at a scene and administer naloxone to a woman, who then became conscious and responsive. 'Unfortunate that it took this long' In recent months, calls for emergency responders to carry naloxone have mounted amid the opioid overdose crisis. Among those advocating for officers to carry the drug included president of the Windsor Police Association Shawn McCurdy. He told CBC News Friday that he's pleased with the decision. "It's unfortunate that it took this long, but the right decision has been made now," he said. "It's a peace of mind now that we have this tool with us that hopefully we don't ever have to use but if we do, it's there." The Windsor Police Service is one of the last major units in the province to get approval to carry naloxone, he said. Currently, Windsor police have officers with three units — detention, city centre patrol and problem-oriented policing — that had access to the drug. City council unanimously voted earlier this year to direct the fire service to start carrying naloxone nasal spray kits. Lisa Valente, a member of Families Stop the Harm, says police having naloxone is the difference between life and death for many who overdose on opioids. There were 29 emergency room visits related to opioid overdoses in Windsor-Essex last month alone, according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. In 2019, 47 opioid overdose deaths in Windsor-Essex were reported by the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario. A member of a local harm reduction group, Family Stop the Harm, Lisa Valente said she was "happy" to hear the news, but notes that this was a long time coming. "I think it should have been approved a long time ago. We lost a lot of lives this year, we lost a lot of lives just in the past few weeks," she said. "The police having naloxone kits is the difference between living and dying ... When you call 911 police, ambulance, fire chances are police may be the first person there and if police have the kit and they have the opportunity to save somebody's life, that's huge... a lot of people are dying."
The City of Brampton’s independent internal audit mandate stresses the philosophy of improving operations within the City, emphasizing the highest level of due diligence and autonomy is applied when looking into the way public funds are used, free from any outside influence. However, shortly after CAO David Barrick arrived at City Hall following his firing from a Niagara conservation agency for mismanagement and a scathing Ontario ombudsman investigation report that implicated him in a fraudulent hiring process, the City’s top bureaucrat fired the head of internal audit, then moved the role from its independent reporting line to council and placed it under his authority. At least one councillor has expressed concern over Barrick’s takeover of another accountability mechanism. The mandate of internal audit was also quietly changed, removing its independence, the hallmark feature of any municipal audit department function. The structure no longer follows the recommended independent structure outlined by the association that represents municipal auditors. In September, following Barrick’s hiring in late 2019 and the immediate termination of former director of internal audit, Foruzan Velji, council approved a new audit charter that was quietly amended by staff to reflect the stark departure from the independence under the previous charter, approved in 2017. There are now concerns that Barrick is blocking audit and investigation work that would reveal disturbing behaviour directed by the CAO. Mayor Patrick Brown oversaw the process to hire Barrick, who has close ties to Brown through Conservative political circles. Despite all the evidence and years of reporting, Brown has denied that Barrick was implicated in the Niagara hiring scandal, even though the provincial ombudsman investigation, titled “Inside Job”, details his disturbing conduct. Sunny Kalkat had been hired by Barrick to take over the internal audit department after Velji departed days after the new CAO’s arrival. But two weeks ago, the public learned that Kalkat was suddenly no longer the head of internal audit, raising many questions about who is providing crucial oversight and whether the CAO is once again stripping away transparency and accountability inside CIty Hall. Last month, councillors expressed their frustration during a public meeting after Barrick had illegally removed the independent freedom of information function from the City clerk’s office (the accountability role reported directly to council) and quietly moved it under his authority, which was a violation of the bylaw outlining the function and the provincial legislation which states the municipal freedom of information role has to report either to council or someone appointed by council. Barrick was never given that role. Council voted to put the function back under the clerk’s office, reporting directly to elected members, not the CAO. While councillors expressed their frustration and concern during the public meeting over Barrick’s behaviour, Brown remained quiet. Now, questions are mounting about how Barrick has handled City Hall’s primary oversight mechanism, through the internal audit department. The CAO had the Charter that governs the audit function altered shortly after his arrival. The document now details a new reporting structure, stating audit reports will be shared with divisional heads or commissioners of a department, along with the CAO, before being presented to the council-led audit committee. “The CAO will be advised prior to Internal Audit sharing internal audit reports and/or related information with the Audit Committee.” These new guidelines created by staff, not council, run contrary to accepted best practices for municipal internal audit departments, which are supposed to be completely independent from the bureaucratic staff auditors are required to hold accountable. The Institute of Internal Auditors, which Ontario’s municipal auditors use for guidance, states, “The internal audit charter is a formal document that defines the internal audit activity's purpose, authority, and responsibility. The internal audit charter establishes the internal audit activity's position within the organization, including the nature of the chief audit executive’s functional reporting relationship with the board (council); authorizes access to records, personnel, and physical properties relevant to the performance of engagements; and defines the scope of internal audit activities. Final approval of the internal audit charter resides with the board (council).” Independence is the key to the function. “The chief audit executive must report to a level within the organization that allows the internal audit activity to fulfill its responsibilities,” the institute states. “The chief audit executive must confirm to the board (council), at least annually, the organizational independence of the internal audit activity.” Functional and administrative practices under the 2020 Internal Audit Charter are now under Barrick’s authority, after he moved all reporting lines out from under council and the audit committee. Before Barrick had the Charter altered, the prior version stated: “The Chief Audit Executive will report functionally to the Audit Committee and administratively to the CAO.” The organizational chart was changed and shows how internal audit is now under the CAO, whereas the previous chart had it under the council audit committee. The current Charter no longer follows the guidelines set out by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) which was previously used by the City of Brampton to establish its internal audit standards. In a report presenting the 2020 Charter, the importance of the IIA is acknowledged, and the guidelines the 2017 Charter was modeled after are included, but the final version of the current Charter does not include the suggested reporting structure. “Ideally [the charter] establishes reporting lines for the chief audit executive (CAE) that support that independence by reporting functionally to the governing body (or those charged with governance) and administratively to executive management,” the City audit report states, using guidelines from the IIA. This was an issue Councillor Jeff Bowman raised at the September 8 audit committee meeting when the item was first discussed. He said the auditor’s reports should come to council alone. “I have a major problem with that. That is not transparent… there's no way that should be happening.” Citizen member Iqbal Ali echoed Bowman’s concerns, questioning how the new reporting structure would guarantee the auditor could report to council without any fear of reprimand if a report casts staff in a negative light. Barrick said the new charter responds to what council asked staff to do: ensure it reflects the bylaws and legislation of the City. He did not explain what specific bylaws or legislation the charter lines up with. And he did not explain why he changed the Charter to remove the functional oversight of internal audit from council to himself, an obvious contradiction of the stated need for independence. All the investigation work internal audit does, to ensure staff are not abusing public trust, finances or their responsibilities, involves staff who report to Barrick. He oversees them and now also oversees the accountability mechanism meant to hold himself and other bureaucrats in check. Reporting directly to council would be a function of an auditor general, which the previous term of council decided against, he told audit committee. “With the director of internal audit function, they have to report somewhere and in this case, it's the CAO.” This is a direct contradiction of the guidelines for internal audit, and the Charter in place before Barrick’s arrival. Since stepping foot inside City Hall he has stripped away council’s mandated oversight role, on behalf of the public, in an alarming violation of bylaws and provincial legislation. When audits are presented to council, questions about any problems uncovered have to be answered by the staff responsible for any problems. Barrick said it’s difficult to answer these questions when the “operational awareness” is absent and staff don’t know what the issue at hand is. It’s unclear what he meant, as staff are always fully aware of their own behaviour and practices. Barrick claimed the director of internal audit reported to the CAO before he took the City’s top job in October 2019. “This is not new.” His claims are inaccurate. Barrick’s claims do not match up with the previous charter or the City’s organizational chart outlining the departmental structure. Currently, the internal audit department is listed under Barrick, where he claims it always has been. The City’s organizational chart from June 2020, and for the months prior, show the department stood on its own, with a reporting line to the council internal audit committee. When The Pointer asked the City about the changed structure, a spokesperson said the question was “not factual.” When images of the website were provided as evidence of the change to the audit reporting structure, the City did not respond. The Pointer tried numerous times to get clarification but no response was provided ahead of publication. The new Charter was created under Sunny Kalkat, the former director of internal audit. According to sources who spoke with The Pointer, Kalkat was let go from her position days before her contract was set to expire, recently. At this time, Richard Gervais, senior advisor for IT audit, is filling the position on an interim basis. A City spokesperson told The Pointer they can’t speak to the employment status of any City employees. Under the 2020 charter, the CAO is listed as being responsible for the “appointment, dismissal and remuneration of the Director of Internal Audit,” a task that typically is supposed to be overseen by council. Under the Charter approved in 2017, Council was given authority to "Approve decisions regarding the appointment and removal of the Chief Audit Executive"; and approval of "decisions relating to the remuneration of the Chief Audit Executive." It stated that, under the IIA guidelines: "The Chief Audit Executive will have unrestricted access to, and communicate and interact directly with, the audit committee, including private meetings without management present." Barrick has removed this independence, effectively cancelling the audit department's key accountability and oversight function. The IIA states council must ensure: "The internal audit activity must be free from interference in determining the scope of internal auditing, performing work, and communicating results. The chief audit executive must disclose such interference to the board (council) and discuss the implications." According to an internal email obtained by The Pointer, Barrick advised Council of the decision to release Kalkat on February 19. “In consultation with the chair and vice chair of audit committee, it is the most responsible course of action to fill such a position once City Council has deliberated and made a decision on the forthcoming report,” the email read. It goes on to say Kalkat’s contract with the City was fulfilled and it wasn’t extended because of council’s decision to explore “options for an auditor general model.” It’s unclear why Barrick thought the council request to explore another layer of oversight was grounds to not rehire the existing head of internal audit. Sources told The Pointer Kalkat did not serve the full duration of her contract. The idea of an auditor general function was initially introduced at the January 27 City Council meeting. Following allegations of widespread fraud under his watch, Brown asked staff to look at the possibility of creating a municipal ombudsman office. A municipal ombudsman would allow complaints to be filed against any staff members for a possible investigation. Councillors pointed out that an auditor general does not need complaints to investigate staff, and focuses their investigation on issues they deem important. Kalkat is the second internal auditor to vacate her position since Barrick was hired. Former director Foruzan Velji was let go in October 2019, a week after Barrick started, according to sources. Kalkat’s position was left vacant mere days before the Tuesday audit committee meeting last week, the first of four meetings that happen throughout the year. Her name was listed as the lead in three of the four reports that were part of the committee agenda. In the obtained internal email, Barrick states filling the position on an interim basis “is the most responsible course of action” until council decides on the position it wants to take. Kalkat’s vacancy comes as the corporate fraud prevention hotline has seen a dramatic rise in complaints. This function allows employees to anonymously make complaints regarding fraudulent activities in City Hall. Since the committee’s last meeting on November 24, the hotline received 29 complaints, the most reported since Kalkat was hired a year ago, making up a third of the 77 total complaints since the service was launched in 2016. Barrick acknowledged there are gaps in the types of complaints that are allowed to be investigated and said the corporate policy team is looking into the issue and examining how to best direct complaints. Some of the complaint reports have been “closed” but details were not provided during the discussion as to what each investigation uncovered or who was investigated. The Pointer will be following up on the reports that were closed without providing details during the public meeting. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @nida_zafar Tel: 416 890-7643 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Nida Zafar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
NYON, Switzerland — Former European champions Manchester United and AC Milan will meet in the round of 16 of the Europa League. Friday's draw sends Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to the English club where he played for two years, including the 2016-17 season when United won its only Europa League title. Seven-time European Cup winner Milan has never won the Europa League, or its predecessor the UEFA Cup -- the only continental title it has yet to win. Arsenal will face Olympiakos and goes back to Piraeus for its second straight game in the competition. Arsenal used the Olympiakos stadium as a neutral venue on Thursday to beat Benfica 3-2 in the “home” leg in the round of 32. Two-time UEFA Cup winner Tottenham plays the first leg at Dinamo Zagreb, and 1992 winner Ajax is at home first against Young Boys of Switzerland. Some venues could change due to national restrictions on travel and quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moulde is unlikely to play in Norway for the second leg against Granada of Spain. Molde played its round-of-32 “home” game against Hoffenheim at Villarreal’s stadium in Spain. First-leg games are on March 11 and return matches on March 18. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Court found government was entitled to use an emergency law to introduce the measures forcing residents indoors from 9 pm to 4:30 amView on euronews
A single voice could raise cash for health and art. The Raise Your Voice contest and virtual concert is a fundraiser focusing on both the Stevenson Memorial Hospital Foundation and the Gibson Centre. “We wanted to reach out to the community in this new safe world we’re living in and raise money for two very different causes,” said spokesperson Whitney Sallach. Sallach is urging amateur performers from Simcoe County to submit a song by March 14 before midnight for the June 3 virtual singing contest finale. Singers will be judged by Canadian musicians Marshall Dane Erin McCallum and Sophia Fracassi, who will also perform at the event. Contestants are asked to submit a sample of their singing, and assist the hospital and art centre by encouraging virtual concert ticket sales and the launch of the voting event. Three contestants will be chosen to sing at the virtual concert, and the grand prize winner will receive $1,000. Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
En cette année électorale, deux séances d’information se tiendront à la mi-mars à l’intention des Lavalloises intéressées à briguer les suffrages. «Je me présente aux élections municipales 2021» est le titre de ces rencontres virtuelles auxquelles participera la mairesse sortante à la municipalité de La Macaza, Céline Beauregard, qui partagera son expérience à titre d'élue. Organisées par le ministère des Affaires municipales en collaboration avec le Réseau des femmes des Laurentides (RFL), ces séances aborderont l’organisation municipale, le rôle des personnes élues et leur engagement en politique de même que le processus de mise en candidature. Une période de questions et d’échanges suivra. Cette initiative visant à augmenter la représentativité des femmes au sein des conseils municipaux s’inscrit dans le cadre de la campagne «Je me présente» dont l’objectif est de faire rayonner la démocratie en encourageant les gens à déposer leur candidature en vue des prochaines élections municipales du 7 novembre. À Laval, 8 des 21 postes de conseillers municipaux sont occupés par des femmes, soit 36 % des 22 élus que complète le maire. Les séances d’information sont prévues les mardi 16 mars de 12h à 13h30 et jeudi 18 mars entre 18h30 et 20h. Pour recevoir le lien Zoom pour se joindre à l'activité, il suffit de cliquer sur ce lien. Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
BERLIN — A Bavarian radio station apologized Friday for a host's comments comparing popular South Korean K-pop band BTS to the coronavirus, saying his choice of words had gone too far but was in no way meant to be “hurtful or racist.” The statement came after legions of fans accused the station's Matthias Matuschik of racism for his comments on the band's cover of Coldplay's “Fix You,” taking to social media using the hashtags #Bayern3Racist, #Bayern3Apologize and #RassismusBeiBayern3 which translates as “racism at Bayern3.” “Racism is not an option,” wrote one user, @Vroseeeee1 in a blunt tweet in English, German, Korean and Spanish. The uproar came after a live show Wednesday, in which Matuschik derided BTS's version of “Fix You” as “blasphemy” and compared the band to COVID-19, describing them as “some crappy virus that hopefully there will be a vaccine for soon as well.” He then dug his hole deeper as he tried to roll back the comment somewhat, saying “I have nothing against South Korea, you can’t accuse me of xenophobia only because this boyband is from South Korea... I have a car from South Korea. I have the coolest car around.” Then he went on to say that in penance for the cover, BTS “will be vacationing in North Korea for the next 20 years.” BTS, which debuted in 2013, became the biggest boy band in the world, selling out stadiums worldwide and delivering a video message at the U.N. General Assembly this year. Their songs, filled with intimate, socially conscious lyrics, are credited for their success. Unlike other K-pop bands that carefully maintain the personas created by their labels, BTS is known for its active engagement with fans — known as ARMY — through social media. BTS has over 33.1 million followers on Twitter. Offence at the comments didn't only come from South Korea, with many social media users in Germany and elsewhere immediately condemning them. “I know which radio station I won't be listening to anymore, bye @Bayern3,” wrote user @fairesvmns in a German-language post that included audio of Matuschik's comments. “I really don't need racism of this shape and form in 2021.” Many South Koreans living abroad expressed concerns that the remarks could incite anti-Asian violence, already on the rise in many places. “This is not just about #BTS, it is about so many Asian people who are dealing with extreme racism especially due to pandemic,” Hansl Chang, a South Korean who lives in Germany, tweeted. In the station's apology, it said that while Matuschik was “presenting his opinion in an ironic, exaggerated way and with exaggerated excitement, his words went too far and hurt the feelings of BTS fans. “But he — and he has assured us of this — in no way intended this. He just wanted to express his displeasure over the aforementioned cover version.” It noted that Matuschik has been involved in helping raise aid for refugees and has a “constant campaign against right-wing extremism” and has shown he is against xenophobia or racism in any form. “That does not change the fact that many of you found his statements to be hurtful or racist,” Bayern3 said. “We apologize for this in every way possible. We will work on the matter with Matthias and the team in detail again in the next few days.” ___ Juwon Park in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report. David Rising, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Bouncing back from months of retrenchment, America's consumers stepped up their spending by a solid 2.4% in January in a sign that the economy may be making a tentative recovery from the pandemic recession. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department also showed that personal incomes, which provide the fuel for spending, jumped 10% last month, boosted by cash payments most Americans received from the government. The January spending increase followed two straight monthly spending drops that had raised concerns that consumers, who power most of the economy, were hunkered down, too anxious to travel, shop and spend. Last month's sharp gain suggests that many people are growing more confident about spending, especially after receiving $600 checks that went to most adults last month in a federal economic aid package. The government also reported Friday that inflation by a measure preferred by the Federal Reserve rose a moderate 0.3% in December. That left prices up 1.5% over the past 12 months, well below the Fed’s 2% target. Besides receiving cash payments, many Americans who have managed to keep their jobs have also been saving money for several months. That could bode well for the economy later this year, once consumers feel more willing to spend, vaccinations are more widely distributed and some version of President Joe Biden’s new economic aid proposal is enacted. Concerns that a strengthening economy will accelerate inflation have sent bond yields surging. On Thursday, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note moved above 1.5% — a level not seen in more than a year and far above the 0.92% it was trading at only two months ago. The move raised alarms on Wall Street and ignited a deep selloff in the stock market. Some investors fear that rising interest rates and the threat of inflation might lead the Fed to raise its benchmark short-term rate too quickly and potentially derail the economy. The tame inflation figure in Friday's report from the government shows that so far, price increases are mostly mild. In testimony to Congress this week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell downplayed the inflation risk and instead underscored the economy’s struggles. Layoffs are still high. And 10 million jobs remain lost to the pandemic that erupted nearly a year ago. That’s a deeper job loss than was inflicted by the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Still, despite the weakened job market, key sectors of the economy are showing signs of picking up as vaccinations increase and government rescue aid works its way through the economy. The Fed’s ultra-low-rate policy is providing important support as well. Retail sales soared last month. Factory output also rose and has nearly regained its pre-pandemic levels. And sales of newly built homes jumped in January. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
(City of Fredericton - image credit) The City of Fredericton has established new terms for the role of its poet laureate in an effort to avoid controversy on council. The role has been in question since former poet laureate Jenna Lyn Albert read a poem about abortion rights at a council meeting in September, which some councillors said was too political. Since then, councillors have had several discussions about how often the poet should read, what the poet should read, and how much the poet should be paid. "I think from day one it was clear that everyone thought that the poet laureate was an important role for the city," said Henri Mallet, chair of the liveable communities committee, which voted unanimously to pass the new terms. Now the Poet Laureate will have to compose and present six original poems, regularly engage with the community through events, and propose and deliver a legacy project, which will be left up to the poet laureate. The pay for the position will also go $2,000 to $5,000 a year for two years, and there will be extra compensation for readings beyond the mandated number. Councillor Stephen Chase hopes the new measures will help to alleviate any contention. "Learning from the experience that we had with the last go round on a poet laureate, we don't need anything that's going to generate more controversy," he said. "I think the terms of reference will speak to that." The laureate will not have to read at every council meeting, but council may invite the poet laureate when appropriate. Jenna Lyn Albert said she welcomes the new terms for the role, but said not having the poet read at every meeting leaves a gap. "I felt like it really added something to council meetings, not everyone's voice can be heard on a city council, not everyone's represented. So having that poem, that ability to reflect on certain themes or issues was really valuable," Albert said. The terms of reference still need to be approved by council. The city estimates it will still take a few months before a new poet laureate is hired.
Digital assets under management across exchange-traded products doubled this month to a record $43.9 billion, researcher CryptoCompare said on Friday, underscoring soaring interest in securities that track digital currencies. Bitcoin has leapt over 60% this year, hitting an all-time high of $58,354 this month as mainstream companies such as Tesla Inc and Mastercard Inc embraced cryptocurrencies. Still, daily trading volumes across all varieties of exchange-traded products involving cryptocurrencies slumped 38% in February from a month earlier to $936 million, CryptoCompare said in a research report.