Prince Markie Dee, a member of the pioneering hip-hop group the Fat Boys, died on Thursday, the group’s manager, Louis Gregory, confirmed. He was 52. No cause of death has been given.
Prince Markie Dee, a member of the pioneering hip-hop group the Fat Boys, died on Thursday, the group’s manager, Louis Gregory, confirmed. He was 52. No cause of death has been given.
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Fueled by Black turnout, Democrats scored stunning wins in Georgia in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Now, Republicans are trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. GOP lawmakers in the once reliably red state are rolling out an aggressive slate of voting legislation that critics argue is tailored to curtail the power of Black voters and undo years of work by Stacey Abrams and others to increase engagement among people of colour, including Latino and Asian American communities. The proposals are similar to those pushed by Republicans in other battleground states: adding barriers to mail-in and early voting, major factors in helping Joe Biden win Georgia's 16 Electoral College votes and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff take the two Senate seats that gave Democrats control of the chamber. But one aspect of their plans, a proposal to eliminate early voting on Sundays, seems specifically targeted at a traditional get-out-the-vote campaign used by Black churches, referred to as “souls to the polls." It's led many to suggest Republicans are trying to stop a successful effort to boost Black voter turnout in Georgia, where they make up about a third of the population and have faced a dark history of attempts to silence their voices in elections. “It's a new form of voter suppression, the Klan in three-piece suits rather than white hoods,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald III of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which has participated in souls to the polls events. “They know the power of the Black vote, and their goal is to suppress that power.” In previous elections, souls to the polls campaigns were festive, with vehicles and people parading to election offices during early voting windows. Churches would sometimes playfully compete to see which could bring the most voters, said McDonald, who described the GOP legislation as “spiteful.” In Georgia and elsewhere, Republicans say proposals to tighten voting access are meant to bolster confidence in elections, though they have been some of the loudest proponents of meritless claims that the election was fraudulent. The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy group, has counted 165 bills in 33 states this year meant to limit access to voting. In Georgia, Republicans control state government and have introduced dozens of legislative measures that would restrict voting access. GOP state Rep. Barry Fleming is chief sponsor of a wide-ranging proposal that would ban Sunday early voting, require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the time when an absentee ballot could be requested, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be placed and curb the use of mobile voting units, among other changes. In committee hearings, Fleming has cast the legislation as “an attempt to restore the confidence of our public in our election system.” He didn’t respond to an email or phone message requesting comment. Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project that Abrams founded in 2014, called the GOP measures a backlash “to our multiracial, multilingual progressive majority that is winning elections." Biden beat former President Donald Trump by roughly 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democrat to win a presidential contest in Georgia since 1992. Biden received nearly double the number of absentee votes as Trump in a state that became a major target of Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. Biden's win there was confirmed in three separate counts, including one by hand. "These measures, in our opinion, are not based on any objective, data-driven, evidence-based assessment of the issue but solely with the intention to undermine Black voters and other communities of concern,” said Democratic state Rep. Michael Smith, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Policy Committee. Because Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, at least some form of their proposals are likely to become law. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, has called for a photo ID requirement for absentee voting but has yet to back a specific proposal. His office said it was still reviewing the legislation. Republicans are trying to limit ways to vote that have been wildly popular. After states expanded access to mail-in and early voting during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 70% of all ballots cast nationwide came before Election Day. An estimated 108 million people voted by mail, early in person or by dropping off absentee ballots. In Georgia, over 4 million voters cast early or absentee ballots. “They realize if they continue to allow individuals to vote by mail, it is going to be an uphill battle for Republicans to win at the polls and maintain their position,” Democratic state Rep. Debra Bazemore said. At the federal level, Democrats are pushing for a sweeping overhaul of how Americans vote. House Democrats are expected to vote next week on a measure that would establish federal election standards like early voting periods, same-day voter registration and other policies that Republicans have dismissed as federal overreach. And they are expected to introduce another bill to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had triggered federal scrutiny of election changes in certain states and counties with histories of discrimination. Georgia was among the states that previously had to get approval for voting changes. “If left to their own devices, Republicans will try to limit the ability of minority voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat co-sponsoring the bill on federal election standards. “It's open season on voting rights in Georgia,” he said. ___ Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York. ___ Associated Press coverage of voting rights receives support in part from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Anthony Izaguirre And Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
Sudbury's Community Drug Strategy group has published some fresh statistics that, as expected, reveal that the opioid addiction and overdose problems are still significant issues in the community. The stats are based on information accessed as of Feb. 3, 2021. The community drug strategy group includes membership from Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD), Greater Sudbury Police Service, Health Sciences North and the City of Greater Sudbury. Other members of the group include mental health agencies and several social wellness agencies. The updated opioid surveillance report was recently published by the drug strategy group on the PHSD website. According to the most recent statistics, the report said Greater Sudbury Paramedic Services had responded to 67 suspected "opioid-related incidents" in January of 2021. The report also compared that number to January of 2020, the same period last year, when the number was 38. The report also revealed that Greater Sudbury paramedics responded to a total of 683 suspected opioid-related incidents in 2020. This compared with the total of 468 incidents in 2019, the previous year. The numbers were different for actual emergency department visits for "suspected accidental overdoses" at Health Sciences North. Overdoses identified as intentional, or overdoses not related to opioids, have been removed, where identified. However, the numbers presented may include emergency department visits related to drugs or substances other than opioids. Statistics also showed a bit of a decrease in 2020 in year over year comparisons. The total number for 2019 was 579. The total number for 2020, during the pandemic, was lower at 562. Part of this might have been a reluctance to visit the hospital during the first wave of the pandemic. When compared to the numbers in 2019, the emergency room numbers declined in March, April, May, June, July and August of 2020. The number of suspected overdose visits at the emergency room in January 2021 was at 43, higher than January visits for both 2020 and 2019. In footnotes published with the numbers, it said the information is based on patient signs and symptoms, not on the final diagnosis. Overdoses identified as intentional, or overdoses not related to opioids, have been removed, where identified. However, the numbers presented may include emergency department visits related to drugs or substances other than opioids. Numbers were also provided in the report for confirmed opioid overdoses in the PHSD district in 2020, but the numbers were not complete for the year, nor were they specific to Sudbury. Many of the numbers were flagged as preliminary and subject to change. Additional statistics revealed that Naloxone doses were distributed in the Sudbury area in the past year by the thousands. The kits were distributed by PHSD, Réseau ACCESS Network and by local pharmacies. Altogether in 2020, nearly 23,000 Naloxone were distributed locally. A footnote in the report said the increase in the distribution is partially due to the number of agencies distributing the kits. Naloxone kits are free in Ontario and can be used in a timely manner to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
OTTAWA — Crown prosecutors are asking that a Manitoba man be sentenced to six years minus time served after he pleaded guilty to eight charges related to an incident at Rideau Hall.Corey Hurren, 46, rammed through a gate at Rideau Hall and headed on foot toward Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s home at Rideau Cottage while heavily armed on July 2.Police were able to talk Hurren, a Canadian Ranger and sausage-maker, down and arrested him peacefully after about 90 minutes.Crown prosecutor Meaghan Cunningham told an Ottawa courtroom today that Hurren's actions posed a serious threat to public safety and set up a potentially dangerous situation.Defence lawyer Michael Davies is seeking a sentence of three years, less time served, and acknowledged Hurren's bad choices before noting his client gave himself up peacefully.Davies said Hurren was a hardworking member of society before the COVID-19 pandemic caused him to face financial difficulties and depression. Justice Robert Wadden is expected to deliver his sentence on March 10.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke on Tuesday and agreed to coordinate on efforts to get web giants to pay for news, according to a statement from Ottawa. The two leaders "agreed to continue coordinating efforts to address online harm and ensure the revenues of web giants are shared more fairly with creators and media," a statement detailing the issues discussed in their telephone call said.
REGINA — Eleven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, silence fills Regina's airport. Empty check-in counters line one side of the terminal while the odd employee moves behind reception along a row of vehicle rental desks. There's no one on the staircase passengers use upon arriving in Saskatchewan's capital city. The number of flights scheduled to land on Monday: four. “It’s almost like a ghost town," said James Bogusz, CEO and president of the Regina Airport Authority. Canada's aviation industry has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, because of federal travel restrictions and public-health advice urging would-be travellers to stay home. Bogusz said he's concerned that any comeback in air travel could be hampered in Regina by service reductions to air-traffic control. Nav Canada, the non-profit body that runs the country's civil air navigation service, is reviewing airport towers in Regina and six other small Canadian cities. That has triggered concerns from local leaders about the effect on their airports and community businesses. “I don’t want a small town," said Bogusz. "I want my mid-size city airport back." The other airport towers under review are in St-Jean, Que., Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, Fort McMurray, Alta., Prince George, B.C., and Whitehorse, Yukon. At the heart of each review is whether air traffic at the airports warrants having a control tower as opposed to an advisory service for pilots. "We have to operate the right service, at the right place, at the right time," said Jonathan Bagg, Nav Canada's director of stakeholder and industry relations. "The COVID-19 pandemic does give us additional stimulus because of the financial environment; however, the studies are warranted regardless of COVID-19." He explained that an air traffic controller provides instructions to pilots during times including takeoff; an advisory service offers guidance through information that includes weather and runway conditions Bagg said the reviews will not compromise safety and Nav Canada is looking at air traffic numbers at the airports before the pandemic. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens wants his city off the list because of its proximity to Detroit, which makes airspace more complicated. Dilkens, who also chairs the airport's board, questions how losing the airport's tower would affect attracting new airlines and routes. "Anything that causes them an additional level of concern that makes us less competitive — that’s our economic concern.” WestJet has said control towers don't influence its operations. Air Canada spokeswoman Angela Mah said losing towers "would have an impact on overall efficiencies as airline operations become significantly more complex." She cited possible delays at non-controlled sites and the need for additional fuel to cover delays or diversions to other airports. "These inefficiency factors all increase operating costs and can affect the overall commercial viability of routes." RJ Steenstra, president and CEO of the Fort McMurray Airport Authority, said closing its tower could affect future efforts to diversify tourism in the region. "German charter carriers will not fly to an airport that doesn’t have a tower," he said. “When so much of the industry is in flux, it’s not a good time to make a decision like this." Bagg said Nav Canada hopes to present by spring its recommendations for the seven towers to Transport Canada, which must give final approval. Six premiers have asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to delay a decision until after COVID-19 is under control enough so travel restrictions can be lifted. In a statement, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Transport Canada would do its own safety review of any proposed changes. Dilkens said it would be a mistake for Ottawa to ignore economic implications. The government has spent million of dollars improving Windsor's airport. Notices about layoffs were issued to air traffic controllers last month, raising concerns that closures have already been decided. "This has eroded our trust in the process," said Bogusz. Bagg said letters were sent because the collective agreement requires employees be notified that their jobs may be at risk. The layoffs are subject to the outcome of the reviews. The Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, which represents air traffic controllers, has said about 60 jobs would disappear if the seven towers were closed. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2020 Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Security officials testifying at Congress' first hearing on the deadly siege of the Capitol cast blame and pointed fingers on Tuesday but also acknowledged they were woefully unprepared for the violence. Senators drilled down on the stunning security failure and missed warning signs as rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, in a misguided attempt to stop lawmakers from certifying President Joe Biden's election. Five people died in the attack, including a Capitol Police officer. The security officials lost their jobs, and Trump was impeached by the House on a charge of inciting the insurrection, the deadliest attack on Congress in 200 years. Trump was ultimately acquitted by the Senate. Here are some takeaways from the testimony: FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE Intelligence warnings of an armed uprising by extremist groups heading to the Capitol didn't rise to the level of alarm — or even get passed up the chain of command — in time for the Jan. 6 attack. Crucially, a key warning flare from the FBI field office in Norfolk, Virginia, of a “war” on the Capitol was sent the night before to the Capitol Police's intelligence division. But then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testified that he only learned about it the day before Tuesday's hearing. Instead, Sund said he was bracing for demonstrations on par with other armed protests by mobs of Trump’s supporters in the nation's capital in November and December after the presidential election. “No entity, including the FBI, provided any intelligence indicating that there would be a co-ordinated violent attack on the United States Capitol by thousands of well-equipped armed insurrectionists,” he testified in written remarks about a conference call the day before the attack. The Democratic chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, said, “There was a failure to take this threat more seriously.” HE SAID, HE SAID As hundreds of rioters stormed the Capitol, breaking into the iconic building's windows and doors, sometimes in hand-to-hand combat with police, there are conflicting accounts from the security officials over what happened next. Sund, who had raised the idea of calling on the National Guard for backup days earlier, specifically recounted a 1:09 p.m. phone call he made to the then-sergeant-at-arms of the House, Paul Irving, his superior, requesting National Guard troops. Sund said he was told they would run it up the chain of command . Irving said he has no recollection of the conversation at that time and instead recalls a conversation nearly 20 minutes later. He said the 1:09 p.m. call does not show up on his cellphone log. As the riot escalated, Sund was “pleading” with Army officials for Guard troops in another phone call, testified Robert Contee III, the acting chief of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, whose officers had arrived for backup. Contee said he was “stunned” at the delayed response from the military. Defence Department officials have said they offered National Guard troops days earlier but were rebuffed. Pentagon officials are scheduled to testify to the Senate next week. COMMON FACTS: ‘A PLANNED INSURRECTION’ At the start of the hearing, coming 10 days after Trump was acquitted by the Senate on the impeachment charge of inciting the insurrection, some common facts were agreed to. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the chair of the Rules Committee, asked the security officials if there was any doubt the riot was a planned attack and carried out by white nationalist and extremist groups. None of the witnesses disputed the characterization of the facts of Jan. 6. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin read an alternative account, of mostly peaceful protesters festive that day, that he encouraged colleagues to consider. But in closing, Klobuchar restated the testimony: “There was clear agreement this was a planned insurrection.” ONE OFFICER'S PERSONAL STORY The hearing opened with Capitol Police Capt. Carneysha Mendoza, a 19-year veteran of the force, delivering a compelling personal account of being called at home that day as she was spending time with her 10-year-old before the start of her shift. She rushed to the Capitol only to find “the worst of the worst” scene of her career. A former Army veteran, she recounted the deadly mayhem, fending off rioters inside the building’s stately Rotunda, inhaling gas and suffering chemical burns to her face she said still have not healed. Her Fitbit recorded four hours of sustained activity, she said. The next night and following day she spent at the hospital consoling the family of Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the attack. “As an American, and as an Army veteran, it’s sad to see us attacked by our fellow citizens,” Mendoza told the senators. TRUMP'S SHADOW The former president was hardly a presence at the first hearing. Instead, senators largely set aside their sharply partisan ways to drill down on the facts of what happened that day — on how to prevent it from happening again. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., pointedly asked for the name of the commander in chief of the armed forces that day who was ultimately responsible for the military and security of the country. That drew out the former president's name. Among the senators on the panels are two of Trump's staunch allies who led the effort to overturn Biden's election victory — Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. ___ Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Michael Balsamo and Lolita Baldor in Washington and Nomaan Merchant in Houston contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
First Nation communities along the James Bay and Hudson Bay coast are in lockdown after a spike in cases. Since last Friday, 15 cases of COVID-19 have beenreported in Moosonee. The Porcupine Health Unit has also warned of a potential exposure risk to people who were at GG's Ace Hardware Store in Moosonee Thursday Feb. 1 to Friday, Feb. 19. People who have visited the store during those days are advised to monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the last day they visited, which ends Feb. 25 to March 5. In a video message posted on Facebook, Moosonee’s Mayor Wayne Taipale asked people not to panic and stay home. “There’s likely to be more positive cases during tracing but we urge everybody not to panic,” he said. “We encourage everybody to follow the requirements, stay home and not to travel unless it’s essential, to wash hands, wear mask and keep distances. If we all do this, then we’ll be getting this under control faster.” Fort Albany First Nation, Attawapiskat First Nation, Moose Factory Island and Kashechewan First Nation are currently in lockdown. Moose Factory's lockdown is in effect until March 12. Vehicle traffic to the island is restricted to Moose Factory Island residents, essential workers and residents from other communities who need to receive medical care. A mandatory curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. has been put in place for all Moose Factory Island residents with exemptions for those who need to work, are in need of medical care and those participating in traditional harvesting, according to Moose Cree First Nation's statement. Residents are also required to wear double masks in all public places. Moosonee Health Centre will be offering COVID-19 testing Wednesday, Feb. 24 by appointment only. In Fort Albany, there is a community lockdown for domestic air travel and suspension of the temporary winter road travel corridor. Community members that have medical appointments in Moose Factory will be required to provide proof to be able to travel on the winter road. All travellers, who are currently out of Fort Albany, will have until Thursday, Feb. 25 to return to the community. They will be required to isolate for 14 days and complete a nasal swab. Kashechewan First Nation is in a two-week lockdown until March 5. Community members can use the winter road to travel to Moosonee for medical purposes until Feb. 27. According to Kashechewan’s statement, there will be medical drivers who will take the patients from the community and drive them to the Weeneebayko General Hospital in Moose Factory. At this time, residents are not allowed to drive to appointments on their own. The Porcupine Health Unit COVID-19 information line can be reached at 705-267-1181 or 1-800-461-1818. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
The company's shareholders also approved compensation for Apple executives for fiscal 2020, the report said. Shareholders will not vote until next year's annual meeting on Cook's September grant of 333,987 restricted stock units, his first major stock package since 2011, which took effect at the start of Apple's fiscal 2021. It grants him stock units with a possibility to earn as many as 667,974 more if he hits performance targets.
(Yoskri Mimouna/Radio-Canada - image credit) In the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government spent at least $61 million to help public servants adapt to working from home, according to an analysis by Radio-Canada. The amount is likely higher because some departments including Global Affairs Canada haven't released their spending figures. According to Radio-Canada, the majority of the money that has been reported was used to equip workers with computers and office furniture needed to work from home. The spending doesn't include salaries. As one example, the Department of National Defence provided employees with 960 chairs, 9,896 laptops, 33,000 VPN connections and 110,000 accounts for Microsoft Office 365. The department also allowed each employee to spend $300 on smaller office items. By comparison, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a Crown corporation, granted its employees a monthly allowance of $80. "What worries us the most is whether there were duplicate or triplicate expenses," Renaud Brossard, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's director for Quebec, told Radio-Canada in a French-language interview. Brossard is concerned some of that money might have been spent on items that could have been picked up from the office, and said the government needs to keep tabs on all that equipment once the pandemic is over and workers return to their cubicles. Resources stretched thin: unions But Geneviève Tellier, a professor of political studies at the University of Ottawa, cautioned taxpayers to be understanding in these exceptional circumstances. "It is possible that there were mistakes, that we paid too much," Tellier said in French. But according to unions representing federal public servants, even with all the costs, resources for teleworkers are still stretched thin. "We are experiencing technical problems, such as VPNs failing," said the Public Service Alliance of Canada's Alex Silas. Stéphane Aubry of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) said some departments "have not provided much equipment" to their employees. According to PIPSC, some 200,000 federal public servants are working from home during the pandemic. According to Radio-Canada's analysis, the government has also spent more than $26 million on safety measures for workplaces that have continued to function throughout the pandemic. The costs included installing signs and Plexiglas shields.
A video obtained by Global News has gone viral showing the busy inside of a HomeSense in Vaughan, Ont. Taken on the first day York Region re-opened retail at 50 per cent capacity, the apparent lack of social distancing in the store has led to physicians voicing their concerns, and warnings over the province’s regional approach to relaxing restrictions. Miranda Anthistle has the details.
A pre-trial conference will be held next month for a man charged in connection with a downtown stabbing death last summer. Last week, lawyers for the Crown and defence set March 8 for a pre-trial conference that will determine the length of a forthcoming preliminary inquiry in the case of Jason Holm. Holm, 37, is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of 39-year-old Paul Samuel Whitten, who was stabbed to death on Aug. 1, 2020. Police said they were called to a home on Clarke Street in the West End, where Whitten was found with serious injuries. He later died and Holm was arrested a short time later. The Independent Investigations Office, B.C.’s arm’s-length police watchdog, is looking into the circumstances that led to Whitten’s death because Mounties had been looking for Holm before Whitten was killed. “On July 31, Kamloops RCMP received a call from a woman who was concerned about the mental health of a male relative,” the IIO said in a news release issued last summer. “Officers visited the man’s home, but reported being unable to locate him.” A preliminary inquiry lasting at least a week is expected, as it will also address issues with some of the witnesses raised by the defence, Crown prosecutor Tim Livingston told court. Holm had been expected to attend court via video conference last week to elect a mode of trial, but he refused to leave his cell. Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
OTTAWA — Judges peppered a federal lawyer with questions Tuesday as the Canadian government argued a refugee pact between Ottawa and Washington is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada's lawyers contend the Federal Court misinterpreted the law when it declared in July that the Safe Third Country Agreement breaches constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and security. The court's declaration of invalidity was suspended for six months and later extended, leaving the law in place while a three-judge panel of the Federal Court of Appeal examines the issue. The two-day hearing is slated to proceed through Wednesday. Under the bilateral refugee agreement, which took effect in 2004, Canada and the U.S. recognize each other as safe places to seek protection. It means Canada can turn back a potential refugee who arrives at a land port of entry along the Canada-U.S. border on the basis the person must pursue their claim in the U.S., the country where they first arrived. Canadian refugee advocates have steadfastly fought the asylum agreement, arguing the U.S. is not always a safe country for people fleeing persecution. Several refugee claimants took the case to court along with the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Council of Churches and Amnesty International, who participated in the proceedings as public interest parties. In each case the applicants, who are citizens of El Salvador, Ethiopia and Syria, arrived at a Canadian land entry port from the U.S. and sought refugee protection. They argued in court that by returning ineligible refugee claimants to the U.S., Canada exposes them to risks in the form of detention and other rights violations. In her decision last year, Federal Court Justice Ann Marie McDonald concluded the Safe Third Country Agreement results in ineligible claimants being imprisoned by U.S. authorities. Detention and the consequences flowing from it are "inconsistent with the spirit and objective" of the refugee agreement and amount to a violation of the rights guaranteed by Section 7 of the charter, she wrote. "The evidence clearly demonstrates that those returned to the U.S. by Canadian officials are detained as a penalty." In a written submission filed in advance of the appeal hearing, the government says the court's decision should be overturned because the refugee agreement does not breach the principles of fundamental justice. The government argues McDonald made serious legal mistakes in striking down the pact. Federal lawyers say that in finding detention makes it more difficult for asylum claimants in the U.S. to access legal counsel, McDonald ignored evidence that about 85 per cent of asylum claimants in the U.S. are represented. During the appeal hearing Tuesday, Justice David Stratas questioned the notion the judge's findings were in error. "You would admit, wouldn't you that there is a risk that someone is turned back at the Canadian border and encounters the U.S. system, including detention, without counsel. That's a possibility?" he asked Martin Anderson, a lawyer for the government. Anderson replied that when one looks at the "totality of the evidence," it tends to support the notion more people have access to counsel in detention than not. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
NICE, France — The doctor slid a miniature camera into the patient’s right nostril, making her whole nose glow red with its bright miniature light. “Tickles a bit, eh?” he asked as he rummaged around her nasal passages, the discomfort causing tears to well in her eyes and roll down her cheeks. The patient, Gabriella Forgione, wasn't complaining. The 25-year-old pharmacy worker was happy to be prodded and poked at the hospital in Nice, in southern France, to advance her increasingly pressing quest to recover her sense of smell. Along with her sense of taste, it suddenly vanished when she fell ill with COVID-19 in November, and neither has returned. Being deprived of the pleasures of food and the scents of things that she loves are proving tough on her body and mind. Shorn of odours both good and bad, Forgione is losing weight and self-confidence. “Sometimes I ask myself, ’Do I stink?'" she confessed. “Normally, I wear perfume and like for things to smell nice. Not being able to smell bothers me greatly.” A year into the coronavirus pandemic, doctors and researchers are still striving to better understand and treat the accompanying epidemic of COVID-19-related anosmia — loss of smell — draining much of the joy of life from an increasing number of sensorially frustrated longer-term sufferers like Forgione. Even specialist doctors say there is much about the condition they still don't know and they are learning as they go along in their diagnoses and treatments. Impairment and alteration of smell have become so common with COVID-19 that some researchers suggest that simple odor tests could be used to track coronavirus infections in countries with few laboratories. For most people, the olfactory problems are temporary, often improving on their own in weeks. But a small minority are complaining of persistent dysfunction long after other COVID-19 symptoms have disappeared. Some have reported continued total or partial loss of smell six months after infection. The longest, some doctors say, are now approaching a full year. Researchers working on the vexing disability say they are optimistic that most will eventually recover but fear some will not. Some doctors are concerned that growing numbers of smell-deprived patients, many of them young, could be more prone to depression and other difficulties and weigh on strained health systems. “They are losing colour in their lives,” said Dr. Thomas Hummel, who heads the smell and taste outpatients clinic at University Hospital in Dresden, Germany. “These people will survive and they'll be successful in their lives, in their professions,” Hummel added. “But their lives will be much poorer.” At the Face and Neck University Institute in Nice, Dr. Clair Vandersteen wafted tube after tube of odours under Forgione's nose after he had rooted around in her nostrils with his camera. “Do you perceive any smell? Nothing? Zero? OK,” he asked, as she repeatedly and apologetically responded with negatives. Only the last tube provoked an unequivocal reaction. “Urgh! Oh, that stinks," Forgione yelped. “Fish!” Test complete, Vandersteen delivered his diagnosis. “You need an enormous amount of an odor to be able to smell something,” he told her. “You haven’t completely lost your sense of smell but nor is it good.” He sent her away with homework: six months of olfactory rehab. Twice daily, choose two or three scented things, like a sprig of lavender or jars of fragrances, and smell them for two to three minutes, he ordered. “If you smell something, great. If not, no problem. Try again, concentrating hard on picturing the lavender, a beautiful purple bloom," he said. “You have to persevere." Losing the sense of smell can be more than a mere inconvenience. Smoke from a spreading fire, a gas leak, or the stink of rotten food can all pass dangerously unnoticed. Fumes from a used diaper, dog's dirt on a shoe or sweaty armpits can be embarrassingly ignored. And as poets have long known, scents and emotions are often like lovers entwined. Evan Cesa used to relish meal times. Now they're a chore. A fish dinner in September that suddenly seemed flavourless first flagged to the 18-year-old sports student that COVID-19 had attacked his senses. Foodstuffs became mere textures, with only residual hints of sweet and saltiness. Five months later, breakfasting on chocolate cookies before classes, Cesa still chewed without joy, as though swallowing cardboard. “Eating no longer has any purpose for me," he said. "It is just a waste of time.” Cesa is among the anosmia sufferers being studied by researchers in Nice who, before the pandemic, had been using scents in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. They also used comforting fragrances to treat post-traumatic stress among children after a truck terror attack in Nice in 2016, when a driver plowed through holiday crowds, killing 86 people. The researchers are now turning their expertise to COVID-19, teaming up with perfumers from the nearby fragrance-producing town of Grasse. Perfumer Aude Galouye worked on the fragrant waxes that were wafted under Cesa's nose to measure his olfactory impairment, with scents at varying concentrations. “The sense of smell is a sense that is fundamentally forgotten," Galouye said. "We don’t realize the effect it has on our lives except, obviously, when we no longer have it.” The examinations on Cesa and other patients also include language and attention tests. The Nice researchers are exploring whether olfactory complaints are linked to COVID-related cognitive difficulties, including problems with concentrating. Cesa stumbled by picking the word “ship” when “kayak” was the obvious choice on one test. “That is completely unexpected," said Magali Payne, a speech therapist on the team at the Côte d’Azur University's CoBTeK lab. “This young man shouldn’t be experiencing linguistic problems.” “We have to keep digging,” she said. “We are finding things out as we see patients.” Cesa longs to have his senses restored, to celebrate the taste of pasta in carbonara sauce, his favourite dish, and a run through the fragrant wonders of the great outdoors. “One might think that it is not important to be able to smell nature, trees, forests," he said. “But when you lose the sense of smell, you realize how truly lucky we are to be able to smell these things.” ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak John Leicester, The Associated Press
Sudbury's board of public health has endorsed the idea that workers in Ontario should get permanent paid sick days. It doesn't mean it's going to happen. The motion will be forwarded to the Ontario government for consideration. The motion was included as part of the agenda for the regular monthly meeting of the board of the Public Health Sudbury and Districts, which was held as an online teleconference Thursday. The board was presented with several pages of information outlining the concern that some workers who have used up their sick days and cannot afford to take time off, would rather show up for work, even if they're sick or infectious, thus spreading their sickness around the workplace. In Ontario, most workers have the right to take up to three days of unpaid job-protected leave each calendar year due to a personal illness, injury or medical emergency. This is described as sick leave. Special rules apply to some occupations. Employees are entitled to up to three sick leave days per year once they have worked for an employer for at least two consecutive weeks. An employee who missed part of a day to take the leave would be entitled to any wages they actually earned while working, according to Ontario labour law. The concern is that a genuinely sick person might need more time off work and could lose their job if they miss too much time. PHSD Medical Officer of Health Dr. Penny Sutcliffe recommended the motion as a way to prevent Ontario workers from having to choose between unpaid time off work or continuing to go to work when they are sick. She outlined her position in a briefing note to the board. "Paid sick leave provisions are essential to protect the health of individual workers, their workplaces, and the broader community, which has become even more evident with the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has had widespread economic impacts, increasing the level and depth of poverty across the country," Sutcliffe wrote. "Inequitable access to paid sick days in Canada has significant impacts on income and health. Income alone is the single strongest predictor of health and individuals and families require a stable source of income to meet their basic needs for health and well-being. Paid sick leave provisions are essential to protect the health of individual workers, their workplaces, and the broader community, which has become even more evident with the COVID-19 pandemic," the note continued. The motion stated that staying at home is one of the most effective containment strategies for disease. It also noted that paid sick days actually create savings in the health-care system and eventual savings for the businesses by not causing more sickness in the workplace. "Despite clear evidence and public health directives to stay home when sick, workers without paid sick days are forced to choose between sacrificing their financial security to comply with public health measures or going to work while sick to support themselves and their families," Sutcliffe added, quoting a report from the Decent Work and Health Network. The motion was approved unanimously by the board of health. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Community advocates assisting folks who are homeless are overjoyed a cold weather shelter has been established in the city of Parksville on Vancouver Island. “It’s just amazing,” said Rev. Christine Muise from OHEART — the Oceanside Homelessness Ecumenical Advocacy Response Team — which is running the new shelter. “It was definitely all boots on the ground last week,” Muise said of the quick, collaborative effort by a number of stakeholders to establish the shelter within a five-day window. BC Housing announced Friday the eight-bed shelter St. Edmund's Anglican Church will run nightly until the end of the winter season on March 31. The shelter, funded by the province, will provide a much-needed warm, safe and secure place to sleep for people who are experiencing homelessness in the community, BC Housing spokesperson Laura Mathews said in an email. “It will provide guests with a clean bed, food, access to a washroom and will ensure people are following pandemic health guidelines, including physical distancing,” Mathews said. OHEART and other community agencies have been calling for a cold weather shelter in Parksville or Qualicum Beach since last March when the previous one at St. Anne’s church was closed because the building wasn’t geared to meet COVID-19 protocols. The new initiative got rolling in earnest on the Family Day long weekend with the help of Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, Parksville-Qualicum MLA Adam Walker, BC Housing, the provincial public health service and the Anglican Diocese of Islands and Inlets, said Muise. “It’s pretty exciting that from Sunday to Thursday we went from having no cold weather shelter to one being up and running,” she said. BC Housing had already funded the establishment of 16 temporary beds at a Parksville hotel to shelter vulnerable individuals and prevent the spread of COVID-19, said Muise. But a low-barrier cold weather shelter is still needed to help people who find themselves out in the cold, she added. “The COVID-19 response hotel is not a nightly arrangement,” Muise said. “We have guests that have been there with us since March of last year, so the turnover or the opportunity to help people that are still living rough is limited.” Qualicum Beach town council recently passed a motion to identify a location for a temporary warming centre or cold weather shelter for up to 15 people. The council is expected to vote at its Wednesday meeting about whether to move ahead to locate the facility on land at the Qualicum Beach Airport. The new temporary shelter in Parksville is a good step to establish more permanent resources for the people who are homeless in the region, said Muise. “This will allow us to get things off the ground for the folks that have been living rough and provide them with nurturance, care and hope,” she said. “In the conversations we’ve been having with local, federal and provincial governments, we’ve certainly been discussing what are the next steps to create more long-term permanent structures.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
SAN FRANCISCO — Poet, publisher and bookseller Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who helped launch and perpetuate the Beat movement, has died. He was 101. Ferlinghetti died at his San Francisco home Monday, his son Lorenzo Ferlinghetti told The Associated Press Tuesday. The cause was lung disease. His father died “in his own room,” holding their hands "as he took his last breath, his son said. Lorenzo Ferlinghetti said his father loved Italian food and the restaurants in the North Beach neighbourhood where he made his home and founded his famous bookstore. He had received the first dose of the COVID vaccine last week and was a month shy of turning 102. Ferlinghetti was known for his City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, an essential meeting place for the Beats and other bohemians in the 1950s and beyond. Its publishing arm released books by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and many others. The most famous release was Ginsberg’s anthemic poem, “Howl." It led to a 1957 obscenity trial that broke new ground for freedom of expression. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Interior Department faced sharp questions from Republicans Tuesday over what several called her “radical” ideas that include opposition to fracking and the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Deb Haaland, a New Mexico congresswoman named to lead the Interior Department, tried to reassure GOP lawmakers, saying she is committed to “strike the right balance” as Interior manages oil drilling and other energy development while seeking to conserve public lands and address climate change. If confirmed, Haaland, 60, would be the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. Native Americans see her nomination as the best chance to move from consultation on tribal issues to consent and to put more land into the hands of tribal nations either outright or through stewardship agreements. The Interior Department has broad oversight over nearly 600 federally recognized tribes as well as energy development and other uses for the nation’s sprawling federal lands. “The historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say that it is not about me,? Haaland testified. “Rather, I hope this nomination would be an inspiration for Americans — moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us.? Haaland's hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was adjourned after nearly 2 1/2 hours and will resume Wednesday. Under questioning from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., the panel's chairman, Haaland said the U.S. will continue to rely on fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas even as it moves toward Biden’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by mid-century. The transition to clean energy “is not going to happen overnight,” she said. Manchin, who is publicly undecided on Haaland’s nomination, appeared relieved, saying he supports “innovation, not elimination” of fossil fuels. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., was less impressed. He displayed a large chart featuring a quote from last November, before Haaland was selected to lead Interior, in which she said: “If I had my way, it'd be great to stop all gas and oil leasing on federal and public lands." If confirmed as Interior secretary, "you will get to have it your way,'' Daines told Haaland. She replied that Biden's vision — not hers — will set the course for Interior. "It is President Biden's agenda, not my own agenda, that I will be moving forward,'' Haaland said, an answer she repeated several times. While Biden imposed a moratorium on oil and gas drilling on federal lands — which doesn’t apply to tribal lands — he has repeatedly said he does not oppose fracking. Biden rejected the long-pIanned Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office. Haaland also faced questions over her appearance at protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota before she was elected to Congress in 2018. Haaland said she went there in solidarity with Native American tribes and other “water protectors” who “felt they were not consulted in the best way'' before the multi-state oil pipeline was approved. Asked by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., if she would oppose a renewal of the pipeline permit, Haaland said she would first ensure that tribes are properly consulted. She told Hoeven she also would "listen to you and consult with you.'' Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said the GOP questions over oil drilling and pipelines revealed a partisan divide in the committee. “I almost feel like your nomination is this proxy fight about the future of fossil fuels," Cantwell said, adding that Haaland had made clear her intention to carry out Biden’s clean-energy agenda. She and other Democrats “very much appreciate the fact that you’re doing that, and that’s what I think a president deserves with his nominee,'' Cantwell said. In her opening statement, Haaland told lawmakers that as the daughter of a Pueblo woman, she learned early to value hard work. Her mother is a Navy veteran and worked for a quarter-century at the Bureau of Indian Education, an Interior Department agency. Her father was a Marine who served in Vietnam. He received the Silver Star and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. “As a military family, we moved every few years ... but no matter where we lived, my dad taught me and my siblings to appreciate nature, whether on a mountain trail or walking along the beach,'' Haaland said. The future congresswoman spent summers with her grandparents in a Laguna Pueblo village. “It was in the cornfields with my grandfather where I learned the importance of water and protecting our resources and where I gained a deep respect for the Earth,'' she said. Haaland pledged to lead the Interior Department with honour and integrity and said she will be “a fierce advocate for our public lands.” She promised to listen to and work with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and ensure that decisions are based on science. She also vowed to “honour the sovereignty of tribal nations and recognize their part in America’s story.'' Some Democrats and Native American advocates called the frequent description of Haaland as “radical” a loaded reference to her tribal status. “That kind of language is sort of a dog whistle for certain folks that see somebody who is an Indigenous woman potentially being in a position of power,” said Ta’jin Perez with the group Western Native Voice. In an op-ed in USA Today, former Sens. Mark and Tom Udall said Haaland's record "is in line with mainstream conservation priorities. Thus, the exceptional criticism of Rep. Haaland and the threatened holds on her nomination must be motivated by something other than her record.'' Mark Udall is an ex-Colorado senator, while cousin Tom Udall just retired as a New Mexico senator. Tom Udall's father, Stewart, was Interior secretary in the 1960s. Daines called the notion of racial overtones in his remarks outrageous. “I would love to see a Native American serve in the Cabinet. That would be a proud moment for all of us in this country. But this is about her record and her views,” he said in an interview. National civil rights groups have joined forces with tribal leaders and environmental groups in supporting Haaland. A letter signed by nearly 500 national and regional organizations calls her “a proven leader and the right person to lead the charge against the existential threats of our time,'' including climate change and racial justice issues on federal lands. ___ Associated Press writer Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
The province prepares to open mass clinics while doing more in-depth testing for worrying variants. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. is expanding its pool of immunizers to include dentists, midwives and paramedics before 172 sites open up to eventually offer a vaccine to everyone aged 18 and up.