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Check out this epic compilation of the BEST cakes of 2020 by Sideserf Cake Studio! Which one is your favorite? Let us know!
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. That delay stood in contrast to the immediate approval for National Guard support granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities last spring as an outgrowth of racial justice protests, Walker said. As local officials pleaded for help, Army officials raised concerns about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, he said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed to officials on the call “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Even as Walker detailed the National Guard delay, another military official noted that local officials in Washington had said days earlier that no such support was needed. Senators were eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for that day. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Vivendi's appeal against an investigation by Italy's communications watchdog into its holdings in Telecom Italia and broadcaster Mediaset will be heard in court on December 6, three legal sources said on Wednesday. The watchdog AGCOM began the inquiry into the French media group's stakes in Mediaset and Telecom Italia in December last year. Aimed at assessing whether Vivendi's holdings are in breach of national rules granting media plurality, the investigation could help Mediaset, controlled by the family of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in its battle against Vivendi, its second largest shareholder.
La séance du conseil de la municipalité régionale de comté (MRC) de Minganie du 16 février a souligné l’accent et les efforts mis sur le développement du territoire. Les différents volets du Fonds régions et ruralité du ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation (MAMH) ont été l’objet de trois résolutions distinctes. D’une part, le volet 2 – Soutien à la compétence de développement local et régional des MRC exige que ces dernières disposent d’une politique de soutien aux entreprises. La MRC de Minganie a donc mis à jour sa politique adoptée en juin 2020 afin qu’elle soit plus flexible et accessible aux entrepreneurs. D’autre part, le conseil a accordé un mandat d’accompagnement de 43 605 $ à la firme conseil Espace Stratégies pour déterminer le projet ou l’ensemble de projets qui ciblera la « signature innovation » de la MRC. « La firme va travailler avec nous et différents acteurs de la planification stratégique pour trouver le fil conducteur de notre développement territorial », détaille le préfet de Minganie, Luc Noël. La somme octroyée à Espace Stratégies provient de l’enveloppe de 192 538 $ du volet 3 du FRR. Finalement, dans le cadre du volet 4 – Soutien à la vitalisation et à la coopération intermunicipale, la MRC a autorisé la signature d’une entente de vitalisation entre les municipalités de Rivière-au-Tonnerre, Aguanish, Rivière-Saint-Jean et la communauté de Nutashkuan. L’entente, d’un montant de 1 125 685 $ pour cinq ans, n’est que « l’étape embryonnaire » du processus, juge M. Noël. « Là, on doit s’asseoir avec le MAMH et les territoires concernés pour faire un plan de match. » Grâce à la récente création d’Action entreprise Québec par le ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI), la Minganie renforcera ses services d’accompagnement aux entrepreneurs et entreprises de la région. La MRC pourra embaucher au moins deux ressources supplémentaires à temps plein « jusqu’à concurrence de 900 000 $ » jusqu’en 2025. « Ce qu’on espère, c’est qu’on ait été assez performants pour que les ressources se rentabilisent elles-mêmes ou que le ministère continue de les payer », souhaite Luc Noël en soulignant la difficulté de compétitionner avec les grands centres pour attirer ce type d’employés. « Les gens qui ont le profil pour travailler dans nos départements de développement vont être en demande partout et on croit que notre région va passer bon deuxième », déplore-t-il. L’ensemble des modalités liées à l’octroi de la subvention n’est pas encore connu du conseil. Du côté du développement territorial, la MRC déposera sous peu au ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAC) le rapport d’étape de mi-parcours concernant l’élaboration de son Plan de développement de la zone agricole (PDZA). « La réponse est très positive de la part des acteurs du milieu, on constate qu’il y a un engouement », a déclare Luc Noël. Un second mandat d’accompagnement a été adopté lors de la séance du conseil, cette fois à l’organisation à but non lucratif Communagir pour que celle-ci soutienne la MRC dans le cadre de l’élaboration et de la mise en œuvre de sa stratégie en développement social. Le mandat représente une banque d’heures ouverte jusqu’au 30 juillet 2021. Selon les besoins, l’accompagnement devra prendre entre 25 et 50 heures, ce qui signifie que la facture s’élèvera au plus à 5600 $. En matière de sécurité publique, le conseil a désigné quelles interventions il considère comme prioritaires pour la Sûreté du Québec : le contrôle de la consommation et le trafic de drogues illicites, particulièrement chez les jeunes, et l’application des règlements municipaux uniformisés. « Aussi, on demande aux agents de faire plus de surveillance en lien avec les véhicules tout terrain (VTT) et de maintenir une présence policière sur l’ensemble du territoire de la MRC », ajoute le préfet de Minganie. Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
A 32-year-old Beaumont man is dead after his truck collided with a semi-trailer south of Sherwood Park on Tuesday. The semi was southbound on Highway 21 when it collided with a truck travelling east on Township Road 510 around 7:05 a.m., RCMP said in a news release Wednesday. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. The semi driver was taken to hospital with minor injuries. Strathcona County RCMP and a collision analyst remained on scene for several hours, the release said. The investigation is continuing but RCMP said no charges will be laid.
MOSCOW — The Kremlin on Wednesday shrugged off new Western sanctions over the poisoning and arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny as unfounded and pointless — but warned that Moscow will retaliate. U.S. President Joe Biden's administration sanctioned seven Russian officials on Tuesday, along with more than a dozen government entities, over the nerve-agent attack on Navalny and his subsequent jailing. It co-ordinated the move with the European Union, which expanded its own sanctions Tuesday. Commenting on the U.S. and the EU decisions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the sanctions against top Russian officials that include a freeze on their bank accounts duplicate Russia's own law that bans them from having financial and other assets abroad. “These people don't make foreign trips anyway and they don't have the right to open accounts in foreign banks or have any other foreign assets,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters. At the same time, he added that the U.S. and EU restrictions “represent meddling in Russia's internal affairs” and are “absolutely unacceptable, inflicting significant damage to the already poor ties." Peskov warned that Russia will now choose a “response that would best serve our own interests,” adding that the relevant state agencies would draft their proposals and submit them to the Kremlin. “The principle of reciprocity in relations between states can't be abandoned,” he said. Navalny, the most prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, fell sick on Aug. 20 during a domestic flight in Russia and was flown while still in a coma to Berlin for treatment two days later. Labs in Germany, France and Sweden, and tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established that he was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent. Russian authorities have denied any involvement in the poisoning. Navalny was arrested on Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from the poisoning. His arrest triggered massive protests, to which the Russian authorities responded with a sweeping crackdown. Last month, Navalny was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating the terms of his probation while convalescing in Germany. The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated — and which the European Court of Human Rights has ruled to be unlawful. Last week, Navalny was sent to serve his sentence to a prison outside Moscow, despite the European Court of Human Rights' demand for his release which cited concerns for his safety. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
In an ideal world, the Town of Gander would be finishing its new sports multiplex facility in the latter stages of 2021. A $4.5-million facility that was announced in October 2020, it is set to have a FIFA regulation soccer pitch and a rubberized walking track. Now, the town fears the completion of that project will be delayed because of the delay in the issuing of tenders related to the construction of the facility. And the delays have to do with the provincial election, the town's mayor says. “At this point, I don’t see any possibility that we’ll have anything that is usable in time for this soccer season and so on,” said Gander Mayor Percy Farwell. “If we had a contractor at the ready … we probably did have a reasonable shot at getting it completed, at least during this construction season.” When an election is called and the House of Assembly is dissolved, the provincial government enters into something called the caretaker convention — a basic idling of government during an election period, with incumbent ministers in a caretaker role should they be needed until the new provincial government is sworn in. Farwell says this also ensures the basic function of government until the end of the election and a new government is put in place. The caretaker convention was supposed to end after the original Feb. 13 election day, but that has since been extended, as in-person voting was suspended because of the COVID-19 outbreak, and then mail-in voting only was imposed, with the deadline for those ballots to be postmarked set for March 12. Still, there's concern voting counts and challenges to results may extend the caretaker government even further. With that possibility, Farwell says he fears the sports facility, and other projects in the town, will not be completed as the town would have hoped. “We are in an indefinite election period,” said Farwell. “It is not just the Town of Gander’s projects. It is everybody’s projects.” It is not only Gander that could delay construction — Farwell says there are towns in the province waiting to start projects to help with boil-water orders, the federal wastewater regulations and roadwork, as well as other projects. These would all be projects for which funding has previously been announced. One of the towns that has similar concerns about the delays is Grand Falls-Windsor. Like Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor has concerns about the effect delays in the tendering process will have on the construction process, as well as the funding structure of the province's multi-year capital works program. That program comes in three-year blocks and allows larger municipalities to avail of funding for that period. As the name suggests, the town can make multiple-year commitments to completing projects. Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Barry Manuel said most of the work that was completed in the town in 2020 was left over from the previous year. He said the town often has to wait later and later to get approval for capital works funding, which pushes the rest of the timeline for that year further down the line. It can become problematic for planning, he says. “With regards to this year, we can expect it to be even worse because of the election delays and the government caretaker mode,” said Manuel. “We certainly would expect that if and when we get capital work approval, that it will be late again and we’d be running into the same issues with regards to getting work actually started and all of the stuff that has to be done to get it to that point. “So, yeah, we’re concerned and we’ve expressed that concern.” In a prepared statement provided to SaltWire Network, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said the impact of any tenders it plans to issue must be considered by the government during the caretaker period. That consideration should also include the impact of waiting until the end of the caretaker period before starting work and how that will impact the progress of projects, the department stated. “We understand the concerns municipalities may have regarding municipal capital projects being completed this construction season,” read the emailed statement. “In light of the extended caretaker period, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will begin issuing some tenders this week. Each project will be reviewed individually. "That review will take into account previously announced projects, and projects that could be substantially delayed if a tender is issued once the caretaker period ends, as well as projects that affect health and safety, will all receive the highest consideration when tenders are issued." Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
Most of us are familiar with the three Rs associated with limiting our waste: reduce, reuse and recycle. As it turns out, there’s a fourth R: renew the recycling licence. During the Feb. 22 regular council meeting for the Town of Pincher Creek, Coun. Scott Korbett formally announced the town would not be renewing its recycling contract with KJ Cameron Service Industries. Come June 30, only empty beverage containers will be accepted at the bottle depot. “The Town of Pincher Creek intends to continue to offer a recycling program,” the town’s official statement reads. “We are currently working with our regional partners to have a smooth transition to a new program by the end of June.” While understanding the town is obligated to make economic decisions when it comes to contracts, Weston Whitfield, owner and manager of KJ Cameron, worries consolidating services on a regional basis might result in an inefficient service to taxpayers. The process of gathering, transporting, then re-sorting material, Mr. Whitfield adds, might decrease the price recycling facilities are willing to pay. “My concern is in the past, places that have done collaborations like that end up with a little bit of contamination and it can affect the resale of the product,” he says. Although no official details have been released, the plan for future recycling appears to involve the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill Association. Discussion recorded in the minutes of the Jan. 20, 2021, regular meeting of the landfill association includes “Recycling Update” as an agenda item. The minutes describe proposals being sent to each of the municipalities and note that, despite no reply being received, each of the municipal representatives — Coun. Dean Ward from Crowsnest Pass, Coun. Brian McGillivray from Pincher Creek and Reeve Brian Hammond from the MD of Pincher Creek — indicated their respective councils are still considering or interested in the landfill’s recycling proposal. Recycling was also a topic during last week’s council meetings for both the MD of Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass. During the MD of Pincher Creek’s Feb. 23 council meeting, chief administrative officer Troy MacCulloch updated council on plans to move collection bins from outside the MD office to a site off Bighorn Avenue and Highway 507, near the Co-op lumberyard. The site will cover recycling needs for residents from both the MD and town. “This will be a site that the MD will build,” said CAO MacCulloch. “We will cost-share it with the town, and then going forward it would be operated and manned by the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill.” Plans for the new recycling site are still tentative as the MD is working with the current landowner to develop a lease that would permit the property to be used as a transfer station for garbage and recyclables. The garbage bins by the MD office, he added, could also be removed. This will allow for further development and easier access of the standpipe, which will remain at the location. Meetings with Pincher Creek administration have discussed the possibility of the MD taking over the composting facility, which would be included on the site. Crowsnest Pass council also voted Feb. 23 to direct administration to find a location for their own recycling bin. Ease of access, along with being sheltered from the weather and from travellers’ field of vision, were identified as main priorities. Administration was asked to present a location at the March 16 council meeting with hopes that users could begin dropping off recycling by the end of the month. The goal is to eventually have three sites in the municipality to gather recycling. Beginning with one, said CAO Patrick Thomas, was a good place to “at least start and see what the challenges are,” especially to “see how [building] the fencing and screening goes.” The Town of Pincher Creek’s full official statement regarding the recycling licence can be found online at http://bit.ly/PC-Recycle. More information on Pincher Creek Bottle Depot and Recycling can be found at www.facebook.com/pcbottledepot. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, grounded last year by the pandemic, will return in May with a pair of women's events. But the men won't see action on the circuit until September. And there is no Canadian stop, as yet. World Rugby says discussions continue with Vancouver and London on possibly hosting men’s events in the window between the Tokyo Olympics and HSBC Singapore Sevens in late October. The schedule does not feature Langford, B.C., Canada's traditional stop on the women's circuit. The 2020 Sevens Series was halted after the men's event in Vancouver on March 7-8. The 2020 Langford women's event, scheduled for May 2-3, never happened. The condensed 2021 schedule includes five women’s and four men's rounds, pending decisions on Vancouver and London. New Zealand was crowned champions of both the women's and men's series in 2020, which ended early following five of the eight scheduled women’s rounds and six of the 10 men’s rounds. The Canadian women stood third and the men eighth when the 2020 season was called. The 2021 schedule kicks off with back-to-back women’s events in Paris on May 15-16 and 22-23. The Sevens Series will then break for the Olympics and restart with a men’s event in Singapore (Oct. 29-30), followed by joint men’s and women’s rounds in Hong Kong (Nov. 5-7), Dubai (Dec. 3-4) and Cape Town (Dec. 10-12). The Olympic sevens competition is scheduled for July 26-31 at Tokyo Stadium. Canada's men and women have both qualified for Tokyo. The Canadian women won bronze at the 2016 Rio Games, which the Canadian men missed out on. World Rugby says, with help from the International Olympic Committee, it is investing US$4 million to help qualified teams prepare for the Olympics. Pre-Olympic competition includes a joint women’s and men’s event in Los Angeles June 25-27. Further events will be announced at a later date. Japan will join as a core team in 2021 following its promotion from the inaugural HSBC World Rugby Challenger Series in 2020. Given it is an Olympic year, the England, Scotland and Wales teams will combine to compete as "GB Sevens" in both the men’s and women’s competitions. That will create two additional berths, with invitational teams to be announced at a later date. World Rugby concedes the pandemic may result in more openings. "Given the unique and unprecedented nature of the global COVID-19 pandemic and its various international travel restrictions and quarantine measures, it is accepted that some teams may not be able to travel or participate in all 2021 Series events," the governing body said in a statement. "Where possible, World Rugby will invite replacement teams to fill the places of any core Series team unable to participate in a series event." --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
The Ontario Police College (OPC) has suspended in-person learning in response to a COVID-19 outbreak identified among at least 65 staff and students, and is working to evaluate virtual options for courses. The Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General confirmed on Monday, March 1 that 61 students and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19. The ministry did not answer several questions from the Express about details of the outbreak, including how so many cases could spread so quickly despite strict safety protocols being in place, and if there was a single event attributed to the spread. However, a person who has been inside the college multiple times throughout the COVID pandemic told the Express that they were concerned with an apparent lack of safety enforcement, particularly around face coverings. They had often seen “quite a few” personnel – mainly instructors – walking around the building without masks on, sometimes in groups with others. They saw the same people begin to wear masks in similar situations after the recent outbreak was reported, suggesting they didn’t have a medical exemption before. “They’re wearing them now.” They were worried about the example that set for recruits at the beginning of their professional careers in public safety. After class, recruits might be in their “pods” socializing in close proximity without masks. They noted many of the recruits would return to their home communities on weekends. Ministry of the Solicitor General spokesperson Brent Ross previously told the Express in September that police recruits are permitted to leave campus. Police recruits are expected to comply with COVID-19 health requirements when off campus. Upon return, they are required to undergo screening, including daily temperature checks. Southwestern Public Health unit mandated face coverings in workplaces (even those not open to the public) and indoor public areas. In indoor areas accessible only to employees, face coverings can be removed if physical distancing is maintained. The outbreak was first identified on Monday, Feb. 22. All staff and recruits – about 700 – were tested on Thursday, Feb. 25 and received their results in the following days. The case count soared to 65 on Monday, March 1, up from 27 the previous week. Recruits with a positive test are now self-isolating at the college, the ministry said. Southwestern Public Health said there was not a specific event that contributed to this outbreak. “We do not have any evidence that this outbreak was caused by a variant of concern,” said SWPH spokesperson Megan Cornwell, adding the health unit does not believe there is a risk to the public. The ministry said they have worked closely with the health unit to implement health and safety measures, including mandatory screening of staff and students, isolation as appropriate, on-site testing, and providing personal protective equipment. Recruits have been grouped into “pods” that consist of 8 to 10 people living together. They reside in individual bedrooms and share one to two bathrooms and a common area. Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
WASHINGTON — Growth in the services sector, where most Americans works, slowed sharply in February with hurdles related to the pandemic hindering growth. The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its index of service sector activity dropped to a reading of 55.5% in February, down 3.4 percentage-points from January when activity neared a two-year high. Even with the decline, it was the ninth straight month of growth in the services sector. Any reading above 50 signifies growth. Economists had expected some rollback from the January high but the size of the February drop was much bigger than expected. Service sector businesses were mostly optimistic about the recovery, according to the report Wednesday, but they cited supply chain problems such as production-capacity restraints and material shortages among the problems they are facing. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Capitol Police say they have intelligence showing there is a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. The revelation was detailed in a statement from the Capitol Police. It comes at the same time the acting police chief is testifying before a House subcommittee. The statement differs from an advisory that was sent to members of Congress by the acting House sergeant-at-arms this week, saying that Capitol Police had “no indication that groups will travel to Washington D.C. to protest or commit acts of violence.” The threat comes nearly two months after thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent insurrection as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s electoral win. So far, about 300 people have been charged with federal crimes for their roles in the riot. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died. The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that Trump will rise again to power on March 4, which was the original presidential inauguration day, until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20. Many of the accounts that helped promote and organize the Jan. 6 riots on platforms like Facebook and Twitter have since been suspended, making it more difficult for the groups to organize. ___ Associated Press writers Nomaan Merchant, Colleen Long and Alan Fram contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
The history of the western expansion of Canada is a fascinating account of perseverance, courage and conflict. For a long time, the focus of this time period emphasized the experiences of white settlers who immigrated from Great Britain, the United States and central and northern Europe. Recent scholarship and activities like Black History Month, however, are now making an effort to ensure other historical voices are heard — and Pincher Creek is taking steps to celebrate its own unique portion of the history of black pioneers in southern Alberta. During the Feb. 22 regular council meeting, Coun. Wayne Elliott presented a motion to rename a street after “Auntie” Annie (though some sources have her first name as Amy) Saunders, a black woman who immigrated to southern Alberta in 1877. “Being it’s Black History Month, it seems kind of fitting that we honour someone to that magnitude that doesn’t seem to ever get any recognition,” Coun. Elliott said. Ms. Saunders was born in the United States and met Mary Macleod, the wife of Lt.-Col. James Macleod, the North West Mounted Police officer the town Fort Macleod is named after. In 1877, Ms. Saunders joined the Macleod family and worked as a nurse for the children on their ranch just east of Pincher Creek. She eventually operated multiple businesses in Fort Macleod (then known as the Town of Macleod) and Pincher Creek, including a restaurant and boarding house, and worked as a laundress. Understanding the historical context makes Auntie Annie’s story all the more noteworthy. Western Canada experienced a great influx of immigrants throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Although the Canadian government actively promoted the area as the “Last Best West,” it also sought to exclude and dissuade specific groups of immigrants, including Chinese, Jewish and black people. As a former member of the British colonial empire, the Canadian government operated under the notion that white settlers were superior to other races and better suited to homesteading on the Prairies. Despite the prejudice, about 1,500 black Americans settled in Alberta and Saskatchewan between 1905 and 1912, most leaving Oklahoma to escape rising levels of racial violence. Rising political pressure from white constituents on the Prairies led to Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier signing an order in council in the summer of 1911 banning black immigrants from settling in Canada because they were “deemed unsuitable to the climate and requirements of Canada.” Though the order was never enforced, aggressive marketing by Canadian agents in the United States discouraging black Americans from moving to Canada cut down the number of black settlers, as well as unfair practices at the border that made it more expensive for them to travel into Canada. The fact Ms. Saunders was one of the first black pioneers to settle in Alberta, along with making her own success despite the racism and general prejudice of that time, is remarkable. She passed away in 1898 and is buried in Pioneer Cemetery in Pincher Creek. Coun. Elliott mentioned Auntie Annie was a figure in his own family’s history. “Going back, I was talking to my mom and she said my grandpa talked about what his dad said about her, and she was a very good cook,” he related. “So that’s going back into the 1880s, 1890s, so there is some history on my side.” To honour the memory of Ms. Saunders, and her role in Pincher Creek’s history, Coun. Elliott proposed renaming a section of Veteran’s Street to Auntie Annie Saunders Way, Avenue, Street or Parkway. The proposed renamed section would span from Scott Avenue to the eastern corner of Pioneer Cemetery. While entirely supportive of naming a street after Ms. Saunders, other members of council expressed concerns with renaming an existing road. “I’m completely in favour of honouring our historical figures, but I’m not in favour of changing street names,” said Coun. Scott Korbett. “New developments is where we should be doing this as we move forward, and I also wouldn’t want to honour someone with a street that’s not open.” A better location, Coun. Lorne Jackson added, would help commemorate Ms. Saunders better than the proposed section. “Annie Saunders was an amazing person, someone of colour back in those days that became an entrepreneur and was very successful and one of the richest people in town after a time,” he said. “I think a new street somewhere in town that’s a viable and well used street, and a sign that people would see and drive by all the time, would honour her in a better way.” After discussion, Coun. Elliott agreed to amend the motion to add Ms. Saunders to the town’s prioritized list of future street names. Auntie Annie is second in line after Warren Winkler, whose name was previously selected in a motion from 2017. Mr. Winkler grew up in Pincher Creek and was selected in 2007 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to be the chief justice of Ontario. He was also named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2016 for his contributions to the advancement of Canadian labour law. More information on the history of black settlers immigrating to Canada can be read online in The Canadian Encyclopedia at http://bit.ly/CAN_PEDIA. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kincardine and District Dancing with the Stars fundraiser has been rescheduled to Aug. 19 and this year, will be held as a virtual event. The event welcomes local dance teams, composed of a local celebrity and a seasoned dancer, to compete against each other on the dance floor and raise money for BBBS. It was originally scheduled for April of 2021. The 2020 event was cancelled because of COVID restrictions. “Although we were hoping to be able to bring our community together for another exciting evening of in-person entertainment this year, we have made the decision for the health and safety of our volunteers, supporters and dancers to move to a virtual event,” said Yolanda Ritsema, executive director of BBBSKD. The first Dancing with the Stars event debuted in 2019, and was a huge success. Bill Pike and Jennifer White topped the podium, and the event raised $12,600. BBBSKD, along with many other not-for-profit groups, have felt the fundraising pinch since the beginning of the pandemic, when many events were cancelled because of stay-at-home and gathering restrictions. The groups have had to pivot and develop new means to raise much-needed funds. “The funds from Dancing with the Stars go to support our programs and services,” said Ritsema. “We serve 50 young people in Kincardine and area. Our mission is to enable life-changing mentoring relationships that ignite the power and potential of young people. We serve young people who face adversity and are in need of an additional supportive developmental relationship.” “With monies raised from our main fundraising programs, like Dancing with the Stars, we are able ignite the power and potential of young people by intentionally recruiting volunteers based on the needs of our community's young people; by matching young people with a professionally screened volunteer mentor; by monitoring and supporting that match with a professional caseworker; by training and supporting the mentor, the mentee and the family; and by building a Developmental Relationship between the mentor and the mentee that Expresses Care, Challenges Growth, Provides Support, Shares Power and Expands Possibilities.” Ritsema says that having a big brother or sister has a long term effect on their littles. Mentored youth are two times more likely to give back to their community and 81 per cent of mentored youth report having stronger financial literacy. Forty three per cent are less likely to conduct problems at school and 98 per cent believe they make better life choices. For every $1 invested in Big Brothers Big Sisters, $23 is returned to society. Ritsema says the volunteer team responsible for organizing the event has been hard at work creating a virtual experience everyone will enjoy. Besides the dance competition, the event will feature an online auction and an “early bird” raffle for Mother’s Day, featuring a pair of Canadian diamond earrings, donated by Gemini Jewellers in Kincardine. The dancing pairs, Alana Rozon and Murray Needham, Braden Prasad and Patty Coulter, Gord Dunbar and Sally Ballard, Sarah and Keith Foster and John Binnendyk and Karen Maliseni, will each perform two routines, which will be judged by Michael Rencheck, Jessica Brown and Taylor Pollard. John Low will serve as the master of ceremonies. “We have five wonderful dance couples who have been working so hard for several months to bring you an incredible night of performances,” said Linda Johnson, Dancing with the Stars team captain. “This event will still sparkle and thrill our audience as they watch from the comfort of their homes.” Updates and tickets for the event will go on sale in the coming months. More information can be found by visiting www.kincardine.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca and checking the social media page. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
Scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands is a thrill like few others on earth. The ocean is full of life here with a diversity that is unlike any other place of earth. The underwater volcanic structures and unique combination of ocean currents support a rich abundance of life. Sharks thrive here and scuba divers are thrilled to see them during their underwater adventures. But these scuba divers were not so thrilled when they finished exploring and underwater cave and they headed back to the open ocean. They found a group of sharks had entered the cave and were resting just inside the opening. White tip sharks are not likely to attack humans, unless provoked, but the divers were not able to pass through the narrow chamber without coming into direct contact with the 9-10 foot beasts. This would definitely be inviting trouble and the divers would be unable to easily turn and retreat back inside the caverns. The moment provided an excellent opportunity to gets some spectacular footage of the unusual scenario with the sharks backlit in an eerie fashion. The scuba divers had planned their dive well and they had plenty of reserve air at this point in the dive. They calmly waited and watched the sharks and eventually all of them swam out into the open water, leaving the exit clear. But for a few minutes, the large sharks in the exit were an intimidating sight indeed! People who venture beneath the waves are wise to remember that they are the visitors, or even intruders in this mysterious domain. Incorrect behaviour here can have immediate and disastrous consequences. The ability to stay calm during unexpected challenges is crucial to survival in a world where your air supply is limited.
ANKENY, Iowa — The discovery of a live pipe bomb at a central Iowa polling place as voters were casting ballots in a special election forced an evacuation of the building, police said. Officers called to the Lakeside Center in Ankeny around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday found a device that looked like a pipe bomb in grass near the centre. Police later confirmed in a news release that the device was a pipe bomb. The banquet hall was being used as a polling place for an Ankeny school district special election. Police evacuated the building, and the State Fire Marshal and agents with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were called in. Technicians safely detonated the device, and the centre was reopened around 12:30 p.m. — about three hours after the device was discovered, police said. No one was injured. Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald described the device as a metal piece with two end caps, and said in a Twitter post that a couple walking their dog Tuesday morning had discovered the device. “I want to also add that there is no way of knowing how long this device had been at the Lakeside Center,” Fitzgerald said in a tweet, saying officials don't know whether the pipe bomb was related to the election. Fitzgerald and police said other polling places in Ankeny were checked an no other bombs or suspicious devices were found. An investigation into who left the device is continuing, police said. The Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A blast smashed five windows at a coronavirus testing centre in a small Dutch town early Wednesday, police said. Nobody was hurt in the explosion, which was condemned by the government and health officials. “For more than a year, we've been leaning heavily on the people on the front line. And then this. Crazy,” Health Minister Hugo de Jonge tweeted. The head of the country’s umbrella organization for local health services that carry out coronavirus testing called the blast a “cowardly act.” “Our people have to be able to do this crucial work safely,” Andre Rouvoet tweeted. Police in the province of North Holland tweeted that “an explosive went off” near the testing centre in Bovenkarspel just before 7 a.m. Police cordoned off the area, which is 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Amsterdam, and were investigating the cause of the blast. Police spokesman Menno Hartenberg said it was unclear whether the testing centre was deliberately targeted or when the facility would be able to reopen. He said it was clear that the explosive didn't "get there by accident. But we have no idea at the moment who exactly left it there and what the intention was.” Police said a metal cylinder that had exploded was found outside the building. The northern regions of North Holland province have been identified as a virus hotspot in recent weeks, with infection numbers higher than the national average. In January, rioters torched a coronavirus test facility in the fishing village of Urk on the first night of a 9 p.m.-to-4:30 a.m. nationwide curfew imposed as part of the government’s latest coronavirus lockdown. Attacks health workers and facilities around the world have increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A new report by the Geneva-based Insecurity Insight and the University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Center identified more than 1,100 threats or acts of violence against health care workers and facilities last year. Some Dutch lockdown restrictions were relaxed Wednesday with hairdressers, masseurs and other “contact professions” allowed to reopen if they adhere to strict social distancing and hygiene measures. Nonessential shops also were allowed to reopen in the Netherlands for the first time since mid-December, though only to very limited numbers of customers who make an appointment in advance. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ The Associated Press
For more than a year, the PC government’s plan to build a sprawling GTA West transportation corridor flew under the radar. When Doug Ford and his colleagues moved to restart the highway’s environmental assessment (EA) in 2019, reversing the previous Liberal government’s decision to scrap it, few noticed. Subsequent advancements of the project also received little attention, despite sustained opposition by advocacy groups such as Environmental Defence. As 2021 dawned, something started to shift. While the PCs at Queen’s Park approved the highway’s route in August and then quietly moved to speed up the environmental assessment process to get the project started even faster (perhaps to get shovels in the ground before the next election) opposition to their actions mounted. First, Halton Region and the Town of Halton Hills took an aggressive stand against the plan late last year. Then early in the new year the NDP came out against the project, confirming they would scrap it if the party wins election in 2022, and the Liberals followed a few weeks later with the same pledge. Pleas from environmental groups and local residents who will be directly impacted by the massive stretch of six-lane highway grew louder. Early in February, Environmental Defence teamed up with an environmental law-group, Ecojustice, and sent a request to Ottawa. Take over the EA process being rushed through by Queen’s Park, they asked. The request, originally something of a hail mary that relied on a generous interpretation of federal legislation, has already borne fruit. In a series of unexpected votes, Peel’s lower-tier municipalities finally woke up. Caledon and Brampton had endorsed the highway’s progress for years, while Mississauga had chosen not to get involved. Suddenly, Mississauga passed a motion actively opposing the highway, while Caledon and Brampton both backed calls for the federal government to take over the environmental assessment process, meaning it could scrap the entire project, if it decides to get involved. On Tuesday, in another surprise move, the City of Vaughan, where the 400-series highway would run, voted to revoke its support for the project, passing a motion rejecting the plan, instead of simply debating how the assessment should proceed, which was the original plan for the council meeting. Clearly, politicians have been shocked into action by the mounting anger over the PC government’s decision to unilaterally ram through a project that will have devastating consequences on climate change, GTA watersheds, local ecosystems and the environment in general. The world’s largest protected green space, Ontario’s Greenbelt, would see the giant asphalt corridor run right along its southern edge and, in some places, right through the sensitive natural environment covered by provincial legislation. Sustaining the GTA’s watershed, which prevents flooding while ensuring clean water and healthy ecosystems is critical to the health of Ontario’s most populous region. Building a highway across these valuable lands goes against everything the Province has done over the last two decades to protect the environment. But with the blessing of the development industry, Ford ignored all the past work and the decision in 2018 to scrap the project. The tone deaf move at a time when the planet faces unparalleled challenges, is finally being reconsidered. Shaken by the swelling opposition, even the Province has softened its position, with the PCs stating this week in the legislature that the highway might not happen. Hanging over the process is the potential for the federal government to wrestle control of the EA from Queen’s Park and complete its own assessment. The Liberal government has made climate change a key pillar of its mandate, and a massive 400-series highway would only make it more difficult for Canada to meet its obligations under the Paris Accord. In 2016, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed the document officially at a United Nations ceremony in New York, he said, "Today, with my signature, I give you our word that Canada's efforts will not cease. Climate change will test our intelligence, our compassion and our will. But we are equal to that challenge." His government now has a clear opportunity to make good on the pledge. If a federal EA is conducted and concludes the highway’s impact to the environment or Canada’s emissions targets would be too great, it could end the project once and for all. Under the Impact Assessment Act, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change has 90 days from the initiation of a request to decide whether or not to designate the project and take control. A spokesperson for the federal government confirmed to The Pointer a decision by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada would be made by May 4 “The agency is currently soliciting the views of the public, Indigenous groups and stakeholders to inform its analysis and prepare a recommendation for the minister,” the spokesperson said. “The agency’s recommendation will also be informed by science, input from the proponent, federal authorities, and other jurisdictions.” There are several concerns around the planned GTA West Corridor. Environmental groups and members of the public were alarmed when the PCs announced in the summer that the EA would be streamlined to get the project started faster. Critics said a shortened assessment would fall short of the rigorous scientific standards required to safely build highway infrastructure on or around protected lands. The issue of whether “the potential adverse effects can be adequately managed through other existing legislative or regulatory mechanisms” is one of the questions Ottawa will now consider in its deliberations. The federal government will also consider if the potential greenhouse gas emissions from the project “may hinder the Government of Canada’s ability to meet its commitments with respect to climate change”. This factor, something a new highway would clearly contribute to, suggests Ottawa could be motivated to intervene. The same legislation applied in the decision on the GTA West Highway is being challenged in Alberta. Court documents submitted by the Government of Alberta call the Impact Assessment Act a “trojan horse” and ask the province’s top court to rule it unconstitutional. "This overreach of federal jurisdiction threatens to eviscerate provincial authority over resource development and must be rejected by this court,” the Alberta government states in the court documents. It follows a theme of similar struggles, particularly in Alberta and Ontario, where Conservative governments have found their policies at odds with aggressive national climate change commitments. Ontario Premier Doug Ford believes large-scale construction projects such as the GTA West Corridor will help reignite the economy when COVID-19 eventually retreats. But the federal Liberals have doubled down on their climate change commitments by significantly increasing the national carbon tax. The spokesperson explained the decision-making process to determine if Ottawa will take over the EA for the highway. “The recommendation will consider whether the carrying out of the project may cause adverse effects within federal jurisdiction or adverse direct or incidental effects, and public concerns related to such effects. It will also consider the potential impacts of the project on the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada.” The Fording River Extension in British Columbia, formerly known as the Castle Project, serves as an example. The project was a result of a proposal by Teck Coal Limited to extend the life of its metallurgical coal mine north of Elkford. Between May 12 and July 17, eight separate requests for the Federal government to step in were submitted. They came from different parties, including Indigenous communities and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. On August 19, 99 days after the initial request, the federal government agreed to take over the project’s assessment. So far, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada’s website only lists one request for the GTA West Corridor to be designated as a federal project, linking to the original February letter from EcoJustice on behalf of its client, Environmental Defence. Other requests in the form of council motions have since been sent, including resolutions passed in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. More than 50 comments have also been submitted by members of the public. A final decision will be publicly rendered by May 4. You can visit the federal government's newly created GTA West Highway impact assessment webpage here. 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
NEW YORK — A short time after Broadway shut down last year, Elizabeth Stanley went on a tiny rescue mission. She was offered a chance to get back into her dressing room at the Broadhurst Theatre — home of her musical “Jagged Little Pill” — and to grab anything she needed. “I went and retrieved a bunch of plants,” she says, laughing. “I knew they won’t survive in a room with no windows and no water.” That strong nurturing side of Stanley was also clearly evident from the stage before the pandemic closed theatres. She earned her first Tony Award nomination playing the mom of a Connecticut family spiraling out of control in the musical set to the music of Alanis Morissette's 1995 album of the same name. Stanley is seemingly comfortable singing anything, from complicated Stephen Sondheim show tunes to rock songs by Morissette, classics by Leonard Bernstein and modern gems by Jason Robert Brown. “In some ways, people didn’t know what to do with me always and I think that’s honestly worked out to my benefit most of the time,” she says. “I didn’t just get stuck playing one singular type of part.” Eva Price, the three-time Tony Award-winning producer behind “Jagged Little Pill,” says Stanley has put her entire heart and soul into her latest character ever since workshops started. “She actually created a multi-dimensional, 360-degree, completely layered, contemporary female protagonist in a way that none of us knew we even had on the page or in our minds,” said Price. Stanley made her Broadway debut in the 2006 revival of “Company” and has had roles in “Cry-Baby,” “Million Dollar Quartet” and “On the Town.” A Tony nomination this time is welcome, indeed. “It’s a dream I’ve had for the whole time I’ve been performing and pursuing a career in the performing arts," she says. "So I feel like whatever crazy year it came in, I’ll take it.” The musical is about a family confronting drug addiction, sexual assault, struggles with gender identity and transracial adoption. Morissette has told the cast she hopes the musical can be a hopeful beacon. “She wants us to be a story about healing and connection," says Stanley. "And I think that’s such a beautiful sort of takeaway that she’s infused the piece with and that has always been in her music. I think it’s like this rallying cry for transparency and authenticity.” Stanley — as the mom, Mary Jane — is the spine of the musical, trying to connect with her workaholic husband and aloof teenage kids. She's also hiding an addiction to Oxycodone developed after being prescribed the opioid following a car accident. During the musical, her character also reveals her own history with sexual assault. “There’s so many layers to get into that I think it took me a long time to really find all of her,” says Stanley. “In fact, I don’t even think I’m done. That’s one of the reasons I’m anxious to get back to the show — I don’t feel done with this part yet.” The “Jagged Little Pill” musical is so rooted in contemporary issues facing America that she believes the discussions and marches over racial justice will find voice whenever Broadway restarts. “I think it will influence our interpretation of it as a cast, but it will also influence the audience and how they will see that,” she says. "Going to see a piece of theatre allows us to receive a message and feel it in a more palatable way than watching a three-hour news cycle about something.” During the past year, Stanley has been part of “Jagged Little Pill” online concerts and appearances. She also went through a series of crafting phases — baking, sewing and tie-dying. She made new throw pillows for her couch. COVID-19 ruined what was to be one of her happiest days: her wedding. Engaged in January 2020 to actor and teacher Charlie Murphy, the couple were supposed to tie the knot in September. They even put down — and lost — a security deposit at a venue. Now they're rethinking what they really want when COVID-19 releases its grip on the city. The original idea was to have an intimate affair with just family and a few close friends. “Now I really want to party with a lot of people,” she says, laughing. “Now I need everyone there that I haven’t been able to see, and I’m surrounded by all of my friends and we’re just being crazy.” ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
A man has been arrested after driving the wrong way on Hwy. 401 near Tilbury in an attempt to evade police, the OPP said. An officer from the OPP's Chatham-Kent detachment was using speed radar on the highway at about 12:45 p.m. Tuesday when a vehicle "travelling a high rate of speed in a dangerous manner" was spotted. The OPP had received complaints about the vehicle, according to a news release issued by the police service on Wednesday. "In an attempt to evade police, the vehicle driver manoeuvred the vehicle to drive the wrong way on Highway 401 travelling eastbound in the westbound lanes," OPP said. The driver left the highway and was spotted by Essex County OPP officers. They used a tire deflation device to stop the vehicle on County Road 42 in Lakeshore. According to the OPP, the driver ran away but was brought into custody by officers, including the canine services team. A 19-year-old London man has been charged with dangerous driving, mischief and two counts of flight from police.
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 10:30 a.m. Ontario is reporting 958 new COVID-19 cases today. The province says 17 more people have died from the virus. More than 27,000 tests were completed to compile the data. The province says 27,398 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered since the last daily update. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press