Trump faced new backlash over a photo of him not wearing a mask amid the pandemic as Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden came out leading him by double digits in a new poll.
Trump faced new backlash over a photo of him not wearing a mask amid the pandemic as Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden came out leading him by double digits in a new poll.
WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. That delay stood in contrast to the immediate approval for National Guard support granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities last spring as an outgrowth of racial justice protests, Walker said. As local officials pleaded for help, Army officials raised concerns about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, he said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed to officials on the call “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Even as Walker detailed the National Guard delay, another military official noted that local officials in Washington had said days earlier that no such support was needed. Senators were eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for that day. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
Jasper is another step closer to seeing the Connaught Drive Affordable Apartments become reality following a decision by municipal council at their March 2 regular meeting. Council approved installation of utility services to the GC, GB and GA parcels in 2021 in conjunction with the construction of a 40-unit apartment building, a modular construction containing 32 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom suites. The project represents the first phase for lands identified to host new affordable housing in the community. Council also directed administration to develop the borrowing bylaws required to fund Connaught site utility services, to a maximum of $3.647 million and present them at a future regular council meeting. Administration will also allocate $350,250 in the 2021 budget for upfront project costs for the Connaught Drive Affordable Apartments, subject to approval of a Rapid Housing Initiative grant applied for by the Jasper Community Housing Corporation. At the start of council’s discussion, Coun. Bert Journault said he was opposed to spending the money to extend the services to parcel GA, noting that it was unfair to saddle the taxpayer with the costs. “But I certainly support the proposal for the development of that area,” Journault said. “That’s a late property. It will provide our community with a lot of houses.” Deputy mayor Helen Kelleher-Empey noted all the work should be done simultaneously as the area had many residents and two hotels. “I know it’s a lot of money up front but if we’re going to tear up the west end of Connaught I think we should do the work all at once,” Kelleher-Empey said. “Let’s do the work. Let’s get it done and safe (for) the residents and the businesses on that end of town, to not be doing this piece by piece. Do it at once. It saves money in the end.” Coun. Paul Butler agreed with Journeault initially, while Coun. Jenna McGrath pointed out that administration said parcel GA is important for technical reasons. Chief administrative officer Bill Given said the recommendation is built on the requirement to reduce and eliminate the risk of water stagnation via a dead ending, which would make installing utilities for just sites GB and GC more challenging and costly if not impossible. He also noted an additional challenge is about firefighting capacity. “In order to maintain the appropriate volume of water required for fire flows for the hydrants and for high density housing, as is likely on GB and GC parcels, we need to have a high volume of water coming into the sites,” Given said. “This is not about encouraging or supporting development on GA. It is about maintaining appropriate fire flows.” A table showed that servicing just parcel GC would total about $1,840,434, while servicing all three sites at the same time would cost an additional $1,806,666 for a total of $3,647,100. In contrast, if a phased approach is taken, additional incremental costs of $211,100 would be required. By servicing all three parcels at once, $211,000 would be saved and there would be support for private sector interest in near term development on parcel GB. As well, disruption would be minimized to Connaught Drive. The annual debt servicing costs on a $1.8-million debenture over a 25-year term are about $97,500 and about $195,000 on a $3.6-million debenture over a 25-year term. Wastewater Treatment Plant Council directed administration to enter into contract negotiation with Aquatera Utilities Inc. for a 10-year operating contract of the Jasper Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Since Jan. 27, 2020, the WWTP has been operated by a contracted service provider (EPCOR) under a one-year service agreement. The agreement was extended until June 30, 2021 to complete the RFP process and ensure an orderly transition. A standard services agreement (SSA) was included in the RFP to help proponents refine their services proposals while mitigating the risk of misunderstanding and disagreement during final contract negotiation. “This is a substantial contract,” said Mayor Richard Ireland. The SSA contract will be negotiated and ratified by council and utility rates will need to be adjusted annually. Administration doesn’t anticipate an increase of utility rates for the 2021 year. Canada Healthy Communities Initiative Council carried a motion to approve the submission of an application to the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative for up to $250,000 for improvements to public spaces within the townsite. The improvements include a streetscape plan, sidewalk improvements, planters, benches, wayfinding improvements and a patio grant. Applications must be submitted by March 9. Review committees will start meeting to make decisions on March 10 and all applicants will receive results by April 30. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
From spring through fall, it’s not unusual to find Beck Aurell swinging from limb to limb through the crowns of Island oak, maple or poplar trees. Gear similar to a rock climber’s holds her safely in the tree and she carries a pruning saw or chainsaw at her side. “I might be the only female bodied climbing arborist on PEI,” Beck said, explaining that arborists are tree workers with specialized skills and certifications. They typically focus on managing and taking care of trees in residential areas. She was most recently employed with Laird Tree Care out of Cardigan. While Beck identifies as gender non-binary she is perceived by most as female and is comfortable with she/her or they/them pronouns. This puts her at odds with the majority of people she has worked with in Canada and around the world. Beck loves outdoor, hands-on work and any day she can help preserve the life of a tree is a good day in her opinion. She said making her way into a male dominated field of work wasn’t particularly easy but there were a few things that lifted her up into the treetops. “My dad was very helpful,” she said. Beck’s father owns an arborist business in New Brunswick and encouraged her to challenge herself by climbing in her teens. “It was something fun we did together and he never questioned if I could do it.” While the average arborist seems to be a tall bulky or lean guy, Beck has found smart techniques and tools tend to level the playing field. With a 5 foot 2 inch tall female body, she is stronger than some might expect. Beck said sometimes customers meet her with surprised comments like “Oh, are you doing the work?” or “Where’s the foreman?” when she is the team lead for the day. “It might be hard to believe, but it doesn’t actually take a 6-foot bulky man to transport logs from point A to B, to work hard all day, or to do the work we do efficiently,” she said. Luckily most customers meet her with supportive comments. “Customers that are older women especially seem supportive, I think it might be because they’ve seen so much change over the years.” Beck said local queer and some feminist communities have been a tremendous source of support and their ideas have helped her the whole way through. “Queer communities tend to share the idea, if it feels right for you, break gender expectations without fear or embarrassment, with pride,” she said. “They’ve really showed me there are different ways to be a person that don’t fit specific gender roles.” Beyond that, seeing female arborists in the industry when she worked in Sweden or at events (like women’s arborist skills camps in the US or in iternational arborist climbing competitions) reassured her that she could succeed in this line of work. Co-workers who have welcomed her into group environments and given her the opportunity to do what she is capable of without underestimating her abilities have also played a helpful part. “Most of my co-workers have been great,” Beck said. “Most don’t think twice about having me on the crew and working together, especially once they see I am capable and reliable.” “This means a lot because sometimes it takes a minute for some of the guys to settle with the idea that I’ll be climbing and working on the same level or even as a leader with them. “Sometimes when a crew shows up on a job they’re not expecting a blonde woman in her 20s to be the foreman and there seems to be a bit of an ego thing that can go on. “Sometimes there is some pushback but for the most part, it’s no problem.” Beck said her crew on PEI has been an excellent and fun team to work with. She has some advice for anyone considering a field of work that may seem unusual for their gender. “Don’t be afraid to break expectations and don’t underestimate yourself,” she said. “And if you can’t find anyone supportive, give me a call.” Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
The social media persona "Roaring Kitty," whose online posts helped spark January's trading frenzy in GameStop Corp shares, appeared before Massachusetts securities regulators on Wednesday to testify as part of an examination into his activities. Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, the state's top securities regulator, last month subpoenaed Keith Gill, who touted GameStop stock in his spare time while he was a registered broker and working at the insurer MassMutual. He was a key figure in the so-called "Reddit rally," which saw shares of GameStop surge 400% in a week before crashing back to pre-surge levels.
YEREVAN, Armenia — Thousands of opposition supporters rallied in the Armenian capital Wednesday to demand the prime minister's resignation, amid a heavy presence of security forces. Nikol Pashinyan has faced opposition demands to step down since he signed a November peace deal that ended fierce fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in which Azerbaijan routed the Armenian forces. The political tensions escalated last week when the military’s General Staff demanded Pashinyan's resignation, and he responded by firing the chief of the General Staff, Col. Gen. Onik Gasparyan. On Wednesday, more than 10,000 opposition demonstrators rallied outside the parliament building at a time when Pashinyan arrived to attend a session. As part of tight security measures, security agents armed with sniper rifles took positions in the building's windows and on its roof and remotely controlled stun grenades were placed in a park outside. Vazgen Manukyan, a veteran politician whom the opposition named as a prospective caretaker prime minister, denounced the security measures as an attempt by Pashinyan to scare his opponents. The prime minister's order to dismiss the chief of the General Staff is subject to approval by Armenia’s largely ceremonial president, Armen Sarkissian, who has refused to endorse it. Some legal experts argued that the order would take effect automatically following Sarkissian's failure to contest it in the nation's high court, but others pointed to legal caveats that could allow the top military officer to stay on. Manukyan, the opposition leader, warned that if Pashinyan manages to force the military chief out, the army would likely disobey the prime minister. As part of manoeuvring to defuse the political crisis, Pashinyan offered to hold a snap parliamentary vote later this year but rejected the opposition's demand to step down before the vote and let a caretaker successor take the helm. Pashinyan has faced opposition demands to resign since Nov. 10 when a Russia-brokered peace deal ended six weeks of intense fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. The agreement saw Azerbaijan reclaim control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas that had been held by Armenian forces for more than a quarter-century. Pashinyan, a 45-year-old former journalist who came to power after leading large street protests in 2018 that ousted his predecessor, still enjoys wide support despite the defeat in the fighting that lasted 44 days and killed more than 6,000. He has argued that the peace deal was the only way to prevent Azerbaijan from overrunning the entire Nagorno-Karabakh region, which lies within Azerbaijan but was under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994. Russia has deployed about 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the peace deal. ____ Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. By Avet Demourian, The Associated Press
Update — March 3, 2021: This article has been updated to include a statement from the Ontario Ministry of Education, reaffirming its commitment to have school boards collect race-based data. A parents group advocating for Black students has launched a tool where school staff across Canada can report and track anti-Black racism. Parents of Black Children (PoBC) created an online tool for educators and school board employees across Canada to anonymously report incidents of anti-Black racism that they have witnessed against students, colleagues, or experienced themselves. “We want you to know what racism looks like when the doors are closed,” said board member Charlene Hines at a virtual press conference Tuesday. “We know it’s happening and we know it’s not being addressed.” As an organization, PoBC is frequently hearing stories of racism, as shared by concerned parents, but that’s only a piece of the story. “This only captures the racism that parents know about,” said co-founder Kearie Daniel. “It doesn’t capture the racist incidents that educators may see in their colleagues’ classrooms and never report. It doesn’t cover the racist comments (said) in the teachers’ lounge or over email. “And it doesn’t cover the reprisals that Black teachers and their allies may face for standing up for Black students,” Daniel continued. Founding member Claudette Rutherford is also a department head at the York Region District School Board, and can relate to the risk of speaking up. “Even me coming here I understand the risk that it puts me at but I feel like I don’t have a choice anymore,” said Rutherford, who has been teaching for 19 years. PoBC has long demanded the collection of disaggregated, race-based data, which has not been fulfilled by most school boards. “If we do not measure the problem, we will not be able to systemically fix it,” said Caitlin Clark, a spokesperson for the Minister of Education Stephen Lecce. She said the minister has reaffirmed the mandate that all school boards must collect race-based data. “The Government will ensure school boards collect and publicize this data to create accountability, transparency and action to fix long-standing systemic barriers that hold back Black and other racialized children in Ontario,” Clark continued. Earlier this month, the Toronto District School Board released its first human rights report, which covered 2018-2020 and revealed a prevalence of anti-Black racism, which was reported by teachers. The TDSB created a new requirement that principals must report hate incidents in its own online portal. But TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz previously told the Star that she believes it is the only board currently collecting such information. As stories are submitted, PoBC plans to release the anonymized stories publicly, to school board leadership and ministries of education. The organizers note that being independent from school boards is an asset. In August 2020, PoBC held a protest for change in Ontario schools, and made 10 demands, including data collection, hiring more Black teachers, an end to streaming in all grades and decolonizing curriculum. As an organization, PoBC has already started filling some of their requests itself. Co-founder Charline Grant is a system navigator, which helps guide and support parents dealing with racism and disputes within schools. Members say they have not heard from the Ministry of Education. The government has moved forward with is ending streaming in Grade 9 and other “racist, discriminatory” practices, announced in July 2020. On Monday, Ontario announced it would be investing $6 million over the next three years to support Black students through a student and family advocates initiative in Ottawa, Hamilton and the GTA. In speaking about the data collection tool, Grant emphasized that it isn’t just data being collected, they are real “traumatic” experiences. “We already know anti-Black racism exists and is rampant in our schools,” she said. “This is just to give everybody a window into what we’re experiencing.” Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering equity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Angelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
La séance du conseil de la municipalité régionale de comté (MRC) de Minganie du 16 février a souligné l’accent et les efforts mis sur le développement du territoire. Les différents volets du Fonds régions et ruralité du ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation (MAMH) ont été l’objet de trois résolutions distinctes. D’une part, le volet 2 – Soutien à la compétence de développement local et régional des MRC exige que ces dernières disposent d’une politique de soutien aux entreprises. La MRC de Minganie a donc mis à jour sa politique adoptée en juin 2020 afin qu’elle soit plus flexible et accessible aux entrepreneurs. D’autre part, le conseil a accordé un mandat d’accompagnement de 43 605 $ à la firme conseil Espace Stratégies pour déterminer le projet ou l’ensemble de projets qui ciblera la « signature innovation » de la MRC. « La firme va travailler avec nous et différents acteurs de la planification stratégique pour trouver le fil conducteur de notre développement territorial », détaille le préfet de Minganie, Luc Noël. La somme octroyée à Espace Stratégies provient de l’enveloppe de 192 538 $ du volet 3 du FRR. Finalement, dans le cadre du volet 4 – Soutien à la vitalisation et à la coopération intermunicipale, la MRC a autorisé la signature d’une entente de vitalisation entre les municipalités de Rivière-au-Tonnerre, Aguanish, Rivière-Saint-Jean et la communauté de Nutashkuan. L’entente, d’un montant de 1 125 685 $ pour cinq ans, n’est que « l’étape embryonnaire » du processus, juge M. Noël. « Là, on doit s’asseoir avec le MAMH et les territoires concernés pour faire un plan de match. » Grâce à la récente création d’Action entreprise Québec par le ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI), la Minganie renforcera ses services d’accompagnement aux entrepreneurs et entreprises de la région. La MRC pourra embaucher au moins deux ressources supplémentaires à temps plein « jusqu’à concurrence de 900 000 $ » jusqu’en 2025. « Ce qu’on espère, c’est qu’on ait été assez performants pour que les ressources se rentabilisent elles-mêmes ou que le ministère continue de les payer », souhaite Luc Noël en soulignant la difficulté de compétitionner avec les grands centres pour attirer ce type d’employés. « Les gens qui ont le profil pour travailler dans nos départements de développement vont être en demande partout et on croit que notre région va passer bon deuxième », déplore-t-il. L’ensemble des modalités liées à l’octroi de la subvention n’est pas encore connu du conseil. Du côté du développement territorial, la MRC déposera sous peu au ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAC) le rapport d’étape de mi-parcours concernant l’élaboration de son Plan de développement de la zone agricole (PDZA). « La réponse est très positive de la part des acteurs du milieu, on constate qu’il y a un engouement », a déclare Luc Noël. Un second mandat d’accompagnement a été adopté lors de la séance du conseil, cette fois à l’organisation à but non lucratif Communagir pour que celle-ci soutienne la MRC dans le cadre de l’élaboration et de la mise en œuvre de sa stratégie en développement social. Le mandat représente une banque d’heures ouverte jusqu’au 30 juillet 2021. Selon les besoins, l’accompagnement devra prendre entre 25 et 50 heures, ce qui signifie que la facture s’élèvera au plus à 5600 $. En matière de sécurité publique, le conseil a désigné quelles interventions il considère comme prioritaires pour la Sûreté du Québec : le contrôle de la consommation et le trafic de drogues illicites, particulièrement chez les jeunes, et l’application des règlements municipaux uniformisés. « Aussi, on demande aux agents de faire plus de surveillance en lien avec les véhicules tout terrain (VTT) et de maintenir une présence policière sur l’ensemble du territoire de la MRC », ajoute le préfet de Minganie. Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is sharing a quarantine cell in central Russia, allies said on Wednesday, revealing his location for the first time since he was moved from jail in Moscow last week to serve a 2-1/2 year sentence in a penal colony. The whereabouts of Navalny, 44, had been a mystery since he left jail in Moscow. His lawyer Vadim Kobzev told Reuters he had met Navalny at the Kolchugino jail in the Vladimir region northeast of Moscow.
A 32-year-old Beaumont man is dead after his truck collided with a semi-trailer south of Sherwood Park on Tuesday. The semi was southbound on Highway 21 when it collided with a truck travelling east on Township Road 510 around 7:05 a.m., RCMP said in a news release Wednesday. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. The semi driver was taken to hospital with minor injuries. Strathcona County RCMP and a collision analyst remained on scene for several hours, the release said. The investigation is continuing but RCMP said no charges will be laid.
A civic by-election to fill the seat vacated by former Richmond councillor Kelly Greene will cost $716,504. Greene, who was elected to the provincial legislature as a member of the governing NDP by winning the Richmond-Steveston MLA seat last fall, vacated her council seat late last year. The estimated cost is higher than the 2018 general election mainly because of a mail-in voting provision. That adds another $150,000, while a further $55,000 covers pandemic-related costs—particularly cleaning supplies. “The fact that we only have one vacancy, and it’s only for about a year, doesn’t mean that it’s of lesser importance and for that reason I don’t think we should compromise anything for the integrity of the by-election,” said Coun. Chak Au, who was in favour of the proposal. “We all find the cost distasteful,” added Coun. Linda McPhail, who also voted in favour of the proposed by-election despite its cost. City staff also presented a scaled-down option that would have cost $540,000. But it failed to include a mail-in voting option. Only people who have a physical disability that affects their ability to vote, or people who will be away from Richmond during the entire voting period, would be able to vote by mail. Councillors disagreed on the projected cost at a February finance committee meeting. In response to queries, city staff confirmed that legislation dictates the availability of advance voting as well as a sufficient number of voting places. In a report to council, staff said they will aim to spend less than the budgeted amount, but that “sufficient funding must be in place to ensure for the integrity of the election,” as well as for the health and safety of all people involved. Coun. Carol Day was in support of referring staff to take another look at possibly bringing the budget down. “I agree that the election is important,” she said. “Our hands are tied behind our back—we have to have one. But I just don’t think voter turnout’s going to be that great, and the smart thing to do is to take a step backwards on this one, and then let’s run a full 100 per cent effective election in 2022.” While Coun. Harold Steves and Coun. Michael Wolfe were in support of the referral motion, the rest of council was opposed and the main motion, including its cost, passed. The current targeted date for an election is May 29. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
TORONTO — A man who killed 10 people and injured 16 others by deliberately driving a van down a bustling Toronto sidewalk was found guilty at trial on Wednesday, with a judge finding he carried out the attack to achieve notoriety. Alek Minassian had admitted to planning and carrying out the attack on April 23, 2018 but had argued he should be found not criminally responsible for his actions because he is autistic. The 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Justice Anne Molloy, who refused to name Minassian in her decision and referred to him only as John Doe, found him guilty on all 26 counts. "Mr. Doe thought about committing these crimes over a considerable period of time and made a considered decision to proceed," she said in her judgment, which was delivered via video conference and broadcast on YouTube. The key issue at Minassian's trial, which began last November without a jury, was whether he had the capacity at the time of the attack to make a rational choice. Molloy said Minassian was fully capable of making a rational choice at the time and deliberately chose to commit mass murder. Robert Forsyth, whose 94-year-old aunt Betty Forsyth died after being hit from behind by Minassian, welcomed Molloy's decision. "I'm happy with the decision, although it's hard to use the word happy when you lose a loved one like this," he said. "It was clear he knew what he was doing." The Crown had argued that Minassian is a mass killer who knew right from wrong and happens to have autism. But the defence argued that because of autism, Minassian never developed empathy, and that lack of empathy left him incapable of rational choice. Molloy rejected that argument. "It does not matter that he does not have remorse nor empathize with the victims. Lack of empathy for the suffering of victims — even an incapacity to empathize, for whatever reason — does not constitute a defence under Section 16 of the Criminal Code," she said in her decision. The trial heard that Minassian had fantasized about mass killings for years, starting when he was in high school, where he was bullied for years. Minassian told several psychiatric assessors he wanted to shoot up his high school, but was unable to find a gun. At one point he became fixated on an American mass murderer who hated women. He joined an online community of so-called "incels" — males who are involuntarily celibate. Minassian told a detective hours after the attack that he sought retribution against society because he was a lonely virgin who believed women wouldn't have sex with him. Later he mentioned different motives to different doctors who analyzed him. He told them he had a strong desire to commit a mass killing, he was lonely, worried he'd fail at his upcoming software development job, a belief he'd never have a relationship with a woman, his infatuation with a mass murderer and, what many point to as his biggest motivator, the quest for notoriety. Three weeks before the attack he booked a rental van for the day after he completed his final college exam, court heard. Around 1:30 p.m. on a bright and warm April day, Minassian sat in the driver's seat at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue at a red light. When the light turned green, he floored it, hopped the curb and began the attack. He drove for about two kilometres on and off the sidewalk as he killed and maimed unsuspecting pedestrians along the way. He was arrested moments later following a failed attempt to commit suicide by cop. Betty Forsyth, Ji Hun Kim, So He Chung, Geraldine Brady, Chul Min Kang, Anne Marie Victoria D'Amico, Munir Najjar, Dorothy Marie Sewell, Andrea Bradden and Beutis Renuka Amarasingha died in the attack. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
Most of us are familiar with the three Rs associated with limiting our waste: reduce, reuse and recycle. As it turns out, there’s a fourth R: renew the recycling licence. During the Feb. 22 regular council meeting for the Town of Pincher Creek, Coun. Scott Korbett formally announced the town would not be renewing its recycling contract with KJ Cameron Service Industries. Come June 30, only empty beverage containers will be accepted at the bottle depot. “The Town of Pincher Creek intends to continue to offer a recycling program,” the town’s official statement reads. “We are currently working with our regional partners to have a smooth transition to a new program by the end of June.” While understanding the town is obligated to make economic decisions when it comes to contracts, Weston Whitfield, owner and manager of KJ Cameron, worries consolidating services on a regional basis might result in an inefficient service to taxpayers. The process of gathering, transporting, then re-sorting material, Mr. Whitfield adds, might decrease the price recycling facilities are willing to pay. “My concern is in the past, places that have done collaborations like that end up with a little bit of contamination and it can affect the resale of the product,” he says. Although no official details have been released, the plan for future recycling appears to involve the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill Association. Discussion recorded in the minutes of the Jan. 20, 2021, regular meeting of the landfill association includes “Recycling Update” as an agenda item. The minutes describe proposals being sent to each of the municipalities and note that, despite no reply being received, each of the municipal representatives — Coun. Dean Ward from Crowsnest Pass, Coun. Brian McGillivray from Pincher Creek and Reeve Brian Hammond from the MD of Pincher Creek — indicated their respective councils are still considering or interested in the landfill’s recycling proposal. Recycling was also a topic during last week’s council meetings for both the MD of Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass. During the MD of Pincher Creek’s Feb. 23 council meeting, chief administrative officer Troy MacCulloch updated council on plans to move collection bins from outside the MD office to a site off Bighorn Avenue and Highway 507, near the Co-op lumberyard. The site will cover recycling needs for residents from both the MD and town. “This will be a site that the MD will build,” said CAO MacCulloch. “We will cost-share it with the town, and then going forward it would be operated and manned by the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill.” Plans for the new recycling site are still tentative as the MD is working with the current landowner to develop a lease that would permit the property to be used as a transfer station for garbage and recyclables. The garbage bins by the MD office, he added, could also be removed. This will allow for further development and easier access of the standpipe, which will remain at the location. Meetings with Pincher Creek administration have discussed the possibility of the MD taking over the composting facility, which would be included on the site. Crowsnest Pass council also voted Feb. 23 to direct administration to find a location for their own recycling bin. Ease of access, along with being sheltered from the weather and from travellers’ field of vision, were identified as main priorities. Administration was asked to present a location at the March 16 council meeting with hopes that users could begin dropping off recycling by the end of the month. The goal is to eventually have three sites in the municipality to gather recycling. Beginning with one, said CAO Patrick Thomas, was a good place to “at least start and see what the challenges are,” especially to “see how [building] the fencing and screening goes.” The Town of Pincher Creek’s full official statement regarding the recycling licence can be found online at http://bit.ly/PC-Recycle. More information on Pincher Creek Bottle Depot and Recycling can be found at www.facebook.com/pcbottledepot. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
WASHINGTON — The United States is at a COVID-19 crossroads — and public health officials are worried about which path it will choose. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, is urging Americans not to let their guard down. For a second straight day, Walensky is warning about the potential for highly contagious COVID-19 variants to undo the country's hard-won progress. Her message is competing with a torrent of seemingly good news. President Joe Biden says the U.S. will have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses in stock for every adult American by the end of May. And a number of states are easing their pandemic restrictions, most recently Texas, which is planning to reopen completely by next Wednesday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
One woman is dead and two others are injured after a head-on crash in North Vancouver, B.C., late Tuesday. Two cars crashed on Low Level Road around 11 p.m. PT, according to RCMP. A statement said an Audi driving west crossed the centre line and collided with an eastbound car driven by the woman and carrying a male passenger. The two people in the eastbound car and the Audi driver were taken to hospital, where the woman was pronounced dead. The passenger remains in critical condition. The male driver of the newer model Audi had serious but non life-threatening injuries. RCMP said he refused to give a breath sample. RCMP believe alcohol was a factor in the crash. "We are currently in the midst of an investigation of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and refusal to provide samples of breath for purposes of an impaired investigation," said Sgt. Peter DeVries. "It is a very sad day for this person's family and friends and our thoughts and prayers go out to them," DeVries said of the woman who was killed. Lower Level Road remains closed between East 3rd Street and St. Andrews Avenue.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Besieged by sexual harassment allegations, a sombre New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized Wednesday, saying he “learned an important lesson” about his own behaviour around women, but he said he intended to remain in office. “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said at a Wednesday press conference. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.” Cuomo said he will “fully co-operate” with the state attorney general’s investigation into sexual harassment allegations. Attorney General Letitia James is in the process of selecting an outside law firm to conduct an investigation into the allegations and produce a report that will be made publicly. Cuomo had avoided public appearances for days as some fellow Democrats call for him to resign. Before Wednesday's press conference, the governor last spoke to reporters during a teleconference call on Feb. 22. His last media briefing on video was Feb. 19. He hadn't spoken publicly since giving New York Attorney General Letitia James a referral to investigate claims that he sexually harassed at least two women in his administration. One former aide, Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo quizzed her about her sex life and asked whether she would be open to a relationship with an older man. Bennett rejected Cuomo’s attempted apology, in which he said he’d been trying to be “playful” and that his jokes had been misinterpreted as flirting. Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent at the end of a meeting, and once suggested they play strip poker while aboard his state-owned jet. Cuomo has denied Boylan’s allegations. And another woman, Anna Ruch, told The New York Times that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her at a September 2019 wedding. Cuomo started Wednesday's press conference focusing on the latest data on the coronavirus pandemic. He highlighted a disproportionately high number of hospitalizations in New York City, news that the state is receiving an initial shipment of 164,000 doses of the new one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and that three vaccination sites will temporarily shift to 24/7 operations. __ This story has been updated to correct the day of the press briefing. It was on Wednesday, not Tuesday. Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press
While applicant and the Township are working to iron out concerns with a proposed townhouse project in King City, the matter is still headed to an LPAT hearing. Councillors, staff and members of the public offered input into Stateview Homes’ plan to build 49 residential cluster townhouses on Keele Street. The applicants are seeking amendments to zoning and King’s Official Plan to allow for the development. A public meeting was initially held in March 2019 and since then, both the applicant and Township staff have held working meetings. This led to two revised applications. The applications have been appealed to LPAT and a hearing is scheduled for this coming June. The outstanding issues include consideration for King’s OP, the proposed density, environmental buffers and traffic concerns. The property is currently zoned established neighbourhood, which doesn’t permit large-scale development. Townhouses are not considered a suitable use in this zoning. Staff said this application is fundamentally opposed to current planning rules and fails to meet many criteria. The applicant wants to redesignate the lands as medium density, but they’re currently deemed low density, limited to 25 units per hectare. The bid is to up that to 40 units per hectare. King plans also require vegetative buffers of 30 meters adjacent to natural heritage features, and this plan has zones that vary from 20 to 46 metres. The application included three-storey townhouses, but the surrounding neighbourhood is largely single, detached homes. An architectural design is still under review. Staff have been working with the applicant to address compatibility, particularly the lots in the eastern and southern boundaries. Also, staff are concerned with some minimum lot areas, as well as front and side yard setbacks. Staff are also concerned with limited amenity space. They favour further revision to include fewer or small units, which would allow for better lot coverage and comply with zoning provisions. Staff noted concerns have been raised over access to the site and traffic generated. Residents have asked that traffic lights be installed. However, the current application does not propose any signals. At this time, staff will report back to the Committee of the While, prior to the LPAT hearing, to outline the status of the applications and any further revisions. Consultant Murray Evans, representing Stateview, said this plan has several credible elements and they’ve made changes to improve setbacks, in hopes to mitigating any impacts on existing residents. He admitted there’s work to be done, mostly of a technical nature. The zoning standards, he contends, are reflective or an urban area. Their objective is to create a pedestrian-friendly street front. The issue of access is important to them, he said, noting they are working with the Township on the signal lights, perhaps at Norman. Bruce Craig, on behalf of Concerned Citizens of King Township (CCKT), said rows of townhouses will drastically change the streetscape. The combination of the five lots along the edge of the East Humber River Valley provides an excellent setting and opportunity to create an attractive residential subdivision with clusters of new homes that integrate well with the surrounding neighbourhood known as Heritage Park. However, in CCKT’s view there would need to be significant changes to the present concept and site plan. Reducing the number of residential units and including two or three different forms of housing arranged carefully on this large parcel of land would address a number of concerns. Many mature trees could be preserved, impervious surface area reduced, the 30-metre buffer retained and a suitable transition to neighbouring lots achieved. The Established Neighbourhood designation in the new King Ofﬁcial Plan is intended to maintain the character and general fabric of the surrounding residential neighbourhood. The current proposal, with a density of 40 units/ha and blocks of three-storey townhouses does not achieve the goals or intent of the designation, the group points out. Regarding the revised site plan submitted by Stateview Homes in December 2020, CCKT recognizes several improvements, which include screening, retention of trees, wider planting strips, and more. CCKT said the density of proposal “far exceeds what is envisioned in the Established Neighbourhood designation.” The group would like the number of units reduced substantially. Craig pointed out that the blocks of townhouses stretching along Keele Street with small spaces between blocks is “not appealing and does not complement and integrate well in the existing neighbourhood with a more open space character.” They’d like to see the plan include single-detached, semi-detached, duplexes and/or one or two well-designed small blocks of two-storey townhouses carefully placed on the overall property to integrate well with homes in the existing neighbourhood. Also, the building heights of 12.5 metres is “far beyond the heights of the surrounding residential units which are made up of bungalows, and two-storey dwellings. Heights need to be reduced. CCKT recommends a maximum height of 9.0 metres.” CCKT advocates for retaining the full 30-metre buffer, and recommends that residential units and lots be adjusted to be completely outside of the buffer zone. CCKT, to, would like to see signalization at Norman Drive and the roadway entrance into High Crown Estates. Signals with sensors should be installed to allow the traffic to ﬂow well on Keele Street, and to provide for access on to Keele Street from Norman Drive and the High Crown Estates roadway in peak rush hour times. Dennison Drive should not be used for through trafﬁc in and out of this site. CCKT contends that with “signiﬁcant revisions to the current site plan, a creative and attractive subdivision plan can be achieved that is well-received by the neighbouring community.” Resident Jennifer Hobbs, representing King Heritage Park Ratepayers Association, made a comprehensive presentation to council. Her group represents some 220 King City residents. While residents understand growth pressures, this development doesn’t quite fit in with the neighbourhood and needs to be more forward-thinking. “If there is to be departure from the existing character of the neighbourhood, the development needs to provide adequate transition,” she said. The site includes many natural heritage features and is home to many mature trees and wildlife. The fear is many of these trees will be removed to make room for the development. Official Plan mandates, she said, include achieving a high degree of compatibility; minimizing impacts to vegetation, and having no negative impacts on adjacent properties. KHPRA, she stressed, is trying to ensure compatibility. The bid could change the design to soften the impact, and provide wider transition buffers. They suggest reducing the building height, setting buildings back further from the road, and planting larger streets. Increase traffic congestion is a major concern among residents. Hobbs said backups are common on Keele and this project will make matters even worse. It will add pressure to Keele and neighbouring streets, most of which don’t have sidewalks. The proposal, KHPRA contends, has no park space, and no safe pedestrian crossing. The group said they’re willing to work with the applicant and the Township to see a development that meets the needs of the community. There’s a need to find a balance between growth and residents’ safe enjoyment of their properties and the surrounding neighbourhood. “The latest changes to the proposal are an improvement, but still a long way from a plan that KHPRA would find acceptable.” A Martin Street resident said her street has become a shortcut for motorists, and traffic in her area is often at a standstill. She is concerned the new development will add to the mayhem in this family neighbourhood. She said there needs to be a plan for pedestrian safety, as well as adequate traffic calming measures. Mayor Steve Pellegrini said staff, through its traffic management plan, is always looking at speed limits in King’s villages. Another man said the project still has many deficiencies and he’d like to see two sets of traffic lights in the area. Mark Pavilons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, King Weekly Sentinel
Security forces in Myanmar escalated their crackdown on protests against last month’s military coup, with at least 38 people killed on Wednesday.View on euronews
SAN DIEGO — Former NFL player Kellen Winslow II was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in prison for multiple rapes and other sexual offences against five women in Southern California, including one who was homeless when he attacked her in 2018. The 37-year-old son of San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame receiver Kellen Winslow appeared via videoconference at the hearing in San Diego Superior Court in Vista, a city north of San Diego. He declined to comment before his sentence, saying his lawyers had advised him not to speak. San Diego County Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman said Winslow can only be described with “two words and that is sexual predator." He said he selected women who were vulnerable because of their age or their living situation with the idea that “hopefully he would get away with it in his mind." Winslow was once the highest-paid tight end in the league, earning more than $40 million over his 10 seasons before he left in 2013. He was convicted of forcible rape, rape of an unconscious person, assault with intent to commit rape, indecent exposure, and lewd conduct in public. The forcible rape involved a woman who was homeless in his home town of Encinitas, a beach community north of San Diego. The 14-year-sentence was the maximum allowed under a plea deal. Julie Watson, The Associated Press
Writer and director Eddie Huang hopes his first feature film, "Boogie," will help shift expectations about the type of Asian-American stories shown on the big screen. "This is the next level, where we get to come in and tell our authentic, specific stories," said Huang, whose 2013 autobiography was adapted into the ABC television sitcom "Fresh Off the Boat." The coming-of-age story centers around a high school basketball star who dreams of playing in the National Basketball Association while navigating family pressure, love, and rivals.