NASA scientists erupted in cheers as the Mars Perseverance touched down on the red planet in what the space agency called the mission's riskiest manoeuvre yet. Within seconds, it sent back its very first image.
NASA scientists erupted in cheers as the Mars Perseverance touched down on the red planet in what the space agency called the mission's riskiest manoeuvre yet. Within seconds, it sent back its very first image.
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Fueled by Black turnout, Democrats scored stunning wins in Georgia in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Now, Republicans are trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. GOP lawmakers in the once reliably red state are rolling out an aggressive slate of voting legislation that critics argue is tailored to curtail the power of Black voters and undo years of work by Stacey Abrams and others to increase engagement among people of colour, including Latino and Asian American communities. The proposals are similar to those pushed by Republicans in other battleground states: adding barriers to mail-in and early voting, major factors in helping Joe Biden win Georgia's 16 Electoral College votes and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff take the two Senate seats that gave Democrats control of the chamber. But one aspect of their plans, a proposal to eliminate early voting on Sundays, seems specifically targeted at a traditional get-out-the-vote campaign used by Black churches, referred to as “souls to the polls." It's led many to suggest Republicans are trying to stop a successful effort to boost Black voter turnout in Georgia, where they make up about a third of the population and have faced a dark history of attempts to silence their voices in elections. “It's a new form of voter suppression, the Klan in three-piece suits rather than white hoods,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald III of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which has participated in souls to the polls events. “They know the power of the Black vote, and their goal is to suppress that power.” In previous elections, souls to the polls campaigns were festive, with vehicles and people parading to election offices during early voting windows. Churches would sometimes playfully compete to see which could bring the most voters, said McDonald, who described the GOP legislation as “spiteful.” In Georgia and elsewhere, Republicans say proposals to tighten voting access are meant to bolster confidence in elections, though they have been some of the loudest proponents of meritless claims that the election was fraudulent. The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy group, has counted 165 bills in 33 states this year meant to limit access to voting. In Georgia, Republicans control state government and have introduced dozens of legislative measures that would restrict voting access. GOP state Rep. Barry Fleming is chief sponsor of a wide-ranging proposal that would ban Sunday early voting, require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the time when an absentee ballot could be requested, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be placed and curb the use of mobile voting units, among other changes. In committee hearings, Fleming has cast the legislation as “an attempt to restore the confidence of our public in our election system.” He didn’t respond to an email or phone message requesting comment. Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project that Abrams founded in 2014, called the GOP measures a backlash “to our multiracial, multilingual progressive majority that is winning elections." Biden beat former President Donald Trump by roughly 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democrat to win a presidential contest in Georgia since 1992. Biden received nearly double the number of absentee votes as Trump in a state that became a major target of Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. Biden's win there was confirmed in three separate counts, including one by hand. "These measures, in our opinion, are not based on any objective, data-driven, evidence-based assessment of the issue but solely with the intention to undermine Black voters and other communities of concern,” said Democratic state Rep. Michael Smith, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Policy Committee. Because Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, at least some form of their proposals are likely to become law. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, has called for a photo ID requirement for absentee voting but has yet to back a specific proposal. His office said it was still reviewing the legislation. Republicans are trying to limit ways to vote that have been wildly popular. After states expanded access to mail-in and early voting during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 70% of all ballots cast nationwide came before Election Day. An estimated 108 million people voted by mail, early in person or by dropping off absentee ballots. In Georgia, over 4 million voters cast early or absentee ballots. “They realize if they continue to allow individuals to vote by mail, it is going to be an uphill battle for Republicans to win at the polls and maintain their position,” Democratic state Rep. Debra Bazemore said. At the federal level, Democrats are pushing for a sweeping overhaul of how Americans vote. House Democrats are expected to vote next week on a measure that would establish federal election standards like early voting periods, same-day voter registration and other policies that Republicans have dismissed as federal overreach. And they are expected to introduce another bill to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had triggered federal scrutiny of election changes in certain states and counties with histories of discrimination. Georgia was among the states that previously had to get approval for voting changes. “If left to their own devices, Republicans will try to limit the ability of minority voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat co-sponsoring the bill on federal election standards. “It's open season on voting rights in Georgia,” he said. ___ Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York. ___ Associated Press coverage of voting rights receives support in part from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Anthony Izaguirre And Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
(Shawn Beaver/Facebook - image credit) Disbarred and disgraced Edmonton lawyer Shawn Beaver must turn himself in by Thursday at the Edmonton Remand Centre to begin serving a one-year sentence for contempt of court. In a scathing 28-page decision, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Associate Chief Justice John Rooke noted repeatedly Beaver is the sole author of his own misfortune. "After Mr. Beaver's licence to practice law was suspended and Mr. Beaver was then disbarred, Mr. Beaver repeatedly ignored the law," Rooke wrote. "His actions speak of defiance, louder than his words." Beaver's troubles date back to 2014 when he stole trust funds from his law firm to support his lifestyle, including money held in trust for a person with mental disabilities, addictions and experiencing homelessness. His licence was suspended in May 2015 and he was disbarred in February 2017. The misappropriation of funds is still under criminal investigation, the Edmonton Police Service told CBC News on Tuesday. 'He did it for money' While Beaver hasn't been allowed to practice law for nearly six years, the Law Society of Alberta and the courts have found he repeatedly looked for loopholes and continued to practice covertly. Despite being disbarred, Beaver used junior lawyer Clipo Florence Jura in 2017 and 2018 as a front. When the law society began to investigate, Beaver told Jura to destroy any incriminating evidence that could be used against him. "He knew what he was doing was illegal and he tried to hide that, even going so far as to throw his co-conspirator under the bus," Rooke wrote. "He did it for money. Mr. Beaver planned and executed a clandestine illegal enterprise." Jura was also disbarred. "She may not have been the best junior lawyer in Alberta, but it was Mr. Beaver who hammered home the nails in the coffin for Ms. Jura's legal professional career," Rooke wrote. On May 14, 2020, Rooke found Beaver guilty of contempt of court. A week later, Beaver posted a Kijiji ad titled, "Legal instruction from the best," offering legal instructions and trial strategies to lawyers as well as help with wills, claims and landlord/tenant disputes to non-lawyers. The law society ordered Beaver to remove the ad and he complied. Rooke described the ad as defiant, referring to it as "both thumbing one's nose and mocking." Not a credible witness In written sentencing submissions, the law society suggested a one-year jail term was appropriate. In response, Beaver filed an affidavit and made a statement to the court last September that was subject to cross-examination by the law society counsel. "I do not find Mr. Beaver to be a credible witness," Rooke wrote. Beaver apologized for his past actions, but Rooke rejected the apology, calling it "disingenuous." The judge did not believe Beaver was sincerely remorseful — only that he was sorry he got caught. Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Associate Chief Justice John Rooke noted Beaver "only has himself to blame." "Mr. Beaver knew what he was doing was wrong, but he did it anyway." Beaver also blamed the law society for "persecuting him." His adult daughters claimed the same in affidavits filed with the court. Again, Rooke noted that Beaver can only blame himself for being targeted by the law society. "The reason that Mr. Beaver has been repeatedly brought before this court by the LSA is because Mr. Beaver repeatedly illegally practices law without a licence, and furthermore goes to great lengths to conceal that activity." Additionally, Beaver pointed the finger of blame at the media. He testified that press coverage affected his job prospects, led to hate mail and upset his family. "The stories are derisive and intended to embarrass," Beaver said. "In short, I am punished every day due to the manner in which the press chooses to portray me." He entered a CBC story as the sole exhibit to prove his point. Justice Rooke said the article did nothing to prove Beaver is being "punished every day by an unfair press." "If Mr. Beaver's complaint that his illegal activity has narrowed his employment opportunities, it cannot be attributed to bad press," Rooke wrote. "Rather, Mr. Beaver only has himself to blame if his stealing money and illegal unlicensed practice of law has meant some potential employers and clients are hesitant to engage Mr. Beaver's services." 'I have nightmares' Beaver told the court he lives paycheque to paycheque and is the sole provider for his wife and five children. Rather than sending him to jail, the 52-year-old asked for a fine with time to pay. Beaver and Chantal Beaver care for three girls under the age of 10. "A fine is not a reasonable outcome in this case," Rooke decided. "A more tangible step is required." The law society also argued against a financial penalty, noting he has never repaid the funds he stole from his law firm, nor has he paid court or law society costs. In a written statement issued Tuesday to the media, Shawn Beaver said he's prepared to face time in jail. "I love my wife and children and their care and future remain my highest priority," Beaver wrote. "I have nightmares about how these decisions will affect them." He added that he respects the legal system and the law. "I look forward in the future to making amends and reparation to anyone affected by my transgressions for which I am deeply sorry," he wrote. Beaver's daughter Erin tearfully told CBC News in a telephone interview Beaver's sentence will be a "financial catastrophe" for her family. "I am mortified for my little sisters who are two, five and nine," she said. "I am mortified my sister and I will have to step in to fill that void." Rooke concluded Beaver needed to be incarcerated as he was unable to accept his promise that he would reform his ways. "The punishment imposed on Mr. Beaver must be proportionate to his misconduct," Rooke concluded. "Mr. Beaver's highly aggravating contemptuous illegal conduct favours a heavy step by the court. "There are no mitigating factors for Mr. Beaver."
(Bonnie Allen/CBC - image credit) The government of Saskatchewan says it will put up $15 million to fund VIDO-InterVac's pandemic research if the federal government commits to contributing funding. The province made the announcement on Tuesday. It said VIDO-InterVac — the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre — at the University of Saskatchewan is doing world-class research and is now working to secure funding for a Level 4 containment laboratory. Being a Level 4 facility would allow researchers to work with some of the most serious and deadly human and animal diseases. The province said the only other Level 4 facility in Canada is the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. "Canada should be one of those vaccine producing nations and Canada should be a world leader in not only research, but also the development and production of new vaccines," Premier Scott Moe said at a news conference Tuesday. "And that should happen right here in Saskatchewan." Moe said production of various vaccines could begin at the new facility in 2022, with the ability to produce up to 40 million a year. The funding is contingent on the federal government committing funds to the facility, the province said. VIDO has already received a commitment of $250,000 from the City of Saskatoon and "significant contributions" from several private donors, the province said. VIDO is requesting $45 million in federal government support and ongoing operating funding for this project. A spokesperson for federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne said he is aware of the proposal and following VIDO-InterVac's progress closely. "We are proud that the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization–International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) was one of the first projects supported by our government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," the spokesperson said. The spokesperson said the federal government has already given contributions of $46 million to help strengthen VIDO-InterVac's research and construction of a pilot-scale manufacturing facility. It said it welcomed the support from the province. VIDO-InterVac director Dr. Volker Gerdts said the research will help people, but also livestock. "This facility will focus both on human diseases as well as animal diseases, and thus have a huge impact on our lives and that of our animals. It will help us to prepare and be better prepared for future emerging diseases," Gerdts said Tuesday.
On Tuesday the maintenance supervisor at Riverview Gardens woke up excited as Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health woke up “pumped” and ready to go. Dr. David Colby inoculated Rick Walker with the COVID-19 vaccine at the John D. Bradley Convention Centre at 9:30 a.m. It was the first vaccine given to a local person that is not a long-term care resident and it is also the first Pfizer vaccine to be issued locally. “It’s like a train coming down the tracks. It (COVID) is going to come to you sooner or later,” Walker said. “I am excited to be a part of the solution honestly.” Chatham-Kent hopefully saw the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic when long-term care residents got their first doses of the Moderna vaccine in late January. Second doses for those residents started Monday. Now all staff in long-term care homes and the primary caregivers of its residents are able to receive their immunization. Riverview Gardens staff and caregivers were the first up, with more than 300 doses expected to be doled out. “This is an absolute milestone. This is ground zero,” Colby said. Walker said he would encourage all other Chatham-Kent residents to get the vaccine. “You always have (COVID) in the back of your mind. But this is the solution where we can get to the end of this and I firmly believe that.” “Who would have ever guessed that when we were celebrating New Year’s in 2020 what was to lie ahead of us? And here we are. It’s time to rid Chatham-Kent of this pestilence, it's the way to do it,” Colby said of getting vaccinated. Chatham-Kent reported 18 active cases Tuesday after five recoveries and one new case were reported on Tuesday morning. Fairfield Park long-term care home in Wallaceburg has one active case of COVID-19 among its residents and one active case among staff left active. The cumulative total of cases for Fairfield sits at 100 and now new ones were reported this week. The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance outbreak in the Medicine Unit remains active with 24 cumulative cases. Two patients are still in the hospital with the virus. Four staff are off work after testing positive for COVID-19, but not all are related to the outbreak. Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
THUNDER BAY — A new website launched this week features various services and tools to support victims and survivors of local human trafficking, says the co-chair of the Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking. Thunder Bay has been identified as one of the top six hubs in Ontario for human trafficking says Kristal Carlson, human trafficking youth and transition worker at Thunder Bay Counselling and co-chair of the Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking. “This crime is rampant in Thunder Bay,” she said Monday, Feb. 22. The website was created to provide victims and survivors of human trafficking with access to free services and to also spread awareness and education in the community about the crime. “The Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking created the website to help community members, potential survivors and business people alike to be able to acknowledge, identify and potentially intervene if they should see human trafficking in young peoples’ lives,” Carlson said, adding the crime is often under-reported. For women, only one in 10 will report and for men only one in 20 will report to police, Carlson said. “It is such an under-reported crime so any sex-based crime we know that only six per cent will ever end in conviction so it is really hard to convince people to come forward when there is not the likelihood that something will happen,” she said. And while groups such as the Thunder Bay Coalition To End Human Trafficking exist to support victims of the crime, it is important to note they do not classify themselves as a “rescuing people” group, Carlson said. “We support individuals to move forward when they are ready in the way that is going to best suit them in their current situation,” she said. Last year alone, through various programs across the Coalition more than 60 people were successful in leaving their current situation, Carlson said. The creators of the new website also hope to address misconceptions around human traffickers that are often presented in media and movies. “Human trafficking, more times than not, is somebody being exploited by the person they identify as their boyfriend, their best friend or somebody that they know so that happens in more than 85 per cent of cases,” she said. The other most common form of trafficking is the exploitation of young people by family members, extended family members, caretakers or guardians. “More times than not it’s happening by the person they believe to be their boyfriend, girlfriend or best friend,” Carlson said. The website also teaches individuals how to identify signs and risk factors of human trafficking. “We also want to raise the education in the city of Thunder bay because we are identified as one of the top six hubs in the province of Ontario and Ontario makes up two-thirds of all human trafficking that takes place in our country,” Carlson said. Carlson also points out that coming forward doesn’t mean individuals have to report to the police. “The Thunder Bay Police have started to do some really amazing work in being able to meet survivors exactly where they are at and not needing to move forward with charges but to support them for when they are ready to do that if they are ever ready to do that,” she said. “We just want [survivors] to know they are not alone and that there are people to support you no matter where you are, whether you are currently at risk, entrenched, or you looking to exit, there are people here to support you.” For more information, visit Thunder Bay Coalition’s new website by clicking here. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
WASHINGTON — Security officials testifying at Congress' first hearing on the deadly siege of the Capitol cast blame and pointed fingers on Tuesday but also acknowledged they were woefully unprepared for the violence. Senators drilled down on the stunning security failure and missed warning signs as rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, in a misguided attempt to stop lawmakers from certifying President Joe Biden's election. Five people died in the attack, including a Capitol Police officer. The security officials lost their jobs, and Trump was impeached by the House on a charge of inciting the insurrection, the deadliest attack on Congress in 200 years. Trump was ultimately acquitted by the Senate. Here are some takeaways from the testimony: FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE Intelligence warnings of an armed uprising by extremist groups heading to the Capitol didn't rise to the level of alarm — or even get passed up the chain of command — in time for the Jan. 6 attack. Crucially, a key warning flare from the FBI field office in Norfolk, Virginia, of a “war” on the Capitol was sent the night before to the Capitol Police's intelligence division. But then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testified that he only learned about it the day before Tuesday's hearing. Instead, Sund said he was bracing for demonstrations on par with other armed protests by mobs of Trump’s supporters in the nation's capital in November and December after the presidential election. “No entity, including the FBI, provided any intelligence indicating that there would be a co-ordinated violent attack on the United States Capitol by thousands of well-equipped armed insurrectionists,” he testified in written remarks about a conference call the day before the attack. The Democratic chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, said, “There was a failure to take this threat more seriously.” HE SAID, HE SAID As hundreds of rioters stormed the Capitol, breaking into the iconic building's windows and doors, sometimes in hand-to-hand combat with police, there are conflicting accounts from the security officials over what happened next. Sund, who had raised the idea of calling on the National Guard for backup days earlier, specifically recounted a 1:09 p.m. phone call he made to the then-sergeant-at-arms of the House, Paul Irving, his superior, requesting National Guard troops. Sund said he was told they would run it up the chain of command . Irving said he has no recollection of the conversation at that time and instead recalls a conversation nearly 20 minutes later. He said the 1:09 p.m. call does not show up on his cellphone log. As the riot escalated, Sund was “pleading” with Army officials for Guard troops in another phone call, testified Robert Contee III, the acting chief of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, whose officers had arrived for backup. Contee said he was “stunned” at the delayed response from the military. Defence Department officials have said they offered National Guard troops days earlier but were rebuffed. Pentagon officials are scheduled to testify to the Senate next week. COMMON FACTS: ‘A PLANNED INSURRECTION’ At the start of the hearing, coming 10 days after Trump was acquitted by the Senate on the impeachment charge of inciting the insurrection, some common facts were agreed to. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the chair of the Rules Committee, asked the security officials if there was any doubt the riot was a planned attack and carried out by white nationalist and extremist groups. None of the witnesses disputed the characterization of the facts of Jan. 6. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin read an alternative account, of mostly peaceful protesters festive that day, that he encouraged colleagues to consider. But in closing, Klobuchar restated the testimony: “There was clear agreement this was a planned insurrection.” ONE OFFICER'S PERSONAL STORY The hearing opened with Capitol Police Capt. Carneysha Mendoza, a 19-year veteran of the force, delivering a compelling personal account of being called at home that day as she was spending time with her 10-year-old before the start of her shift. She rushed to the Capitol only to find “the worst of the worst” scene of her career. A former Army veteran, she recounted the deadly mayhem, fending off rioters inside the building’s stately Rotunda, inhaling gas and suffering chemical burns to her face she said still have not healed. Her Fitbit recorded four hours of sustained activity, she said. The next night and following day she spent at the hospital consoling the family of Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the attack. “As an American, and as an Army veteran, it’s sad to see us attacked by our fellow citizens,” Mendoza told the senators. TRUMP'S SHADOW The former president was hardly a presence at the first hearing. Instead, senators largely set aside their sharply partisan ways to drill down on the facts of what happened that day — on how to prevent it from happening again. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., pointedly asked for the name of the commander in chief of the armed forces that day who was ultimately responsible for the military and security of the country. That drew out the former president's name. Among the senators on the panels are two of Trump's staunch allies who led the effort to overturn Biden's election victory — Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. ___ Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Michael Balsamo and Lolita Baldor in Washington and Nomaan Merchant in Houston contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
First Nation communities along the James Bay and Hudson Bay coast are in lockdown after a spike in cases. Since last Friday, 15 cases of COVID-19 have beenreported in Moosonee. The Porcupine Health Unit has also warned of a potential exposure risk to people who were at GG's Ace Hardware Store in Moosonee Thursday Feb. 1 to Friday, Feb. 19. People who have visited the store during those days are advised to monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the last day they visited, which ends Feb. 25 to March 5. In a video message posted on Facebook, Moosonee’s Mayor Wayne Taipale asked people not to panic and stay home. “There’s likely to be more positive cases during tracing but we urge everybody not to panic,” he said. “We encourage everybody to follow the requirements, stay home and not to travel unless it’s essential, to wash hands, wear mask and keep distances. If we all do this, then we’ll be getting this under control faster.” Fort Albany First Nation, Attawapiskat First Nation, Moose Factory Island and Kashechewan First Nation are currently in lockdown. Moose Factory's lockdown is in effect until March 12. Vehicle traffic to the island is restricted to Moose Factory Island residents, essential workers and residents from other communities who need to receive medical care. A mandatory curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. has been put in place for all Moose Factory Island residents with exemptions for those who need to work, are in need of medical care and those participating in traditional harvesting, according to Moose Cree First Nation's statement. Residents are also required to wear double masks in all public places. Moosonee Health Centre will be offering COVID-19 testing Wednesday, Feb. 24 by appointment only. In Fort Albany, there is a community lockdown for domestic air travel and suspension of the temporary winter road travel corridor. Community members that have medical appointments in Moose Factory will be required to provide proof to be able to travel on the winter road. All travellers, who are currently out of Fort Albany, will have until Thursday, Feb. 25 to return to the community. They will be required to isolate for 14 days and complete a nasal swab. Kashechewan First Nation is in a two-week lockdown until March 5. Community members can use the winter road to travel to Moosonee for medical purposes until Feb. 27. According to Kashechewan’s statement, there will be medical drivers who will take the patients from the community and drive them to the Weeneebayko General Hospital in Moose Factory. At this time, residents are not allowed to drive to appointments on their own. The Porcupine Health Unit COVID-19 information line can be reached at 705-267-1181 or 1-800-461-1818. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers plans to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday to discuss supply chain issues, including semiconductor chips, three people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. One of the sources said the lawmakers, from both the Senate and the House of Representatives, are expected to learn more about an executive order the Biden administration has been discussing on supply chain issues. The White House declined to comment.
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Health authorities in Newfoundland and Labrador are reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19 today. Officials say all of the new infections involve people in the eastern health region, where an outbreak has been spreading through the metro St. John’s area. Authorities say 50 people have recovered from the virus since Monday, leaving 372 active reported cases of COVID-19 across the province. Newfoundland and Labrador's active infection rate is now 71 cases per 100,000 people. Five people are in hospital because of the disease, and officials say two of those people are in intensive care. Public health says the outbreak in the St. John's region was traced to the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, which was first discovered in the United Kingdom, and the province has been in lockdown since Feb. 12. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Frank Gunn/Canadian Press - image credit) Public health officials are looking to contact six people who shared a ride in a van from Toronto to Ottawa last week, after a seventh occupant later tested positive for COVID-19. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said the white van left Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre around 1 p.m. last Tuesday with six passengers and a driver aboard. OPH didn't name the private operator, but said the trip had been advertised on Kijiji. At the time, Toronto was still under a stay-at-home order, while Ottawa's was lifted that same day. OPH said the van arrived in Ottawa around 6 p.m., dropping off passengers at Bayshore Shopping Centre, Rideau Centre and St. Laurent Shopping Centre. The passenger who tested positive for COVID-19 would have been contagious at the time of the trip, OPH confirmed. Health officials recommend people only get into a vehicle with members of their own household. Anyone who has to share a ride with others should wear a mask, avoid sharing food and drinks, and stay home if they're sick. Anyone who thinks they may have travelled in the van last Tuesday is asked to contact OPH at 613-580-6744 to arrange a COVID-19 test.
Going outside could be just what the doctor ordered. British Columbia has launched a new program that has doctors prescribing the great outdoors to help people with mental health issues or chronic illnesses. Robin Gill explains the science behind it.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran officially started restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities Tuesday, a bid to pressure European countries and President Joe Biden's administration to lift crippling economic sanctions and restore the 2015 nuclear deal. World powers slammed the restrictions as a “dangerous” move. It came as the International Atomic Energy Agency reported in a confidential document distributed to member countries and seen by The Associated Press that Iran had added 17.6 kilograms (38.8 pounds) of uranium enriched up to 20% to its stockpile as of Feb. 16. It was the first official confirmation of plans Iran announced in January to enrich to the greater purity, which is just a technical step away from weapons-grade levels and far past the 3.67% purity allowed under the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. Iran also increased its total enriched uranium stockpile to 2,967.8 kilograms (6,542.9 pounds), up from 2,442.9 kilograms (5,385.7 pounds) reported on Nov. 2, the IAEA reported. Iran's violations of the JCPOA and the move Tuesday to limit international inspections underscore the daunting task facing Biden as he seeks to reverse former President Donald Trump's decision to pull the U.S. unilaterally out of the deal in 2018. That left Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia struggling to keep it alive. The JCPOA was the most significant pact between Iran and major world powers since its 1979 Islamic revolution, and Germany, France and Britain stressed their commitment Tuesday to preserving it, urging Iran to “stop and reverse all measures that reduce transparency.” “The E3 are united in underlining the dangerous nature of this decision,” the European powers said in a statement. “It will significantly constrain the IAEA's access to sites and to safeguards-relevant information.” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said a new law had gone into effect Tuesday morning, under which Iran will no longer share surveillance footage of its nuclear facilities with the U.N. agency. “We never gave them live video, but (recordings) were given daily and weekly,” Zarif said of the IAEA's access to information recorded by camera monitors. “The tape recording of our (nuclear) program will be kept in Iran.” The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Tehran’s civilian nuclear agency, has promised to preserve the tapes for three months, then hand them over to the IAEA — but only if granted sanctions relief. Otherwise, Iran has vowed to erase the tapes, narrowing the window for a diplomatic breakthrough. Since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the JCPOA, Iran has gradually been violating its restrictions to put pressures on the remaining nations to come up with economic incentives to offset crippling American sanctions. Besides surpassing the purity and stockpiles allowed, Iran has also been spinning advanced centrifuges and producing uranium metal. Zarif stressed in a tweet Tuesday that Iran's new limits on nuclear inspections and other violations of the pact are reversible, insisting that the U.S. move first to revive the deal. In a show of defiance, Cabinet spokesman Ali Rabiei outlined further developments in Iran's nuclear program on Tuesday. Over the last three weeks, he told reporters, Iran has installed and started feeding gas into an additional 148 high-tech IR2-m centrifuges at its Natanz nuclear enrichment facility and its fortified nuclear complex at Fordo, bringing the total number of centrifuges to up to 492. Another set of 492 centrifuges will be installed in the coming month, he said. He added that Iran has installed two cascades of even more advanced centrifuges at its nuclear enrichment facilities, but did not specify where. On Monday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also signalled Iran would refuse to capitulate to U.S. pressure over its nuclear program. Khamenei said that Iran could enrich uranium up to 60% purity if necessary, but stressed the country forbids nuclear weapons. Tehran has long insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, such as power generation and medical research. Before the nuclear deal, in 2013, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium was already more than 7,000 kilograms (7.72 tons) with higher enrichment, but it didn’t pursue a bomb. The Biden administration has said it’s ready to join talks with Iran and world powers to discuss a return to the deal. Zarif responded to the overture cautiously Tuesday, saying Iran is “assessing the idea of an unofficial meeting" with the parties to the accord “in which America is invited as a non-member.” In further diplomatic moves, the new U.S. administration rescinded the Trump-imposed U.N. sanctions and eased restrictions on the domestic travel of Iranian diplomats posted to the United Nations. Rabiei praised the steps on Tuesday but threw cold water on hopes for a swift revival of the deal. “While we consider this as putting America on a constructive path, we see (the steps) as extremely insufficient," he said. Before Iran implemented its new restrictions on IAEA inspections, the agency's director-general, Rafael Grossi, negotiated a temporary deal during an emergency weekend trip to Tehran. It allowed him to keep the same number of inspectors on the ground. In the report to members, the IAEA said the understanding would enable the agency to continue with its necessary JCPOA verification and monitoring activities for three months. It added it would also "enable the agency to resume its full verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA if and when Iran resumes its implementation of those commitments.” The IAEA also said it was still awaiting answers from Iran on three sites where inspections had revealed traces of uranium of man-made origin ____ Associated Press writer David Rising in Berlin contributed to this report. Metzler reported from Vienna. Nasser Karimi And Kiyoko Metzler, The Associated Press
(Michael Hugall/CBC - image credit) Yellowknife city councillors have voted to spend $1.8 million in federal money on projects they say will reduce homelessness and address its root causes. With strict rules for how the COVID-19 homelessness funding can be spent, Yellowknife city councillors chose to target some of the root causes of homelessness. City council decided to allocate $370,438 to initiatives including a land-based program run by Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) and $100,000 for community hunts. Council voted unanimously Monday evening to approve the funding allocations recommended by the city's Community Advisory Board on Homelessness. The allocations include both regular funding from the federal government's Reaching Home initiative for 2021-22, as well as a special allocation tied to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. "There is more to ending homelessness than just providing a home," said Coun. Stacie Smith, acknowledging that the money won't create new housing. She said initiatives like the YKDFN land-based program recognize the importance of culture. Smith said the advisory board on homelessness consulted non-governmental organizations on their needs and allocated money to programs like Housing First, which helps people who are chronically homeless access services and private market housing. Housing First will receive $900,000 from the two federal pots of money. The women's shelter will get $25,000. Other homelessness prevention and diversion initiatives will get $219,000. 'There is more to ending homelessness than just providing a home,' said Yellowknife city councillor Stacie Smith. The on-the-land program will be open to people experiencing homelessness in Yellowknife. The COVID-19 spending will support food and breakfast programs, such as those offered by the YWCA, which is set to receive $10,000. As the city debated how to spend almost $2 million from the federal government, it realized it would not be able to put the money into permanent housing. Mayor Rebecca Alty said earlier this month that a major reason the money couldn't go toward more permanent housing projects is that the "federal directives are quite restrictive and the money has to be spent so quickly." Smith said despite this, the city can support programs that recognize the needs of the tight-knit community of people facing homelessness — some of whom return to shelters after they are put into housing. "We can provide as many roofs, apartments for people to stay, but if we're not getting to the root of why they're in the situation that they're in, there will always be homelessness," said Smith. "We found other opportunities where we could put our energies to assist them in those holistic methods that might reach them a lot better than the norm." City to give feds feedback Alty said the city will give the federal government feedback, including its criticism that tight timelines kept the city from putting the money toward permanent housing initiatives. The federal objectives for the Reaching Home COVID-19 funding program are to extend COVID-19 measures for people experiencing homelessness, to find permanent housing for people in temporary housing, and to divert people away from becoming homeless or entering the shelter system.
Regina– Crop Insurance coverage is going up due to higher commodity prices, and rates are going up as well, but the premium cost per dollar of coverage continues to decline. There’s a new pilot program for vegetables, and changes for forage and chickpeas, too. On Canada Agriculture Day, Saskatchewan Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Donna Harpauer and, through a press release, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced enhancements to the 2021 Crop Insurance Program. This year, Crop Insurance coverage will reach a record level due to higher commodity prices and increased yield coverage. “Farmers across Saskatchewan continue to step up despite all the challenges thrown their way during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bibeau said in a release. “These improvements to the Crop Insurance Program give Saskatchewan farmers more coverage they can count on. We will continue working with our provincial counterparts to ensure farmers have the risk management tools to help their stability and growth.” Asked if the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on crop insurance, Harpauer said, “None.” “For over 60 years, the Crop Insurance Program has supported Saskatchewan producers with reliable coverage and exceptional customer service,” Harpauer said. “We are committed to providing producers with the insurance programs they need and the enhancements announced today build upon the current suite of programs.” Coverage going up Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) said it “continues to provide high coverage as we enter a new growing season.” Coverage will reach a record level of $273 per acre due to higher commodity prices and increased yield coverage, up from $224 in 2020. This represents a 22 per cent increase in coverage. The average premium cost per dollar of coverage continues to decline. There was a 42 per cent reduction in average premium cost per dollar of coverage over the last 10 years. This includes a 20 per cent reduction directly resulting from the strong financial position of the program, SCIC said. However, due to the increased coverage for 2021, the average premium for producers will be higher than in 2020. The average premium per acre will be $8.59, up from $7.40. Harpauer said, “Establishment benefit values are reviewed annually. This year, the establishment benefit values for canola, lentils, chickpeas and corn have increased. Canola is now $70 per acre. Large green lentils are $50 per acre and red lentils are $30 per acre. Large Kabuli chickpeas are $65 per acre and Small Kabuli chickpeas are $45 per acre. Corn is $95 per acre.” New forage options New in 2021, producers growing tame hay will have additional options when insuring their hay acres. Crop Insurance customers now have the choice to insure their tame hay acres under the Forage Rainfall Insurance Program (FRIP) or the Multi-Peril Crop Insurance Program. Coverage options can be customized for each farming operation. Under FRIP, payments will be calculated based on rainfall levels, instead of overall yields. “Saskatchewan cattle producers face a lot of risks. It is good to see the programs they can access through SCIC continue to evolve,” Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association Chair Arnold Balicki said in a release. “Adding tame hay to the Forage Rainfall Insurance Program and extending the calf coverage deadline and hours of operation for Livestock Price Insurance are all positive. I encourage cattle producers to look into SCIC’s programs as there were many improvements in recent years.” “Forage producers will also see an increase in Native Forage Establishment Benefit coverage. The Native Forage Establishment Benefit provides coverage on newly seeded native forage acres. The coverage is increasing from $75 to $200. Other Forage Establishment Benefit prices seeing an increase includes tame hay to $90 per acre and sweetclover to $65 per acre,” Harpauer said. Forage producers are encouraged to review available coverage options through SCIC's Forage Option and Weather-Based Programs. Vegetable pilot program “In 2021, SCIC is also introducing coverage for large scale vegetable production. Commercial vegetable growers will now have access to the commercial vegetable pilot program, which will provide standalone coverage for damage to cabbage and pumpkin crops,” Harpauer said. SCIC has been working with the Saskatchewan Vegetable Growers' Association to develop programming for the growing commercial vegetable sector in Saskatchewan. The impact of a crop failure on vegetable operations could be significant as a relatively small number of acres has extremely high value. A minimum of eight acres is required to participate in the program. SCIC will continue to explore insurance coverage options for the Commercial Vegetable Program. Last summer, the Government of Saskatchewan made one of the largest announcements for agriculture in this province in years, laying out a plan for $4 billion in expansion of irrigation in central Saskatchewan, with an eye to growing different crops, including vegetables. Asked how this will impact Crop Insurance, Harpauer responded, “That’s a ways into the future. So I think it’s important that they’re doing the pilot this year. And we’ll see how that goes. As production increases in vegetables and other crops that benefit for irrigation, I think it’s been demonstrated, here in Saskatchewan, that Crop Insurance officials are very nimble in addressing the crops as they change. I know, myself, from when I was a producer, to today, the crops have changed significantly, and Crop Insurance had been there for all the changes.” Chickpeas Saskatchewan has also become a significant producer of chickpeas. SCIC is updating the base grade for large-seeded Kabuli chickpeas to reflect current production and marketing patterns. This increases the insured price and the quality coverage. Carl Potts, executive director of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, said, “I think the changes to the chickpeas base grade calculation just better reflects the size and the quality of the chickpeas that chickpea producers are producing these days. It’s simply a better reflection of the product the producers are producing, and should increase the overall level of coverage for producers.” Potts called it “a welcome development.” Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Board Chair Shaun Dyrland said, “This change should increase coverage levels for most of the 300 chickpea producers in the province.” Canola’s significance Asked if there were any trends with farmers moving towards a particular crop, or any move into a “Cinderella crop” in 2021, SCIC acting president and CEO Jeff Morrow responded, “One of the main crops in the province, and the main crops in terms of acres and liability for Crop Insurance programs is canola. That is certainly the most predominant crop. And I say our top three, other than canola, are wheat, duram and peas.” He said it’s up to producers to decide what they plant, but historically canola has been top. SARM reaction Ray Orb of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities said, “We're actually quite pleased about some of the enhancements, in particular, with the vegetable pilot program. We think that will be good to create more diversity into the province’s agriculture industry. “We're also pleased to be able to look at some of the things that they're also enhancing, Kabuli chickpeas in particular. “In general, we’re favorable, and always have been favorable, to uplifting and adjusting some of the weather based insurance programs. And we think that will help our livestock producers, as far as protecting their forage crops and things like that. “So generally, we're pleased. We see that there's an increase of about 22 per cent of the of the coverage, understanding at the same time, that will premiums will go up.” He said generally it has served the agriculture industry well to have more coverage. Deadline March 31, 2021, is the deadline to select insured crops and coverage levels or make additional changes to Crop Insurance contracts. Producers need to also apply, reinstate or cancel by this date. Crop Insurance is a business risk management program supported through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. Under Crop Insurance, premiums for most programs are shared 40 per cent by participating producers, 36 per cent by the Government of Canada and 24 per cent by the Government of Saskatchewan. Administrative expenses are fully funded by governments, 60 per cent by Canada and 40 per cent by Saskatchewan. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
ROME — The Republic of San Marino finally can start its coronavirus vaccination drive after the first shots arrived Tuesday. But the city-state surrounded by Italy had to resort to its “Plan B” and buy Sputnik V jabs from Russia after plans to get European Union-approved doses from Italy got delayed. A pink and yellow truck escorted by police cars brought the first 7,500 Sputnik V vaccines into San Marino and delivered them at the main hospital. Officials said the Russia-made doses will eventually be enough to vaccinate some 15% of the microstate’s population of around 33,800. San Marino bought Sputnik V shots at the last minute after an agreement to have Italy send a proportion of the vaccines it received through the EU's vaccine procurement system got delayed. San Marino, located near Rimini on the Adriatic coast, isn’t an EU member, and as such was excluded from the deals the 27-nation bloc negotiated with pharmaceutical firms. The San Marino secretary of state, Luca Beccari, said during a news conference last weekend that the negotiations with Italy took a long time and that under an agreement signed Jan. 11, San Marino was to receive one dose for every 1,700 that Italy received from the EU. But the deal hit a snag as Italy and other EU countries faced delivery delays for the three EU-approved vaccines, the ones from: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Italy has administered some 3.7 million doses. “Unfortunately, the time required to define these procedures and the fact that San Marino is a country that has not yet started its vaccination campaign has forced us to seek alternative solutions,” Beccari said in explaining the Sputnik purchase. “As for all other countries, it is necessary to start the vaccination campaign as soon as possible in order to ensure the safety of its citizens,” he said. The European Medicines Agency has said the developers of Sputnik V recently asked for advice on what data they needed to submit for the vaccine to be licensed across the European Union. Hungarian health authorities have approved both Sputnik V and the vaccine developed by state-owned Chinese company Sinopharm. San Marino has had a proportionately devastating outbreak, with 3,538 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 73 deaths. Roberto Ciavatta, San Marino’s secretary of state for health, said Sputnik V was safe and effective. “It is not that it did not pass any controls. On the contrary, as all the research and data available show, it is a vaccine that is already administered in 30 countries, About 70 million people have been vaccinated with it. It has extremely high safety standards,” he said. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Veteran fullback Justin Morrow and centre back Eriq Zavaleta have re-signed with Toronto FC. The signings do not come as a surprise, given both players have been at Toronto's training camp, which opened last week. But they needed new deals after their contracts expired at the end of last season. In keeping the two defenders in the fold, TFC retains experience and continuity. The 33-year-old Morrow is entering his eighth season with the club while the 28-year-old Zavaleta is starting his seventh. Morrow has made 229 appearances for Toronto in all competitions, second only to midfielder Jonathan Osorio (263). Captain Michael Bradley is third (214) on the list. Morrow, a U.S. international who doubles as executive director of Black Players for Change, is respected on and off the field. His new deal covers the 2021 season. "Justin has been a fixture with TFC and it’s great to have him signed," Toronto GM Ali Curtis said in a statement. "His versatility on the field, veteran presence in the locker-room and overall leadership on and off the field have been critical for the club for a long time and we’re thrilled that will continue." Zavaleta adds depth to a defence that lost veteran backup Laurent Ciman since last season. The Indiana native has made 136 appearances in all competitions for TFC. His deal is for one year with an option for the 2022 season. He has served as a backup for first-choice centre backs Omar Gonzalez and Chris Mavinga in recent years. “Eriq is another veteran who’s given a lot to the club,” said Curtis. “This is a big year for Eriq. He comes to the training ground every day ready to work and is a great role model as an all-around professional for our young players.” Zavaleta, originally acquired in a trade with the Seattle Sounders in January 2015, is one of 12 players to have made 100 appearances or more for TFC and currently ranks eighth all-time in club history in appearances. He saw action in five regular-season games in 2020, including three starts. Morrow, joined Toronto in 2014 after four seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes. He was an MLS all-star in 2012 with the Quakes and was named to the MLS Best XI in 2017 when Toronto won the MLS Cup, MLS Supporters’ Shield and Canadian Championship. Morrow, who has 17 career goals and 19 assists for Toronto, made US$330,000 in 2019, the last year the MLS Players Association released salary figures for. That ranked 11th among TFC players. When healthy, Morrow has been a fixture at left fullback for Toronto with Richie Laryea and Brazil's Auro normally splitting right back duties. Morrow had made it clear he wanted to return to Toronto. "This organization, this city has given me so much as a professional athlete and as a man," he said during the off-season. "And I just want to have a chance to win more trophies here and play in front of our fans again. That is something that I'm desperate for and I know the rest of our team is desperate for." Morrow saw action in 15 of Toronto's 23 regular-season games in 2020 with 11 starts. But he missed most of the stretch drive due to injury. The team finished out the 2020 season playing out of East Hartford, Conn., due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. The club is looking at playing home games in Florida to start the 2021 season, which kicks off April 17. Morrow played collegiate soccer at Notre Dame, appearing in 89 matches over four seasons with the Fighting Irish. San Jose selected him in the second round (28th overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. Zavaleta is a former U.S., youth international who began his MLS career with Seattle and Chivas USA after a collegiate career as a forward at Indiana University. --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
BRUSSELS — A key European Parliament committee voted Tuesday to lift the immunity of three former top Catalan officials who fled Spain fearing arrest over a secessionist push they led in the region, possibly paving the way for their extradition. The parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee voted 15-8 with two abstentions to recommend waiving the immunities of Carles Puigdemont, former president of Spain's Catalonia region, and two associates, former health minister Toni Comin and former education minister Clara Ponsati. The decision must be endorsed during a full sitting of the European Parliament to take effect. The next plenary session is scheduled for March 8. Puigdemont and a number of his political associates fled to Belgium in October 2017, fearing arrest over the holding of an independence referendum that the Spanish government said was illegal. In 2019, he, Ponsatí and Comín won seats in the European Parliament, and were afforded protection in their positions as members of the EU assembly. Ponsati, 63, has since 2016 been a lecturer of the University of Saint Andrews, in Scotland, where she lives. In the 2017 independence referendum, the vote in favour of Catalonia breaking away won by a landslide. But those in favour of the relatively rich northern region remaining part of Spain largely stayed home. Spain’s central had government declared the vote illegal and unconstitutional, and hundreds of people were injured in a police crackdown on the day of the referendum. Spain has attempted to have Puigdemont returned for trial but failed to convince Belgian justice authorities to extradite him. The lifting of his parliamentary immunity could lead to a new effort to have him returned. A post from the Twitter account for the Council of the Republic of Catalonia, a symbolic body created for Puigdemont to preside over from Brussels, slammed the European Parliament vote, saying: “That the Spanish parties have dragged a majority of the EP to adopt a decision incompatible with the principles of the rule of law makes today a black day for European democracy.”” But it added that “the legal and political struggle continues. We have the strength of reason, the legitimacy of the popular will, and the perseverance it takes to take new steps.” Separately, Esteban González Pons, a Spanish EU lawmaker who is a member of the Legal Affairs Committee, said in a statement: “The European Parliament cannot become a haven of impunity for those who attack the rule of law in an EU member country, thus damaging the stability of the Union as a whole.” The Associated Press
Reverend Andreas Sigrist with the Jasper Anglican Church is delivering a free webinar about hope on Feb. 25 and said there are three key concepts to think about: reality, goal and movement. The webinar follows another about death and grief, which was offered through the Jasper Employment and Education Centre. Executive director Ginette Marcoux initiated the idea for the second webinar that is scheduled to run from 5 to 6 p.m. Sigrist hopes to see a lot of participation. “Hope is a capacity we have to move forward despite resistance,” he said. “For me, there are three key concepts. Reality: I think it’s crucial to remember that hope never denies reality. (Secondly), hope never exists in a vacuum. It’s always linked to a goal.” The third concept is to think about hope in terms of movement. “It’s not something we have or don’t have,” Sigrist said. “It’s more like a muscle that has to be cultivated, to be trained.” He noted how these concepts can be tied together into a story. “One of the examples I’ll be using is a show on Netflix called Away. It’s about a mission to Mars. There’s this wonderful commander, Emma Green. She leaves her teenage daughter behind. It takes three years to get to Mars and back.” Sigrist said the movie shows the strain between mother and daughter because of the distance between them but at the same time there’s a goal to get to Mars and establish life there. ”It’s that hope that allows them to move forward despite the despair the mom and daughter are feeling about being apart,” he said. He described how that framework “exemplifies the way things are, not the way things are supposed to be. The hope is all about working toward the way things are supposed to be. We exist in between those two things: the way things are and the way things are supposed to be.” Sigrist said feeling up and down is perfectly normal “in our emotional life and our inner life.” “It’s like standing in a river and the river is flowing toward a waterfall,” he said. “You’re far away from the waterfall and it’s easier to not be swept away by the current. But the closer you get, the more strong the current becomes. The key here is to become aware of where we are and learn to listen to our emotions, to our lives and to how we respond to circumstances.” While people can feel they are getting to their goal, other times they are overwhelmed, such as with the pandemic. “That’s why we need to talk about it – the reality,” Sigrist said. “It’s not just about individual experience. It’s about the strength of community.” Folks can register for the webinar through the Jasper Employment and Education Centre or by phoning or emailing Myles Berrington, adult education co-ordinator, at email@example.com. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh