People 65 or older are now allowed to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Washington state, but many are hindered by the online booking system which some complain is overly complicated. The rollout there offers lessons for other jurisdictions.
People 65 or older are now allowed to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Washington state, but many are hindered by the online booking system which some complain is overly complicated. The rollout there offers lessons for other jurisdictions.
(Scott Neufeld/CBC - image credit) Alberta Health Services has discontinued legal action against a central Alberta cafe owner who operated for weeks in defiance of public health orders intended to curb the spread of COVID-19. With restrictions in-person dining now lifted, AHS is no longer pursuing compliance against the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror, a hamlet 70 kilometres northeast of Red Deer. The Whistle Stop has been at the centre of a high-profile legal battle over enforcement and a public debate over the strains that pandemic-related health orders have placed on small business. Cafe owner Christopher Scott had been issued a court order after he refused to close the restaurant's dining room, contravening a ban on in-person dining introduced in December as cases across the province soared. 'No order to enforce' In a statement Wednesday, AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson said health inspectors no longer need the courts to enforce compliance. "The order was no longer relevant, given the restrictions on dine-in service have been lifted," Williamson said. "There's essentially no order to enforce." Scott still faces two charges under the Public Health Act for contravening an order from a medical officer of health, RCMP said Wednesday. He is scheduled to appear in court in Stettler on April 22. Under the act, a first-time conviction can result in a fine of up to $100,000. Convictions for subsequent offences carry fines of up to $500,000. Scott began serving dine-in customers in late January. For weeks, the cafe operated in contravention of public health restrictions. AHS issued a public health order to Scott on Jan. 22, closing the restaurant to sit-down business. Christopher Scott, the owner of Whistle Stop Cafe, says he wants his concerns about the public health restrictions to become part of the public record. He plans to contest his charges in court. Despite the order and numerous warnings from health inspectors and RCMP, Scott refused to comply. He said opening was the only way to save his ailing business, and urged other struggling restaurants to follow suit. In response, AHS applied for an emergency injunction to force the closure and cease in-person dining. A judge in Red Deer granted the injunction on Feb. 3, citing the potential harm of contravening public health orders. Five days later, the Alberta government relaxed some restrictions. Dining rooms across the province were allowed to reopen. Scott will be reimbursed for some of the costs he incurred during litigation, Williamson said. "AHS agreed to pay costs which are commonly awarded on a discontinuance to cover costs that they have incurred to defend against the application," he said. "AHS will continue to uphold all current public health orders and restrictions, with the goal of protecting the public." Owner 'looking forward' to court battle Scott said he considered trying to continue the legal battle so his concerns about the restrictions — and the role of Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health — would become part of the public record. "AHS hasn't provided me evidence that the restrictions they imposed in the first place were valid in the first place," he said Wednesday. "The order comes from an unelected official who is largely unaccountable for that action and doesn't suffer the consequences of the restrictions that she imposes. Anytime an unelected official can direct the government to infringe on any kind of rights, that's a problem." Scott plans to contest the charges he faces under the Public Health Act and is looking forward to his day in court. He said he doubts that provincial health officials had grounds to enforce the rules they had imposed. More than a dozen other restaurants across the province also opened their dining rooms, risking steep fines to serve patrons. Charges have also been laid against an Edmonton-area pastor whose church continued to hold Sunday services despite enforcement orders from AHS.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's nominee to run the CIA told lawmakers Wednesday that he would keep politics out of the job and deliver “unvarnished” intelligence to politicians and policymakers. “I've learned that politics must stop where intelligence works begin,” William Burns told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “That is exactly what President Biden expects of CIA.” Burns said the president "wants the agency to give it to him straight, and I plan to do just that and to defend those who do the same." The comments from Burns were aimed at drawing a contrast with the prior administration, when President Donald Trump faced repeated accusations of politicizing intelligence and he publicly disputed the assessments of his own intelligence agencies, most notably about Russian election interference. Burns is a former ambassador to Russia and Jordan who served at the State Department for more than 30 years under both Democratic and Republican presidents. His well-known status in diplomatic circles makes his confirmation likely. He acknowledged that he would be returning to government at a time of diverse international security threats, including from China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. Burns appeared before the committee one day after members held a hearing on Russian hacks that targeted the U.S. private sector and federal government agencies. He said that intrusion was a “very harsh wake-up call about the vulnerabilities of supply chains and critical infrastructure” and that the CIA had to work even harder to detect and prevent cyberoperations from abroad, to help attribute blame and to develop its own capabilities. He also said that "outcompeting China" would be a core national security priority in the coming years. Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — A new report from Uber Technologies Inc. says its Canadian drivers and couriers don't think they receive dependable earnings. The survey of 23,428 people earning money through the company's platform says only 31 per cent rated Uber as "good" for dependable earnings. About one quarter described it as "poor" and 43 per cent says they were just "OK." The survey was conducted by Uber and Qualtrics last October and was released after UberEats couriers complained that a change in the company's pay system resulted in their average earnings sliding from as much as $10 a trip before tips to as low as $3.99 during the pandemic. Drivers called for more transparency around how their fares are calculated, release of details on minimum earnings before accepting trips and lower commissions on long trips. Almost 20 per cent of Uber users griped about the quality of customer service, robotic responses and the long response time to get an issue resolved, while 17 per cent had concerns about the app's performance and its navigation and GPS system. Despite the issues raised, Uber says 80 per cent of those surveyed were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the company and 65 per cent think it has either done enough or gone above and beyond for workers during the pandemic. “What drivers want and care about matters, and we will use this feedback to help improve the experience on Uber for now and in the future," an Uber spokesperson said in an email. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — In November, Paula Mont did something new: The 86-year-old, who hasn't left her New Jersey senior living community in nearly a year, went shopping — online. Mont used an iPad, equipped with a stylus to help her shaky hands, to buy a toy grand piano for her great-granddaughter. She picked it out from more than a dozen versions of the instrument on Amazon. “It is like a wow feeling. I found it!” Mont said. The internet has become a crucial link to the outside world during the pandemic, one that millions of people still don't have access to. Among older adults, the lack of internet has even impeded their ability to get vaccinated. But the pandemic has also motivated many who have been isolated at home or unable to leave their senior communities to learn something they may have resisted until now: how to buy groceries and more online. People 65 and older rang up nearly $187 per month online last year, up 60% from a year earlier, according to market research firm NPD Group's Checkout Tracking. They still spend less than the total population, who paid about $238 per month, but they are the fastest-growing group of online shoppers by age group. Shopping is one of a slew of activities that older Americans now have to do over the internet, like doctor’s appointments and socializing via digital video like FaceTime. Such behaviour was forced by necessity — older people face the biggest risk of infection, so it’s more dangerous for them to go out. The transition online hasn't always been easy, and children and senior living staff often have to help, an experience that can be both gratifying and difficult. Barbara Moran, director of social programs for Atria Senior Living where Mont lives, says one of the biggest challenges residents face with their devices is that they are used to pushing, not tapping, as if they’re using a touch-tone telephone. She has to repeat tips often. “I would lie if I didn’t say I was frustrated sometimes,” said Moran, who sits with Mont — masked and gloved — in the facility’s dining room for weekly shopping sessions. Internet retailers and delivery services hope people over 65 keep up the online shopping habit. Freshly, which delivers prepared meals, is adding smaller portions and low-sodium options aimed at seniors; grocery delivery service Instacart set up a phone support line; Target's delivery service, Shipt, is scrapping its $99-a-year fee for some low-income seniors. Diane Shein, 73, from Bonita Springs, Florida, turned to Instacart and Amazon-owned Whole Foods for groceries because of the pandemic. “I’m not sure how much it costs, but I don’t care,” Shein said. “It’s very easy and safe.” Instacart president Nilam Ganenthiran predicted that online groceries will be a “new normal” for older people even when the pandemic ends. Still, there are many barriers, from struggling to use new technology to high prices to access. People 65 and older are less likely than younger people to have home internet or a smartphone. Nearly 22 million, or 42% of Americans 65 and older, lack broadband at home, according to a 2021 study from non-profit Older Adults Technology Services. Low-income and Black and Latino older adults are more likely to be left out, the study says. “We are asking them to stay at home, and yet a lot of seniors are not connected,” said Lauren Cotter of the Community Tech Network, a San Francisco non-profit that trains low-income residents on technology and provides free tablets and hotspots. Those with devices and internet may wrestle with how to use an app or fear giving out personal information because they worry about fraudsters. Online shopping scams cost Americans $245.9 million last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. And online grocery shopping, which includes tips and delivery charges, costs more than going to stores. The pandemic has also exposed the shortcomings of the internet, which often fails to accommodate people with disabilities or an aging population with visual and hearing issues. Iris Berman, 93, lives in an assisted living centre in San Francisco and used to buy her shoes online. As her eyesight worsened, her son Eric Berman, who works in technology, would help her by sharing her screen virtually. He took over her shopping completely during the pandemic because her vision loss was so severe. “None of these websites works well when they’re enlarged,” he said. Then there's the simple fact that older people did not grow up with the internet so things may not come as intuitively compared with those who have. Lynette White, 72, buys clothes and household items from Amazon and Target online on her iPhone. But she finds other apps, including the Safeway grocery one, too hard to navigate. When she tries to check out her shopping cart, she finds herself starting all over again. She says it’s frustrating that there are are too many steps. Still, she said she likes learning new skills and her grandchildren, who she sends Amazon gift cards as presents, approve. “They’re very impressed that at my age I am excited about technology,” White said. ______ Follow Anne D’Innocenzio: http://twitter.com/ADInnocenzio Anne D'Innocenzio, The Associated Press
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's auditor general is warning of a crisis in the nursing home sector if the government doesn't address the shortage of spaces. Kim Adair-MacPherson says the number of seniors in the province is expected to double by 2036 and there are currently almost 800 seniors waiting for a nursing home placement. She says it's unclear how the province plans to address the demand. Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch says 600 new nursing home beds will be opened over the next five years. He says the procedure the government uses to request proposals for new nursing homes has been streamlined, which he says should speed things up. Cecile Cassista, executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents Rights, says the government should concentrate on helping seniors remain in their own homes instead of putting them into nursing residences. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press
“Speak, Okinawa,” by Elizabeth Miki Brina (Knopf) Elizabeth Miki Brina’s “Speak, Okinawa” is a masterful memoir in which Brina examines the complex relationship she has with her interracial parents. Brina’s father, white and American, met her mother, who is from the island of Okinawa, while he was stationed there on a US military base. The two settled in the United States, where Brina’s mother spent decades feeling lonely and out of place. Brina grew up feeling close to her father and resenting her mother. Desperate to feel wholly American, she pushed her mother away, embarrassed of her accent and overall inability to truly assimilate. In this investigation of her childhood, Brina begins to see things differently. She looks at life from her mother’s perspective, and now, she starts to understand the depth of her pain, pain she endured from leaving behind all she knew and loved, and also the pain of calling occupied land home. “Speak, Okinawa” is both a mediation on Brina’s own family as well as a powerful history of the United States occupation of Okinawa, where it maintains a massive military presence to this day. Brina’s writing is crisp, captivating and profound. She is vulnerable, raw, and relatable, and her stories will no doubt cause readers to reflect on their relationships with their own parents. As educational as it is entertaining, “Speak, Okinawa” is well worth the read. —- Molly Sprayregen can be reached at her site. Molly Sprayregen, The Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. — Trashed on social media and censured by Louisiana Republicans, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy described himself Wednesday as “at peace” with his vote to convict former President Donald Trump at his impeachment trial and dismissed the scorching GOP backlash he's received. Louisiana's senior Republican senator said he does not believe the criticism represents the feelings of many of his party's voters. He said the censure he received from the leadership of the state Republican Party represented “a small group of people,” not the “broader Republican Party.” “I am such at peace with that vote. I say that knowing that I’m getting criticized, but I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Cassidy said in a conference call with reporters on a variety of topics. Cassidy joined six other Senate Republicans in voting with Democrats on Feb. 13 to convict Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in an impeachment trial that saw the former president acquitted. Louisiana's other U.S. senator, Republican John Kennedy, voted against conviction. “I’ve received comments from folks who are Republican who object to the vote,” Cassidy said. “I’ve received a heck of a lot of folks who agree with me or, if they don’t agree with me, respect the kind of thought process that went into it.” He added: “There’s a diversity of opinion among Louisiana Republicans, even if there is not among a very small group of people.” Though the 57-43 Senate vote was short of the two-thirds majority needed to find Trump guilty, the seven GOP votes against Trump represented the largest number of lawmakers to ever vote to find a president of their own party guilty at impeachment proceedings. Some Republicans who voted to acquit Trump said they did not believe the Democrats proved their case that the former president was directly responsible for inciting hundreds of people to storm the Capitol building in a riot that left five people dead. Other Republicans said they simply did not believe Congress had jurisdiction over a president no longer in office. Cassidy has tried to change the conversation since the impeachment trial ended, sending out daily statements about a variety of subjects and talking about other issues, such as the confirmation hearings of President Joe Biden's cabinet appointments and recovery from the icy weather. But Trump supporters don't want to move on, and they've been slamming Cassidy on conservative talk radio and websites. They've called for Republicans to ban Cassidy from their events, and several local Republican groups have joined the executive committee of the state GOP in condemning Cassidy's vote to convict Trump. Cassidy, a doctor, overwhelmingly won reelection in November to a second term, with Trump's backing. Asked whether his vote to convict Trump could damage his chances of reelection in 2026, Cassidy replied: “It is six years off, but that's immaterial. I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution." ___ Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte. Melinda Deslatte, The Associated Press
(Justin Tang/Canadian Press - image credit) Ottawa's medical officer of health is warning that COVID-19 transmission rates are again heading in the wrong direction, and could once again place the city on a path toward tighter restrictions. Ottawa is currently an orange zone, according to the province's colour-coded scale that influences public health directives on businesses, gatherings and other activities. But on Wednesday, Dr. Vera Etches said the city is heading toward red. We could be discussing whether we need to go ahead with [tighter restrictions] next week. - Dr. Vera Etches "We are not heading toward yellow, we are heading toward red, and that's not OK," she told city councillors. "We could be discussing whether we need to go ahead with [tighter restrictions] next week." Ottawa has never been declared a red zone since the province instituted its new colour-coded system earlier this month, but back in October the city was moved into what's known as "modified Stage 2," with restrictions on most indoor activities. If Ottawa moves into the red zone, indoor gatherings will be limited to a maximum of five people, restaurants can't have more than 10 customers indoors and cinemas will be closed. Etches said some key indicators show transmission of the virus is no longer in decline, and said the recent lifting of some restrictions might be giving residents a false sense of security. "Ottawa Public Health is seeing people who test positive, who work in offices and pharmacies and religious communities and coffee shops, grocery stores, warehouses, home care security — it is widespread," Etches said. "I just don't want people to have a sense [that] it's under control."
(Lea Storry/Twitter - image credit) If this week's big flash in the early morning sky has you itching to hunt for meteorites, you're not alone. But for Alberta's scientific community, space detritus has more value than being a stellar addition to your rock collection. At the University of Alberta, for example, researchers are using bits of space debris to figure out how to eventually handle parcels arriving on Earth from far, far away. "We're trying to advance curation techniques — that is, how do we handle this extra terrestrial material without contaminating it by the terrestrial environment," Patrick Hill, a planetary geologist at the U of A, told CBC Radio's Edmonton AM on Wednesday. "[That will] prepare us for sample-return missions such as Perseverence on Mars or Hayabusa 2 or OSIRIS-REx. And so that's our main interest. But meteorites provide us with a wealth of information about the history of the solar system and the geology of the solar system." Researchers are now checking images collected on an array of specialized cameras that document the night sky, looking for clues about the location of the fireball, which was reportedly seen in places like Jasper, Calgary and Saskatchewan. Those images will also offer insight into whether any fragments of the meteor survived the trip through the atmosphere to land on the ground, Hill said. "As long as it's captured by two or more of our cameras — because we know the GPS location of those cameras and the orientation in the night sky, we can, in essence, triangulate and the hone in on where this happened in Alberta," he said. Following the brilliant streak, captured on umpteen dashboard and doorbell cameras, the meteor enters what scientists call "the dark flight" of its freefall to the Earth's surface. Using speed and altitude data from the cameras, scientists will try to figure out what might have made it to the ground. "There's still some uncertainties in our models about powering down the exact location of where this happened and if any debris was formed. But if so, yes, it most likely would have fallen in Alberta," Hill added. For those who go hunting, Hill said a meteorite will be dark black or brown, with an eggshell-like outer layer, created during its fall through the sky. A 13-kilogram meteorite found in 2009 in Buzzard Coulee, Sask., approximately 40 kilometres from Lloydminster, Alta. The space rock was among 1,000 pieces collected from the Buzzard Coulee meteorite which fell Nov. 20, 2008, making it a Canadian record for number of fragments recovered from a single fall. Because nearly all meteorites contain iron, nickel or other metals, they will be fairly heavy for their size — and they should be magnetic, he said. As for size, Hill said it could vary between a couple of centimetres to a metre or more. A meteorite that falls on private property belongs to the landowner, while space debris that ends up on roads or public land falls under the finders-keepers principle, Hill said. But if you really want to know what you've found, you'll need to call in the experts. The U of A science faculty has a website titled Meteorites (and meteowrongs) to help guide people through the process. "Usually we work with the finder because the value of these meteorites comes from the classification," he said. "For example, they could be much more valuable, like lunar meteorites or Martian meteorites, where something hit Mars or the moon and that debris has been sent to Earth."
(Paul Tukker/ CBC - image credit) Whitehorse city council has given first reading to a new bylaw considering a zoning application that would allow a new drive-thru restaurant near the top of Two Mile Hill. The proposed business — not named in council documents — would be built on an empty lot on Range Road, just off the Alaska Highway and adjacent to the airport. The lot's zoning currently allows for an eating or drinking establishment, but not with a drive-thru. That would require an amendment approved by council. Councillors have expressed concern about the development, and some say it could take business from the downtown area. But councillor Dan Boyd says that traffic is the big issue, and also let it slip at this week's council meeting what the development might be. "It would be 1,000 visits or trips potentially through a busy drive-thru, if you built a Dairy Queen, or whatever this might be, downtown or if you built it at the top of the Two Mile hill," said Boyd. Whatever the development might be, it has raised questions about long-term planning for the city. Mayor Dan Curtis says there is only so much space that can be built on, and that the city should think about long-term planning. "Quite frankly I think our downtown is outgrowing itself. That's not to suggest I want something that enables people to get what they need and keep on going. I don't want that," Curtis said. "But I think that the services in the capital city and people here and the things they can see and do is going to be the real draw, not the fact there is perhaps a drive-thru on top of the south access or on top of the Two Mile Hill," said Curtis. The bylaw to rezone the area on Range Road to allow for drive-thru services is now open for public comment. A public hearing on the proposed development is scheduled for March 22.
Despite rising COVID-19 cases, especially in Metro Vancouver, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry didn’t announce new measures to curb the spread of the virus in a briefing today. Henry urged British Columbians to continue to stay home when sick, wear a mask in public spaces and not socialize outside their households — public health orders that have been in place for nearly five months. “It is concerning that we’re seeing an increase in our per-cent positivity and in our weekly average, particularly in the Lower Mainland,” she said. “We know what to do to manage.” The province need only stay the course to lower transmission as it continues to roll out vaccines to the most vulnerable to serious illness, she said. But recent data shows the number of people infected is beginning to climb again after a slow decline. Earlier this month, the province was reporting about 450 new COVID-19 cases each day. On Thursday, the province reported 617 new cases. Today, Henry said 559 new cases had been identified. And the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases has surpassed 500 for the first time since early January. Recent polling also suggests British Columbians are less likely to consistently follow COVID-19 guidelines than people in other provinces. Concerns have also increased after seven schools reported students and staff had been exposed to COVID-19 variants that are believed to be more easily transmitted and potentially more likely to cause serious illness. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside acknowledged the issue in a briefing Monday. “I can appreciate the anxiety,” she said. But she added that testing has shown the variants are not being spread within schools. Henry said the province is testing all positive cases for evidence of a variant, and genomic sequencing has been ramped up to confirm the extent of variants in the community. “We are paying extra attention, so we better understand how and where these are spreading,” she said. “We’re learning about the impacts of these variants of concern,” Henry said. “But we know what we have to do to manage it.” Henry said there are signs the province’s vaccination effort has saved lives, particularly in long-term care. More than 220,000 people have been vaccinated, and at least 55,057 of those have had two doses. The province reported one death due to COVID-19 today, an individual in assisted living. There have been no new cases or deaths in long-term care in the last 24 hours, and 92 per cent of residents have had their first dose of the vaccine, Henry said. Outbreaks in long-term care have also dropped from almost 60 in December to 12. There are five outbreaks in assisted living facilities. On Monday the province will announce the plan for vaccinating seniors over 80 living in the community, Henry said, which will begin shortly. “We are in a period of vaccine hope and pandemic reality,” she said. Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
ExxonMobil is selling most of its drilling and exploration assets off the coast of the U.K. in the North Sea for more than $1 billion. Exxon has heightened its focus on other oil rich regions, including the Permian Basin in the Southwest United States. The sale includes ExxonMobil’s interests in 14 producing fields in the North Sea. The fields are run primarily by Shell, including Penguins, Starling, Fram, the Gannet Cluster and Shearwater. Total operated others. ExxonMobil’s share of production from these fields was approximately 38,000 oil-equivalent barrels per day in 2019. The sale by Exxon of its North Sea assets first arose in 2019, and the selling price was estimated to be around twice the announced number Wednesday. Oil prices plunged last year as the pandemic ground almost all travel, by road, rail or air, to a halt. Prices have rallied since last spring and are up 30% this year, but remain muted. The Texas oil giant, which has operated in the U.K. for more than 135 years, will maintain extensive refining, petrochemicals production and the natural gas operations in the U.K. It will also keep its non-operated share in production and exploration assets in the southern North Sea. Neil Chapman, senior vice-president of ExxonMobil, said in a prepared statement Wednesday that the company is selling assets that are “less strategic" to better concentrate on major operations in Guyana, Brazil, and the United States. The deal is expected to close by the middle of the year. Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press
(Linda Ward/CBC - image credit) Toronto police say they have discovered human remains in a case that is linked to the shooting death of a 45-year-old man downtown on Tuesday. That fatal police shooting is currently under investigation by the province's Special Investigations Unit (SIU). In a news release issued on Wednesday afternoon, investigators said the remains "have not yet been formally identified," adding that the homicide unit is now leading the investigation. Toronto man Orson York, 59, has been charged with indignity to a human body. York appeared in court via video link on Tuesday. The charge is linked to an incident where a second man, identified on Wednesday by the SIU as Gedi Ali Gedi, 45, was shot by Toronto police officers early Tuesday morning. Speaking on Tuesday, police said they were called to the unit at 291 George St. as part of an investigation into a missing woman. Sources tell CBC News that before police arrived at the scene for that investigation, someone discovered blood at the Toronto Community Housing building. When security video was reviewed, sources say two men could be seen carrying bags out of the building and what appeared to be a body part was seen falling from one of the bags. Police were notified and the Emergency Task Force was dispatched to the building to do a door knock. When the ETF officers arrived, sources say they found Gedi with an edged weapon inside an apartment on the third floor. The mother of the missing woman, Amanda Killeen, 33, confirmed her daughter's ex-boyfriend was Gedi and he lived at that address. The family said the two broke up about a year ago but she often visited him. On Tuesday evening, forensic investigators were digging through dumpsters outside the building. Toronto police confirmed on Wednesday that an investigation is taking place on Commissioners Street, where a transfer station for waste collection is located. Police also confirmed on Wednesday that an investigation is taking place on Commissioners Street, where a transfer station for waste collection is located. Police said the scene is part of an investigation for human remains but would not confirm if it is connected to the case at 291 George St.
MONTREAL — Veteran defender Laurent Ciman has returned to Montreal, where he started his MLS playing career, this time as an assistant coach. The 35-year-old Belgian spent three seasons in Montreal before an unwanted trade to expansion Los Angeles FC in December 2017. After one season as LAFC captain, he joined Toronto FC in December 2018 after a brief stint in France with Ligue 1's Dijon. Ciman, named MLS Defender of the Year in his first season in Montreal, became a free agent after his TFC contract expired at the end of last season. For Ciman, retirement as a player means a return home. He retained his house in Montreal and wife Diana and their two kids remained there while he played in Toronto. After a successful career in Belgium, Ciman opted to come to Canada in 2015 because of the support available here for daughter Nina, who has autism spectrum disorder. "I'm very happy to be back home," Ciman said in a statement Wednesday. "It's been my wish for a long time, and this is a great opportunity for myself and my family. I just want to contribute to the club’s growth." Ciman, who won 20 caps for his country, played in the Belgian top flight from 2004 to 2015 with Charleroi Sporting Club, Club Brugge, KV Kortrijk and Standard de Liège. He played six seasons in MLS, appearing in 136 regular-season games including 126 starts. He also played in nine playoffs games, nine Canadian Championship games and eight CONCACAF Champions League matches. "We are very happy that Laurent is joining the coaching staff and that he is back with the club," said Montreal sporting director Olivier Renard. "It is a logical and beneficial association, especially knowing the attachment Laurent has always had for this club and this city. We can now count on his experience after a fruitful career in Europe, in MLS, and on the international stage." Ciman who played 515 pro matches during his career, saw limited action with Toronto but provided key backup for the injured Omar Gonzalez in the 2019 playoffs. He was a popular member of the Toronto squad. "He's got an incredible personality … a very playful personality that I think is infectious in our group," then coach Greg Vanney said during Ciman's time in Toronto. "It's something that our group needs at times, just to be able to banter, have fun, make something sometimes that is challenging or difficult into some kind of a game within the game." Ciman was a member of the Belgian squad that reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and saw action in Euro 2016. He missed out on the 2018 World Cup, one of Belgium's final cuts. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021 The Canadian Press
(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit) Mayor John Tory says Toronto is extending the cancellation of in-person major events to July 1 as the city looks ahead to another summer in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the events that will once again be moved online: the Toronto Marathon, Canada Day celebrations, the Juno Awards and the NXNE music festival. You can see the full list of events that are impacted here. The mayor's announcement came on the same day as news that the the Canadian National Exhibition was planning for an in-person fair event this summer, running from Aug. 20 to Sept. 6. Tory says it's too soon to predict whether or not the Ex will be able to open as planned. 700+ possible VOC cases in Toronto That update also comes as Toronto's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa laid out new numbers for the city's variant cases, revealing a growth of about 200 possible cases in just two days. Toronto currently has 72 cases that have been confirmed to be variants of concern (VOC). There are, however, 710 cases that have screened positive for "mutations of interest" and are expected to soon be lab confirmed as VOC — an increase of just under 200 from Monday. WATCH | Mayor John Tory explains Toronto's event closure extension "The only trend I'm prepared to cite at this point is that the screened positive total marches up daily and that should be a matter of concern to all of us," said de Villa. The city is also reporting 389 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, as well as 30 additional hospitalizations, and 1 death. Province updates vaccine plan The briefing came on the same day as a major update on Ontario's vaccination plans, with the province revealing a staggered plan to vaccinate adults according to age through the spring and early summer. Adults over age 60 are expected to begin getting their shots by July 1st, but the province was unable to say when anyone younger than that could expect to be vaccinated. It also comes a day after COVID-19 outbreaks were confirmed at two Toronto police facilities.
Substantial increases in speed and avail-ability for broadband may be coming to Mono. Council heard a request from Rogers Communications Canada Inc., to support their application to the Federal government to become part of the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) program. Their aim is to supply the entire town of Mono with Fibre Optic Internet service. Currently, much of Mono is underserviced by the available service providers and this prevents many residents and businesses from taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by digital communications.Broadband connectivity is a key priority for Mono Council and is in fact, part of their Corporate Strategic Plan. Rogers’ “leave no home behind,” plan is a true game changer for Mono.Rogers build strategy commitment is to bring broadband to entire areas of under-served homes. If it is approved, it will bring the needed broadband service, to house-holds and businesses to enable them to avail themselves of digital opportunities. Espe-cially, in the fields of business, education, health and public safety.One of the other benefits to the propos-al, is that there is no suggested cost to the Town. A notation made by Deputy Mayor John Creelman, who has been spearheading the drive for better internet service in Mono. To this end, the deputy Mayor was deeply involved with helping Vianet set up the an-tennae on the Town water tower. Another potential benefit is that if two ser-vice providers are eyeing the same territory, the funder, in this case the Federal govern-ment will be the one to decide who may op-erate where. Also, any service must be an open access one, meaning that third party users must be allow access to the service for a reasonable cost.The proposed service, will have a mini-mum download speed of 50 megabits per second and a minimum upload speed of 10 megabits per second. There are purportedly, several service providers interested in servicing Mono. CAO Mark Early mentioned that he had recently been approached by V-Media from Concord, who are also interested in supplying internet services to Mono.Deputy Mayor Creelman noted that the SWIFT program is set to go along Hwy.10, from the 10th Sideroad north through Camil-la. If Rogers and Vianet are prepared to ser-vice the rest of Mono, this will allow SWIFT to move into other parts of Dufferin County, not adequately services with broadband.Innovation Canada expects that 90 per cent of Canada will have access to high speed internet by the end of 2021. Individ-uals are encouraged to reach out to their internet service providers to notify them about the UBF and encourage them to apply for funding. Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
Charlie Munger, the longtime business partner of Warren Buffett, on Wednesday warned that the stock market bears signs of a bubble, reflecting a "dangerous" mentality among some investors to gamble on stocks as they would horse races. Munger, 97, lamented the recent mania for GameStop Corp, in which amateur investors encouraged each other online to buy the gaming retailer on platforms including Robinhood, and caught some hedge funds in a short squeeze. "A lot of them crowd in to buying stocks on frenzy, frequently on credit, because they see that they're going up, and of course that's a very dangerous way to invest."
Nikola Dimitrov of AIS Technologies Group in Windsor, Ont., discusses how the pandemic has affected supply lines.
ATHENS, Greece — The former director of Greece’s National Theatre appeared Wednesday before a public prosecutor to respond to child abuse allegations in a case that has triggered a major political dispute and a debate on reforms needed to prosecute sex crimes. The 56-year-old suspect was taken into police custody on Saturday and resigned his position as the theatre's artistic director earlier this month. Defence lawyer Alexis Kougias denied the charges on behalf of his client and formally requested that the case be dismissed. He said the court granted a 24-hour extension to present a defence. Under Greek law, suspects are not named before trial unless exceptions are made to serve the public interest or they voluntarily identify themselves to assist their defence. Kougias has identified his client as prominent Greek actor-director Dimitris Lignadis, who was escorted in handcuffs by police to the court building and made no remarks to reporters outside Wednesday. Opposition parties argue that the culture minister in Greece’s centre-right government responded too slowly to the allegations and should be removed. Multiple cases of alleged sexual misconduct and abuse have been made public since Greek Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by a sailing federation official in 1998. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has promised to outline proposed legal changes in parliament on Thursday to make it easier for victims of sexual assault to report the crimes. The Associated Press
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — The RCMP say a crash on Highway 16 west of Prince George has killed a Metro Vancouver man and injured a 20-year-old Alberta resident. An RCMP statement says the collision happened Monday as the Alberta man in a westbound pickup was overtaking an empty logging truck. The passing lane ended before the pickup had finished its manoeuvre and police say it collided with an oncoming car. Police say the driver of the car, who was in his 40s, died a short time later in hospital. Officers in Prince George are leading the investigation and want to speak with the logging truck driver, who stopped to assist but left before talking with police. Investigators are also appealing for dashcam video from anyone on Highway 16 between Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof at around 5:30 p.m. Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. The Canadian Press