When you gotta go, you gotta go! Get out of the way!
When you gotta go, you gotta go! Get out of the way!
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool’s woeful home form is developing into a full-blown crisis after Chelsea’s 1-0 victory on Thursday inflicted a fifth straight league loss at Anfield on the Premier League champions — the worst run in the club’s 128-year history. With Liverpool's title defence already over, this was billed as a battle for a Champions League place and Mason Mount’s 42nd-minute goal lifted Chelsea back into the top four. Chelsea’s previous win at Anfield, in 2014, effectively ended the title hopes of Brendan Rodgers’ side. This one was a blow to Liverpool’s chances of a top-four finish under Jurgen Klopp. Klopp’s side is four points adrift of Chelsea and with Everton and West Ham also ahead. Liverpool has now gone more than 10 hours without a goal from open play at Anfield. The hosts failed to register an effort on target until the 85th minute and Georginio Wijnaldum’s weak header was never going to beat Edouard Mendy. They have taken one point from the last 21 on offer at home since Christmas and scored just two goals, one of which was a penalty. None of Liverpool's established front three — Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino — impressed but the sight of Salah, the Premier League’s leading scorer, being substituted just past the hour mark was baffling. The Egypt international certainly thought so as he sat shaking his head, having been replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chelsea, by contrast, looked full of threat with Timo Werner — a player Liverpool was interested in but decided it could not afford last summer — a constant problem. Despite one goal in his previous 17 league outings, he caused problems with his movement, drifting out to the left then popping into the middle to give Fabinho a real headache on his return to the side. The Brazil midfielder, replacing Nat Phillips after he became the latest centre back to pick up an injury, was partnering Ozan Kabak in Liverpool’s 15th different central-defensive starting partnership in 27 league matches. Faced with a statistic like that, it is perhaps understandable why there was a lack of cohesion at the back and Werner should really have profited. He fired one early shot over and then failed to lift his effort over Alisson Becker, back in goal after the death of his father in Brazil last week. Even when Werner did beat Alisson, VAR ruled the Germany international’s arm had been offside 20 yards earlier in the build-up. Liverpool’s one chance fell to Mane but Salah’s first-time ball over the top got caught under his feet and Mane missed his shot with only Mendy to beat. Chelsea was still controlling the game and caught Liverpool on the counterattack when N’Golo Kante quickly sent a loose ball out to the left wing, from where Mount cut inside to beat Alisson having been given far too much time to pick his spot. All five of Mount’s league goals have come away from home. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel spent the first five minutes of the second half screaming at his players to press harder and play higher up the pitch but Liverpool’s players were equally vocal when Firmino’s cross hit the raised arm of Kante from close range. No penalty was awarded. Andy Robertson cleared off the line from Hakim Ziyech after Alisson parried Ben Chilwell’s shot as Chelsea continued to look more dangerous. Klopp’s attempt to change the direction of the game saw him send on Diogo Jota for his first appearance in three months, along with Oxlade-Chamberlain. Jota’s first touch was a half-chance from a deep cross but he was not sharp enough to take it. Werner, meanwhile, was doing everything but score as Alisson’s leg saved another shot as he bore down on goal. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Two projects at Queen’s University have received close to $10 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to significantly advance their research. This funding is part of an announcement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday, Mar. 3, 2021, stating that more than $518 million in research infrastructure funding will support 102 projects at 35 post-secondary institutions and research hospitals across Canada. Queen’s is also a collaborator on a third project, led by Carleton University. According to a release from Queen’s University, dated Thursday, Mar. 4, 2021, the funding will be used for infrastructure that will help to combat climate change, treat cancer, and understand the fabric of the universe. The Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) and Queen’s researcher Annette Hay (Medicine) and Jonathan Bramson, of McMaster University, have received CFI support of more than $5 million for their project to develop a national cellular therapy translational research platform, the first of its kind globally, Queen’s said in the release. ExCELLirate Canada: Expanding CELL-based Immunotherapy Research Acceleration for Translation and Evaluation is a collaboration between Queen’s, McMaster University, University of Calgary, University of Ottawa, Université de Montréal, and Canadian Blood Services. CFI funds will support research activities from novel cell therapy development to point-of-care cell manufacturing and multi-centre clinical trial testing for cancer treatment. Queen’s says this project aims to develop cell therapies as safe and viable treatment options through identifying biological mechanisms affecting safety and designing cost-effective methods for the harvest, expansion, manipulation, purification, and delivery of the cells. The second project, which received close to $4.5 million in funding from CFI, has Queen’s civil engineering researchers Andy Take, Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical Engineering, and Ian Moore, Canada Research Chair in Infrastructure Engineering, aiming to improve the future resiliency of Canada’s civil engineering infrastructure in the face of climate change with their project CASTLE. The Climate Adaptive infraStructure Testing and Longevity Evaluation (CASTLE) Innovation Cluster is a collaboration between Queen’s and the Royal Military College of Canada. As Canada’s landmass spans diverse geographic regions, current and future infrastructure must be made resilient against the unique impacts of climate change affecting remote northern regions to southern urban centres, according to the release. Queen’s says the objectives for CASTLE are to improve storage of mine waste, ensure safety and improve resilience of transportation infrastructure, such as roads, railways, and pipes, and coastal defense structures, as well as ports and harbours, against the direct and triggered geotechnical hazards of climate change. In furthering Canada’s leadership in the field of dark matter, Queen’s is also a collaborator on a project to develop the next generation liquid argon dark matter detector and an underground argon storage facility at SNOLAB. Understanding the nature of dark matter, which makes up 85 per cent of the universe, is one of science’s unsolved mysteries, according to Queen’s. This project will include upgrades to the DEAP-3600 experiment, contributions to the Darkside-20k experiment, and the development of the ultimate ARGO detector at SNOLAB. By enabling further scientific discovery at SNOLAB, the location where Queen’s researcher Arthur McDonald conducted his Nobel Prize winning research, this project has the potential to develop technical and commercial innovations in digital light sensors and offer training opportunities to junior researchers and students, Queen’s said in the release. “This support will allow Queen’s to build on exceptional international strengths and have a direct impact on how we live and understand the world around us,” said Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice Principal (Research) at Queen’s University. “Thank you to the Government of Canada for investing in the tools that advance research.” For more information on projects funded through the Innovation Fund 2020, visit the CFI website. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
FREDERICTON — Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting five new cases of COVID-19 today. Three of the cases are in the Edmundston region, while the Moncton and Miramichi regions each have one new case. There are now 36 active cases in the province and three patients are hospitalized, including two in intensive care. A recently reported presumptive case of a variant in the Miramichi region has been confirmed by Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Laboratory to be the B.1.1.7 variant that originated in the United Kingdom. Mass testing clinics have been set up in the Miramichi area to determine if there has been any further spread of the virus. Since the onset of the pandemic, there have been 1,443 confirmed cases in New Brunswick and 28 COVID-19-related deaths, This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
One of Canada's top public health officials sought to reassure Canadians today that a recommendation from a federal vaccine advisory committee to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses is a sound one. Yesterday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that 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 due to limited supplies. Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the advice is based on real-world data that shows doing so would lead to more people being protected from COVID-19 in a shorter time period. "This recommendation is based on clinical trial reports and emerging real-world evidence from around the world. Data shows that several weeks after being administered, first doses of vaccines provide highly effective protection against symptomatic disease, hospitalization and death," Njoo told a technical briefing today. Confusion over conflicting advice Njoo's comments appeared to be addressing the confusion created by the fact that NACI's recommendation conflicts with those issued by Health Canada when it granted regulatory approvals for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. Regulatory documents provided by Health Canada upon approval of each vaccine state that the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech should be taken three weeks after the first, the second Moderna shot should come four weeks after the first, and the second AstraZeneca dose should be delivered between four and 12 weeks after the first. All of those recommendations are in line with the product monograph provided by the manufacturers. Adding to the confusion, NACI recommended on Monday against giving the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to people 65 and older, although Health Canada has authorized it for use in adults of all ages. But Njoo said the discrepancies can be explained by the fact that Health Canada is a regulator and NACI is an advisory body made up of medical experts. "You have likely noticed that NACI's recommendations are sometimes different, possibly broader or narrower than the conditions of vaccine use that Health Canada has authorized. As the regulator, Health Canada authorizes each vaccine for use in Canada according to factors based on clinical trial evidence, whereas NACI bases its guidance on the available and evolving evidence in a real-world context, including the availability of other vaccines," Njoo said. "What we expect is that NACI recommendations will complement — not mirror — those of Health Canada." WATCH: Njoo comments on NACI recommendation to delay second COVID-19 vaccine doses The issue burst into the open on Monday when 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. Some medical experts questioned that decision. Canada's chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, said doing so without proper clinical trials amounts to a "population level experiment." Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., told the Washington Post that the science doesn't support delaying a second dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. He said there isn't enough evidence to determine how much protection is provided by one dose of those vaccines, and how long it lasts. Despite those warnings, several provinces followed Henry's lead and even more have indicated they intend to stretch the dosage interval. While it appeared to some at the time that Henry was moving faster than the science, Njoo said that NACI's experts briefed provincial medical officers of health over the weekend on the results of their analysis before releasing their recommendations publicly. NACI concluded that stretching the dosing interval to four months would allow up to 80 per cent of Canadians over the age of 16 to receive a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, without compromising vaccine effectiveness. "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. As for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, Njoo said it is safe and that evidence shows it provides protection against very serious disease and death in people of all ages. He said Health Canada has a rigorous scientific review process and only approves vaccines that meet high standards for safety, efficacy and quality. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said expert advice will continue to change as more data becomes available from ongoing mass vaccination campaigns, and she urged provinces and territories to consider recommendations and evidence from both bodies when making decisions about their vaccine strategies. "The messaging would be simpler if we had one set of data and we had one message and it never changed, but that's not what science does," said Sharma. Decision on Johnson and Johnson imminent At today's briefing, health officials also indicated that a regulatory decision on whether to approve Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is expected soon. "The review of the Johnson & Johnson submission is going very well, it's progressing, and we're expecting to have that completed and a decision in the next few days. I would say in the next seven days or so," said Sharma. The company has said its vaccine is 66 per cent effective at preventing moderate to severe illness in a global clinical trial, and much more effective — 85 per cent — against the most serious symptoms. Canada has agreed to purchase up to 38 million doses if it is approved. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for use in that country last Saturday. The approval of a fourth vaccine would give a significant boost to Canada's vaccine rollout. Johnson and Johnson's vaccine is widely seen as one of the easiest to administer because it requires only one dose and can be stored for long periods of time at regular refrigerator temperatures. Njoo said additional vaccines, coupled with the NACI recommendation on dosage intervals, could allow Canada to meet the goal of inoculating all adults who want a vaccine "several weeks" before the current target date of the end of September. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada's COVID-19 vaccine logistics, said that while more vaccines would be good news, the current target remains the end of September.
Alphabet Inc's YouTube will lift its suspension on former U.S. President Donald Trump's channel when it determines the risk of real-world violence has decreased, the company's CEO, Susan Wojcicki, said on Thursday. YouTube suspended Trump's channel for violating policies against inciting violence after the assault on the U.S. Capitol by the former president's supporters in January. "The channel remains suspended due to the risk of incitement to violence," said Wojcicki, speaking in an interview with the head of the Atlantic Council think tank.
Two 16-year-old males have been arrested in Surrey, B.C., in connection with a drug cache site and dial-a-dope operation running out of a condo tower in the 10700-block of University Drive. Surrey RCMP say they began investigating suspected drug trafficking in the underground parkade of the Whalley building early last month and quickly became aware of a unit associated with the dealing. A search warrant was executed on Feb. 25, leading to the discovery of a drug cache and packaging site, along with the two teens. One of the teens is reported to have been carrying a loaded handgun at the time of arrest. Bulk and pre-packaged quantities of cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and MDMA were seized, along with $11,000 in cash, the handgun and a loaded pistol grip shot gun. Police say neither of the suspects have any known connections to the Lower Mainland gang conflict, which has resulted in the death of a number of youth and young men in past months, including a 14-year-old boy. Both teens have been released from police custody and charges have yet to be laid. Anyone with information on drug trafficking in Surrey is asked to contact RCMP at 604-599-0502.
Vancouver's parks board is taking action to control the increasing numbers of messy and aggressive Canada geese. A statement from the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation says it is developing a management plan to reduce the number of geese in city parks, beaches and on the seawall. The board is particularly concerned about humans feeding the birds, saying it brings flocks of geese to high-traffic areas such as Stanley Park and the beaches of English Bay and Sunset Beach. A key part of the management plan asks residents to identify Canada goose nests on private property so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled, and left in the nest so adults continue to brood, rather than lay again. The board estimates Vancouver's population of more than 3,500 Canada geese grows every year because the habitat is ideal and the birds have no natural predators. Several Okanagan cities are asking permission to cull growing flocks of Canada geese that foul area beaches and parks, but Vancouver's board says egg addling, a measure supported by the SPCA, is its only control measure. In addition to calling for public help in identifying nests, which can be on roofs, balconies or in tall, topped trees, the park board is urging people not to feed Canada geese. “Supplemental feeding by humans can also contribute to geese being able to lay more than one clutch of eight eggs per season; meaning that if one clutch does not hatch, they can replace it," the statement says. "In nature, without food from humans, this wouldn’t happen." Canada geese have inefficient digestive systems and the parks board says the birds produce more excrement for their size than most other species. The park board says it hopes to step up egg addling, saying wildlife specialists believe the practice must be tripled in order to cut Vancouver's goose populations. A web page has been created on the City of Vancouver website to report the location of nests so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers on Thursday approved a $6.6 billion plan aimed at pressuring school districts to return students to the classroom before the end of the school year. The bill does not order school districts to resume in-person instruction and it does not say parents must send their kids back to the classroom if they don’t want to. Instead, the state will dangle $2 billion before cash-strapped school boards, offering them a share of that money only if they offer in-person instruction by the end of the month. School districts have until May 15 to decide. Districts that resume in-person learning after that date won’t get any of that money. “We need to get the schools reopen. I know it’s hard, but today we are providing powerful tools for schools to move into this direction,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco who pleaded with his school district to accept the money and offer in-person instruction. The bill passed both houses of the state Legislature on Thursday by overwhelming margins. But many lawmakers criticized the bill as too weak. The bill does not say how much time students should spend in the classroom, prompting fears some districts might have students return for just one day per week and still be eligible to get the money. Republicans in the state Senate tried to amend the bill to require schools to offer at least three days per week of in-person learning, but Democrats in the majority rejected it. And while the bill requires most elementary school grades to return to the classroom to get the money, it does not require all middle and high school grades to return this year. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has said he plans to sign the bill into law on Friday. The bill comes as Newsom faces a potential recall election later this year, fueled by anger over his handling of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Newsom has trumpeted the back to school proposal as evidence of his commitment to getting students who have studied mostly online since last March into classrooms again. But Scott Wilk, the Republican leader in the state Senate, said the bill was simply an effort by Democrats to give Newsom political cover so he can “get parents to believe he’s doing everything he possibly can for them.” “The truth is this bill doesn’t do anything to reopen our schools. I believe with or without this bill, school districts that want to reopen will and school districts that don’t want to reopen won’t,” said Wilk, who voted for the bill along with most other Republicans. Adam Beam, The Associated Press
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new COVID-19 cases today, four of which are in the eastern health region that includes St. John's. Health officials say the four cases in the eastern region involve people between the ages of 40 and 69; three involve close contacts of prior cases while the fourth is related to domestic travel. Officials say the fifth case is located in the western health region, involves a person between the ages of 20 and 39 and is related to international travel. Eight people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care. Officials say they are still investigating the source of an infection involving a health-care worker at a hospital in the rural town of St. Anthony, located on the Northern Peninsula. Newfoundland and Labrador has 121 active reported COVID-19 infections. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
HARDCOVER FICTION 1. “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press) 2. “A Court of Silver Flames” by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury) 3. “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig (Viking) 4. “The Sanatorium” by Sarah Pearse (Viking/Dorman) 5. “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett (Riverhead) 6. “The Kaiser's Web” by Steve Berry (Minotaur) 7. “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” by V.E. Schwab (Tor) 8. “The Russian” by Patterson/Born (Little, Brown) 9. “Faithless in Death” by J.D. Robb (St. Martin’s Press) 10. “Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder” by Joanne Fluke (Kensington) 11. “Kingdom of Shadow and Light” by Karen Marie Moning (Delacorte) 12. “The Return” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing) 13. “Missing and Endangered” by J.A. Jance (William Morrow) 14. “A Time for Mercy” by John Grisham (Doubleday) 15. “Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman (Atria) HARDCOVER NONFICTION 1. “Believe It” by Jamie Kern Lima (Gallery) 2. “The Pegan Diet” by Mark Hyman (Little, Brown Spark) 3. “Walk in My Combat Boots” by Patterson/Eversmann (Little, Brown) 4. “Think Again” by Adam Grant (Viking) 5. “Just As I Am: A Memoir” by Cicely Tyson (HarperCollins) 6. “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey (Crown) 7. “Keep Sharp” by Sanjay Gupta (Simon & Schuster) 8. “The Sum of Us” by Heather McGhee (One World) 9. “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (Crown) 10. “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House) 11. “Intuitive Fasting” by Will Cole (Rodale) 12. “Winning the War in Your Mind” by Craig Groeschel (Zondervan) 13. “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle (Dial) 14. “Four Hundred Souls” by Kendi/Blain (One World) 15. “Magnolia Table, Vol. 2” by Joanna Gaines (William Morrow) MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS 1. “The Numbers Game” by Danielle Steel (Dell) 2. “Camino Winds” by John Grisham (Dell) 3. “By the Neck” by William W. Johnstone (Pinnacle) 4. “A Quiet, Little Town” by William W. Johnstone (Pinnacle) 5. “Bridgerton: The Duke and I” (TV tie-in) by Julia Quinn (Avon) 6. “Reckless Road” by Christine Feehan (Berkley) 7. “Journey of the Pharaohs” by Cussler/Brown (G.P. Putnam's Sons) 8. “A Timeless Christmas” by Alexis Stanton (Hallmark) 9. “Western Stars” by Nora Roberts (St. Martin’s Press) 10. “Hush” by Patterson/Fox (Grand Central Publishing) 11. “A Secret Amish Crush” by Marta Perry (Love Inspired) 12. “Perfect Partners” by Debbie Macomber (Mira) 13. “The Lost and Found Bookshop” by Susan Wiggs (Avon) 14. “From the Shadows” by B.J. Daniels (HQN) 15. “Revenge” by Patterson/Holmes (Grand Central Publishing) TRADE PAPERBACKS 1. “The 20th Victim” by Patterson/Paetro (Grand Central Publishing) 2. “Burn After Writing” (pink) by Sharon Jones (TarcherPerigee) 3. “Bridgerton: The Duke and I” (TV tie-in) by Julia Quinn (Avon) 4. “Fair Warning” by Michael Connelly (Grand Central Publishing) 5. “Home Body” by Rupi Kaur (Andrews McMeel) 6. “28 Summers” by Elin Hilderbrand (Back Bay) 7. “The Girl from the Channel Islands” by Jenny Lecoat (Graydon House) 8. “Camino Winds” by John Grisham (G.P. Putnam's Sons) 9. “The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook” by Jeffrey Eisner (Voracious) 10. “Circe” by Madeline Miller (Back Bay) 11. “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury) 12. “Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rift Omnibus” by Yang/Gurihiru/Heisler (Dark Horse) 13. “The Order” by Daniel Silva (Harper) 14. “Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, Vol. 7” by Aidairo (Yen) 15. “The Body” by Bill Bryson (Anchor) The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A U.S. program created after the 2003 anthrax attacks to help detect biological weapons provided protection in less than half the states and couldn't detect many of the known threats, according to a report released Thursday. The program known as BioWatch, which described itself in a mission statement as a nationwide early warning system, was capable of detecting only six of 14 biological agents known to be potential threats. It also left detection equipment exposed and unguarded, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security found. “Without implementing changes to address BioWatch’s challenges, the United States’ ability to prepare for, detect, and respond to a potential bioterrorism attack is impeded, which could result in significant loss of human life,” the inspector general concluded. BioWatch, which is run by a component of Homeland Security, was created in 2003 in response to the deadly mailing of anthrax-laced envelopes to news media and government offices two years earlier. It has faced criticism for years. Intended to supplement existing surveillance programs, BioWatch consists of air sampling equipment and lab facilities around the nation. It was meant to reduce the time it takes to recognize an attack by monitoring for known biological agents. It costs about $80 million per year to run, according to previous government reports. The inspector general noted, however, that it has detection capability in just 22 of the 50 states. Contrary to billing, “BioWatch does not operate a nationwide early warning system,” the report said. Previous reviews in recent years have faulted the program's computer network security and said it lacked reliable data about its capabilities for detecting an attack, among other problems. The Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, which runs BioWatch, in 2019 ranked lowest across 420 government agencies, for employee satisfaction and commitment, according to a report by the General Accountability Office. The new report, based on an audit of the program conducted last year, found that BioWatch no longer carries out routine full-scale exercises, which in previous years had uncovered a range of problems with preparedness for a possible attack. The Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office generally concurred with the findings in the report and said it is working to address problems raised in the audit. But its director also defended the overall value of the program. BioWatch is integral to the office's mission "and serves as the department's best tool to effectively prepare for, detect and respond to bioterrorism threats,” David Richardson, an assistant secretary at DHS who runs the office, wrote in a letter accompanying the report. To address its coverage of the U.S., the office said it plans to work with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which conducted the 2003 assessment upon which the office based the deployment of its monitoring equipment. The list of which states have the equipment, and which do not, was redacted from the report. It does note, however, that inspectors found security deficiencies at six of 17 locations in three states: Massachusetts, Illinois and Florida. The report included photos showing the portable equipment without any kind of security around the sensor or the power source. It said the equipment could be “unplugged, tampered with, vandalized, or stolen." In 34 out of 35 jurisdictions, inspectors found BioWatch equipment could not always collect air samples to test because of security breaches or unplugging. The Homeland Security office said it would work with the organizations that host the equipment to improve security and planned to “enhance” biological detection capabilities. It also scheduled a full-scale exercise for late last month and said it would share the information with other involved organizations by April. Ben Fox, The Associated Press
BOSTON — Distance running, traditionally one of the world's most genteel sports, has been roiled by an ugly mid-pandemic squabble over who should get a shot at a coveted Boston Marathon medal. Rival camps in the running world began snapping at each other's heels this week. It began after the Boston Athletic Association, which still hopes to hold a truncated in-person edition of the planet's most prestigious footrace in October, said it will award medals to up to 70,000 athletes if they go the distance wherever they are. Practically within minutes of the BAA's announcement greatly expanding its virtual version of the race, a boisterous social media maelstrom ensued. On one side: Runners who've spent years training to qualify to run the real thing, including some who complain that mailing medals to people who run the 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometres) in Dallas or Denver will cheapen the iconic Boston experience. “A dagger through the heart to someone who has worked hard to finally earn the qualifying standard,” one runner, Mark Howard of Salisbury, North Carolina, groused on Twitter. On the other: Pretty much everyone else, including the plodding masses and runners who raise millions for charities, who counter that anything that helps the 125-year-old marathon survive the COVID-19 crisis is worthwhile. “A virtual Boston race that invites everyone is a reason to celebrate,” said Maria Arana, a marathoner and coach in Phoenix. “It in no way takes away from my personal Boston Marathon experience or anyone else’s.” The bickering seems to have caught many off-guard, if only because road racing has long had a reputation as a kind and egalitarian sport. It's one of the few disciplines where ordinary amateurs compete in real time on the same course as elite professionals, and where trash-talking is rare. As four-time Boston champion Bill Rodgers famously said: “Running is a sport where everyone gets along.” A notable exception to that gentility was the 1967 race, when race director Jock Semple ran after Kathrine Switzer — the first woman to run with an official bib number — and tried unsuccessfully to pull her off the course. It also comes as the Boston Marathon and other big-city races are struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic and looking for creative ways to keep runners engaged online. The BAA put on a virtual version of the marathon last year, after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to first postpone its usual April running to September, and then cancel in-person racing altogether. But that was limited to athletes who had already qualified to race or had registered as charity runners. This time, the first 70,000 people aged 18 or older who sign up and pay a fee will be able to earn a finisher's medal simply by covering the classic distance wherever they happen to be. They don't even need to run — they can walk. “For the first time in our history, most everyone will have the opportunity to earn a Unicorn finisher’s medal,” BAA president and CEO Tom Grilk said in a statement. Grilk said the in-person race, if it comes off as scheduled on Oct. 11, will have a reduced field to help keep athletes and spectators safe. Typically the Boston field is capped at around 30,000; the BAA hasn't said how much smaller it will be this autumn. Josh Sitzer, a San Francisco runner who's qualified for the Boston Marathon three times, initially was among those who trashed the idea of giving out 70,000 medals as “a blatant money grab.” “Respect yourself and the game. Don’t do Boston unless you earn it,” he tweeted. Then he had a change of heart, tweeting: “I was wrong. It's not the same as the actual Boston Marathon, and it doesn't devalue” the experience of those who meet strict qualifying standards for a chance to line up in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. It's been a bad look, acknowledges Erin Strout, who covers the sport for WomensRunning.com. “If there ever was a time to put our elitism and cynicism aside, it’s now,” she wrote in an opinion piece. “Let’s welcome each other in, cheer each other on, and seize the opportunity to bring back running bigger, better, and more inclusive than it was before.” ___ This story has been corrected to delete a reference to a $70 entry fee for the virtual marathon; organizers say they haven't yet decided on entry fees. ___ Follow AP New England editor Bill Kole on Twitter at http://twitter.com/billkole. William J. Kole, The Associated Press
Last December, Afghan media worker Shahnaz Mohmand rushed to comfort her female colleagues as they reeled in shock after fellow employee Malala Maiwand was shot dead in the eastern city of Jalalabad. "Don't lose yourself, you have to be strong," she said as she hugged Nadia Momand, the 21-year-old producer recalled. Now the same newsroom is mourning Shahnaz.
Health experts are concerned the general public may be focusing on the wrong figures when analyzing the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. And they worry that will lead to unnecessary hesitancy at a time when Canada's inoculation rollout needs to ramp up. The recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and the shot by Johnson & Johnson that could be next in line for authorization, showed 62 and 72 per cent efficacy in preventing COVID-19 infections in their respective clinical trials. Compared to the 95 per cent effectiveness of mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, it seems like a glaring difference. But experts stress that when it comes to preventing COVID hospitalization or death, data from trials showed all four vaccines were perfect. "Those are the outcomes that Canadians ought to be focused on, because that's really what we care about preventing," said Charles Weijer, a bioethicist at Western University. Weijer says he understands why the public is gravitating towards those figures, since we're used to efficacy in terms of treatments for disease. A cancer treatment that's 95 per cent effective would be preferable to one that's 60 or 70 per cent, he said, but vaccines and other public health interventions need to be analyzed differently. Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease specialist in Mississauga, Ont., says efficacy in a trial is calculated by comparing the number of people who got COVID after receiving a vaccine to the number of those who got it after being given a placebo. Many of those who did become infected after getting a vaccine in the trials experienced mild illness, according to the data, which Chakrabarti says isn't a big concern. Getting hung up on the wrong figures can be problematic, he adds, if it leads to a perception that the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines are inferior. "When you look at deaths and hospitalization, it doesn't matter if it was Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna, it was freaking amazing" Chakrabarti said. "Thousands of participants in the treatment arm of the trials, and not a single person died, not a single person was hospitalized." Chakrabarti says the timing of the trials may have impacted efficacy, with Pfizer and Moderna testing its product when the COVID burden was relatively lower in parts of the world. Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, meanwhile, had their trials later when circulation was increasing, and more transmissible variants were spreading at a rapid pace. While that could mean the efficacy of mRNA vaccines in preventing infection is lower than 95 per cent, Chakrabarti says it doesn't change the zero hospitalizations and deaths shown in their trials. Those will be the key numbers going forward, he says. While case numbers may continue to increase through Canada's vaccine rollout, restrictions could lift as deaths and hospitalizations drop. "Right now we have three tools that prevent death and hospitalization that can help us get out of this situation," Chakrabarti said. "So my message is just get whichever vaccine you can get first." Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said this week that it didn't recommend the AstraZeneca jab for those over the age of 65, arguing the trials didn't offer enough efficacy evidence in that age group. Health Canada said days earlier that real-world data suggests the shot is effective in older populations. France and Germany, which didn't initially recommend AstraZeneca for seniors, have since reversed that decision. Weijer says while the messaging with AstraZeneca may have taken a step back this week, there's opportunity moving forward to present other vaccines in terms of the metrics that matter most. Weijer says the ease of a single-dose vaccine like Johnson & Johnson's could be "hugely important" for Canada's vaccine rollout. But people need to be willing to take it. "If individuals are thinking, 'Well, I'm gonna hold out for a vaccine that I perceive to be better,' that's a mistake," Weijer said. "The key is getting all of us vaccinated as quickly as possible." Chakrabarti anticipates some will dismiss the AstraZeneca jab, adding that those responsible for administering the vaccine need to set up Plan Bs to make sure doses aren't wasted. While he's concerned the "well has been poisoned" around AstraZeneca, Chakrabarti says it's up to public health messaging experts to reverse that going forward. "If we put these vaccines on a level playing field and look at the same important metrics, they are all performing the same," he said. "That's what the messaging should be." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
A Brampton man has been charged with the first-degree murder of his estranged girlfriend more than seven months after he allegedly shot and killed her, then shot himself. Peel Regional Police on Wednesday confirmed Darnell Reid, 27, has been formally charged in the killing of Darian Hailey Henderson-Bellman after spending several months in hospital in critical condition. Henderson-Bellman’s mother told the Star she learned of the charges this week. “I waited so long but it still hit me hard. It kicked me in the gut,” Michelle Jones said. “I just hope he doesn’t get to walk like all the other times that he walked.” Police notified Jones that Reid, who was hospitalized in critical condition following the July 28 shooting, had improved enough for police to inform him that he was being charged. Jones said police told her that Reid is now awake and able to talk. Family members told the Star that the two were in a rocky on-and-off-again relationship when Henderson-Bellman, 25, was fatally shot. Court records obtained by the Star show Reid had been charged three times for violating court orders not to be in contact with Henderson-Bellman in the year leading up to her death. At the time of the shooting, he was on bail following an unrelated arrest on charges of possessing an illegal firearm. “He had a no-contact order, so he was not supposed to be around her,” Henderson-Bellman’s mother told the Star shortly after her death. “She still wasn’t protected.” Reid’s lawyer, Gavin Holder, declined to comment on the case. On Wednesday, Reid was also charged with possession of a loaded prohibited or restricted firearm, and two counts of failing to comply with release order. Peel police Const. Heather Cannon said Reid is being held under police guard in hospital remand. Police found Henderson-Bellman dead in a Brampton home at Fairglen Avenue and Deerpark Crescent at about 2:30 p.m. on July 28. Reid was also found in the home suffering from gunshot wounds. In the days following the shooting, Peel Region police chief Nishan Duraiappah lashed out at what he called a “complete failure of our justice system.” “This represents a tragic outcome for a young person who carried a bright future,” Duraiappah said in a statement. “In this incident, the sadness I feel for the victim and her family is mixed with frustration for a complete failure of our justice system to protect her . . . The family and police struggled to keep her safe.” Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpic Jason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are setting aside some of the billions of dollars planned in short-term transit spending to help municipalities further green their bus fleets. The hope is that the $2.75 billion in traditional grant money will dovetail with the $1.5 billion an infrastructure-financing agency is supposed to invest toward the same cause. Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says the grant money is supposed to help cover the upfront cost of purchasing electric buses to replace the diesel-powered ones rumbling through Canadian streets. She says federal funding has helped cities buy 300 buses and the government hopes the funding will help them add 5,000 zero-emission buses over the next five years. But she acknowledged there are added costs that need to be addressed, including having charging stations on transit routes and in existing depots. The Liberals are hoping cities then turn to the Canada Infrastructure Bank to finance the cost of the remaining work. The bank's chief executive, Ehren Cory, says the energy savings expected from not having to buy diesel could, for instance, be used to pay off a low-interest loan from his agency. "It's quite a from-the-ground-up reinvestment and the savings will pay for a lot of that, but not for all of it," he said, via video link. "That's why the combination of a grant from the government, a subsidy, combined with a loan against savings together will allow us to get the most done, allow us to make wholesale change quickly and do so at minimal impact to taxpayers." Garth Frizzell, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, welcomed the funding as a way to speed up work in cities to replace diesel buses. "We are already putting more electric vehicles on our streets, and this major funding to electrify transit systems across the country will reduce GHG emissions, boost local economies, and help meet Canada’s climate goals," he said in a statement. McKenna made the same connections multiple times during an event Thursday in Ottawa, where she stood near the city's mayor, Jim Watson, with Cory and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne joining by videoconference. Joanna Kyriazis, senior policy adviser at Clean Energy Canada, noted that the investments could help the country's six electric-bus manufacturers scale up to compete internationally. “As Canada develops its battery supply chain — from raw metal and mineral resources to our North-America-leading battery recycling companies — we must build the market for electric vehicles and their batteries at home," she said in a statement. The Liberals are promising billions in permanent transit funding as part of a post-pandemic recovery, including $3 billion annually in a transit fund starting in five years. Cities have seen transit ridership plummet through the pandemic as chunks of the labour force work remotely. Demand for single-family homes well outside urban cores suggests some workers are expecting remote work to become a more regular fixture of their post-pandemic work lives. McKenna said her thinking about public transit hasn't been changed by that shift, saying her only thought is that Canada needs more and better systems. It's up to cities and transit agencies to set routes and priorities, she said. "The reality is many of our essential workers have no other option than to take public transit. And I think we've recognized how important it is for people to be able to get around in a safe way," McKenna said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
One person is dead after an early morning crash near Tisdale, Sask. Tisdale RCMP say a northbound SUV collided with a westbound truck coming off a grid road that crosses highway 35 about four kilometres north of Tisdale at around 6:30 a.m. CST on Thursday. Tisdale is about 195 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. A 65-year-old man was declared dead at the scene and a woman was taken to hospital with serious injuries. The highway was closed Thursday morning, with traffic being diverted around the area for the rest of the day while officers conduct an investigation.
HALIFAX — The International Ice Hockey Federation has confirmed the postponement of the women's world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May 6-16. The tournament was originally scheduled for April 7-17 in Halifax and Truro, but the provincial and federal governments have yet to approve hosting the tournament amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and no quarantine exemptions have been granted. The 2020 world championship in the same communities was cancelled because of the pandemic. The nine visiting countries have all said they'll participate in a May tournament, according to the IIHF, which is kicking in more money because of decreased ticket revenues and the higher costs of travel and accommodation. “We know how important this event is in the women’s ice hockey calendar, especially considering that we could not have a tournament last season and now with the Olympics on the horizon,” IIHF president Rene Fasel said Thursday in a statement. "Our member national associations expressed concerns over the associated costs that come with operating a tournament in the current global environment, and I am glad we were able fill the gap and ensure the women’s world championship can take place with all 10 teams.” The IIHF says a limited number of fans may be able to attend games. "Going to Nova Scotia, the world's best national teams in women's ice hockey will play in a region that is one of the least affected by the pandemic among the big hockey nations," the IIHF said. "There is currently an active case rate in Nova Scotia of under four per 100,000 inhabitants." Canada didn't reach the final for the first time in the history of the women's world championship in 2019, and earned bronze in Espoo, Finland. The Canadian women's team has played just five international games since then, all against the United States. Alberta's government approved Hockey Canada's plans to host the world junior men's hockey championship Dec. 25 to Jan. 5 in Edmonton. A champion was crowned, although some players missed games because of positive tests for the virus and extended quarantines upon arrival. "Our organization knows it will have strict support from all participating federations as it relates to adhering to the final health and safety plan that will focus on quarantining, COVID-19 testing, single-room isolation, masking, proper hygiene and social distancing," Hockey Canada president and chief operating officer Scott Smith said in a statement. "Hockey Canada and the host organizing committee are committed to working with the appropriate health authorities and listening to the direction of medical experts to build a safe and strong hosting plan. "We understand the disappointment of having the event cancelled last spring and delaying the start of the IIHF women’s world championship this year, but we know the extra time to prepare will help us provide a world-class experience for the participants while maintaining the health and safety of all participants and the community at large." The Canadian women's team is currently in Halifax for a 35-player camp concluding Sunday. “The cancellation of the 2020 IIHF women’s world championship was very difficult for our athletes, coaches and staff, and although the 2021 event is scheduled to start later than usual, our team is grateful to the IIHF and Hockey Canada for their commitment to hosting a world championship this season under difficult circumstances," said Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada's director of national teams. "This event is critical for our preparations for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, and we look forward to competing for a gold medal.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press