Oregon Governor Kate Brown says residents who had to shelter with friends or family because of power outages should monitor themselves for symptoms of the coronavirus. (Feb. 19)
Oregon Governor Kate Brown says residents who had to shelter with friends or family because of power outages should monitor themselves for symptoms of the coronavirus. (Feb. 19)
WASHINGTON — The board that oversees the U.S. Capitol Police is beginning a search for a permanent police chief, a person familiar with the matter said, as the fallout from the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol continues. Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman has faced scrutiny from Capitol Hill leaders and congressional committees over law enforcement failures that allowed thousands of rioters to overtake police officers during the insurrection. The search for the permanent leader of the force, which has more than 2,300 sworn officers and civilian employees, will be nationwide, and while Pittman can apply for the position, she is not guaranteed it, according to the person, who had direct knowledge of the search. This person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The department's eventual permanent leader will face calls to improve the force's intelligence gathering and sharing and its ability to respond to threats like the insurrection. In a draft report obtained by The Associated Press, a task force charged with reviewing Jan. 6 says the Capitol Police already has the ability to “track, assess, plan against or respond” to threats from domestic extremists who continue to potentially target the building. The report recommends a major security overhaul, including the funding of hundreds of new officer positions and establishing a permanent “quick response force” for emergencies. Some of the proposed security enhancements are already common in most major police departments, such as establishing a mounted unit of officers and distributing body cameras. The task force also addressed the hourslong delay of National Guard support on Jan. 6 as outnumbered officers were overrun by rioters. The draft report faults the three-member Capitol Police Board for its slow decision-making and suggests giving the Capitol Police chief authority to circumvent the board in emergencies and directly request help from the Guard. The task force also called on the Defence Department to give the D.C. National Guard commander authority to send troops in emergencies without the Pentagon's permission. The report was obtained by the AP in advance of closed-door briefings for lawmakers expected Monday. The Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies are trying to determine the best way to secure the Capitol over the long term. Officials last week quibbled over requesting National Guard reinforcements to remain in the District of Columbia and whether to remove the massive fence that has encircled the Capitol grounds since January. The Capitol Police Board, which includes the House and Senate sergeant at arms and the Architect of the Capitol, is charged with oversight of the police force. In recent weeks, Pittman has been pressed by lawmakers to explain why the force wasn’t prepared to fend off the violent mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump even though officials had compiled specific, compelling intelligence that extremists were likely to attack Congress and try to halt the Jan. 6 certification of Joe Biden's presidential victory Pittman, who was previously in charge of the agency’s intelligence operations, has said officials were so concerned by the intelligence that they took extraordinary measures, including giving assault-style rifles to agents guarding congressional leaders and having other officers waiting with evacuation vehicles for top lawmakers to flee the Capitol, if needed. But as the invaders wielded metal pipes, planks of wood, stun guns and bear spray, the vastly outnumbered rank-and-file officers inside the building were left to fend for themselves without proper communication or strong guidance from supervisors. The officers weren’t sure when they could use deadly force, had failed to properly lock down the building and could be heard making frantic radio calls for backup as they were shoved to the ground and beaten by rioters. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer and a woman who was shot by police. Pittman last week disclosed to lawmakers a possible plot by far-right militias to target the Capitol on March 4, a date that some conspiracy theorists said would mark Trump’s restoration to power. March 4 was the original presidential inauguration day until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20. There was no violence last Thursday. She has since appealed to congressional leaders for help securing the continued presence of the National Guard. Pittman has also testified that the large, razor-tipped fence encircling the Capitol after the riot should stay up indefinitely. Some lawmakers on both sides have called for the fence to start to be taken down. According to the draft report obtained by the AP on Sunday, the task force led by retired Army Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré recommends eventually replacing the barrier with mobile fencing and “an integrated, retractable fencing system." The report also addresses the security arrangements for lawmakers in Washington and their home districts, a traditionally sensitive issue on Capitol Hill. It calls on Congress to fund the installation of security systems at homes and offices and for the Capitol Police to establish a new unit to co-ordinate security as necessary with state and local law enforcement across the country. Congressional leaders have said they expect to consider a supplemental spending bill in the aftermath of the riot. Pittman lost the support of much of the agency’s rank and file after Jan. 6, with the Capitol Police’s union voting overwhelmingly to show no confidence in her. Several officers have called for the elevation of agency leaders who were more directly seen fighting the rioters, including Thomas Loyd, an inspector who gave an initial lockdown order before Pittman did. Pittman became the first Black and female police chief in the department’s nearly 200-year history. Earlier, she was one of the first two Black women promoted to captain. The department has long faced allegations of racism, notably in a 2001 class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of more than 300 current and former officers who alleged they lost out on promotions and assignments to less-qualified black officers and were harassed with racial epithets. ___ Merchant reported from Houston. Associated Press writer Colleen Long in Washington contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, Lisa Mascaro And Nomaan Merchant, The Associated Press
Most provinces, including British Columbia, announced this week they expect every adult will receive a first COVID-19 vaccine dose by June or July. The move came after a recommendation by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to delay a second dose for four months, following evidence of high levels of protection from one dose. All provinces have adopted the recommendation, potentially accelerating Canada's vaccination timeline by two months. But where does that leave kids? Close to one million people in B.C. are 19 or younger, and they make up nearly one-fifth of the province's population. Here's what you need to know about where they fall in the vaccination plan. Can kids get vaccinated? Not yet. Health Canada has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people aged 16 and older, while the Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for those 18 and up. Health Canada's chief medical adviser, Supriya Sharma, has said there's not enough data from the initial clinical trials to know how the vaccines affect kids. So far, B.C.'s immunization plan is focused on residents 18 and older. B.C.'s health ministry said it will administer Pfizer vaccines to teens between the ages of 16 and 17 who are severely clinically vulnerable, and whose care provider has determined vaccination is the best course of action. Do kids need to be immunized? Dr. Manish Sadarangani, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and director of the Vaccine Evaluation Centre at B.C. Children's Hospital, said it's not yet not clear whether all kids need to get vaccinated. He is currently leading research that is testing children across B.C. for COVID-19 antibodies to understand asymptomatic infections and better estimate the true infection rate among younger people. Experts will also have a clearer picture once most adults are vaccinated, Sadarangani said. At that point, health officials can look at the number of cases among kids, whether severe cases are showing up and whether kids are a source of ongoing community transmission. Researchers are testing children across B.C. for COVID-19 antibodies to understand asymptomatic infections and better estimate the true infection rate among younger people.(Ben Nelms/CBC) Fiona Brinkman, a professor in the molecular biology and biochemistry department at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, said children should "definitely" be vaccinated. "Getting COVID is much worse in terms of potential for long-term side effects than getting the vaccine," said Brinkman, who is also working on Canada's variant containment efforts through the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network. When will kids receive a vaccine? The four pharmaceutical companies are at all different stages of testing the vaccines on kids. It's unclear when exactly those vaccines could be approved for kids. Sharma said Friday that data from teenagers will come first, followed by kids under 12. "Potentially, by the end of the calendar year, we might have some answers for children." Clinical trials are underway to determine vaccine effectiveness on children.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) Sadarangani said the first clinical trial data from older kids is expected to come by the end of August. If the Health Canada approves the vaccines on kids, NACI will then recommend how to best deploy the doses, he said. Sadarangani said rolling out the vaccine as part of school immunizations will be far more efficient than immunizing adults, noting the system is "better set up" to vaccinate kids. Is achieving 'herd immunity' possible without vaccinating kids? Some experts have suggested that achieving "herd immunity" — the point at which the virus can no longer spread in the community because enough people have either been infected or vaccinated — may not be feasible without vaccinating kids. Brinkman said it's a reasonable concern, but the degree of protection to society from vaccines make them a powerful tool, even before they're available to children. "We have vaccines that have incredible efficacy. In fact, they're astounding," she said. "When you have vaccines that work that well, you don't actually have to vaccinate as many people in the population to have it be effective." A nurse administers a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination in Vancouver on March 4. B.C. says it expects every adult to receive a first vaccine dose by July.(Ben Nelms/CBC) Anna Blakney, an assistant professor at University of British Columbia's school of biomedical engineering, said herd immunity is often thought of as a percentage of a population that must be protected to ensure safety for all. But it's actually a more dynamic concept, she said, especially since it's unknown how long immunity from COVID-19 will last. "With herd immunity, you don't just reach that level and then it's there forever," she said. "People can lose their immunity over time, so most likely what's going to happen is that it will be a combination of natural infections and the vaccine that get us to that kind of steady state of herd immunity." Are there safety concerns for kids? Blakney, who also runs a popular TikTok account that educates viewers about COVID-19, said she's received many questions about the safety of the vaccine in children. She said clinical trials are generally designed with less vulnerable populations in mind — those between the age of 18 and 55. (Because COVID-19 disproportionately affects the elderly, older people were included in vaccine trials.) Once a vaccine is found to be safe in those populations, they're expanded out to children and pregnant women. "It's routine for children and babies to get vaccines. That's when you get the most vaccines in your life. They're just waiting for that safety to be proven," Blakney said. "We want to first test it in the less vulnerable population in case there are any side effects. That doesn't mean we expect there to be — that's just how it's evolved over time." Sadarangani explained that the dose may be adjusted to ensure the best protection possible for children. "Some vaccines do need a bit more because they need a bit more to stimulate their immune systems than adults do. And some vaccines, they need a bit less," he said. "This is one of the reasons in the trial for going down through the age groups, starting with the older kids that are likely to be most like adults." What about parents who are hesitant to vaccinate their kids? In a UBC study last fall, about 43 per cent of 2,500 families across Canada surveyed said they would accept less rigorous testing and expedited approval of a vaccine for their kids. Blakney said she finds some degree of vaccine hesitancy normal, especially because people are not accustomed to the speed with which the vaccine was developed. A B.C. COVID-19 vaccination immunization record card. Sadarangani says school immunizations will be far more time efficient than immunizing adults.(Ben Nelms/CBC) But she said the vaccine research involved an unprecedented level of funding and effort from scientists, doctors, and governments alike. "We have lots of safety data on this because not only were they trialled in tens of thousands of people, but now they've been implemented to millions of people," she said. "So we have a pretty good idea of the safety profile of them thus far, which is what gives us that extra confidence to go into other populations. These vaccines are incredibly safe in the data we have so far." What can parents do in the meantime? Brinkman said, for now, parents can ensure that their children's other vaccinations and booster shots are up to date, while also following public health orders until restrictions can safely be lifted. "That will help protect them and give their system the best chance against other diseases," she said, adding some people may have fallen behind schedule on immunizations while B.C. has been partially shut down. "It's very important at this stage that we keep the numbers of cases as low as we can because we really need to reduce the chance of the viral variant spreading."
WASHINGTON — With President Joe Biden on the verge of his first big legislative victory, a key moderate Democrat said Sunday he's open to changing Senate rules that could allow for more party-line votes to push through other parts of the White House’s agenda such as voting rights. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin stressed that he wants to keep the procedural hurdle known as the filibuster, saying major legislation should always have significant input from the minority party. But he noted there are other ways to change the rules that now effectively require 60 votes for most legislation. One example: the “talking filibuster,” which that requires senators to slow a bill by holding the floor, but then grants an “up or down” simple majority vote if they give up. “The filibuster should be painful, it really should be painful and we’ve made it more comfortable over the years,” Manchin said. “Maybe it has to be more painful.” “If you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk,” Manchin added. “I’m willing to look at any way we can, but I’m not willing to take away the involvement of the minority.” Democrats are beginning to look to their next legislative priorities after an early signature win for Biden on Saturday, with the Senate approving a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan on a party-line 50-49 vote. Final passage is expected Tuesday in the House if leaders can hold the support of progressives frustrated that the Senate narrowed unemployment benefits and stripped out an increase to the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Over the weekend, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, representing around 100 House liberals, called the Senate’s weakening of some provisions “bad policy and bad politics." But Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., also characterized the changes as “relatively minor concessions” and emphasized the bill retained its “core bold, progressive elements.” Biden says he would sign the measure immediately if the House passed it. The legislation would allow many Americans to receive $1,400 in direct checks from the government this month. “Lessons learned: If we have unity, we can do big things,” a jubilant Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told The Associated Press in an interview after Saturday's vote. Still, the Democrats’ approach required a last-minute call from Biden to Manchin to secure his vote after he raised late resistance to the breadth of unemployment benefits. That immediately raised questions about the path ahead in a partisan environment where few, if any, Republicans are expected to back planks of the president’s agenda. Democrats used a fast-track budget process known as reconciliation to approve Biden’s top priority without Republican support, a strategy that succeeded despite the reservations of some moderates. But work in the coming months on other issues such as voting rights and immigration could prove more difficult. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pledged that Senate Republicans would block passage of a sweeping House-passed bill on voting rights. The measure, known as HR 1, would restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, strike down hurdles to voting and bring transparency to the campaign finance system. It would serve as a counterweight to voting rights restrictions advancing in Republican-controlled statehouses across the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s repeated false claims about a “stolen” election. “Not one Republican is going to vote for HR 1 because it’s a federal takeover of elections, it sets up a system where there is no real voter security or verification,” Graham said. “It is a liberal wish list in terms of how you vote.” When asked about the voting rights bill, Manchin on Sunday left the door open to supporting some kind of a workaround, suggesting he could support “reconciliation” if he was satisfied that Republicans had the ability to provide input. But it was unclear how that would work as voting rights are not budget-related and would not qualify for the reconciliation process. “I’m not going to go there until my Republican friends have the ability to have their say also,” Manchin said. On Sunday, the anti-filibuster advocacy group “Fix Our Senate” praised Manchin’s comments as a viable way to get past “pure partisan obstruction" in the Senate. “Sen. Manchin just saw Senate Republicans unanimously oppose a wildly popular and desperately-needed COVID relief bill that only passed because it couldn’t be filibustered, so it’s encouraging to hear him express openness to reforms to ensure that voting rights and other critical bills can’t be blocked by a purely obstructionist minority,” the group said in a statement. Manchin spoke on NBC's “Meet the Press,” “Fox News Sunday,” CNN's “State of the Union” and ABC's “This Week,” and Graham appeared on Fox News Channel's “Sunday Morning Futures." ___ Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report. Hope Yen, The Associated Press
MILAN — AC Milan boosted its title hopes by winning 2-0 at Hellas Verona in Serie A on Sunday despite being without a number of key players missing through injury. Rade Krunic and Diego Dalot scored for Milan, which moved to within three points of league leader Inter Milan. The Nerazzurri host Atalanta on Monday. Second-place Milan also remained four points above Juventus and six above Roma in fourth. Juventus beat Lazio 3-1 on Saturday, while Roma beat Genoa 1-0 earlier Sunday. After failing to win three of its last four games, Milan was desperate for a victory to put pressure on city rival Inter. But the Rossoneri were without a long list of injured players including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Mandžukic, Ante Rebic and Hakan Çalhanoglu. Milan’s injury problems seemed to get worse when Gianluigi Donnarumma appeared to pick up a knock early on and reserve goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu started warming up but Donnarumma was able to continue. Krunic fired Milan in front in the 27th minute when he curled a magnificent free kick into the top right corner after he had been tripped by Verona defender Giangiacomo Magnani on the edge of the area. Milan doubled its lead five minutes after the interval when Dalot finished a well-worked team move with a shot into the top left corner. RACE FOR FOURTH Gianluca Mancini’s bullet header helped Roma move back into the top four and the Champions League spots. Mancini scored the only goal of the match in the 24th minute as Roma moved a point above fifth-place Atalanta. Genoa remained seven points above the relegation zone after its second loss in three matches. It had only lost one of the previous 10 since Davide Ballardini replaced Rolando Maran as coach. Roma dominated and broke the deadlock when Mancini rose highest in the middle of the area to head a Lorenzo Pellegrini corner into the top right side of the net. Roma almost doubled its lead in the 67th but Gonzalo Villar’s effort was deflected onto the right post by Genoa midfielder Ivan Radovanovic. The hosts did have the ball in the back of the net shortly after. Pedro’s backheeled flick came off the left post and Borja Mayoral turned in the rebound but it was ruled out for a narrow offside. Genoa fought hard for the equalizer until the end but struggled to create opportunities of note. RELEGATION SCRAPS Simy scored twice to help bottom club Crotone beat Torino 4-2 in a direct battle to avoid relegation. It ended a seven-match losing streak for Crotone. It was also Serse Cosmi’s first win, in his second match since replacing Giovanni Stroppa as coach. Crotone inched to within five points of 18th-place Torino and six points off safety. Fiorentina moved six points above the relegation zone after drawing 3-3 against 19th-place Parma. Napoli was playing Bologna later, after Cagliari’s match at Sampdoria. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Daniella Matar, The Associated Press
Prince Harry also described being "trapped" in the royal lifestyle while his wife, Meghan Markle, said the isolation was such she contemplated suicide.View on euronews
The White House on Sunday urged computer network operators to take further steps to gauge whether their systems were targeted amid a hack of Microsoft Corp's Outlook email program, saying a recent software patch still left serious vulnerabilities. "This is an active threat still developing and we urge network operators to take it very seriously," a White House official said, adding that top U.S. security officials were working to decide what next steps to take following the breach. The White House official, in a statement, said the administration was making "a whole of government response."
Canada's chief public health officer is expressing hope for the future as the world prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 crisis. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic last March 11, and Dr. Theresa Tam says it's been a difficult 12 months marked by hardship and sacrifice. But she says it's been "a good week" for Canada's vaccination program thanks to the recent approvals of the Johnson & Johnson and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines. Tam says the addition of the two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster and help ease the worries surrounding supply disruptions or setbacks. The anniversary comes as all provinces are expanding their mass vaccination programs and some are loosening restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus. A stay-at-home order in Ontario's Toronto, Peel and North Bay regions will lift on Monday, while five Quebec regions will be downgraded from red to orange on the province's colour-coded regional alert system. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March. 7, 2021 The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Three major health care worker unions are launching a campaign to press the Ontario government for increased wages and better access to personal protective equipment. The unions say the campaign will launch on Monday in workplaces across the province ahead of the Ontario budget, which is expected to be delivered later this month. They say they are asking the government to raise the wages of personal support workers in all health care settings to $25 an hour as the pandemic continues. They also say the province has a stockpile of 12.4 million pieces of personal protective equipment such as N95 masks, but say staff still struggle to access what they need in some long-term care homes. The unions are calling on the province to ensure employers distribute the protective gear to staff as needed. The call for action is being led by members of Unifor, Service Employees International Union - Healthcare, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Meanwhile, Ontario reported 1,299 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, along with 15 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 329 new cases in Toronto, 192 in Peel Region, and 116 in York Region. Sunday's data is based on 46,586 completed tests. The province also reported administering 30,192 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, for a total of 890,604 doses handed out so far. There have been 308,296 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario since the pandemic began, including 290,840 classified as resolved and 7,067 that have resulted in death. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021. The Canadian Press
A recent survey revealed most British Columbians want to end heckling during Question Period, and if the first week of the 2021 legislative session was any indication, the Speaker is no fan either. The session began with two days of restrained civility, led by Interim Opposition Leader Shirley Bond and Premier John Horgan as they parried through each day’s Question Period openers. The wheels flew off the bus on day three, Mar. 3, when heckling, desk banging, and insults throughout Question Period caused Speaker Raj Chouhan to issue a rare admonishment to MLAs in the Chamber afterwards. “Members, you may think that making a big noise is a good way of doing Question Period. The Chair doesn't appreciate it,” he said. Chouhan, the NDP MLA for Burnaby-Edmonds since 2005, was appointed Speaker last December after serving as Deputy Speaker since 2017. “I heard the words competence, incompetence, incompetent, numerous times,” Chouhan said. “So?!” fired back a member of the Liberal caucus. “So, the point is… let's be temperate in our language in our debate, because the public is watching,” Chouhan said. “Opposition members have every right to ask questions. I understand their passion and all that, but be careful. Be careful.” His comments followed a 32-minute long Question Period in which ‘incompetent’ or its derivative was used in every question asked by a Liberal Opposition member and in one response by a government minister, for an average of once every two minutes. Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, was in the hot seat for much of the week about his ministry’s handling of COVID-19 relief funding for small and medium-sized businesses which, at that point, had disbursed $50 million of the total budgeted $300 million. By the time the last questioner, Liberal House Leader and Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar, unleashed a string of insults and the Premier forcefully responded, the Chamber reverberated with shouts of support and heckling on both sides of the aisle. A far cry from the previous day’s Question Period, which Horgan had hailed for its “respectful dialogue” and wrapped up with a team-building, all-party unity message about how progress could be made on the opioid crisis if every MLA took responsibility and worked together. According to recent survey results, most British Columbian want their legislators to work together, and heckling, a long-held acceptable partisan behaviour in the political theatre known as Question Period, no longer enjoys popular public support. “Desk banging, heckling, a majority of people say, we don't want to see this happening,” said Mario Canseco, president of Research Co., a Canadian public opinion polling and research company. “The appetite’s not there.” Research Co recently polled 800 British Columbians for their opinion on heckling, desk banging, reform of parliamentary decorum, and several other recommendations made by former Speaker Darryl Plecas in his final report to the B.C. Legislative Assembly entitled, Speaker’s Forum on the Role of Members: Actioning Proposals for Change. Aimed at legislative reform, the Plecas report made dozens of recommendations including the formation of an all-party committee to consider how to discipline unacceptable behaviour in the Chamber and whether to eliminate heckling, desk banging, clapping and interruptions during Question Period. “Improving decorum during proceedings of the Legislative Assembly has been a hallmark of my tenure as Speaker,” wrote Plecas in his December 2020 report. In the Research Co survey, 57 per cent of British Columbians thought an all-party committee to examine parliamentary decorum was a good idea. Of the BC Green supporters who responded, 57 per cent were in favour, while 62 per cent of NDP voters and 66 per cent of Liberals were supportive. “Ultimately, this is about figuring out a way to discuss policies that is not going to be drowned by clapping or heckling,” said Canseco. It’s unclear whether the government would consider these reforms, but change could begin with the Speaker establishing rules with the house leaders, said Canseco, likening it to when a judge speaks privately with the defence and prosecution lawyers to curb courtroom overacting. “Where the Speaker discusses this with the house leaders pre-emptively and says, ‘This is the way it's going to go from now on, so please advise your sides,’” Canseco said. “But it's definitely something that people want,” said Canseco. “People want to see some sort of decorum back in the legislature.” Fran@thegoatnews.ca / @FranYanor Fran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
Regina and Saskatoon are both seeing above normal temperatures this week, which could lead to a quick thaw. Workers in both cities started going out earlier this week to clear storm drains in preparation. The City of Regina says it prioritizes work on its 22,000 storm drains based on the level of risk to public safety or the risk of property damage. Residents in both cities are encouraged to help keep drains clear and to make paths for snowmelt to drain. A release from the City of Saskatoon said that despite the record-breaking snowfall in November, Saskatoon actually saw less snow than average this year. Additionally, the release said the citywide snow removal following that storm will help prevent flooding on residential streets and sidewalks this spring. The city is also encouraging residents to clear snow and ice from sidewalks to avoid big puddles from forming, and to protect against icy conditions during the freeze-thaw cycle. Snow should also be kept in your yard, the city said. Throwing it on the street can affect drainage. If residents notice water collecting that's impacting traffic or crosswalks, they can call the Customer Care Centre. The City of Saskatoon warns that if snow melts quickly, your home may be at risk of flooding even if you haven't flooded before. City of Saskatoon tips for avoiding a snowmelt flood Remove snow from around your foundation, especially around window wells. Remove snow from along the outside edges of lots, where most lots drain. Clear snow and ice from around the bottom of your downspouts and extend the downspouts at least two metres so that water drains away from your foundation. Check your roof and eavestroughs for excess snow. Consider hiring a professional to clear snow from your roof. A roof rake may help to clear the snow and debris from the edge of your roof. Consider using sandbags to block water from entering low-lying areas beside your foundation. If water is getting close to your foundation, use an appropriate pump to drain it to the gutter or back lane. City of Regina tips for protecting your home from a flood Test sump pumps and backflow prevention valves to ensure they are working properly. If you do not have either of these, consider installing them. Remove items that are blocking the water drainage pathway to the floor drain. Store valuables in watertight containers or raise them off the basement floor. Store hazardous materials in watertight containers or remove them from the basement. Raise electronics off the basement floor.
Trois-Rivières – À l'aube de la Journée internationale des droits des femmes, les combats demeurent légion afin de faire en sorte que «l'égalité concrète» soit atteinte, selon la directrice de la Table de concertation du mouvement des femmes de la Mauricie. Joanne Blais estime que l'autonomie économique de celles-ci, comme l'accès égalitaire à l'emploi ou le travail à temps partiel figurent encore et toujours sur la pile de travail à accomplir. Sans parler de l'impact de la pandémie sur les femmes. Déjà fortement touchées avant que la COVID-19 ne surgissent dans leurs vies, les femmes doivent, depuis plus d'un an, composer avec ce nouvel ennemi. «Certaines femmes n'ont pu retourner sur le marché du travail et sont plus dépendantes de leur conjoint parce qu'elles ont perdu leur emploi», souligne Joanne Blais. La situation est encore plus préoccupante lorsqu'il s'agit de femmes issues de l'immigration. «Ces femmes vivaient déjà d'autres questions par rapport à leurs origines. C'est la même chose pour celles qui sont réfugiées ou monoparentales.» Cette insécurité, elle ne se fait pas seulement ressentir sur le plan économique, mais aussi sur le plan physique. «Il y a encore beaucoup de travail à faire pour vivre dans un monde sans violence faites aux femmes, pour qu'elles n'aient pas peur de marcher dans la rue, de prendre le transport en commun, qu'elles n'aient pas à vivre de violence conjugale ou de comportements inappropriés au travail. Bref, pour qu'elles puissent vivre dans un monde qui est plus paisible», insiste-t-elle. Pour Mme Blais, chaque 8 mars est une occasion de rappeler les gestes qui restent à poser pour les droits des femmes. «Il y a l'autonomie économique, les femmes gagnent encore moins que les hommes; l'accès égalitaire à l'emploi, certaines femmes sont discriminées en raison de leur sexe; le travail, elles sont souvent à temps partiel; elles se retrouvent souvent dans des conditions difficiles parce qu'elles travaillent dans le domaine des soins ou des services», énumère la directrice. Ces «soins ou services» peuvent comprendre les hôtels par exemple, la restauration etc. «On n'a pas encore atteint l'égalité concrète, dans les faits», rappelle-t-elle. Joanne Blais souligne également que la situation délicate dans laquelle se retrouvent les soins de santé et de services sociaux avait été rapportée plusieurs années en avance par des groupes de femmes, sans pourtant être prise en considération. «Ça fait des années qu'elles dénoncent la situation», observe-t-elle, soulignant au passage que la thématique de l'édition 2021 de la Journée internationale des droits des femmes est «Écoutons les femmes». Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
A family in Georgetown, Ont. has brought some cheer to its community during the pandemic by creating 201 birdhouses and placing them around town. The Champ family said its creations, all numbered, were designed to bring smiles to people who live in Georgetown, a community in Halton Hills, west of Toronto. "People have been pretty good through this pandemic, but people are wearing out. You can see the edges fraying. There's no hugs. There's no dinners. You run out of things to do. Somehow, we put this together and came up with a crazy idea," Jamie Champ, the dad of the family, told CBC News. "We just went ahead with it, trying to generate smiles for the community." He said the idea came from some birdhouses he bought for his wife at Christmas. Carol Champ, the mom of the family, said they placed the birdhouses anonymously under community mailboxes, on footpaths to parks, outside long-term care homes, schools and the local hospital. The family's favourite spots were atop piles of snow left by snow plows at the end of cul-de-sacs. Other birdhouses were placed on top of hockey nets. "I never expected so much gratitude and happiness and cheer and joy from them. It was incredible," Carol Champ said. "I wish we had made twice as many. If we had known they were going to be such a hit, we probably would have made more." Members of the Champ family are pictured here with their birdhouses. Jamie, far left, Maddie, middle, and Carol, far right.(Submitted by the Champ family) Each birdhouse came with a tag that contains a word cloud of inspirational words on one side and a message on the other that urges the finder to take the birdhouse home and share photos on Twitter using the hashtag, #createcommunitycheer. Family members built the birdhouses, painted them in pastel colours and distributed them over three weekends in February. Community responded with heartfelt comments The birdhouses ended up creating some buzz in Georgetown. People in the community began to figure out who was making them. The family leaked a little bit of information to give clues to people. Carol Champ said the neighbours discovered it was the Champ family by all the noise they made while building them. When people picked them up, they began to share photos of the birdhouses on Twitter and she said they also left heartfelt comments. Jamie Champ said the community loved the birdhouses, but the family doesn't plan to do the project again because they have other endeavours to do. The family welcomes anyone to take the hashtag and use it for their own community cheer project. "It was a one-time thing. It was for smiles," Jamie Champ. WATCH | The Champs created a Facebook page to share videos of themselves creating the birdhouses. Here is one:
An unfair labour practice application brought on by the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU) against the Government of Saskatchewan over the use of a fitness test — which was previously found to be potentially discriminatory — was dismissed late last month. In 2012, Saskatchewan implemented a fitness test called the WFX-Fit test, developed by the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre for Type 1 wildland firefighters across Canada. People are tested in their ability to complete a series of physical, strenuous tasks within a set minimal time, called a cut score. After the union filed a grievance, an arbitrator found the WFX-Fit test cut score as it was previously set had "a potential discriminatory adverse impact on females and older males," and was not a reasonable measure of their fitness to perform the job. An appeal court upheld that finding, and in March 2019 the Supreme Court of Canada refused the Saskatchewan government's request to appeal the ruling. The Ministry of Environment previously told CBC that across Canada, SGEU was the only union to complain about the test. It noted the arbitrator had not criticized the test itself or its use — but that the cut score itself is arbitrary and could be discriminatory. The government said it got opinions from experts who designed the test that the cut score could be validly lowered from 17 minutes and 15 seconds to 18 minutes and 10 seconds. The labour board decision, published on Feb. 28, showed discussion about how to move ahead in the 2019 wildfire season took place shortly after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the case. There, the government told SGEU representatives it intended to use the slower cut scores. The Labour Relations Board decision showed SGEU asked the government to consider using an arduous test, which it had used until 2012. The government stuck with the WFX-Fit test in 2019. SGEU took the government to task over its use of the test that year. But a unanimous decision by the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board vice-chair Gerald Tegart and board members Joan White and Maurice Werezak found an "enforceable agreement" was never reached by both parties.. The labour board decision said the WFX-Fit test was deemed to be valid in all respects, aside from the use of its original cut score due to its discriminatory impact on women and older men which the government had accounted for. The board also found the government was not obligated to negotiate the general terms of the WFX-Fit test with the union. Because the board determined no formal enforceable agreement was reached between the two parties, the labour board found three of the orders the union sought from the board were not available. The union asked the labour board to order the government to comply with the previously-agreed upon arbitration award, but the board found the government had already met its obligations there and did not dispute the fact the WFX-Fit testing was discriminatory. The union was also unable to prove the government had failed to comply with the arbitration award during the labour board hearing. The labour board ruled there was no basis to prohibit the government from requiring wildland firefighters to complete the WFX-Fit testing, as no agreement was reached between SGEU and the province, and the tests' use with the revised cut score was not shown to be in contravention with the previous arbitration award. The union also asked for financial compensation in the form of damages but that was also dismissed as the board's determination meant damages would not be available. A request for comment from SGEU was not returned by deadline.
NEW YORK — Taylor Swift, BTS, Cardi B and Billie Eilish are set to perform at next week’s Grammy Awards. The Recording Academy announced Sunday that Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, Post Malone, Megan Thee Stallion and Dua Lipa will also hit the stage at the March 14 event. The show will air live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on CBS and Paramount+. The Grammys were originally supposed to take place on Jan. 31 but were delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The academy said in a statement that “artists will be coming together, while still safely apart, to play music for each other as a community and celebrate the music that unites us all.” Trevor Noah is hosting the show for the first time. Other performers include Chris Martin, John Mayer, Doja Cat, Maren Morris, DaBaby, HAIM, Lil Baby, Brandi Carlile, Roddy Ricch, Brittany Howard, Miranda Lambert, Mickey Guyton and Black Pumas. Beyoncé is leading nominee with nine, followed by Swift, Lipa and Ricch, who each earned six nominations. Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Jury selection begins Monday for a former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder and manslaughter in George Floyd's death. Derek Chauvin's trial, which is expected to last weeks, will be overseen by an experienced judge and argued by skilled attorneys on both sides. It will be streamed online for the world to see because the COVID-19 pandemic has limited who can attend. Floyd, who was Black, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck while Floyd was handcuffed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe. Among the key figures and elements at trial: COVID-19, CAMERAS and COURT SECURITY Chauvin's trial, one of the highest-profile criminal cases in Minnesota history, is taking place during a global pandemic that has had a dramatic impact. Precautions to guard against the spread of COVID-19 have limited courtroom space, leading the judge to try Chauvin ahead of three other fired officers charged with aiding and abetting. And because the pandemic all but wiped out the possibility of public seating, the judge is allowing the trial to be broadcast and livestreamed — a rare occurrence in a state that doesn't routinely allow cameras in court. City, county and state officials are preparing for any sort of reaction that trial testimony or a verdict might elicit. Barbed and razor wire and concrete barriers surround the courthouse, and strict security is in place to protect trial proceedings. City and state leaders want to avoid a repeat of last year's rioting that destroyed dozens of businesses and a police station. THE JUDGE Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill is respected and has a reputation as a no-nonsense, fair judge. He started in the county public defender’s office in 1984 and worked for 10 years as a prosecutor, serving as top advisor to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar when she was the county’s head prosecutor. Cahill has been a judge since 2007 and has been chief judge. He's known for being decisive and direct. He held firm on his decision to allow video cameras at the trial over the state's objections, and to starting the trial in March despite prosecutors' concerns about the pandemic. He also refused to reinstate a third-degree murder charge, sending prosecutors to the Court of Appeals — which ruled Friday that he must reconsider that decision — and denied defence requests to move the trial out of Hennepin County. PROSECUTION Days after Floyd's death, Minnesota's governor announced that Attorney General Keith Ellison would take the lead on prosecuting the case. The county prosecutor's office is still part of the case, but the unusual move was a win for local civil rights advocates who said longtime Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman didn't have the trust of the Black community. Ellison, the state's first African American elected attorney general, previously served in Congress and worked as a defence attorney. His team of prosecutors includes Matthew Frank, an experienced attorney in Ellison’s office who recently won a guilty plea in the case of Lois Riess, a Minnesota woman who got life in prison without parole for killing her husband in 2018. Riess became notorious after she fled the state, killed a woman in Florida, and assumed her identity before she was captured. Also on board are: Jerry Blackwell, who last year won a posthumous pardon for a Black man wrongly convicted of rape before the infamous Duluth lynchings of 1920; and Steven Schleicher, a former federal prosecutor who led prosecution of the man who kidnapped and killed Jacob Wetterling in 1989. Defence Chauvin, 44, started working for the Minneapolis Police Department in 2001, making him by far the most experienced of the four officers involved in Floyd's arrest. He was fired soon after bystander video of Floyd's arrest emerged the following day. He was charged days later, and moved to a state prison for security reasons. He posted $1 million bond in October and was allowed to live out of state due to safety concerns. His attorney, Eric Nelson, is among a handful of attorneys in Minnesota who often represent police officers. One of his bigger cases involved Amy Senser, the wife of former Minnesota Vikings tight end Joe Senser, who was convicted in the 2011 hit-and-run death of a Minneapolis chef. Nelson argued that Senser should be sentenced to probation, but a judge gave her 41 months in prison. Nelson also has tried murder cases. He helped win an acquittal for a Minnesota man who was charged with fatally shooting his unarmed neighbour in 2017. He also won an acquittal for a Wisconsin man who testified that he feared for his safety when he fatally stabbed a man who confronted him in 2015. Nelson has not said whether Chauvin will testify during his trial, but many legal observers predict Chauvin will take the stand. GEORGE FLOYD Floyd, 46, moved to Minneapolis from Houston several years before his death in hopes of finding work but had lost his job as a restaurant bouncer due to COVID-19. On May 25, an employee at a Minneapolis grocery store called the police saying Floyd tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. Floyd left behind a young daughter, who lives with her mother in Houston. His friend Christopher Harris told The Associated Press last year that Floyd “was looking to start over fresh, a new beginning.” THE JURY Chauvin's fate will be decided by 12 Hennepin County residents, whose names will be kept confidential until further court order. Two alternate jurors will be selected to listen to testimony, but will not be part of deliberations unless needed. Prospective jurors were sent questionnaires to determine how much they have heard about the case and whether they had formed any opinions. Prosecutors can block up to nine potential jurors without giving a reason, while the defence will be allowed up to 15 objections, with no reason given. Legal experts say since pretrial publicity has been so pervasive, both sides will seek jurors who are willing to have open minds. “You don’t want jurors who are completely blank slates, because that would mean they're not in tune at all with the world,” Susan Gaertner, a former prosecutor, said in a recent interview. “But what you want is jurors who can set aside opinions that have formed prior to walking into the courtroom and give both sides a fair hearing.” ___ Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/amyforliti ___ Find AP’s full coverage of the death of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd Amy Forliti, The Associated Press
“A book,” author Neil Gaiman may or may not have said, “is a dream you hold in your hand.” And right now, in an era of pandemic and polarization, Americans have — and need — a lot of dreams. We dream of unfettered travel, of a world free of face masks and hand sanitizer, of days that are exciting and new and not the grinding tedium of spending hour after hour staring, horrified, at the TV news. We dream of going back to school. Of eating a meal with family. Of hugs. And some of us — well, some of us dream of murder. Small-town murder. Gentle murder. Quiet murder. For those who find their dreams in books, there’s a group of readers who are hungrily consuming a particular style of narrative to escape from the past year's reality: “cozy” mysteries. In an unfathomably complex year, a gently told tale of murder and mayhem whittles the sharp edges of reality to a manageable, smooth surface. “Murder is definitely dark, but in a cozy the reader is with the protagonist every step of the way as each clue is revealed,” says Michelle Vega, executive editor of Berkley, who works with several cozy authors. “You can enjoy the perfect cup of tea and pretend you’re sitting in that comfy bookshop with the protagonist, smiling along with the banter as she and friends figure out whodunit. It is escapist perfection.” In television form, the cozy can be seen in popular shows such as “Murder, She Wrote,” “Midsomer Murders” and “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.” Cozies claim roots in early 20th-century British mysteries by such writers as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. But with the advent of the e-book, authors are setting their gentle crime scenes in RV campgrounds in the American South, tourist towns in the Pacific northwest and in neighbourhoods in Brooklyn, to name a few. The genre’s parameters are few: no swearing, no sex, and little to no gore. Just what the pandemic-era doctor ordered. “The cozy mystery is a familiar way to encounter the two seemingly unreconcilable realities of death and country peace at the same time,” says Sarah Allison, an associate professor of English at Loyola New Orleans who is working on a book about “escape reading.” “The restoration of order at the end of the novel might be less significant than the way this genre makes beautiful scenery and grisly details feel like they go together naturally,” she said in an email. Such mysteries, she says, promise a messy murder and a tidy resolution, “a welcome contrast to the way we’ve all been suspended between life as it was before COVID and life as it will be after.” Kelly Vaiman, a longtime cozy fan, has tried to avoid thinking about real life this past year. First she was wary of going places due to the pandemic, then her elderly mother’s health declined while in a Pennsylvania nursing home. Vaiman couldn’t travel to say goodbye, and her mother died. “After her passing, during the mourning period, I just couldn’t handle the grief,” Vaiman says. “So I’d pick up a cozy mystery to take my mind off everything.” She estimates that she reads 120 books a year. They're not all all cozies, but those are what she turns to when she needs a comforting read. Valerie Burns writes gentle murder mysteries under the pen name of V.M. Burns, and her “Mystery Bookshop” series is now six stories long. Since the pandemic began in early 2020, she’s noticed more readers are taking the time to email her about her work, seeking that human connection that’s sorely missing. Burns, who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is an avid cozy reader as well as a writer of them. She acknowledges the unusual nature of cozies — that they revolve around a murder yet are also soothing to read. But, she adds, trying to solve a mystery gives a feeling of accomplishment when so much of life seems stalled. “It’s basically a puzzle, but there’s that safety net in knowing there’s not going to be a whole lot of blood and guts and violence,” she says, laughing. “It’s contradictory. A murder mystery with no violence. But I can pick up a cozy, and can figure out clues and try to figure out whodunit but I don’t have to live in all of the horror associated with true crime or a noir.” Esi Sogah, a senior editor at Kensington Books, says she’s seen an uptick in cozy mystery sales in the past year. She believes that the genre’s settings — often picturesque small towns, quirky villages, or unique neighbourhoods — allow homebound readers to travel in their minds. “Sitting in cafes, going book clubs. Browsing in a bookstore in fictional world,” she says. “All the stuff you can’t do right now.” Unlike big blockbuster stories that revolve around one near-superhuman character (who is usually a man), cozy series cultivate an amateur sleuth (usually a woman) and a cast of quirky secondary characters. Readers become attached to the entire ensemble, says author Bree Baker, and consider them old friends. That's why readers love series that stretch to multiple books. “I think we all need a place to belong, at the core of everything. We need to have our people,” Baker says. And at a time when we can’t see our own people in real life, fictional stand-ins will have to do. Solving a murder in one’s mind, dreaming of the day when we can languidly enjoy a coffee and conversation with friends, knowing that what’s right will prevail in the end — those are the reasons people turn to cozies. And, not coincidentally, they overlap with the ways people are coping at this moment in history. “We have enough horror in our day to day lives,” Burns says. “Right now, that’s all I want to do is escape. Escape into a world where justice prevails.” ___ Former Associated Press journalist Tamara Lush, who worked for the AP from 2008 to 2021, is the author, under the pseudonym Tara Lush, of “Grounds for Murder (A Coffee Lover's Mystery)” (2020), a cozy mystery published by Crooked Lane Books. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TamaraLush Tamara Lush, The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran — A British-Iranian woman held in an Iranian prison for five years on widely refuted spying charges ended her sentence on Sunday, her lawyer said, although she faces a new trial and cannot yet return home to London. The twists and turns of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's years-long case have sparked international outrage and strained already fraught diplomatic ties between Britain and Iran. Although Zaghari-Ratcliffe completed her full sentence and was allowed to remove her ankle monitor and leave house arrest, her future remains uncertain amid a long-running debt dispute between Britain and Iran and rising regional tensions. “It feels to me like they have made one blockage just as they have removed another, and we very clearly remain in the middle of this government game of chess,” her husband Richard Ratcliffe said. Iranian state-run media reported that she has been summoned to court on March 14 over murky new charges, including “spreading propaganda," which were first announced last fall. Her trial was then indefinitely postponed, stirring hopes for her return home when her sentence ended. Authorities released her on furlough last March due to surging coronavirus pandemic, and she has remained in detention at her parent's home in Tehran since. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s government, a charge that she, her supporters and rights groups vigorously deny. She was taken into custody at the airport with her toddler daughter after visiting family on holiday in the capital of Tehran in 2016. At the time, she was working for Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency. The United Nations has described her arrest as arbitrary, and reported that her treatment, including stints in solitary confinement and deprivation of medical care, could amount to torture. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the removal of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle tag but called for her to be allowed to return home. “Her continued confinement remains totally unacceptable,” he said on Twitter. “She must be released permanently so she can return to her family in the UK, and we continue to do all we can to achieve this.” The latest setback in Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case comes as Britain and Iran negotiate a spat over a debt of some 400 million pounds ($530 million) owed to Iran by London, a payment the late Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi made for Chieftain tanks that were never delivered. The shah abandoned the throne in 1979 and the Islamic Revolution installed the clerically overseen system that endures today. Ratcliffe, who for years has campaigned vocally for his wife’s release, has said that Iran was holding Zaghari-Ratcliffe as “collateral” in the dispute. Authorities in London and Tehran deny that Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case is linked to the repayment deal. But a prisoner exchange that freed four American citizens in 2016 saw the U.S. pay a similar sum to Iran the same day of their release. Her case has also played out against rising tensions over Iran's tattered atomic deal with world powers. Since former U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018, Iran has been accelerating its breaches of the pact by enriching more uranium than allowed, among other actions. Tehran is seeking to press the other signatories to the deal, including Britain, to help offset the economic devastation wrought by American sanctions. As for Zaghari-Ratcliffe, exactly what will happen next weekend in court remains uncertain. Her family and supporters fear the worst. "We don’t know how to interpret being summoned ... Is it that they’re just going to finish off all the paperwork and release her and give her passport back? Or Is it that they are going to whack her with that second sentence?” her sister-in-law Rebecca Ratcliffe told U.K’s Sky News. The uncertainty means “there are a few more sleepless nights ahead of us," she added. In what the U.N. has criticized as an “emerging pattern,” Iran frequently has arrested dual citizens in recent years, often using their cases as bargaining chips for money or influence in negotiations with the West, something Tehran denies. Several other dual nationals, including at least one other British citizen and three Americans, remain in prison. Iran refuses to recognize dual nationality, so detainees like Zaghari-Ratcliffe cannot receive consular assistance. Meanwhile, with her ankle tag off for the first time, Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent the afternoon visiting her grandmother and the family of one of the other British-Iranians held in prison, her husband said. “It's a mixed day for us," Ratcliffe added. "She is having a nice afternoon, has turned her phone off and is not thinking about the rest of it.” ___ Associated Press writer Kelvin Chan contributed from London. DeBre reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Amir Vahdat And Isabel Debre, The Associated Press
Charlottetown's manager of planning and heritage says his department is seeing an unprecedented number of applications. "It's everything," said Alex Forbes. "There's building permits. There's applications to the planning advisory committee for variances, subdivision, rezonings, amendments to the zoning bylaw, sign permits, subdivisions." Forbes said it's been busy in the development industry for three or four years, with no slowdown during the pandemic. Even 2020 was a record year for building permits in the city, he said. "COVID has certainly impacted some businesses, but the construction industry is very busy," he said. It's consistent across all kind of construction as well, from single-family dwellings to office buildings to commercial use. Phenomenal growth province-wide in 2019 Province-wide, investment in building construction, year over year from January to November as measured by Statistics Canada, was virtually flat in 2020. But that followed phenomenal growth in 2019, a 57 per cent increase in residential construction investment and 30 per cent in non-residential construction. The focus shifted from residential to non-residential development, with a five per cent decline in residential investment and 20 per cent increase in non-residential. In September, building permit values on the Island crushed a monthly record with $98,991,000 worth of permits, 45 per cent higher than the previous record set in May 2019. The high volume in Charlottetown continues even as the planning department is down a position. "To get another person back in our office and up to speed takes a little bit of time. But if people could be patient, that would be much appreciated."
ATHENS, Greece — Greek police clashed with more than 500 protesters in an Athens suburb on Sunday evening, using tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd. The crowd was protesting police violence, but views of what happened earlier Sunday diverge widely. In an announcement, police say that a motorcycle patrol went to suburb Nea Smyrni’s main square just before 3 p.m. Sunday to investigate “multiple reports” of violations of lockdown measures and that they were set upon by a group of 30 people who injured two police officers. Police reinforcement detained 11 from among the group, police say. But videos uploaded on several websites show a different picture: peaceful citizens arguing with police and suddenly being thrown to the ground and attacked with batons. It was to this incident that the protest rally was held about four hours later. Police say that an administrative inquiry will be held in response to the video uploads. Opposition parties have entered the fray, denouncing the “police repression.” “It wasn’t an accident. The government and (Prime Minister Kyriakos) Mitsotakis wanted this,” said Pavlos Christidis, the spokesman for socialist party Movement for Change. With the number of new cases of the coronavirus still well above 1,000 daily, the Athens area as well as others across Greece are under a strict lockdown and police patrols conduct checks to see if people are keeping social distancing and refrain from travelling unnecessarily. Police say that they, on Saturday alone, they conducted 71,177 checks across the country, finding 2,025 violations; 1,627 concerned unauthorized movement, 304 non-wearing of masks and 91 illegal operation of businesses. Demetris Nellas, The Associated Press
OBERSTDORF, Germany — Canadians Antoine Cyr and Russell Kennedy posted top-30 finishes in the 50-kilometre classic ski mass event Sunday at the world nordic championships.Cyr, of Gatineau, Que., finished 27th in the race, one spot ahead of Kenned of Canmore, Alta."For sure I wanted more (Sunday) but I made a few tactical mistakes that cost me a lot of energy," said Kennedy, who appeared ready for the world event before suffering an ear infection. "I'm stoked with how well I recovered and was able to perform."And it was fun to watch Antoine have a really good race and make some really good moves out there."Cyr, 22, completed the eight laps in two hours 15 minutes 31.2 seconds. He was the third-fastest athlete under the age of 23 in the field of 57."I haven’t done much racing at the World Cup level and I don’t have a lot of mass start experience," Cyr said. "Mass starts are chaos here in Europe."It is nothing like we race at Canada and I learned so much."Kennedy, 30, finished in 2:15:45.6. Remi Drolet, 20, of Rossland B.C., was 31st in 2:17:05.7 while Philippe Boucher, of Levis, Que., did not finish.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021. The Canadian Press