Toronto-based artist Robert Small has sketched notable Black Canadians for a legacy poster every February since Black History Month was officially recognized in 1995.
Toronto-based artist Robert Small has sketched notable Black Canadians for a legacy poster every February since Black History Month was officially recognized in 1995.
China's medical products regulator said on Thursday that it had approved two more COVID-19 vaccines for public use, raising the number of domestically produced vaccines that can be used in China to four. The two newly cleared vaccines are made by CanSino Biologics Inc (CanSinoBIO) and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm). They join a vaccine from Sinovac Biotech approved earlier this month, and another from Sinopharm's Beijing unit approved last year.
Le président de la Fédération des clubs de motoneigistes du Québec (FCMQ), Réal Camiré, rejette du revers de la main, les critiques exprimées par les dirigeants de trois clubs du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean au sujet de la mise en application du nouveau modèle de financement Objectif 2020. En entrevue avec Le Quotidien, M. Camiré a expliqué que la décision d’établir un nouveau modèle destiné à mieux répartir les revenus des droits d’accès entre les clubs de la province a été prise au congrès de 2018 et que, depuis, beaucoup de travail de consultation et d’information a été réalisé pour son peaufinement. « Il y a 10 clubs sur 13 qui ont embarqué sur une base volontaire, dans votre région. Tout a été expliqué lors de réunions régionales annuelles. On a donné tous les détails, les paramètres, le paiement par kilomètre. Ils ont présenté ça à leur conseil d’administration et ç’a été accepté », déclare-t-il. Les directions de clubs riches savaient au départ qu’il y aurait des fluctuations à la baisse dans les flux de trésorerie et que les surplus engendrés dans le passé seraient beaucoup moindres parce que l’intention est de mieux répartir la richesse, explique-t-il. M. Camiré ajoute qu’il existe du mécontentement en raison des faibles précipitations de neige dans certains secteurs de la région, touchant deux ou trois clubs, sauf que les autres clubs voient leurs finances stabilisées et améliorées. En ce qui a trait à la mécanique des paiements du surfaçage et le 200 $ du kilomètre reconnu, M. Camiré affirme que les opérations se déroulent rondement, les clubs n’ayant qu’à produire leur rapport mensuellement pour recevoir un paiement rapide. Les revenus des droits d’accès sont distribués en trois versements avant les Fêtes jusqu’à la mi-décembre, par versements électroniques, ce qui évite aux clubs d’avoir à mobiliser des bénévoles pour cueillir les fonds comme ça se faisait dans le passé. Un des aspects que n’ont pas fait ressortir les clubs récalcitrants, selon lui, est que dans le nouveau modèle, la FCMQ accorde désormais du financement aux clubs pour le remplacement des surfaceuses (90 %), la réparation des ponts et ponceaux jusqu’à 100 %, les réparations pour deux surfaceuses entre 75 % et 100 %, etc. Selon lui, lorsqu’il faut parler du nouveau modèle, il est important de mettre dans la balance tous les avantages et critères. Le président de la FCMQ se dit prêt à écouter les dirigeants de clubs qui ont des critiques à formuler, mais il n’est pas question de faire marche arrière. « Est-ce que deux ou trois clubs qui ne sont pas satisfaits vont faire revirer la situation lorsque 33 clubs sont satisfaits? Il y a des situations particulières au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. » Parmi ces situations qui ne font pas partie du nouveau modèle, M. Camiré fait référence aux compensations aux agriculteurs accordés pour les droits de passage par les instances municipales de Saguenay jusqu’à 100 000 $. Pas question de soutenir les clubs qui voudraient maintenir des relais à même leurs fonds. En ce qui a trait aux prétentions d’un club qui se plaint beaucoup au Saguenay, M. Camiré soutient qu’après vérification, il y aura une différence de 20 000 $ sur les revenus dans le nouveau modèle. Ceux qui prétendent qu’il en coûte 120 $ de l’heure pour le fonctionnement d’une surfaceuse doivent être questionnés afin de déterminer si, dans le calcul, on inclut les frais de fonctionnement de garages, selon lui, alors que certains clubs n’en disposent pas. Selon lui, le 70 $ du kilomètre couvre le taux horaire d’un opérateur à 20 $ et le 50 $ pour les frais de fonctionnement de la surfaceuse. Selon le président de la FCMQ, toutes les pierres doivent être retournées puisque l’argent payé par les motoneigistes doit avant tout servir au développement et l’entretien des sentiers. Ceci dit, M. Camiré se montre ouvert à ce que le modèle puisse être adapté aux réalités de certaines régions et revalidé. Il est possible que certains clubs aient été mal évalués. M. Camiré et son directeur général, Stéphane Desroches, auront l’occasion de discuter avec les directions des clubs régionaux, puisqu’ils seront de passage dans la région pendant trois jours, à compter de lundi, afin d’effectuer une virée dans le haut du Lac-Saint-Jean et sur les Monts-Valin. Dans les derniers jours, les conseils d’administration des clubs se sont rencontrés en prévision d’une rencontre. C’est le cas pour le Club du Fjord et le Club Lac-Saint-Jean. Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Queen’s Park is set to appoint a third party to investigate allegations of anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination at the Peel Children’s Aid Society (CAS). The office of Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues, confirmed to The Pointer that the wheels are in motion to facilitate an operational review. “In October last year, the ministry became aware of a report regarding anti-Black racism towards staff at Peel CAS,” Hannah Anderson, director of communications for Dunlop’s office, told The Pointer. “The report raised concerns about the society’s leadership and workplace culture. Since receiving a copy of the report, the ministry has been working closely with the society to understand their plans to address these concerns.” The move comes after a report last year written for the union, CUPE 4914, described a culture of fear within the organization, where Black staff, who described their marginalization, raised concerns over the impacts of systemic discrimination within Peel CAS. It is an organization responsible for providing care to some of Peel’s most vulnerable residents, in a region that is overwhelmingly non-white. Recent findings of widespread anti-Black racism were particularly disturbing for an organization that in 2019 was duty-bound to look after a large number of Black children – 39 out of 189 children in care at Peel CAS were Black, according to data provided by the organization in December. That was 21 percent of all children in the organization’s care a little over a year ago. The fear of widespread discrimination running through an organization that has to work with schools, police and, ultimately, families in the community, to ensure potentially traumatic decisions are made with the utmost of care and consideration, in a framework grounded in equity and safety, has now led to the Province’s intervention. In the union report, staff describe a divide between management and leadership. The CUPE 4914 document references nepotism within the organization and says Black staff see senior leadership as “untrustworthy” when handling their concerns. The report articulates management “has no picture of what is happening to or being experienced by Black staff.” After positioning itself as a leader and making anti-oppression a primary goal, some think the current leadership is dining out on past success, when a former employee led a range of progressive initiatives. “As much as Peel is part of a very diverse environment and culture and the agency has done a lot of work in previous years to support diversity, equity and inclusion, a lot of that stopped,” one staff member told The Pointer last year. Employees asked to not be identified. “We did the great work, we became great leaders and we stopped the things that made us leaders.” When Peel CAS was contacted by The Pointer last year about the concerns raised by staff and the union report, it did not respond to questions about the Province's One Vision One Voice initiative, which addresses the over-representation of Black children in Ontario's child-welfare system and the range of discriminatory attitudes within institutions such as education and policing that often lead to over-reporting on Black children. The lack of concern around these potentially destructive biases raised questions about whether the agency is aware of best practices in the sector to minimize the potentially harmful impact of systemic, institutionalized stereotypes and other attitudes entrenched within referring organizations. A failure to root out referrals based on racial prejudice lands hardest on Black frontline staff, employees told The Pointer in December. Unable to decline work from a manager, they find themselves aligned with police or principals in a situation they may not think merits child-protection services. Without open communication between managers and frontline workers — a professional environment where everyone feels they can speak their mind — staff can find themselves stuck. “We [Peel CAS] are not actively challenging the school board and the police, we are kind of just going along with them,” one staff member said. “We’re going along with the nonsense, so we are part of the problem. We pretend we are good for the community and then we don’t understand why the community can’t stand us. But we are aligned with the same processes that oppress them.” It can have a serious impact on people’s mental health. “You need your management to be behind you because, at the end of the day, we’re not decision making staff,” one of the employees added. “We need people in decision making positions who can help us. I cannot just push back against the principal without my supervisor’s support. Half the time, it’s me stuck between the school board and my supervisor.” To begin to solve the problem, staff and the authors of the CUPE 4914 report asked for clear policies to be put in place. The alarming union report was produced after a series of conversations facilitated by Breakthrough Counselling and Wellness, which focused on the experiences of Black staff. Concerns raised by staff during those meetings were aggregated and compiled, alongside recommendations and analysis to complete the report. The recommendations in the CUPE 4914 report were wide-ranging and included an audit of the organization by a third party, a review that would go beyond the interviews undertaken by Breakthrough Counselling and Wellness. At the end of 2020, senior leaders at Peel CAS said they would use the report as “a guide” but staff and union representatives feared they would commission their own favourable report that risked erasing the blunt assessments captured in the disturbing CUPE 4914 document. Unable to come to a solution together, and with little trust on either side, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services will now step in. The government will appoint a third party to review Peel CAS for workplace issues, policies and practices that may contribute to systemic racism within the organization. It will also assess if Peel CAS remains in compliance with its legislated duties to children in the region. The Province’s move has been acknowledged and welcomed by Peel CAS’ directors, who appear to have read the findings in CUPE 4914’s report differently. “We became aware of staff experiences related to systemic racism and anti-Black racism in our workplace and have recognized that we are not immune from systemic bias and racism,” Juliet Jackson, president of the board of directors, wrote in a statement. She did not allude to the serious concerns about senior leadership raised by staff and echoed by the Province. Rav Bains, CEO of Peel CAS, who has authority over senior leadership and staff, has not released a public statement. When the union work around issues of systemic discrimination was launched, Bains and senior staff at Peel CAS said they were also launching their own review, and claimed their move was done independently and proactively. Speaking to The Pointer late last year in response to the CUPE 4914 report’s revelations about the organization he runs, Bains admitted failings and claimed steps had been taken to address them. But he could not name any. He acknowledged systemic issues that needed to be addressed without offering a detailed understanding or explicit plans to address the situation. Staff told The Pointer late last year that a number of progressive actions by former employee Kike Ojo-Thompson, who spearheaded a range of effective initiatives to eradicate systemic barriers, were sidelined by Bains shortly after she left the organization in 2015. In December, some members of CUPE 4914 expressed concern Peel CAS was trying to also sideline their report by commissioning a more favourable investigation of their own. “Unfortunately, Peel CAS statements regarding their commitment to tackle anti-Black racism are performative, corporate, unilateral and reflect their consistent top-down approach,” the union said at the time. “It's self serving at best and there is a large discrepancy between the information Peel CAS relays to the media/public about their commitments and action plans and how they try to suppress, silence and control the Black voices internally.” Bains disagreed. He did not directly answer a question about a specific recommendation in the union report (to review senior staff performance with an equity lens) and if it would be followed, but said a new report would “not replace anything”. Chima Nsitem, Peel CAS director of diversity, equity and inclusion, said the report senior staff planned “is going to be used as a guide”. In a 55-minute interview with The Pointer in December, confronted with the findings of the union report and experiences of staff, Bains and Nsitem admitted shortcomings but also deflected many questions: they acknowledged the organization has work to do, but said they’re not alone on this front. Achievements were lauded alongside an acceptance that work is incomplete. “Bullying, racism, anti-Black racism have no place in our organization,” Bains said in December. “Does that mean we don’t have more work to do? Like every institution, there’s more work to do, including the media, including all the other systems. So we’ve said that up front.” The union report highlighted concerns raised by staff that leadership consistently deny any problems around systemic racism or other forms of discrimination within the organization. “We don’t want to give you the impression of either being defensive or somehow we’ve got a perfect system or that we have everything buttoned down,” Bains said. “I think that would be a mistake for us. There’s always work to be done.” He did not lay out what this work would be or provide any details of a specific strategy to address the issues raised in the union report. Under Bains’ leadership, a watchdog group (the Board Diversity Monitoring Committee) was disbanded and allyship sessions, designed to help non-Black staff to understand their role in fighting anti-Black racism, were discontinued. Bains defended dissolving the committee and suspending the allyship programs, which Peel CAS has promised to bring back. He said they were “thoughtful” and “gentle” decisions, designed to “integrate diversity and equity into everything we do”. The union has been steadfast in its assessment of Bains and his leadership, describing his claims of being an ally as “performative”. Now, the Province is stepping in. But concerns have already been expressed about who will do the third-party review under the guidance of the ministry. A spokesperson for Peel CAS did not respond to specific questions, including who requested the external review, if a vendor had been selected or how long they expect the process to take. “It is important that the review be allowed to run its course,” the spokesperson said. Information provided by Queen’s Park suggests a deadlock between union and senior leadership led the government to step in. “As the society and the union have been unable to reach an agreement on the path forward, the ministry is now proceeding with an operational review,” Anderson explained. “We want to work with both parties and have them actively engaging in the process. This is key to meaningful, sustainable change. Ensuring all voices are heard is critical to an open and transparent process.” No timeline is yet available for the work. A final decision on which organization will complete the review has not been made. One organization already armed with experience in this area is Agree Incorporated, the group that completed a review of York CAS at the end of 2020. The review, announced after significant public backlash over reports detailing widespread problems within York CAS, came to several damning conclusions. “Based on its findings, Agree Inc. recommended that a new leadership direction and approach must be put in place quickly, and that actions must be taken to create engagement toward a better workplace culture that is respectful, healthy and collaborative,” the report said. The review of York CAS was conducted over roughly three months. The process was announced by the ministry on July 31 and then a vendor was selected, with Agree Inc. publishing its findings on November 13 last year. “We welcome the review and are confident that the results will lay the foundation for ongoing organizational improvement and development,” Jackson wrote on behalf of the Peel CAS board. “We recognize the need to work together to chart a path forward and believe that an independent process that is transparent and open is a critical element to that undertaking.” The Province confirmed a timeline will be published when a private-sector organization has been selected to conduct the investigation of Peel CAS. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 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. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
LONDON — Britain announced further sanctions Thursday against members of Myanmar’s military for their part in the coup that ousted the country’s elected government. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said six more top generals face sanctions for serious human rights violations, in addition to 19 others previously listed by the U.K. The new round of sanctions targets Myanmar’s State Administration Council, which was set up following the coup to exercise state functions. The measures immediately ban the generals, including Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, from travelling to Britain and will prevent U.K. businesses and institutions from dealing with their funds or economic resources in Britain. The British government added that it will ensure U.K. businesses do not trade with Myanmar’s military-owned companies. The government has said it was ending aid programs that sent money to the Myanmar government but that aid would still reach “the poorest and most vulnerable in Myanmar.” The U.K. is the ex-colonial ruler of Burma, as Myanmar was formerly known. The Myanmar military seized power on Feb. 1 and detained national leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy figures. The Associated Press
(Submitted by The Front Yard Flower Co. - image credit) Flower vendors are worried B.C.'s COVID-19 rules for farmers' markets could lead to greenhouses full of blooms going to waste. Farmers' markets are considered an essential service and have been allowed to continue operating throughout the pandemic. However, non-food vendors like potters, jewelry and soap makers and flower sellers are excluded from in-person sales. This rule was lifted for a time last summer before being reinstated in December. Flower farmers plan months ahead, ordering seeds and growing plants throughout the winter, said Rachel Ryall, who owns River and Sea Flowers in Ladner. "We planted the current flowers that will be blooming over the next month back in September and October, assuming things would be alright to sell them again," Ryall said. "I can't stop them from flowering. They're coming." Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition urging non-food vendors be allowed back. She has sold her flowers at the Vancouver Farmers Market for years and says the market has maintained strict rules throughout the pandemic to keep visitors and vendors safe. Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and she's worried about lost sales and wasted blooms — she says she's not equipped for large-scale delivery across the Lower Mainland. "I feel like maybe we've been forgotten, because we're not vegetable farmers, we're kind of a smaller segment of vendors," Dykstra said. Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition asking that non-food vendors be allowed back. Laura Smit, executive director of Vancouver Farmers Market, says although she is grateful the province has permitted markets to continue operating, it's never been made clear why non-food vendors aren't allowed. The farmers' market has been working since December to bring back non-food vendors, and she says if the rule is not overturned, it will have a big impact on the bottom line for flower vendors in particular. "Their product is absolutely seasonal," Smit said. "It's not something that is shelf-stable and can sit around to be sold later on in August. Literally the spring time is when these flower farmers are planning for, preparing for, and they don't understand why they can't come to market and we don't either." Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and Rose Dykstra is worried about lost sales and wasted blooms if she can't bring them to the market. In an email to CBC News, the B.C. Ministry of Health said the rule is in an effort to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission down, and added that non-food vendors can do online sales and pick-up orders. "The reason that food vendors are allowed is that farmers' markets are essential food and agriculture service providers," a spokesperson said. "The B.C. government will continue to listen to feedback from the community and stakeholders and adjust our response to support businesses as needed." Soap also not allowed — during a pandemic It's not just flower farmers who are concerned. Shea Hogan hopes he will be able to sell his natural bar soap at farmers' markets again this spring. The owner of PoCo Soap Co. says farmers' markets used to be a big part of his business and a way to build relationships with customers. He says it's ironic that, as a non-food vendor, he can't sell soap in a pandemic. He believes buying items from an outdoor farmers' market is among the safest ways to shop. "It was frustrating because other than being arbitrary and general, we're being told to wash our hands with soap and water," Hogan said. "And as a maker and seller of soap, to not be allowed to sell soap somewhere seems ... extra weird."
Voters in Placentia-St. Mary’s will have some more time to reflect on who they want to cast their vote for. Along with 17 other districts in the Avalon, voting for residents in Placentia-St. Mary’s has been delayed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the St. John’s Metro area. Meanwhile, Liberal incumbent Sherry Gambin-Walsh says her constituents have more than her word to hold her accountable; they have her record. “My record shows that I’ve brought millions of dollars to the district of Placentia-St. Mary’s, from $500 grants to million-dollar capital works projects,” said Gambin-Walsh, who has been the focus of two major controversies during her time in office: one involving former Liberal stalwart Eddie Joyce, whom she accused of bullying, and the other involving the leaking of cabinet information. “You should vote for me because I’m ready and available for you if you have an issue… I’m easy to access and I have no problem standing up and advocating for your issue.” Gambin-Walsh was elected in the 2015 provincial election and beat PC candidate Hilda Whalen in 2019 by just over 500 votes — a margin of about 10 percent. The margin was not quite as comfortable as her over 2,000 vote lead against PC candidate Judy Manning in 2015. Gambin-Walsh said residents in her district, which is geographically larger than most, have different concerns depending on where they live. For example, while employment on the Cape Shore is not a concern due to the landing of fishery boats in Branch, employment in St. Mary’s Bay area is a major issue. “We don’t have any good source of solid employment anymore,” said Gambin-Walsh. “Once upon a time, we did have a fish plant down in St. Mary’s. It’s dormant right now, but I do now that the operator is trying to get his license re-established. He hasn’t been successful yet, but I do really support that, because I have a significant number of people down there having to access programs, seek community enhancement programs and job creation programs, specifically because they have no other source of income. And to drive from Peter’s River to Tim Hortons in CBS for minimum wage, you’re in the negative, you’re not in the positive. The evidence is there. The dollar amount that has gone out in JCP this year alone is excessive, so that’s a problem in that area.” Another concern, is the defunct Admirals Beach fish plant, which “is currently falling into the ocean,” said Gambin-Walsh. “It’s going to cost anywhere from $700,000 to a million to get it down, and there’s no jobs created in taking it down because it will be tendered. There has been a study done that shows there are some environmental chemicals that are dangerous to the environment, so that’s an issue at Admirals Beach.” Meanwhile, residents throughout the district are worried about the future of Argentia and the White Rose offshore oil project, while residents in Dunville worry about the need for water infrastructure upgrades, estimated, said Gambin-Walsh, at about $10-11 million, while residents in Placentia wonder about the increased construction costs of a wellness centre. Across the district as a whole, residents decry the state of many provincial roads. “Roads, roads, roads, roads, roads, I’m constantly hearing about roads,” said Gambin-Walsh, who added that millions of provincial dollars have gone towards roads in the district over the years, but there are still roads that need to be done. Access to general and nurse practitioners is also an issue. “Another thing I’m hearing about, and this is something I’m experiencing myself, as my son is an individual with autism, is the access to GP’s,” said Gambin-Walsh. “People are having difficulty accessing GPs, and they’re having difficulty even accessing nurse practitioners to meet their needs.” Gambin-Walsh said constituents who do have access to family doctors and have been availing of virtual appointments during the pandemic have been mostly satisfied with the service, but there are still too many people without proper access to healthcare. “I have a number of constituents in my district who do not have access to a GP, and that is a problem, that is a huge problem,” Gambin-Walsh admitted. She said constituents haven’t raised concerns about her removal from cabinet last year following an RCMP investigation that showed she broke cabinet confidentially by leaking information regarding a promotion in the RNC. She was not charged, but Premier Andrew Furey did not reappoint her to cabinet. “With this RCMP investigation, constituents are not interested at all,” said Gambin-Walsh. “I was prepared and offering to answer questions at the door to my constituents directly, but they don’t want to hear about it, they don’t want to talk about it, they’re not interested.” Gambin-Walsh said constituents are, however, eager to hear details about her involvement in 2018 bullying allegations against former Liberal MHA Eddie Joyce. At the time Joyce, seen by many political watchers as perhaps the loyalist Liberal in the province having relinquished his seat in 1989 so Clyde Wells could serve in the legislature as Premier, was serving as Minister of Municipal Affairs and charged with making tough decisions about a sea of demands coming in from MHAs for funding from their towns. Gambin-Walsh said constituents are happy that she spoke up against Joyce, and that some have even gone so far as to read the official reports. After then Premier Dwight Ball allegedly failed to keep a private promise to back Joyce against the charges of bullying, he left the Liberal party and sat as an Independent, getting re-elected without party affiliation in 2019. “The 2018 situation with MHA Joyce, that got get a bit of attention, and people were very curious and did ask me a fair bit about that. They are interested in bullying and harassment though. And they’re happy that I spoke up against it,” said Gambin-Walsh. “When I look at my social media, my Twitter and my Facebook, when I see anyone saying something negative, when I check out their account, it’s ether a troll account or the person doesn’t live in my district.”. As to Furey, Gambin-Walsh said he is a more than capable leader. She added that despite cries from the PC and NDP that Furey should not have called the election during a pandemic or during the winter, people are actually more engaged in this election than in previous years. “I am finding that people are more interested in this election than they were in ’15 and ’19,” she said. “This time, people are truly interested in what’s happening with COVID, they’re interested in the economy, they’re interested in chatting with me and getting my opinion… I think, now I could be wrong, but I think we’re going to have a very high turn out by the end of this election.” Gambin-Walsh said there’s been another noticeable difference in this year’s campaign. “I can’t keep a sign up. I have about 50 signs gone. They’re destroyed. People have called and said they’re beat up and up in the dump,” said Gambin-Walsh, adding some constituents have had to display their signs in shed windows for fear of having them removed — again. “I’ve been firm in telling my volunteers not to touch the other signs, regardless of the number of signs we lose. Just keep going… this is not going to slow us down.” Voters will choose between Gambin-Walsh, PC candidate Calvin Manning, and NL Alliance hopeful Clem Whittle. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Caster Semenya is going to the European Court of Human Rights to challenge “discriminatory” rules that prohibit her from competing in certain track events because of her high natural testosterone, her lawyers said Thursday. The two-time Olympic champion in the 800 metres has already lost two legal appeals against World Athletics' regulations that force her to medically lower her natural testosterone level if she wants to run in women's races from 400 metres to one mile. The South African's lawyers said there's been a “violation of her rights” and wants the human rights court to examine the rules. Semenya has one of a number of conditions known as differences of sex development. Although she has never publicly released details of her condition, World Athletics has controversially referred to her as “biologically male” in previous legal proceedings, a description that angered Semenya. Semenya has the typical male XY chromosome pattern and levels of testosterone that are much higher then the typical female range, World Athletics says. The track and field body says that gives her and other athletes like her an unfair advantage over other female runners. The 30-year-old Semenya was legally identified as female at birth and has identified as female her whole life. She says her testosterone is merely a genetic gift. The regulations have been fiercely criticized, mainly because of the “treatment” options World Athletics gives to allow affected athletes to compete. They have one of three options to lower their testosterone levels: Taking daily contraceptive pills, using hormone-blocking injections, or having surgery. “The regulations require these women to undergo humiliating and invasive physical examinations followed by harmful and experimental medical procedures if they wish to compete internationally in women’s events between 400m and one mile, the exact range in which Ms. Semenya specializes,” Semenya's lawyers said. World Athletics, which was then known as the IAAF, announced in 2018 it would introduce the rules. Semenya challenged them and lost at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2019. She also lost a second appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal last year. That second case will be central to her appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. “Caster asks the Court to find that Switzerland has failed in its positive obligations to protect her against the violation of her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights," her lawyers said. They said the track body's rules were “discriminatory attempts to restrict the ability of certain women to participate in female athletics competitions.” Because of her refusal to lower her natural testosterone, Semenya has been barred from running in the 800 since 2019, when she was the dominant runner in the world over two laps. She is currently not allowed to run her favourite race — the race she has won two Olympic golds and three world titles in — at any major event. Semenya is not the only athlete affected. Two other Olympic medallists from Africa, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, have said they are also bound by the rules. They also said they would refuse to undergo medical intervention to reduce their testosterone levels. “I hope the European court will put an end to the longstanding human rights violations by World Athletics against women athletes," Semenya said in a statement. "All we ask is to be allowed to run free, for once and for all." Semenya, Niyonsaba and Wambui finished 1-2-3 in the 800 metres at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, strengthening World Athletics' argument that their medical conditions gave them an athletic advantage over other women. It's unclear if the human rights court would be able to hear Semenya's case before the delayed Tokyo Olympics, which might be Semenya's last. The games are set to open on July 23. Previous sports cases that have gone to the European Court of Human Rights have taken years to be decided. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Gerald Imray, The Associated Press
SARAJEVO, Bosnia — A Bosnian court sentenced on Thursday a Bosnian Muslim man to six years in prison on charges that he fought for the Islamic State group in Syria. Jasmin Keserovic, who has spent nearly seven years in Syria, was also charged with inciting others to take part in terrorist activities. Judges said that by publicly calling on Muslims to kill Christian soldiers and civilians alike, the defendant “demonstrated specific ruthlessness.” Hudges rejected defence claims that Keserovic was in Syria for charity work to help the local population amid the war. He was part of a group of seven Bosnian men flown back to Bosnia from Syria on a U.S. Air Force flight in December 2019 along with 18 women and children. In 2014, Bosnia became the first country in Europe to introduce prison terms for its citizens who fought abroad. Fighters who have since returned to the country were tried and, in most cases, sentenced to prison. The Associated Press
His work now is on the city streets and his tool is his mobile phone linked to Facebook Live - streaming the nationwide protests against the coup that toppled elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ended a decade of tentative democratic reforms. "Despite the difficulties, citizen journalists and media are posting in every possible way," Thar Lon Zaung Htet, 37, told Reuters. With established media under ever greater pressure, the story of Myanmar's anti-coup protests is being shaped for its people and the world by journalists and citizens streaming and sharing snippets of video and pictures.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece's prime minister on Thursday promised sweeping changes to the country's laws and labour regulations to combat sexual abuse and misconduct in the wake of an assault allegation made by Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou that has prompted more cases and triggered a nationwide debate. Speaking in parliament, conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government will introduce tougher sentencing guidelines, propose changes to statute-of-limitation rules for cases involving minors, and create a dedicated government agency to deal with abuse claims in workplaces and organized youth activities. Multiple cases of alleged sexual misconduct and abuse have been made public since former Olympian Bekatorou alleged she was sexually assaulted by a national sailing federation official in 1998. The people coming forward with accusations include other athletes, current and former university students, and stage actors. Mitsotakis said reports that unaccompanied minors were vulnerable to abuse at migrant camps on Greek islands also motivated him to take action. “There were children at the camps...and in Greek cities that were being exploited for sex for 5 and 10 euros ($6-12),” the prime minister told lawmakers. He noted that children and teenagers travelling alone no longer live at the island camps or are held in police cells for protection but have supervised, separate living quarters. The reports include a 51-page document from the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University in 2017 that said, citing camp informants, there were serious indications of child abuse at Greek migrant camps. Separately Thursday, a former director of Greece’s National Theatre appeared before a public prosecutor to respond to child abuse allegations. The 56-year-old suspect, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested Saturday and remains in police custody. Opposition parties have demanded that Mitsotakis replace his culture minister over the alleged scandal. A government official told the AP Thursday that new sentencing guidelines and details of the proposed legal changes would be announced “in the coming days.” ___ Follow Gatopoulos at https://twitter.com/dgatopoulos Derek Gatopoulos, The Associated Press
Canada's Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced late Wednesday that the country's new Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Art McDonald, who took on the role last month, has stepped aside from his post as an investigation is conducted by the force's national investigation service. Mercedes Stephenson reports on what we know so far.
(Shane Ross/CBC - image credit) Snowy, windy weather that cancelled schools on Prince Edward Island Thursday will persist throughout the evening and into tomorrow in some areas, says CBC P.E.I. meteorologist Jay Scotland. See a full list of cancellations on Storm Centre. Winds kicked up Thursday afternoon across the Island, blowing around falling snow, reducing visibility on roads and leading to wind restrictions on Confederation Bridge, which have since been lifted. Some highways were covered or partly covered in snow. Plows, salters and sanders are out across the province. "My main concern tonight is blowing snow," Scotland said. "Flurries will persist over central and eastern areas tonight and, with northwest winds from 30 to 60 km/h or more, visibility may be reduced, particularly for exposed (rural) areas." Chilly Friday forecast Flurries will wrap up later tonight up west, he said, but may linger into the morning hours for central P.E.I. For eastern Kings, the flurries could persist into mid-afternoon Friday and northwest winds will remain quite strong — 25-50 km/h or more — with blowing snow possible. "My other concern is for icy patches on roads, sidewalks and walkways as today's warmer temperatures have left a lot of standing water on the ground," Scotland said. "Temperatures will drop big time tonight so watch for icy surfaces." Friday will be pretty sunny for much of the Island, but it will be chilly and the winds will be blustery so wind chill values below –20 in the morning and near –20 in the afternoon. More from CBC P.E.I.
(Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit) The executive director of the Downtown Mission says a new emergency shelter for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 is opening up to the city's most vulnerable. Rev. Ron Dunn said on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning that people will begin moving to the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre on Thursday. "My staff are going to be staffing it mainly and so many of them are going to be reporting there this morning," he told host Tony Doucette. Clients are expected to start moving in Thursday afternoon. The opening of the shelter was prompted by large COVID-19 outbreaks among people experiencing homelessness in Windsor-Essex. As of Wednesday, there are 81 cases among clients and staff at the Downtown Mission, and 34 related to an outbreak at the Salvation Army shelter. The city's existing isolation and recovery shelter had become full amid the outbreaks, creating a scramble to accomodate those affected. Windsor's International Aquatic and Training Centre is being transformed into an emergency shelter. When the city announced that a second space would be opening up to respond to the crisis, officials initially said Wednesday would be the target date but as of that afternoon, it had still not opened and the city gave no indication of why the opening was delayed or when it may be opened. The Mission's two main locations were shut down officially by order of the health unit earlier this week, though the organization had already taken that step and moved into the former Windsor Public Library site on Ouellette Avenue. Dunn said on Windsor Morning that screening measures and other protocols were in place prior to the outbreak and the Mission was in contact with city officials and the health unit on outbreak plans. Nonetheless, Dunn said he felt it was inevitable that someone at the shelter would contract COVID-19. Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the region, has previously noted the vulnerabilities within the homeless population to COVID-19, and challenges in preventing transmission.
Coinbase, the biggest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, moved a step closer to listing on the Nasdaq with a filing on Thursday to go public, revealing that it had swung into profit last year as bitcoin surged. Approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a listing would represent a landmark victory for cryptocurrency advocates, vying for mainstream endorsement for a sector which has struggled to win the trust of mainstream investors, regulators and the general public. It would pave the way for the highest-profile share listing of a company whose business is primarily focused around the trading of cryptocurrencies, and could also be seen as a tacit regulatory approval of assets traded on its platform.
ROME — Italy paid tribute Thursday to its ambassador to Congo and his bodyguard who were killed in an attack on a U.N. convoy, honouring them with a state funeral and prayers for peace in Congo and all nations “torn by war and violence.” Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the pope’s vicar for Rome, presided over the solemn funeral at the Santa Maria degli Angeli basilica that was attended by Premier Mario Draghi, top lawmakers, representatives of the armed forces and relatives of the young men. Ambassador Luca Attanasio and Carabiniere paramilitary officer Vittorio Iacovacci were killed Monday north of Goma when an armed group stopped them as they travelled in a two-car convoy to a World Food Program school feeding project. WFP's Congolese driver, Moustapha Milambo, was also killed in the attack. Italy has formally asked the U.N. for an inquiry into what happened amid questions about whether the U.N. security arrangements were sufficient for the mission. In his eulogy, De Donatis decried the “stupid and ferocious” attack and said it was right that Italy, Congo and the community of nations weep over such violence that “tore Luca and Vittorio from this world." “Let us pray together that today is a day in which the prayer for peace in Congo and in all nations torn by various forms of war and violence is raised to heaven," he said. He denounced how so many Congolese feel the constant threat of danger from rebel groups “knocking at their door,” saying the country had been “cruelly devastated by violence that sees their children die every day.” But he praised the men for working for peace and looking out for others “even at the cost of their own lives.” “If this the fate of peace workers, what will be the fate of the rest of us?” he asked. The funeral, carried live on state RAI television, featured masked Carabinieri officers as pallbearers and altar servers, with a military band performing Chopin’s haunting “Funeral March” as the flag-draped coffins were carried in and out of the basilica. After the service, the socially-distanced crowd applauded as the two hearses pulled out of the piazza carrying the coffins for burial, flanked by a police escort. Attanasio is survived by his wife and three young daughters, at least one of whom attended the funeral, as well as his parents and siblings. Iacovacci is survived by his fiancee and other family members. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Stephen King spoke recently to The Associated Press recently about his new novel, “Later,” but he also covered topics ranging from the famous people who have turned up at his readings to what happens when he looks up his own name on the Internet. And he think he has a good idea for a novel about the pandemic. Some excerpts: —- SEARCHING FOR ‘STEPHEN KING’ “I have Googled my own name, and I love to see all the sorts of stuff that comes in. It’s a popular name in Australia, and there a lot of people with that name there who have been doing crimes: Stephen Kings who have set houses on fire and Stephen Kings who are bank robbers. That sort of thing. What I (also) see more and more are obituaries where so and so died at age 89 and he was a ‘big fan of Stephen King novels.’” —- SPECIAL GUESTS —- “Jill Biden showed up at a public event that I did. She was in the crowd, and she came backstage and had a couple of books she wanted signed for her and Joe. One time, I’m doing a reading in Seattle, and I’m looking at the crowd, 70-80 people. And I’m looking at this guy in the front row and he’s wearing workout pants, with a stripe down the side, and sneakers. And I’m thinking, ‘That guy looks really familiar.’ He was the lead singer of Pearl Jam (Eddie Vedder)." —- MAGIC CHILDREN “When I was writing ‘It,’ there was a 5-year-old kid, he was on my street in Bangor. He was sitting on the edge of the street and he had a stick and he was drawing in the dirt and talking to himself. And it looked like a kid who might be unconsciously summoning demons. And I thought to myself, ‘If I did that, if I sat down in the dirt with sticks and drew, the men in the white coats would come and take me away.’ We allow kids to be crazy. We allow kids to see whatever it is they see.” —- PANDEMIC FICTION — STORY IDEA “(What about) an alien invasion where the aliens seem to look like us, but have these tentacles and other metal things — and the masks would cover them up?” Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
Almost one year later, there has been little progress in the case against a man accused of holding a girl against her will at a remote northern Saskatchewan cabin. There have been numerous adjournments and delays in the case against Aaron Gardiner, 42, since his arrest in April 2020 because he has gone through about five lawyers. Gardiner has either fired the lawyers or they have withdrawn from representing him. He had another appearance scheduled in Meadow Lake Provincial Court Feb. 22 and the matter was adjourned to March 1. Gardiner remains in custody and is charged with unlawful confinement, assault, overcoming resistance, uttering threats, resisting arrest, possessing a firearm for a dangerous purpose, use of a firearm in commission of an indictable offence, proceeds of crime, and possession for the purpose of trafficking. Gardiner allegedly held a girl captive for four days at a remote cabin across from Île-à-la-Crosse Lake. A specialized RCMP tactical unit was flown to the isolated cabin by two military CH-146 Griffon helicopters to rescue the girl and arrest Gardiner. Three months after his arrest, police added more charges after more alleged victims came forward. In July 2020, police additionally charged Gardiner with four counts of sexual assault, three counts of forcible confinement, uttering threats, assault, reckless discharge of a firearm, use of a firearm in commission of an offence, obstruction and breach of an undertaking. The charges against Gardiner haven't been proven in court. Île-à-la-Crosse is about 380 kilometres north of Prince Albert. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Better Call Saul,” the prequel spinoff to the hugely successful series “Breaking Bad,” will begin production in New Mexico on its sixth and final season beginning in March. White Turtle Casting officials told the Albuquerque Journal that production will begin in the second week of March and the agency is looking for stand-ins for the series. Pre-production is currently underway, and the crew is being quarantined and tested for the upcoming start, the Journal reported Wednesday. Production originally was set for March 2020, but it was moved because of the pandemic. There will be 13 episodes in the final season, although no air date has been confirmed. “Better Call Saul” has been shot in New Mexico since 2015. The production has given nearly $178,000 to the state’s film programs. The Associated Press
(Jennifer Harris/submitted - image credit) Lalia Halfkenny was the first Black New Brunswick woman to graduate from an institute of higher education at a time when few Black Canadians had access to any schooling at all. Halfkenny was the only Black graduate in her class at the Acadia Ladies Seminary in 1889. Theresa Halfkenny, who believes she is likely a descendant, said stories of accomplishments like Lalia Halfkenny's need to be kept alive. "When we first found out and heard about it, we were like, 'Oh my gosh'," she said. Like Lalia, Theresa is from Dorchester. She moved to Amherst, N.S. years ago, where she still lives. Theresa Halfkenny is a likely descendant of Lalia Halfkenny. She is on the board of the Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association, where she focuses on cultural events and stresses the importance of valuing and sharing history. Halfkenny is on the board of the Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association, where she focuses on cultural education. She helps to organize cultural events, and speaks in schools stressing the importance of valuing and sharing history. "There's so much here that is so rich," she said. "Those of us that are involved in trying to keep this alive, it's been a little bit difficult because sometimes it's hard to get the youth to come on board with it." But Halfkenny said there is a renewed interest in Black history since conversations around anti-black racism have become part of mainstream conversation. "It's so important that we do that for our youth, but then it's also important that we do that for others in the community." She said everyone is worse off when Black history is erased from the history books. Halfkenny said she wasn't aware of Lalia Halfkenny's achievements until about ten years ago. That's when her story was rediscovered by Jennifer Harris, professor of English at the University of Waterloo. She encountered Lalia Halfkenny's name when she was researching historic Black families in the Sackville area. Because it's such a distinctive name, Harris started tracing the family. Jennifer Harris, professor at Waterloo University, said it took two years of research to put together Lalia Halfkenny's life story. "I came across this reference to a Lalia Halfkenny in an educational context and I was surprised because I'd never heard of her," said Harris. Other prominent educated Black families like the Winslow sisters who were the first women to graduate from the University of New Brunswick and Edwin Howard Borden, the first Black Nova Scotian to graduate from Acadia University had been written about, but not Halfkenny. "I wanted to know more," said Harris. After two years of pouring over microfilm, writing to archives and ordering records, she'd put together a story that seems to have gone untold for decades. Lalia Halfkenny was born to an unwed mother in 1870 in the Sackville area. Soon after, the family moved to Dorchester to live with relatives. Despite Lalia's difficult beginnings, the Halfkenny family had a reputation as skillful stonemasons. "They traveled and built all kinds of fabulous buildings in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Maine," said Harris. Little access to education At the time, schools in New Brunswick were segregated, often denying Black children access to an education. According to Harris, in Dorchester, "it was a little bit easier for Black New Brunswick families to get into the school system for a whole host of reasons." In her research Harris found that Dorchester was better of financially than many communities and it's possible the Halfkenny's reputation as skilled labourers gained them access. Whatever the reason, Harris said under the circumstances, for Halfkenny to continue on to Acadia Ladies Seminary, "she must have excelled." Harris said family support played a major factor in Halfkenny's schooling. It's who you know "Lalia Halfkenny probably got to go to the Acadia Ladies Seminary because her great uncle Yates Hamilton was the janitor," said Harris. "He was the much beloved janitor who had a wonderful relationship with the president and he sponsored her." Having a member of her family at the school most likely gave her access to education other Black families would not have had. Harris said proof of Halfkenny's academic excellence was found in newspapers of the time, that talked about her giving talks in Halifax. She wanted to continue her education at the Boston School of Elocution, but didn't. "I suspect it was a funding issue," said Harris. Ushered into the kitchen Instead, Halfkenny looked for work. "What we know is that for Black women of a certain level of education in the 19th Century in New Brunswick, it wasn't easy," said Harris. Twenty-eight banners have been affixed to light posts along Fredericton's Queen Street to celebrate New Brunswick's Black history, including one featuring Mary Matilda Winslow. She refers to a quote from Mary Matilda (Tilly) Winslow, who graduated from UNB a few decades after Halfkenny. "Whenever she went to apply for a job, she was ushered into the kitchen," said Harris. "This is someone who'd been top in her class and she just kept being taken to the back." Like Winslow, Halfkenny went on to find success in the United States, working in Virginia as a teacher. Tragic end Halfkenny's life was cut short when she died at the age of 26, most likely of consumption. Harris said the trail blazer volunteered in a home for African American families who were living in poverty. "It seems quite likely she contracted something there and died relatively young." Her early death is another reason why Halfkenny's story may have faded for a time, but Harris says her death didn't go unnoticed. Records show that her students showed up at the train station and sang as her coffin was loaded aboard. "Which is heartbreaking," said Harris. Halfkenny's body was returned to Nova Scotia, "where there was a recognition of her life and her contributions." "She was very much a valued and beloved individual who made a difference in people's lives, even in such a short time frame," said Harris. Harris continues to study Black history in the Maritimes, but said there are others doing important work too. She notes Harvey Amani Whitfield at the University of Vermont and the founding director of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design's Institute for the Study of Canadian Slavery, Charmaine Nelson. Theresa Halfkenny said she's glad the work is being done to rediscover, and preserve the region's rich Black history. She's doing her part as well on a small scale with her own children and community, by putting a together a history of her own life. "I notice there are pieces of history that even I never shared with them, and so now they're asking questions," said Halfkenny. "I do believe we all have a story to tell and we all have something to offer and we always have things that were done that did contribute to the communities that we live in."
A fleet of yellow Mercedes taxis lines up outside Gaza's newly reopened Rafah crossing into Egypt, polished again and ready to roll, but with no idea for how long. Uncertainty is a fact of life in the Palestinian border town, where 4,500 people have crossed into Egypt in the two weeks since one of Gaza's few lifelines to the outside world swung open on Feb. 9. The opening eased the years-long blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the coastal strip, compounded by measures imposed by all sides to halt the spread of COVID-19.