A desperate plea from Dubai’s Princess Latifa, who claims her father, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, drugged her and held her hostage, has the world wondering what has happened to her and has renewed a global push for answers.
A desperate plea from Dubai’s Princess Latifa, who claims her father, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, drugged her and held her hostage, has the world wondering what has happened to her and has renewed a global push for answers.
China's medical products regulator said on Thursday that it had approved two more COVID-19 vaccines for public use, raising the number of domestically produced vaccines that can be used in China to four. The two newly cleared vaccines are made by CanSino Biologics Inc (CanSinoBIO) and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm). They join a vaccine from Sinovac Biotech approved earlier this month, and another from Sinopharm's Beijing unit approved last year.
(Primestock Photograpy - image credit) Did you set up a home office during the pandemic, work from home or are still working from home? It's tax season again, and Dawn Kennedy from the Canada Revenue Agency has some tips on what you can claim this time around. The home office Home offices can fall into two categories. A dedicated room with a door, or open concept — a corner of a rec room for example — where you have to calculate the percentage of the room where you actually work. "People who are thinking about taking this credit, really the bare minimum is working four weeks [consecutively] from home due to COVID. At least 50 per cent of that time you're working from home," Kennedy said. Expenses in a home office There are two options for claiming expenses incurred from working in your home office. Kennedy said there's a simplified method and a detailed method to look into when filing your next tax claim. For the simplified method, Kennedy said, no calculations are required. "You simply claim $2 a day, to a maximum of $400. [There are] no forms required, no signatures from your employer, you just claim that on your tax return," she said. Things such as an electricity bill, home internet and rent can be claimed this tax season if you worked from home in 2020. "There's a second option, which is a detailed method, where you may have more expenses than [$400]. You may have a big space in your home that you're using. Things like heat, internet, maintenance of your home, you may have to buy supplies — those types of things can add up." Kennedy said the CRA website has everything you need to know for making your claim this year, including an online calculator for those going the detailed route to help assist with adding up expenses. Things you can claim: Electricity costs. Home internet (but not connection fees). Rent. Maintenance and minor repair costs such as paint. Pens, paper and ink. Things you can't claim: Mortgage payments. Furniture. Capital expenses such as replacing windows, flooring, furnace. Wall decorations. Kennedy said that while this new credit is available for this year, there are a couple of things for people to keep in mind. "Some of the COVID benefits are taxable as well, so don't forget to include that in your tax return. Some already have tax deducted like the CERB payments, and CRB payments and the initial ones for students, no tax was held on those," she said. "Keeping in mind, you've got new taxable benefits there. We do expect that many people will take advantage of this deduction to offset that." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
CEO Reinhard Ploss said Infineon's new plant in Villach https://www.reuters.com/article/us-infineon-austria-idUSKCN1IJ18G, Austria, due to open in late summer, would be capable of producing enough power semiconductors each year to equip the drive trains of 25 million electric vehicles. A semiconductor supply crunch has forced carmakers like Volkswagen , Ford and General Motors to idle production after the chip market was swept clean by demand for higher-margin consumer electronics. Infineon rode out last year's turbulence relatively well by building inventory.
Shares of Tesla fell 8% during the day after Bloomberg reported that production of Tesla's less expensive sedan, the Model 3, had been temporarily suspended, raising questions about whether it had enough supplies to keep the assembly line moving. Several automakers, including General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG, and Ford Motor Co, are hit by the shortage of chips, forcing them to scale down production. "Fremont shut down for two days (parts shortages) & restarted yesterday," Musk said in a Twitter posting.
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Maple Leaf Foods Inc. beat expectations as it reported a fourth-quarter profit of $25.4 million, up from $17.5 million a year ago, and sales that rose more than 10 per cent. The food processing company says the profit amounted to 20 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, up from 14 cents per share a year earlier. Sales for the quarter totalled $1.13 billion, up from $1.02 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019, as both its meat protein and plant protein groups saw gains. Meat protein group sales rose 11.3 per cent, while plant protein sales rose 5.5 per cent. On an adjusted basis, Maple Leaf says it earned 30 cents per share, up from an adjusted profit of 12 cents per share a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of 21 cents per share and $1.07 billion in sales, according to financial data firm Refinitiv. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:MFI) The Canadian Press
(John Robertson/CBC - image credit) Atlantic Canada's largest Mi'kmaw community is preparing to launch a moderate livelihood fishery that will focus first on lobster. Fish harvesters met this week in Eskasoni First Nation to discuss the development of a plan, with fishing to begin later this spring. "Our first concentration is going to be in the lobster industry, which is deemed to kick off probably in May," said fishing captain Jibby Paul. "From there on, we will continue on with appendices to be inserted into our moderate livelihood plan." Last fall, fishermen from Eskasoni joined members of the Potlotek First Nation in carrying out one of the province's first self-regulated Indigenous fisheries. Paul said Eskasoni's moderate livelihood fishery will be far-reaching. "We expect to be fishing all of Atlantic Canada because we are the biggest First Nations band here," he said. Council to develop long-term plan Fish harvesters in the community are expected to provide advice to Eskasoni's chief and council in developing its own fishery guidelines. Paul said two moderate livelihood co-ordinators will be appointed over the coming weeks to help guide the process. He said there is no time limit on when the plan will be completed. "Time-frame factors are not a concern to us," Paul said. "It's not an overnight issue — it's a long-term plan." Mi’kmaw harvesters from Potlotek First Nation took to the water on St. Peters Bay to launch a moderate livelihood fishery on Oct. 1, 2020. The community is expected to work in co-operation with the federal government to ensure that catch is landed responsibly. "We'll work among ourselves to develop this plan that we modify and restructure, so the government and Department of Fisheries and Oceans will be very satisfied with the plan that we have set forth," said Paul. "And this is all based on the conservation and science, so we work with that department." Due to gathering limits, Paul said fishers will be able to provide input into the plan's development without having to attend meetings. Still waiting for 'moderate livelihood' to be defined The Supreme Court of Canada's landmark 1999 decision in the Donald Marshall Jr. case affirmed a treaty right to hunt, fish and gather in pursuit of a moderate livelihood. But after waiting more than two decades for "moderate livelihood" to be defined, the Mi'kmaq are moving ahead on their own. On Wednesday, Chief Terry Paul of the Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton said his community is in the planning stages of developing its own livelihood lobster fishery, and will be seeking feedback from the community in the coming months. Chief Terry Paul of the Membertou First Nation says the community is making plans for its own self-regulated fishery. Sipekne'katik First Nation was the first to launch a moderate livelihood fishery on Nova Scotia's southwest coast in St. Marys Bay last September. That fishery faced tense and sometimes violent opposition by non-Indigenous fishermen, many of whom argued the fishery would hurt lobster stocks. Sipekne'katik First Nation and Potlotek First Nation have launched separate lawsuits against the Nova Scotia government over the right to sell seafood harvested through a moderate livelihood fishery. MORE TOP STORIES
BERLIN — A German man has been charged with espionage for allegedly passing information on properties used by the German parliament to Russian military intelligence, prosecutors said Thursday. The suspect, identified only as Jens F. in line with German privacy rules, worked for a company that had been repeatedly contracted to check portable electrical appliances by the Bundestag, or the lower house of parliament, federal prosecutors said in a statement. As a result of that, he had access to PDF files with floor plans of the properties involved. The Bundestag is based in the Reichstag building, a Berlin landmark, but also uses several other sites. Prosecutors said, at some point before early September 2017, the suspect “decided of his own accord” to give information on the properties to Russian intelligence. They said he sent the PDF files to an employee of the Russian Embassy in Berlin who was an officer with Russia's GRU military intelligence agency. They didn't specify how his activities came to light. The charges against the suspect, who is not in custody, were filed at a Berlin court on Feb. 12. The court will have to decide whether to go ahead with a trial. Relations between Germany and Russia have been buffeted by a growing list of issues in recent years. In October, the European Union imposed sanctions on two Russian officials and part of the GRU agency over a cyberattack against the German parliament in 2015. In addition, a Russian man accused of killing a Georgian man in broad daylight in downtown Berlin on Moscow’s orders in 2019 is on trial in Berlin. And last year's poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was flown to Germany for treatment and then arrested immediately after he returned to Russia, has added another layer of tensions. The Associated Press
(Village of Pouce Coupe/Lorraine Michetti - image credit) The mayor of a small northern B.C. village says she won't step down over social media posts she made comparing gun owners to Holocaust victims and another seemingly disparaging how Indigenous people maintain their homes. Lorraine Michetti, the mayor of Pouce Coupe, B.C., insists she is sorry for making the posts and says that she will seek cultural sensitivity training, but she also says calls for her to step down are part of "cancel culture," and that she is being "bullied" by people opposed to her, some of whom she is considering taking to court. Among the posts to surface is one Michetti says was a commentary on the federal Liberals' plans for gun control. "Everyone probably can have them just not Caucasian, that is just about everything. I feel like a Jews [sic] back in the day. Waiting for my cattle car." Michetti says this Facebook comment was made in a discussion about the federal Liberals' plans to enact new gun control laws. She said she has apologized for the post, but also defended the comparison during a council meeting. Councillor questioned mayor On Sunday, Pouce Coupe Coun. Ken Drover told CBC News he is upset that the mayor's social media activity is casting a negative light on the small community of roughly 730 people in northeastern B.C., about a 20-minute drive southeast of Dawson Creek. "We are embarrassed," he said. "It's a black mark ... by no means do those comments represent the voice of council." He questioned Michetti about the posts during a council meeting Monday. "You would liken your position to a Jew in a cattle car waiting to go to..." he said before Michetti jumped in. "Once they take our guns away, back when Hitler, that's what it was all about," she said. "How dare you?" Drover responded. "That is a terrible, terrible comparison." Drover also asked Michetti if she would step down, and she refused. "OK, fair," he said. On Thursday, the village of Pouce Coupe announced Drover had submitted a letter of resignation, which will trigger a byelection to replace him. Drover could not immediately be reached for comment. WATCH | Coun. Ken Drover challenges Mayor Lorraine Michetti over her comments at a council meeting: Multiple problematic posts The exchange between Drover and Michetti came five days after a different post from the mayor began circulating among Facebook users in the Peace region of northeastern B.C. It depicted an image of four homes with garbage in their yards and Michetti's caption: "Don't want Pipeline's? [sic] They want to protect our land. Yeah ok." A Facebook post from Michetti was quickly denounced as anti-Indigenous racism by several officials in the Peace River region of B.C. A number of people interpreted the post as playing into stereotypes of on-reserve housing and calling Indigenous pipeline opponents hypocrites. Connie Greyeyes, a Fort St. John resident from the Bigstone Cree Nation, said even though the post didn't directly reference Indigenous people, the implications were clear. "When you've lived with racism your whole life, when it shows itself to you ... you know it," she said. Greyeyes was among those asking the mayor to apologize and resign. Mayor did not attend special meeting Meanwhile, municipal leaders in the neighbouring communities of Fort St. John, Taylor, Dawson Creek and Chetwynd issued statements condemning the post. "We do not and never will condone racism within our walls or our community," Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman wrote in a Facebook post. "An egregious error was made by one of our colleagues. We will invite them to learn with us." On Saturday, a special village council meeting was held to discuss the post. Michetti did not attend, she said, because she was too upset. From left: Pouce Coupe Coun. Barb Smith, Coun. Donna White, Mayor Lorraine Michetti, Coun. Marlene Hebert and Coun. Ken Drover. Councillors asked Michetti to resign after she published a Facebook post that many people condemned as racist. At that meeting, council received a report documenting several instances of the mayor getting into online arguments with Pouce Coupe residents that were possible violations of the village's code of conduct. By the end, council had voted unanimously to ask Michetti to step down. Posts personal, not official, mayor says Reached for an interview Wednesday, Michetti insisted she had not intended to be racist and that the old posts were resurfacing because of a group of people in town who wanted her out of office. She said she was seeking cultural sensitivity training, and wanted to make a distinction between posts she made from her personal Facebook account versus those of an official mayoral page. "It was Lorraine Michetti, not the mayor" who made the posts, she said. Michetti said she was considering legal action against several people in the community who were making negative comments about her online, and she questioned why she was being held to a different standard than her opponents. "Why do people think the mayor is high stature?" she asked. "They harass and nag me about fireworks. Then they harass and nag me that I'm supposed to get the Shaw internet going. ... It's tiring." But, Michetti said, she is committed to finishing her term, and she intends to run for re-election in 2022. "There's lots of things I have on the go." Few options for removal Mona Brash, a retired political science professor from the University of Victoria and Camosun College specializing in municipal affairs, said unless the mayor steps down voluntarily, those who want her gone have few options. "Their only recourse is political," she said, noting opponents could continue to put pressure on the mayor to step down. In British Columbia, municipal leaders can only be removed if they improperly use their position for financial gain or for missing multiple regularly-scheduled meetings without being excused. The B.C. government has floated the idea of firing the entire Chilliwack school board in order to remove a single trustee who used a slur against people with intellectural disabilities, but Brash said it is unlikely the province would be willing or able to do the same in order to get rid of a mayor. "People don't realize how powerful municipal politicians are," she said. "You elect them for four years and that's it, they're in and it's rare you can remove them." In an emailed statement to CBC, B.C.'s Minister of Municipal Affairs Josie Osborne said anti-Indigenous racism and anti-Semitism must be confronted, and that she is "grateful to local leaders for standing up against unacceptable behaviour." She also said the government is exploring the idea of updating the provincial legislation governing municipalities. "We know more can be done to support local officials' accountability to their communities," she wrote. For more on the controversy in Pouce Coupe, tap below:
(CBC - image credit) Crosbie Williams is no stranger to barn fires, having lost a family farm years ago, but seeing Woodland Dairy's building in the Goulds engulfed in flames Monday night has stayed with him in the days since. "When you see the home for the cows go up in smoke and the cattle as well — there's no other way to say it, except it's absolutely terrifying, in every aspect. And it changes somebody from that day on," Williams, who runs nearby Pondview Farms, said. The blaze ripped through the barn, killing scores of cows — Williams estimated about 60 to 90 total perished — with little left of the structure, which he called "a complete loss." Williams was on the scene, which he said was "chaos," as more than 20 firefighters and volunteers spent hours getting the fire under control. The aftermath has rocked its owner, Michael Dinn and his family, he said. "As you can imagine, they're all over the place right now, it's been an extremely difficult time," Williams told CBC Radio's On The Go Wednesday. Dinn was relatively new on the dairy scene, said Williams, with about six years of farming under his belt after starting in the field through the industry's new entrant program. "He was doing a phenomenal job," Williams said. Dinn had been working hard to develop his land, and Williams hopes that the fire, as devastating as it was, can be put in the past. "It's been said to me that he has plans to rebuild, and I hope he does. Michael Dinn's an extremely hard worker," Williams said. In the days since the blaze, online fundraisers and other supports have popped up, as friends and the agriculture community come together to help bridge any gaps Dinn may be facing. "That's our hope, and I will certainly support him in any way that we can, and you know, it's my hope that this continues for him," he said. Williams said memories of his own family's barn fire of 1968 came flooding back as he saw Monday's fire, and he knows of many other farmers who feel the same. "It brings everything back. Absolutely terrible," he said. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Deutsche Telekom's Slovak Telekom business cannot avoid sanctions imposed by Slovak antitrust authorities even though it has already been penalised by EU competition enforcers, the EU's top court ruled on Thursday. The case came before the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union after Slovak Telekom questioned the legality of the Slovak watchdog's 17.45-million-euro ($21 million) fine levied in 2009 as a result of the company using below-cost prices to squeeze out competitors. The European Commission in 2014 fined the company for squeezing competitors by charging unfair wholesale prices in Slovakia, which followed an investigation that began in 2009.
An expected dash by big corporations for offsets to meet their climate targets has prompted financial exchanges to launch carbon futures contracts to capitalise on what could be a multi-billion dollar market. Carbon offsets, generated by emissions reduction projects, such as tree planting or shifts to less polluting fuels, have struggled for years to gain credibility, but as climate action has become urgent, their market is expected to grow to as much as $50 billion by 2030. Among the major corporations that say they expect to use them to compensate for any emissions they cannot cut from their operations and products are Unilever, EasyJet, Royal Dutch Shell and BP, which all have climate targets.
(Design Plus Architecture/Submitted - image credit) Moncton's planning advisory committee has given the go-ahead for a 12-storey downtown apartment building, which would be among the city's tallest buildings. Frederic Properties Corp. is proposing the building with 148 rental units at the corner of Botsford and Victoria streets, north of St. Bernard's Roman Catholic Church. "This is the type of development that we want to see," Sarah Anderson, Moncton's senior planner with development planning, told the committee Wednesday evening. The company's plans involve 170 underground parking spaces, walk-up townhouse units taking up the first and second floors, with the building core then set back. Two-storey penthouse units are planned for the top of the building. City staff had recommended the committee approve seven variances Anderson called "minor" from city planning bylaws. They include allowing the building to be taller than 19 metres, not providing a set-back on the Wellesley Street side of the building, and reducing the size of balconies. Valdo Grandmaison, owner of Frederic Properties Corp., told the planning committee the company hopes to be able to begin construction later this year. The committee approved the variances, which don't require city council approval. Designs indicate the building named St. Bernard Square would rise 38 metres. A city staff report notes it would be taller than the eight storey 55 Queen building a block away, and the 10-storey Delta Beausejour Hotel, but not as high as the 20-storey Assomption Place tower. "It is a big building, next to a big building, around the corner from 55 Queen," Frederic Properties Corp. owner Valdo Grandmaison told the committee. "Moncton is getting bigger." The proposed 12-storey building would be constructed on a vacant property at the corner of Botsford and Victoria streets in downtown Moncton. Grandmaison said the aim is to start construction by late September or October and would take two and a half years. Grandmaison said the timeline relies on the city carrying out previously planned upgrades to old clay water and sewer lines on Victoria and Wellesley streets. That work is already included in the city's 2021 capital budget, though would require a further council vote to approve the construction contract. There is likely to be at least one council vote related to the building. Grandmaison indicated the company is working with the city on a financial partnership. Moncton has a development incentive program that provides grants for building projects estimated to be worth more than $10 million. The building's architect previously told CBC that construction costs are in the range of $35 million. The building was at times described as "luxury," though no rental rates were mentioned during the meeting. It would replace vacant lots on the site. The plans for St. Bernard Square call for a private roadway between the church and apartment building, with parking garage entrances off Wesley Street. No members of the public opposed the plans during the meeting. Anderson indicated that city planning staff heard from a person on Wednesday, who she didn't name, who was concerned about public consultation about the building plans and that it would dwarf the church south of the proposed building. Anderson also said the person said "there was no need for more luxury in the downtown." Brian Corbett told the committee he owns a Victorian home near the proposed building and that he's pro-development in the downtown area. "I'm pretty excited about this project," Corbett said. Church supportive, developer says The building would be separated from the adjacent church by a new private street. Grandmaison said that was to ensure the construction doesn't affect the stability of the stone church and to give access for emergency services. He said he was in communication with the church and diocese as building plans were developed. "They're very supportive of this project so I see no issues dealing with the church," Grandmaison said. No one from the church spoke at the meeting. Committee members Dale Briggs and Daniel St Louis declared conflicts and didn't take part in the discussion and vote. The committee also approved plans for a six storey residential building off Highfield Street with a parking garage. Ashford Living, which proposed the building, told the committee it hopes to begin construction this year.
His work now is on the city streets and his tool is his mobile phone linked to Facebook Live - streaming the nationwide protests against the coup that toppled elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ended a decade of tentative democratic reforms. "Despite the difficulties, citizen journalists and media are posting in every possible way," Thar Lon Zaung Htet, 37, told Reuters. With established media under ever greater pressure, the story of Myanmar's anti-coup protests is being shaped for its people and the world by journalists and citizens streaming and sharing snippets of video and pictures.
The European Space Agency is currently recruiting astronauts from EU member states - and one country is serious about getting their candidate amongst the stars.
On sait que la relâche ne sera pas tout à fait comme les autres. C’est pourquoi l’administration contrecœuroise a entrepris de mettre sur pied une série d’activités destinées aux jeunes de la région. Question de garder leurs pieds, les mains et leurs méninges bien actifs durant cette semaine de pause annonciatrice du printemps. Programmées entre le 1er mars et le 5 avril prochains, ces activités sont regroupées sous quatre rubriques sur le site de la Ville: Les détectives, Le spa à la maison, Les amateurs de nature ainsi que Les Indécis. Le coût d’inscription est de 5 $ pour les résidents de Contrecœur. Chaque catégorie comprend des idées en lien avec la thématique proposée, que ce soit du bricolage, du sport, une expérience scientifique ou un atelier culinaire. Afin de concevoir les activités, les initiateurs du projet ont par ailleurs fait appel à divers partenaires incluant le Zoo de Granby. Les jeunes auront en effet l’occasion d’en apprendre davantage sur le bien-être animal en général et sur nos amis félins en particulier. Ils auront aussi la chance de participer à des activités virtuelles sur la glu galactique et la magie du papier avec Technoscience. Ou encore dépenser de l’énergie lors d’un entraînement familial avec l’entreprise locale KinéCible. Les fans d’humour auront également de quoi s’occuper durant la relâche. Ces derniers pourront en effet assister au spectacle virtuel de Vincent Fecteau. Le programme comprend par ailleurs des jeux-questionnaires sur des séries télé populaires organisées par La Dame de Cœur – Pub Ludique. Des ateliers de breakdance ou de dessin sont aussi offerts par les productions Katomix. Pour participer aux différentes activités proposées, les Contrecœurois doivent s’inscrire d’ici au 24 février sur le site de la Ville. Les places sont disponibles en quantité limitée. Durant la relâche, d’autres activités sont proposées aux familles ailleurs dans la MRC. Les jeunes et leurs parents peuvent notamment emprunter des patins, skis de fond, tubes à glisser et raquettes de 10 h à 17 h au parc Le Rocher à Saint-Amable. Le tout, afin de prendre l’air et se dégourdir les pattes le temps d’un agréable après-midi à l’extérieur. À Verchères, trois ateliers interactifs sont proposés aux jeunes de la municipalité. Le 2 mars, les enfants peuvent ainsi assister à l’atelier de magie de Magislain dès 9 h. Le lendemain à 10 h, à celui de dessin offert par Sheltoon. Le 4 mars à 9 h, les curieux peuvent pour leur part participer à l’atelier de Science en folie. Des activités sont également proposées sur le site de la Ville de Sainte-Julie, dont certaines dans le cadre des Julievernales. Les résidents de tous âges pourront donc profiter des patinoires, sentiers et jeux d’évasion s’ils ont envie de bouger. Ou encore bouquiner à la bibliothèque dont les heures d’ouverture sont disponibles sur le site de la Ville. Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
Zhao Danyang, a former vice president responsible for content business, was arrested in September 2020, along with two subordinates, Kuaishou told Reuters. Kuaishou did not give details or say if Zhao was still vice-president when arrested. Chinese tech companies have doubled down on corruption investigations in recent years, amid an anti-graft campaign by President Xi Jinping and as their valuations and profiles have soared following a tech boom.
Starboard, which owns a 7.7% stake in ACI, had urged the company to hire advisers and consider a sale in December, two months after calling it an "attractive" takeover candidate. M&A activity in the payments sector has accelerated over the last few years as companies need scale against the backdrop of increasing complexity and technology requirements for e-commerce.
(CBC - image credit) While there's still no timeline for when in-class education will resume, following an outbreak of a coronavirus variant that put Newfoundland and Labrador in Alert Level 5 lockdown, the provincial teachers' union is hoping to get more information that will lead to stricter safety protocols in schools. Dean Ingram, head of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, said Wednesday he'd received no "specific information," but has heard that around a dozen teachers, in addition to over 100 students, were infected with the B117 variant at Mount Pearl Senior High. Eastern Health did confirm that 145 students and/or staff at Mount Pearl Senior High have been infected with COVID-19. That accounts for the largest portion of the approximately 185 students and/or staff associated infected at 22 schools around the Eastern Health region, including five high schools, four junior high schools, and 13 elementary schools in the St. John's metro area. Eastern Health initially said specific information on the other schools involved wouldn't be released, citing privacy concerns. In an about-turn, however, the health authority disclosed the names of the schools Wednesday evening. It did not say how many positive cases were connected to each school. "It is important to note that numbers do not distinguish between whether a case attended school or not during his/her period of communicability," the statement said. Ingram said the NLTA wants to know more. "I want to stress that we're not seeking information just for the sake of information; respect for privacy has to be sacrosanct," Ingram said. "That being said, though, we do know that the residents of this province were informed last spring of how many cases were connected to the Caul's cluster, and I don't see how the extent of the current outbreak is any less important." That information is something he hopes will be provided by public health officials or the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District before any decisions are made about resuming in-person classes. I'm not sold on full disclosure, I'm not sure that's gonna prove anything or help anybody. - Don Coombs The NLESD said it is up to Eastern Health to make any such announcements, and when the health authority did name the 22 schools, it caught the district off guard. "It was a little surprising to us, because it has been a departure from normal practice," said Tony Stack, the district CEO, on Thursday morning. Ingram said the NLTA has long been concerned about whether guidelines around mask-wearing and physical distancing in schools go far enough. "We do believe that there's an opportunity to learn from the experience and reconsider what public health precautions for our schools should look like, but this does require full disclosure of how all our schools have been affected, including what's known about the interactions at school, but also various school-sponsored activities as a source of transmission," Ingram said. "What concerns me right now, and what's concerned the association since last July, is that our teachers, our students, their families, are subject to significantly lesser public health protocols and precautions in schools than you'll find in any other public place in this province." Ingram said the outbreak could serve as an example of what can happen if safety precautions aren't strict enough, or aren't followed. "I think the most important thing is to take what we've seen and move forward. Take what we've seen to date as to what can happen in our schools if an outbreak occurs and build plans to strengthen and reinforce the necessary measures. We need to protect our schools; protecting our schools protects our communities," Ingram said. A drive-thru COVID-19 swabbing site was set up at the Summit Centre in Mount Pearl to get more testing done during the outbreak. "When we have a position where our students can safely return to our schools, part of that assurance of safety has to be enhancing public health measures within the schools to ensure that when students return, the likelihood of a repeat of what we've seen these last two weeks is as minimal as possible." That certainly seems to be on the mind of Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, who said during Wednesday's COVID-19 briefing that the variant may change things. "I think right now what we're seeing, our initial investigation, at least, at Eastern Health, we're certainly seeing spread not just within the school but in social activities as well, through sporting events and through other social activities," Fitzgerald said. "This variant certainly does change the way we look at things, and we are looking at all of that right now as we look to how we move out of Level 5." 'I'm not sold on full disclosure' Don Coombs, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils, said given the smaller number of infections at other schools, he's not sure releasing detailed information would be helpful. "I'm not really sold on that. I don't think it serves any purpose. The school in Mount Pearl was identified because of numbers, but … we don't want to target smaller schools in rural Newfoundland," Coombs said. "As long as we've got the protocols in place, from a federation point of view … I'm not sold on full disclosure. I'm not sure that's gonna prove anything or help anybody. I think that may be a stigma that will be in some smaller communities, and certainly we don't want that on our young students and adults. There's enough stress on the parents now and on the students with virtual learning, being at home, trying to adjust." Don Coombs is the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils, which represents 254 schools in the province and as many as 60,000 parents and guardians of students at those schools. District CEO Stack agreed. "I'm not sure what it accomplishes, releasing the names of schools," Stack said, adding he is concerned about how students and staff will be affected by the announcement. When it comes to safety protocols in schools, Coombs said in the last year, measures in place have generally been effective. The outbreak is an obvious exception. "I think for the most parts it's proven to have worked. It's an unfortunate incident that's happened, that it's escalated, to involve students at a school," Coombs said. Coombs said it's best to defer to public health officials like Fitzgerald on when it will be safe to resume in-class learning, but he doesn't expect that to happen in the immediate future. "We want to take direction from Dr. Fitzgerald; she's the expert in this field … and from our point of view, as long as the federation of school councils is hearing from the parents that the want their kids back in a healthy, safe environment, that's what we want," Coombs said, adding he has "full confidence" in advice from Fitzgerald and the public health team. "Let's ensure we do things right. Let's not jump the gun." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Donald Trump supporters who launched a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol last month have indicated they want to "blow up" the building and kill members of Congress, the acting chief of the Capitol Police said on Thursday. Threats suggest extremists could target the building during an address by President Joe Biden, Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told lawmakers as she advocated for continued high security around the building."Members of militia groups that were present on Jan. 6 have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible with a direct nexus to the State of the Union," Pittman told members of the House Appropriations Committee.
CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Caster Semenya is going to the European Court of Human Rights to challenge “discriminatory” rules that prohibit her from competing in certain track events because of her high natural testosterone, her lawyers said Thursday. The two-time Olympic champion in the 800 metres has already lost two legal appeals against World Athletics' regulations that force her to medically lower her natural testosterone level if she wants to run in women's races from 400 metres to one mile. The South African's lawyers said there's been a “violation of her rights” and wants the human rights court to examine the rules. Semenya has one of a number of conditions known as differences of sex development. Although she has never publicly released details of her condition, World Athletics has controversially referred to her as “biologically male” in previous legal proceedings, a description that angered Semenya. Semenya has the typical male XY chromosome pattern and levels of testosterone that are much higher then the typical female range, World Athletics says. The track and field body says that gives her and other athletes like her an unfair advantage over other female runners. The 30-year-old Semenya was legally identified as female at birth and has identified as female her whole life. She says her testosterone is merely a genetic gift. The regulations have been fiercely criticized, mainly because of the “treatment” options World Athletics gives to allow affected athletes to compete. They have one of three options to lower their testosterone levels: Taking daily contraceptive pills, using hormone-blocking injections, or having surgery. “The regulations require these women to undergo humiliating and invasive physical examinations followed by harmful and experimental medical procedures if they wish to compete internationally in women’s events between 400m and one mile, the exact range in which Ms. Semenya specializes,” Semenya's lawyers said. World Athletics, which was then known as the IAAF, announced in 2018 it would introduce the rules. Semenya challenged them and lost at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2019. She also lost a second appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal last year. That second case will be central to her appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. “Caster asks the Court to find that Switzerland has failed in its positive obligations to protect her against the violation of her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights," her lawyers said. They said the track body's rules were “discriminatory attempts to restrict the ability of certain women to participate in female athletics competitions.” Because of her refusal to lower her natural testosterone, Semenya has been barred from running in the 800 since 2019, when she was the dominant runner in the world over two laps. She is currently not allowed to run her favourite race — the race she has won two Olympic golds and three world titles in — at any major event. Semenya is not the only athlete affected. Two other Olympic medallists from Africa, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, have said they are also bound by the rules. They also said they would refuse to undergo medical intervention to reduce their testosterone levels. “I hope the European court will put an end to the longstanding human rights violations by World Athletics against women athletes," Semenya said in a statement. "All we ask is to be allowed to run free, for once and for all." Semenya, Niyonsaba and Wambui finished 1-2-3 in the 800 metres at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, strengthening World Athletics' argument that their medical conditions gave them an athletic advantage over other women. It's unclear if the human rights court would be able to hear Semenya's case before the delayed Tokyo Olympics, which might be Semenya's last. The games are set to open on July 23. Previous sports cases that have gone to the European Court of Human Rights have taken years to be decided. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Gerald Imray, The Associated Press