The Canadian women's curling championship kicks off a run of four spectator-free Curling Canada events in Calgary in a controlled environment to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The Canadian women's curling championship kicks off a run of four spectator-free Curling Canada events in Calgary in a controlled environment to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Ottawa will not license any Indigenous "moderate livelihood" fishery in Atlantic Canada unless it operates within the commercial season, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said Wednesday, siding with a key demand from the region's commercial fishing industry, while angering Indigenous leaders. The statement is a major development in the dispute over treaty rights-based fishing that sparked violence last fall when the Sipekne'katik band launched its own self-regulated 'moderate livelihood' lobster fishery. The fishery in St. Marys Bay in southwest Nova Scotia took place outside the commercial season, angering other fishermen who said it was both unfair and bad for conservation. "Seasons ensure that stocks are harvested sustainably and they are necessary for an orderly, predictable, and well-managed fishery," Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said in a statement, confirming a CBC News report earlier in the day. "In effort-based fisheries such as lobster, seasons are part of the overall management structure that conserves the resource, ensures there isn't overfishing, and distributes economic benefits across Atlantic Canada." WATCH | The history of the Mi'kmaw fishery: DFO indicated a willingness to discuss other details with affected First Nation communities. But Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack urged Mi'kmaw bands in Atlantic Canada to reject the federal government's position and told reporters his First Nation will continue to operate its fishery outside DFO seasons in 2021. "They're trying to divide and conquer and throw a carrot to a band or two and have them sign and just hurt everybody's case. So I hope that no other communities do sign. They don't take that low hanging fruit," he said. Sack restated his position that the treaty right was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada's Marshall decision, and accused DFO of trying to divide and conquer the Mi'kmaq. In 1999, the court affirmed the Mi'kmaw treaty right to fish in pursuit of a "moderate livelihood," but under federal government regulations for conservation. Ottawa spent half a billion dollars integrating Indigenous bands into the commercial fishery through licence buy-backs and training, but it never defined "moderate livelihood." Jordan cited part of the Marshall ruling to justify her authority. She noted the Supreme Court said "treaty rights are subject to regulation provided such regulation is shown by the Crown to be justified on conservation or other grounds of public importance." "That is what we are implementing," Jordan said in her statement. The department is offering Indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia a pathway to sell lobster harvested in a moderate livelihood fishery. Right now, that catch does not have DFO's stamp of approval. Without authorization, they can't legally sell their catch to licenced buyers, such as lobster pounds and processors. Bands that accept DFO's position will receive a moderate livelihood licence that will allow them to sell the catch in 2021. Under provincial rules, only fish products harvested under federal commercial licences can be purchased by shore processors. The federal government "will balance additional First Nations access through already available licences and a willing buyer-willing seller approach, protecting our stocks and preserving the industry for generations to come," Jordan's statement said. Sipekne'katik First Nation Chief Michael Sack, right, halted talks with the federal Fisheries Department in December after reaching an impasse.(Paul Withers/CBC) The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Chiefs called the government's conditions "unacceptable" and condemned them as part of a "colonial approach" to the rights-based fishery recognized by the Supreme Court. "DFO continues to dictate and impose their rules on a fishery that is outside of their scope and mandate," said Chief Gerald Toney, the assembly's fisheries lead, in a statement. The right to a livelihood fishery isn't, and shouldn't be, driven by industry or the federal government, he said. "It is something that needs to come from the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia. Imposing restrictions independently, without input of the Mi'kmaq, on our implementation of Rights is an approach that must stop." Mi'kmaw leaders and some academics have insisted the fishery in St. Marys Bay poses no risk to stocks because it is too small. It's a claim the commercial industry rejects. One organization representing commercial fishermen said the DFO has made public what it had been telling the industry in private. "This position needs to come from them and they need to come out publicly, more often," said Martin Mallet, executive director of the Maritime Fishermen's Union. Mallet said commercial fishermen expect the DFO to enforce its rules if bands operate out of season, including pulling traps and "potentially arresting individuals that are not keeping up with the law." A group representing harvesters in southwestern Nova Scotia said the government's position "can provide certainty" for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishermen. "However, lasting and consistent enforcement that is fair to all harvesters will be critical," the Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance said in a statement. The ambiguity over moderate livelihood led to violence last year when several bands launched self-regulated lobster fisheries — all taking place outside of commercial lobster seasons. In October, two facilities storing Mi'kmaw catches were vandalized, including one that was later burned to the ground. Indigenous harvesters also said hundreds of their traps were pulled by non-Indigenous commercial fishermen. After tensions abated, the DFO pulled hundreds of Mi'kmaw traps out of the water, many bearing band moderate livelihood tags. On Wednesday, the DFO returned to Sipekne'katik more than 200 traps it had seized last fall. Sipekne'katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack, shown in October, said Wednesday his band will continue to operate its moderate livelihood fishery outside DFO seasons in 2021.(Pat Callaghan/CBC) When defending the self-regulated fisheries, the Mi'kmaq point to the huge number of commercial traps in the water compared to those from bands. The Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance, which represents shore buyers, said that is misleading. Stewart Lamont of Tangier Lobster said he accepts the treaty right but maintains the fisheries must take place within commercial seasons. "The lobster biomass is extremely vulnerable during certain months of the year, most particularly late July, August, September, October, when lobsters are going through their annual molt," said Lamont. "They're literally hungrier than normal. They've taken on a new shell. They are far more readily embraced into a trap." He said hauling lobster at that time is short-sighted. "By the same token, they are of far lesser quality. They tend to be soft and medium shell. It's not a premium product." Commercial lobster fishing season varies across Nova Scotia, in part to maintain a steady supply to the market, and to protect stocks when they are vulnerable. MORE TOP STORIES
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
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
TOPEKA, Kan. — Former Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas has entered a diversion program to avoid trial over allegations that he voted illegally in a 2019 municipal election. Watkins, a Republican from Topeka who served only one term in the U.S. House, was facing three felony charges. He was accused of listing a postal box at a UPS store as his home on a state registration form when he was living temporarily at his parents' home. He was also charged with lying to a detective who investigated the case. The Shawnee County district attorney filed the charges just weeks before the August 2020 primary, and Watkins lost to now-Rep. Jake LaTurner. “I regret the error in my voter registration paperwork that led to these charges. I fully co-operated from the beginning and had no intent to deceive any one, at any time. I am glad to resolve the ordeal,” Watkins said in a statement Tuesday. Watkins acknowledged he lied to the detective when he said he did not vote in the Topeka City Council election, The Kansas City Star reported. Under the diversion agreement entered into Monday, Watkins' prosecution will be deferred for six months. If he meets the terms of the agreement, the case will be dropped by September. The Associated Press
VICTORIA — Auditor general Michael Pickup says he has long-running concerns with the way the British Columbia government counts the money it receives from other levels of government. Pickup outlined Tuesday what he describes as a nine-year accounting difference of opinion his office has with B.C. over the way federal funds for capital projects are added to the province's annual budget totals. He says the federal money B.C. gets for projects like bridges and highways should be recorded as revenue under generally accepted accounting principles, but B.C. reports the funds in smaller amounts that are calculated over the life of a project. Pickup says the accounting difference means that B.C.'s 2019-20 budget deficit of $321 million should actually have included accumulated revenue of $5.7 billion, producing a surplus of $5.4 billion. He says the budget amount has been growing since 2011-12 when the office of the auditor general first raised the issue. Pickup's audit includes a statement from B.C.'s office of the comptroller general that says the province prepares its financial statements in accordance with the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act, which establishes the government's framework for financial reporting. The Ministry of Finance was not available for further comment Tuesday. "Not following these accounting standards results in under-reporting revenue, which I believe clouds the province's true financial position," Pickup told a news conference. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
At the press conference today March 2, 2021 Premier Moe and Dr. Shahab shared that over 80,000 doses of vaccine have been given in Saskatchewan and that 100% of long-term care homes have now been able to vaccinate all the residents who chose to be vaccinated. Fifty-three per cent of those residents have been given both doses of the vaccine. Approximately nine per cent of residents in long-term care facilities did not receive the vaccination due to a change in health status, not being available at the time of the vaccinations, or declined to receive it to name but a few of the various circumstances which led to not receiving the vaccination. As for personal care homes, ninety per cent have been given their first vaccine and forty-three per cent have received both. Premier Moe stated that with the increased numbers of the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna and now the vaccine from AstraZeneca, Saskatchewan should see over 115,000 doses of vaccine arrive in the province this month. Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Shahab, stated that the province is considering following the lead of Quebec and British Columbia and extending the time between the delivery of the first and second doses of the vaccines. Current protocol for the Pfizer vaccine is 28 days but an extension up to 42 days was declared as acceptable back in January. The Moderna vaccine comes with the prescribed booster shot required in 21 days. The AstraZeneca vaccine is the only one of the three which manufacturers say has a strong efficacy for up to four months before a booster is needed. Dr. Shahab stated that his colleagues in the United Kingdom have been administering all vaccines at the same interval as the AstraZeneca and report that they have not seen any reduction in efficacy of the vaccines by doing so. Dr. Shahab will continue to review the available data before a decision is made, but if the province proceeds it will rapidly accelerate the time frame for everyone in the province who wishes to be vaccinated to receive the first dose. “Giving one dose to the vast majority of people by June and then completing the second dose … will help us prevent a potentially devastating variant-fuelled third wave,” Dr. Shahab said. The province is working closely with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and is waiting for their recommendation which he thinks will support the delay of the second dose. “If we are able to do that, we can see most of our population 18 and older potentially getting the first dose by June,” said Shahab. NACI currently is not recommending the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in individuals aged 65 years and older “due to the insufficiency of evidence of efficacy in this age group at this time.” Health Canada evaluated the data available from AstraZeneca’s clinical trials and determined that this vaccine is safe to be administered in people over 65 years of age and older, the agency said in a statement on Monday. With the current state of vaccine deliveries, the Premier and Dr. Shahab felt that most likely all residents in the 65 years and older age group would be receiving either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines since these will be the most prevalent in the province for the upcoming weeks. Also of note in the press conference was the hint that restrictions on household gatherings could be easing as early as next week. Dr. Shahab noted that when it comes to relaxing restrictions there are three key things he considers: the trend of case numbers, testing rates and contact tracing, and the hospitalizations. All three of those areas are trending in the correct direction according to Shahab. Case numbers in the province are trending downwards, testing rates are staying stable (but it would be even better if they were increasing while the test positivity rate dropped) and the hospitalization rates are trending downward. With that the Premier asked everyone to “hang tight for just a few more days.” He said that he has frequent discussions about lifting restrictions with Dr. Shahab, adding, “We should have more to say about household restrictions, possibly by early next week. We’ll be taking a close look at all of the other public health orders that are set to expire on March 19th.” Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
A well-established detox centre in Penticton, B.C., is now in limbo after the Interior Health authority decided to take over substance use counselling services itself. Founded in 1975, the Pathways Addictions Resource Centre wrote in a statement Tuesday that after May 31, the health authority will take over all addictions services from the centre and other contractors across South Okanagan. Executive director Daryl Meyers says she learned about Interior Health's decision in early February. She doesn't know how the centre could remain open after Interior Health withdraws its funding that makes up over 90 per cent of the non-profit's budget. "It came as quite a shock to both myself and the staff, considering we're in two pandemics [COVID-19 and drug overdoses] and that we have been in Penticton for 47 years offering addiction services," Meyers said to Chris Walker, the host of CBC's Daybreak South. Every year Pathways provides a range of services to about 1,000 clients, including counselling and drug-use prevention education at schools. Meyers says it could be challenging for her clients to transition to recovery services provided by Interior Health, for which they may have to wait longer. "As soon as someone comes to our office, we get to see them right away. They see a counsellor right away and then they are connected with a counsellor within two weeks," she said. "We're connected with a myriad of other organizations and resources in the community, so we're able to get people out to connect with all the other things that they may need on their road to recovery." In a written statement to CBC News, Interior Health says there will be no decrease in services given to people with addiction issues after it takes over the services. It says it has "significantly improved the substance use services offered directly by Interior Health" because of increased funding from the provincial government over the last two years. The statement also says the change will allow it to spread resources across the Southern Okanagan Meyers says her organization will meet with Interior Health Thursday, while in the meantime seeking help from elsewhere. "We're going to talk with other organizations. We're going to look at different funding streams. We're going to see how we can change up a bit of our service and be able to hopefully rally the community to stand behind us and want to see us stay open," she said. According to the latest report by B.C. Coroners Service, Interior Health records the third highest drug toxicity death rate after Northern Health and Vancouver Coastal Health. Tap the link below to hear Daryl Meyers's interview on Daybreak South:
MINAMISOMA, Japan — Because of radiation released by the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster a decade ago, farmers in nearby Minamisoma weren't allowed to grow crops for two years. After the restriction was lifted, two farmers, Kiyoko Mori and Yoshiko Ogura, found an unusual way to rebuild their lives and help their destroyed community. They planted indigo and soon began dying fabric with dye produced from the plants. “Dyeing lets us forget the bad things” for a while, Mori said. “It’s a process of healing for us.” The massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, caused three of the reactors at the nuclear plant to melt and wrecked more than just the farmers’ livelihoods. The homes of many people in Minamisoma, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the plant, were destroyed by the tsunami. The disaster killed 636 town residents, and tens of thousands of others left to start new lives. Mori and Ogura believed that indigo dyeing could help people in the area recover. Mori said they were concerned at first about consuming locally grown food, but felt safe raising indigo because it wouldn’t be eaten. They checked the radiation level of the indigo leaves and found no dangerous amount. Ten years after the disaster, Mori and Ogura are still engaged in indigo dyeing but have different missions. To Mori, it has become a tool for building a strong community in a devastated town and for fighting unfounded rumours that products from Fukushima are still contaminated. She favours the typical indigo dyeing process that requires some chemical additives. But Ogura has chosen to follow a traditional technique that uses fermentation instead as a way to send a message against dangers of modern technology highlighted by nuclear power. Mori formed a group called Japan Blue which holds workshops that have taught indigo dyeing to more than 100 people each year. She hopes the project will help rebuild the dwindling town’s sense of community. Despite a new magnitude 7.3 earthquake that recently hit the area, the group did not cancel its annual exhibition at a community centre that served as an evacuation centre 10 years ago. “Every member came to the exhibition, saying they can clean up the debris in their houses later,” Mori said. Ogura, who is not a member of the group, feels that a natural process is important because the nuclear accident showed that relying on advanced technology for efficiency while ignoring its negative aspects can lead to bad consequences. “I really suffered during the nuclear accident,” Ogura said. “We escaped frantically in the confusion. I felt I was doing something similar again" by using chemicals. “We seek too much in the way of many varieties of beautiful colours created with the use of chemicals. We once thought our lives were enriched by it, but I started feeling that wasn’t the case,” she said. “I want people to know what the real natural colour looks like.” Organic indigo dyes take more time and closer attention. Ogura first ferments chopped indigo leaves with water for a month and then mixes the result with lye which is formed on the surface of a mixture of hot water and ashes. It has to be kept at about 20 degrees C (68 degrees F) and stirred three times a day. Part of the beauty of the process, Ogura says, is that it’s hard to predict what colour will be produced. With the support of city officials, Ogura started making silk face masks dyed with organic indigo. She used to run an organic restaurant where she served her own vegetables before the disaster, but now runs a guesthouse with her husband in which visitors can try organic indigo dyeing. Just 700 metres (2,300 feet) from Ogura’s house, countless black bags filled with weakly contaminated debris and soil are piled along the roadside. They have been there since after the disaster, according to Ogura’s husband, Ryuichi. Other piles are scattered around the town. “The government says it’s not harmful to leave them there. But if they really think it's not harmful, they should take them to Tokyo and keep them near them,” he said. The radiation waste stored in the town is scheduled to be moved to a medium-term storage facility by March next year, a town official said. Chisato Tanaka, The Associated Press
Moose Jaw police are looking for the people who tried, but failed, to steal an ATM from a grocery store after driving a vehicle through the store's front doors early Tuesday morning. It happened at approximately 5:15 a.m. at the South Hill Fine Foods in the southern Saskatchewan city, according to a release from police. A vehicle, believed to be a Ford Escape, crashed through the front doors. Once inside, the people in the vehicle tried to remove the cash machine. The alarm went off and employees started to show up. The would-be thieves fled the scene in a Ford Escape, police said. They are asking that anyone with any information regarding this incident to contact the Moose Jaw Police Service at (306) 694-7600.
The board of the Prince Albert Catholic School Division reaffirmed their support for the Toonies for Tuition campaign during their regular meeting on Monday. The board unanimously chose to support the fundraiser by donating to it. The board approves one fundraiser annually for an organization outside of the division and they chose to support it again in August 2020. “The goal is to raise the approximate value of $2 per student in our school division. For example, if we have 3,000 students our soft goal would be to acquire, to do fundraising for $6,000 and that gets forwarded to the trust to the Canadian Catholic School Trustees Association and they have a committee that reviews all of the applications. So that is something that we are going to endeavour to do over the next few weeks,” director of education Lorel Trumier said. The campaign supports students in provinces where there is no public funding for Catholic schools. The initiative was spearheaded in Canada by vice chair Albert Provost and began in 2011. The board has many new members and during the discussion Provost provided some background to get the board motivated. Trustees may have been aware of the campaign but from the perspective as a parent or stakeholder in the division. “They have been very proud to support Catholic education over many years and we are fortunate in this province to have publicly funded Catholic education and we don' t take that for granted for a minute so that's important,” Trumier said. The campaign has seen a drop in donations during the past year, as expected with schools closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the initial campaign in the fall $21, 219 was raised and any additional funds added between now and May will be added to the total. During the discussion Trumier explained that the division usually reaches out to parishes but have not been able to this year. In 2020, the President of the Saskatchewan Catholic School Board Association, Delmar Wagner contacted the division after the Annual General Meeting of the organization to advise that Prince Albert Catholic had fundraised the highest dollar amount per student in Saskatchewan. Each year a trophy is presented for the highest provincial and highest school board/division winner. Last year in Prince Albert the total funds raised were $2,250 with Ecole St. Anne raising the highest dollar amount with $1,200. Last year's provincial winner was Saskatchewan and the winner of the school board/division trophy was Kenora Catholic Division in Ontario. Prince Albert Catholic previously won the trophy from 2011 to 2017. The province of Saskatchewan also won the provincial trophy from 2011 to 2017. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
On Wednesday, the verdict in Toronto’s van attack trial will be revealed. Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Erica Vella reports.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, has withdrawn her nomination after she faced opposition from key Democratic and Republican senators for her controversial tweets. Her withdrawal marks the first high-profile defeat of one of Biden's nominees. Thirteen of the 23 Cabinet nominees requiring Senate approval have been confirmed, most with strong bipartisan support. “Unfortunately, it now seems clear that there is no path forward to gain confirmation, and I do not want continued consideration of my nomination to be a distraction from your other priorities,” Tanden wrote in a letter to Biden. The president, in a statement, said he has “utmost respect for her record of accomplishment, her experience and her counsel” and pledged to find her another role in his administration. Tanden’s viability was in doubt after Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and a number of moderate Republicans came out against her last month, all citing her tweets attacking members of both parties prior to her nomination. Manchin, a key moderate swing vote in the Senate, said last month in a statement announcing his opposition that “her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget.” Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, meanwhile, cited Biden’s own standard of conduct in opposing Tanden, declaring in a statement that “her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend.” Tanden needed just 51 votes in an evenly-divided Senate, with Vice-President Kamala Harris acting as a tiebreaker. But without Manchin’s support, the White House was left scrambling to find a Republican to support her. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who was seen as the last Republican holdout open to supporting Tanden, said Tuesday night that she never told the White House she was a no vote on Tanden, and that the administration never asked. But her support was believed to be key to Tanden's nomination after a number of other centrist Republicans came out against her, and Murkowski met with the nominee this week. Murkowski told reporters she had asked Tanden, as she does all the nominees, to understand the challenges the Biden administration’s policies are having on Alaska, where the economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas drilling and related activities. “I have walked each and every one of them through these priorities, these challenges that we’re facing right now as, as, Alaskans, and I’m saying, what can you do to help me?” Murkowski said. “Because we’ve got an industry that is that is really in a fragile position right now because of the administration executive orders.” The White House stuck with Tanden even after a number of centrist Republicans made their opposition known, insisting her experience growing up on welfare and background working on progressive policies as the president and CEO of the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress made her the right candidate for the moment. White House chief of staff Ron Klain initially insisted the administration was “fighting our guts out” for her. Tanden faced pointed questions over her past comments about members from both parties during her confirmation hearing. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and prominent progressive lawmaker, accused her of issuing “vicious attacks” against progressives, and hadn’t said whether he’d support her nomination. Tanden apologized during that hearing to “people on either the left or right who are hurt by what I’ve said.” Just prior to the hearing, she deleted hundreds of tweets, many of which were critical of Republicans. Collins cited those deleted tweets in her statement, saying that the move “raises concerns about her commitment to transparency.” She said Congress “has to be able to trust the OMB director to make countless decisions in an impartial manner, carrying out the letter of the law and congressional intent.” As recently as Monday, the White House indicated it was sticking by Tanden’s nomination, with press secretary Jen Psaki noting Tanden's “decades of experience” in defending their pick. “We will continue of course to fight for the confirmation of every nominee that the president puts forward,” Psaki insisted, but she added, “We'll see if we have 50 votes.” A leading advocate for Tanden, Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., the chair of the Congressional Asian and Pacific American Caucus, called the withdrawal a “tragedy” that leaves the Cabinet with just one Asian American member. “We expect the highest levels of professionalism and civility from our leaders in government, which is precisely what Neera displayed in taking responsibility for her past comments and committing to a change in tone. I’m disappointed that such a qualified candidate was subject to such a negative double standard," Chu said. The head of the Office of Management and Budget is tasked with putting together the administration's budget, as well as overseeing a wide range of logistical and regulatory issues across the federal government. Tanden's withdrawal leaves the Biden administration without a clear replacement. The apparent front-runner on Capitol Hill to replace Tanden was Shalanda Young, a former staff director for the House Appropriations Committee who has been actively pushed by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Other names mentioned include Ann O’Leary, a former chief of staff for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Gene Sperling, who served as a top economic adviser to both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. ——— Associated Press writer Lisa Mascaro contributed reporting. Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — The Canadian military says aircraft and ships have responded to an emergency aboard a Canadian fishing vessel that has been damaged by fire off of the coast of Nova Scotia. The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax says the FV Atlantic Destiny is a scallop freezer factory ship with 32 people on board and there are no reports of injuries. The ship has lost power and is adrift about 120 nautical miles south of Yarmouth, N.S., in heavy seas. Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens said a CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopter has started removing some of the crew members from the ship. "It has started extracting non-essential crew from the Atlantic Destiny and will be transporting them to Yarmouth, N.S.," Owens said in an interview Tuesday night. "The U.S. Coast Guard has a helicopter on scene and once our helicopter clears the area will extract the remaining personnel." Owens said a small number of the crew will remain on board to manage the vessel. He said the fire is out but the ship was taking on water and the crew have put on their immersion survival suits. Owens said the rescue centre received a call from the master of the ship at around 8 p.m. reporting a fire on board, a loss of power and that it was adrift. The ship reported eight-metre waves and 55-knot winds. Owens said a CC-130 Hercules aircraft was tracking the vessel and a Canadian Coast Guard ship was en route to the location. Another fishing vessel, the FV Lahave, was nearby. Owens said the families of the crew members have been contacted by the company that owns the vessel and was giving them updates. The FV Atlantic Destiny's home port is Riverport, N.S. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — The British Columbia government says the provincial health officer has to strike a balance between curbing the spread of COVID-19 and religious practice, which may at times affect certain rights under the Canadian charter. Lawyer Gareth Morley told the B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday that Dr. Bonnie Henry is using "non-pharmaceutical interventions" to ensure the population remains healthy until vaccines are prevalent. Morley, who works for the legal services branch of the Attorney General Ministry, said it is agreed that the province is in the middle of a pandemic. "And measures taken to protect public health, to protect lives, to protect people from serious illness, and to protect the ability of the health-care system itself to respond, that those are the sorts of measures that can limit charter rights, including freedom of religion." Henry has a duty under the Constitution to "proportionally and reasonably" limit freedoms by preventing the gathering of people to ensure their health and safety, Morley said. Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson asked who decides whether the limits are proportional or reasonable, adding that he wants to understand how the provincial health officer is making her decisions. "Aren't the churches entitled to know why if you go to the bar and watch a hockey game for an hour or two, you can't sit in a church for an hour or two? It is a point I struggle with." Hinkson said he understands Henry has a difficult job, but she hasn't explained why or how she is making the decisions. "If she chooses not to share her thought process with the court, there's no oversight," he said. Morley said the decisions are made after careful review by health officials and experts. So balancing religious rights and protecting people from an "out-of-control epidemic" is a matter of judgment, he said, adding that Henry met with religious leaders and health officials while making her decisions. Earlier Tuesday, a lawyer for several British Columbia churches told the court the province's COVID-19 restrictions substantially interfere with their right to freedom of religion. Paul Jaffe argued religion is far more than belief, thoughts and opinions — rather, it's the "actual practice" of those things in ways that are an important part of the faith. "There couldn't be, I say, a more substantial interference with religious freedom than to prohibit them from gathering to worship — absolutely integral to their faith," he said. Hinkson said there are no COVID-19 restrictions on people's religious freedoms and it's the safety of those who are gathering that is at issue. Jaffe said church is as much a part of people's lives as school, gyms and shopping. He repeated an earlier argument to the court, saying the orders do not prohibit outdoor assemblies over matters of public interest or controversy. Religion is a matter of public interest, but there is a restriction on gatherings, he said. "In my submission, it's entirely arbitrary," he said. "And for some reason stereotyping of churches in a way which presents them with some kind of risk." Jaffe works with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Calgary-based legal advocacy group that's also asking the court to dismiss tickets of up to $2,300 each for alleged violations of the orders. His clients — which include the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack — have been careful to adopt safety protocols similar to those approved by Henry in places that remain open. A separate petition was filed Tuesday by representatives of 10 other churches that are part of the Canadian Reformed Churches, which has about 3,000 members. The group wants the court to quash the provincial health officer's restrictions that forbid in-person services. The Roman Catholic archbishop of Vancouver is challenging the restrictions in court as well, filing a petition on Friday arguing the orders are unconstitutional. The petition seeks an exemption to allow religious gatherings including mass, weddings and baptisms. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Hina Alam, The Canadian Press
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Health experts in China say their country is lagging in its coronavirus vaccination rollout because it has the disease largely under control, but plans to inoculate 40% of its population by June. Zhong Nanshan, the leader of a group of experts attached to the National Health Commission, said the country has delivered 52.52 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Feb. 28. He was speaking Monday at an online forum between U.S and Chinese medical experts hosted by the Brookings Institution and Tsinghua University. The target is the first China has offered publicly since it began its mass immunization campaign for key groups in mid-December. China has been slow to vaccinate its people relative to other countries, administering 3.56 doses per 100 people so far, according to Zhong, in a population of 1.4 billion. The fastest to vaccinate is Israel, which has given 94 doses per 100 people. The U.S. has administered 22 doses per 100 people. Chinese health experts say the country has enough vaccine supply for its population, although the country has pledged to provide close to half a billion doses abroad, roughly 10 times the number it has delivered at home. “The current vaccination pace is very low due to outbreak control (being) so good in China, but I think the capacity is enough,” said Zhang Wenhong, an infectious diseases expert based in Shanghai who also spoke on the panel. Developers of China’s four currently approved vaccines have said they could manufacture up to 2.6 billion doses by the end of this year. Still, vaccinating China’s massive population will be a daunting task. Even at the rate of vaccinating 10 million people a day, it would take roughly seven months to vaccinate 70% of its population, Zhang noted. The experts all acknowledged the complex task of vaccinating the world's population, pointing to the slowness in the global rollout of vaccines. “Demand will outstrip supply for many months, and unless there is more manufacturing, … for years,” said Tom Frieden, the former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also cautioned against expecting a quick return to normal. The head of China’s Center for Disease Control, Gao Fu, predicted that life could return to an “approximate normal” in summer next year. Gao, along with Zhong and other Chinese health experts, urged more U.S.-China co-operation. Gao specifically called on the U.S. and China to co-operate on COVAX, an initiative to distribute vaccines more fairly across the developing world. “Let’s work together,” he said. ____ This version has been updated to CORRECT that the figures of doses administered per 100 people in China, Israel and the United States is not a percentage of their populations since many people vaccinated have received both of the two doses required. Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press
A Hong Kong court on Wednesday adjourned for a third day the bail hearing of 47 pro-democracy activists charged with conspiracy to commit subversion, a case that has exacerbated international concern over freedoms in the financial hub. The marathon bail proceedings have gone on late into the night for three consecutive days, causing five of the defendants to fall ill and seek medical assistance. Local media footage showed the defendants dressed in the same clothes for four days since they were formally charged on Sunday, some looking exhausted.
St. Louis’ first-ever female mayor will be replaced by another woman, after city Treasurer Tishaura Jones and Alderwoman Cara Spencer on Tuesday bested two men in a new primary election format to advance to next month’s general election. Jones received 25,374 votes and Spencer was second with 20,649 votes, according to unofficial final results. Aldermanic President Lewis Reed was third, followed by businessman Andrew Jones. Incumbent Democrat Lyda Krewson chose not to seek a second four-year term. Tishaura Jones said on Zoom that St. Louisans “should be able to succeed here regardless of your skin colour, who you love, how you worship, your ZIP code, or any identity you have.” Spencer has been outspoken against special interests. She said on Facebook that her campaign “has changed the dialogue about how we serve St. Louis.” The city’s new “approval voting” format makes municipal contests nonpartisan and has another unique feature: Voters can “approve” of as many candidates in the primary as they want. Each vote counts as one. The idea is to get the two candidates with the most support to the general election, which is April 6. Four years ago, Tishaura Jones finished a close second to Krewson in the Democratic primary, and Reed was third. Krewson easily defeated Andrew Jones, a Republican, in the April 2017 general election to become the city's first woman mayor. Tishaura Jones and Andrew Jones are not related. Though this year's general election also will be nonpartisan, both Jones and Spencer are Democrats. The next mayor faces the daunting challenge of taming violent crime in a city that has been at or near the top of per capita homicide rankings for decades. Jones and Spencer, in interviews with The Associated Press last week, both said reducing violence was the top priority. Both pledged to address the underlying issues that lead to crime such as drug and alcohol addiction, poverty and mental illness. Jones, 48, is a former state representative who has been treasurer since 2013. She said the “arrest and incarcerate” model of criminal justice has been a failure. She would bring in more social workers, mental health counsellors and substance abuse counsellors, rather than adding more uniformed officers. Spencer, 42, has been a member of the Board of Aldermen since 2015. She favours a “focused deterrence” model connecting those at risk of committing violence to self-help resources, but making it clear those who cross into crime will face the consequences. Krewson, 67, had a personal connection to the violence -- her husband was fatally shot in a 1995 carjacking. She ran on a pledge to battle crime, but the city saw a staggering increase in killings during the coronavirus pandemic. Police said 262 people were killed in St. Louis last year — five less than the record of 267 set in 1993. But because the city’s population has declined since 1993, the homicide rate was much higher in 2020. In announcing her retirement from politics in November, Krewson said elections “are about the future.” She said at the time that challenges posed by crime, COVID-19 and other issues were not factors in her decision. In previous years, Democrats and Republicans squared off in separate primary elections in March. St. Louis is so heavily Democratic that the April general election was virtually irrelevant. Voters in November adopted the new “approval voting” method. St. Louis is just the second city to try it. Fargo, North Dakota, used it for the first time last year. Jim Salter, The Associated Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina senators Tuesday added a firing squad to the electric chair as alternatives if the state can't execute condemned inmates by way of lethal injection. The Senate then approved the bill on a key 32-11 vote with several Democrats joining Republicans in the proposal which would allow South Carolina to restart executions after nearly 10 years. The state can't put anyone to death now because its supply of lethal injection drugs expired and it has not been able to buy any more. Currently, inmates can choose between the electric chair and lethal injection and since the drugs are not available, they pick the method that can't be done. The Senate bill keeps lethal injection if the state has the drugs, but requires prison officials to use the electric chair if it does not. An inmate could choose a firing squad if they prefer. The House is considering a similar bill without the firing squad option, but it could also consider the Senate version after a procedural vote by senators finalizes the bill later this week. South Carolina still uses the electric chair first powered up in 1912 after taking over the death penalty from counties, which usually used hanging. It is just one of nine states that maintains an electric chair. It would become just the fourth state to allow a firing squad with Utah, Oklahoma and Mississippi, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster asked for lawmakers to give him any way to restart executions since a few inmates have exhausted their appeals but their death sentences can’t be carried out. A Republican and a Democrat, both former prosecutors, proposed adding the firing squad. The Democratic former prosecutor said it is evident in a Republican dominated state like South Carolina where the GOP gained extra seats in November that the death penalty can't be abolished like Virginia did last month. “The death penalty is going to stay the law here for a while. If it is going to remain, it ought to be humane," said state Sen. Dick Harpootlian, who said hanging is brutal and often leads to decapitation and in electrocution, the condemned “are burned to death.” Since the last execution was carried out in May 2011, South Carolina’s death row has dropped from about 60 inmates to 37 as of now because of natural deaths and prisoners winning appeals and being resentenced to life without parole. Prosecutors have sent just three new inmates to death row in the past decade. The Republican former prosecutor, Sen. Greg Hembree, said Tuesday was not the time to debate whether the death penalty was right or wrong. But several Democrats said the moral aspect of putting someone to death could not be removed from discussions over the method. They also asked senators how they could justify having a debate over putting people to death this week when last month they passed a bill outlawing most abortions in South Carolina, which is now tied up in court. Democratic Sen. Kevin Johnson brought up George Stinney, the youngest person executed in the U.S. in the 20th century. He was 14 when he was sent to South Carolina's electric chair after a one-day trial in 1944 for killing two white girls. A judge threw out the Black teen’s conviction in 2014 . Newspaper stories reported that witnesses said the straps to keep him in the electric chair didn’t fit around his small frame. Johnson drives by a memorial to Stinney each time he comes to Columbia from Manning. “You think it was bad to abort a baby? Think how much worse it is to kill a person who when all is said and done is innocent," Johnson said. Only one senator in the chamber has seen an execution. Hembree, the co-sponsor of the firing squad proposal, tried nearly a dozen death penalty cases as a prosecutor and watched one of the men he condemned to death die by lethal injection. “There’s nothing pleasant about any of those forms. They are gruesome, they are sad and tragic in a way," Hembree said. “Justice is not always a happy place. But it is justice.” ___ Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP. Jeffrey Collins, The Associated Press
CANBERRA, Australia — Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson said Wednesday he was accountable for the mining giant destroying sacred Indigenous sites in Australia to access iron ore and he will not seek reelection as a board director next year. Thompson’s announcement came after former chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques announced his resignation last September over the destruction in May of two rock shelters in Juukan George in Western Australia state that had been inhabited for 46,000 years. The company’s successes in 2020 were “overshadowed by the destruction of the Juukan Gorge shelters ... and, as chairman, I am ultimately accountable for the failings that led to this tragic event,” Thompson said in a statement. “The tragic events at Juukan Gorge are a source of personal sadness and deep regret, as well as being a clear breach of our values as a company,” he added. Jamie Lowe, chief executive of the National Native Title Council, which represents Australia’s traditional owners of the land, described Thompson's departure as a necessary step that Indigenous people had been demanding since the rock shelters were blasted. “We think the cultural shift within Rio Tinto needed to happen immediately and it’s too bad its taken some eight months to be actually able to see that come to fruition,” Lowe said. Jacques was replaced as chief executive in January by Jakob Stausholm. Executives Chris Salisbury and Simone Niven also left the company last year due to shareholder anger at the destruction that outraged traditional owners of the gorge, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people. Rio Tinto announced on Wednesday that director Michael L’Estrange would retire from the board at the conclusion of the April annual general meetings in Britain and Australia. L’Estrange led a widely criticized internal review of how the rock shelters came to be blasted against traditional owners’ wishes. The review concluded in August that there was “no single root cause or error that directly resulted in the destruction of the rock shelters.” But internal documents revealed in September that Rio Tinto had engaged a law firm in case the traditional owners applied for a court injunction to save the rock shelters. The Western Australian government has promised to update Indigenous heritage laws that allowed Rio Tinto to legally destroy the sacred sites. Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press
Another Ontario judge has blamed a lack of resources in the Brampton courts for extraordinary delays that led to gun charges being thrown out. In a recent ruling, Ontario court judge Paul F. Monahan said that a delay of more than 18 months bringing the case to trial violated the accused’s rights. The accused in the case, Tyranne Greenidge, had been charged with several offences arising out of a June 26, 2019 traffic stop, including the criminal charge of possession of a loaded restricted firearm. “This is a serious case,” Monahan wrote in his Jan. 27 ruling. “Guns are a major problem in our society. I have reluctantly concluded that I have no choice but to enter a stay in this case for a violation of the charter.” The judge noted that neither the Crown counsel, defence counsel, the court or the trial coordinator were to blame for the delays. Rather, he said the “die was cast” when it took roughly two months to make a judicial pretrial available and another 14 months to make a trial date available. This happened because there was a lack of resources in the Brampton Ontario court of justice (OCJ), Monahan wrote. “This is an observation that has been made in many other cases. It is not the first time this has happened in the Brampton OCJ, and it is unlikely to be the last.” Monahan noted that the total delay was 18 months and 25 days, which is above the ceiling of 18 months set out in a landmark 2016 Supreme Court ruling. Dubbed the Jordan ruling, it stipulates that once charges are laid, provincial cases must be heard within 18 months and superior court cases within 30 months, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Other judges in Peel have underscored similar concerns including another January ruling in which Superior Court Justice David Harris citing “long-standing and glaring systemic issues,” in Brampton’s bail court before staying a string of serious criminal charges, including 10 gambling and 53 illicit gaming counts, against two men who waited 12 days for a bail hearing. Harris said he reviewed more than two dozen cases and found “pervasive” bail delays had occurred with “alarming frequency” in violation of accused persons’ charter right to a bail hearing in a reasonable amount of time — typically within 24 hours or three days for more complex hearings requiring a special bail hearing. Defence lawyer Daniel Brown, who serves as vice-president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association told the Star it is one of many examples of serious criminal cases being tossed for delay because the Brampton courthouse lacks the resources necessary to prosecute cases in a constitutionally acceptable timeframe. “One solution is for the provincial government to dedicate more resources to the jurisdiction, including additional judges, courtrooms and prosecutors,” Brown said. “Care must be taken by police and prosecutors to examine whether some minor cases could be diverted from the court system earlier in the process so that our justice system has the necessary resources available to address serious criminal prosecutions like this one.” Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpic Jason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star