Thorin is always the first to greet a fresh batch of newly hatched chicks. What a gentle giant!
Thorin is always the first to greet a fresh batch of newly hatched chicks. What a gentle giant!
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
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
LEEDS, England — Patrick Bamford strengthened his case for an England call-up ahead of the European Championship by scoring his 13th goal of the season in Leeds’ 3-0 win over struggling Southampton in the Premier League on Tuesday. Bamford squeezed a low, angled shot into the corner from the edge of the area in the 47th minute to put Leeds ahead and move level with Harry Kane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin as the leading English scorers this campaign. Only Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah and Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes have scored more. Stuart Dallas provided an outside-of-the-foot finish at the end of a breakaway in the 78th for Leeds’ second goal and Raphinha wrapped up the victory with a curling free kick from 20 metres as Southampton’s winless run extended to eight games. That streak, which has included a 9-0 loss at Manchester United, has plunged Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side toward the relegation zone. It was briefly the league leader in November. Southampton is in 14th place, eight points clear of third-to-last Fulham, which has found some good form in recent weeks in its bid to escape relegation. Leeds climbed above Wolverhampton and Arsenal into 10th place in an impressive first season back in the Premier League. Bamford has been one of the team’s shining lights as he starts to dispel his reputation as a wasteful finisher that he picked up mostly in stints in the second division. The 27-year-old striker has played for England's youth teams but never for the country's senior team. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports 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
Une nouvelle étude change radicalement la façon d’appréhender l’évolution de cette espèce.
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.
The month of February in 2021 marks the 60th anniversary of the Oil Wives Club of Swan Hills. This anniversary isn’t tied to a specific day of the month, but it is an important milestone nonetheless. The Oil Wives Club of Swan Hills was founded in 1961 to give the wives of the men working in the oil patch a night out. The town of Swan Hills has changed significantly over the 60 years that the club has been present; at one time, there were as many as 80 members, but membership has fallen to just eight in recent years. Ann Nagel has been a member since 1968 and has many fond memories of her years with the club. Over the years, the club has worked to raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Swan Hills Food Bank and Santa’s Elves, among other great causes. Ten years ago, around 200 people attended the Oil Wives Club of Swan Hills’ 50th-anniversary celebration, including prior members. The club members performed skits as part of the entertainment, and everyone had a great time. The Oil Wives Club of Swan Hills is a part of the larger Association of Oil Wives Clubs, a very structured organization with clubs in Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan. According to the Association’s website, a woman by the name of Dean Hunter from Redwater, Alberta first had the idea for a social club for the wives of men working in the oil industry in 1951. This idea was in response to the fact that life could be very unpredictable for those who worked in oil and gas, with irregular hours, last-minute emergencies, and the ever-present prospect of being transferred to a new community. These circumstances not only made it difficult for “oil wives” to make friends, but they often led to planned outings and nights out being cancelled at the last moment. Taken all together, this could make life very lonely for an oil worker’s spouse. An Oil Wives Club would provide one night a month that an “oil wife” could be reasonably certain of a night out with friends. The Association of Oil Wives Clubs holds a yearly convention for their member clubs in October. Each club will send delegates to the convention, where they will meet to review and set policies while enjoying the fellowship of their peers. The 2020 convention was cancelled due to the pandemic, but there is hope that a convention will be possible for this year. The Oil Wives Club of Swan Hills meets on the second Thursday of each month, usually at a restaurant in town. Meetings are currently on hold due to COVID-19, but hopefully, they will be able to resume meeting again before too long. Unfortunately, the club will not be able to celebrate its 60th anniversary in the way that it would like because of the risks presented by COVID-19 and the current public health restrictions against indoor gatherings. The Grizzly Gazette would like to congratulate the Oil Wives Club of Swan Hills on their 60thanniversary and wish them many happy returns in the years to come. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
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
Downdetector, an outage tracking website, showed there were close to 26,000 incidents of people reporting issues with LinkedIn. Earlier in the day, LinkedIn said an issue across its platform was causing certain functional requests to take longer or fail unexpectedly and that it was working on a fix. California-based LinkedIn helps employers assess a candidate's suitability for a role and employees use the platform to find new job.
(Frank Gunn/Canadian Press - image credit) Public health officials are looking to contact six people who shared a ride in a van from Toronto to Ottawa last week, after a seventh occupant later tested positive for COVID-19. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) said the white van left Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre around 1 p.m. last Tuesday with six passengers and a driver aboard. OPH didn't name the private operator, but said the trip had been advertised on Kijiji. At the time, Toronto was still under a stay-at-home order, while Ottawa's was lifted that same day. OPH said the van arrived in Ottawa around 6 p.m., dropping off passengers at Bayshore Shopping Centre, Rideau Centre and St. Laurent Shopping Centre. The passenger who tested positive for COVID-19 would have been contagious at the time of the trip, OPH confirmed. Health officials recommend people only get into a vehicle with members of their own household. Anyone who has to share a ride with others should wear a mask, avoid sharing food and drinks, and stay home if they're sick. Anyone who thinks they may have travelled in the van last Tuesday is asked to contact OPH at 613-580-6744 to arrange a COVID-19 test.
A seemingly sharp decline of global COVID-19 cases has ignited exuberance among some infectious disease doctors and epidemiologists, even if they're not sure what exactly is causing that downward spike. Charts and graphs depicting the COVID burden among most countries, including Canada and the United States, are showing steep dives from all-time highs just weeks ago. Experts say a combination of factors is likely at play in the virus's apparent decline, including a seasonal aspect to SARS-CoV-2, some level of herd immunity in certain places, and the impact of lockdowns and our own behaviours. That the drop is happening now, amid the threat of more transmissible variants, seems a little confounding though, says Winnipeg-based epidemiologist Cynthia Carr. "That is the really interesting part about this," she said. "We know these variants spread much faster and we've seen them becoming more dominant, but the numbers still aren't spiking the way we might have anticipated." Carr says the variants of concern — those first detected in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil — have been found in multiple countries and are quickly overtaking former strains in some places. In Berlin, for example, she notes the variant first detected in the U.K. is accounting for 20 per cent of new cases, up from 6 per cent two weeks ago. Carr suspects part of the reason for a lack of rising cases might be because governments have gotten better at setting public health guidance over the last year, and people have gotten better at adhering to them. But while the situation appears to be improving, Carr warns "we can't rest on our laurels now." "Once (the variants) account for 90, 100 per cent of all infections ... we could really see that escalation," she said. Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease physician in Mississauga, Ont., agrees people shouldn't assume the pandemic is over because global cases are dropping. But the worldwide decrease is a positive development that shouldn't be overlooked, he added. Chakrabarti says there are likely multiple reasons for the decline, with some countries' situations explained easier than others. Inoculation efforts might be credited in Israel, for example, where 87 per cent of the population has been given at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Countries like Canada meanwhile, which were mostly locked down over the last six weeks, can point to restrictions and limited contacts as a plausible reason for their COVID decline. More than one factor could be working within different regions too, Chakrabarti added. And a possible seasonal aspect to the COVID virus may be an overarching theme. Infections from certain viruses tend to peak once per season before tailing off naturally, Chakrabarti says, like influenza, which usually spikes between November and January. Other coronaviruses have followed a similar pattern. "Seasonality means that (viruses) get cycled at some point during the season," he said. "We don't know if that's 100 per cent the case with COVID. But it could be." While the timing of Canada's first COVID wave last spring would seem to go against the notion of seasonality, we weren't exposed to large quantities of the virus until March, so it didn't have a chance to circulate earlier, explains Chakrabarti. Parts of the U.S. may also be dealing with some level of herd immunity brought on by natural infection, Chakrabarti says, which could simplify, but not fully explain, their recent case drop. While exact numbers of total COVID infections are hard to gauge, Chakrabarti estimates undetected cases could be five to 10 times higher than reported cases, either because people were truly asymptomatic or had such minor symptoms that they never got tested. "If you have a significant chunk of people who have been infected and have, maybe not necessarily full immunity but some degree of immunity, at the very least that should slow outbreaks," Chakrabarti said. There are problems with the notion of herd immunity, however. Dr. Prabhat Jha, an epidemiologist with the University of Toronto, says while experts believe people with past COVID infections may have some protection against the variants first detected in the U.K. and South Africa, that may not be the case with the one first found in Brazil. Jha points out that not all countries are experiencing decreases in COVID cases — Brazil is one area seeing either steady rates or possible increases — and he worries that labelling herd immunity as a reason for case decline may be dangerous. "We don't know what herd immunity actually means," he said. "It's a theory that at a certain number of people infected, the virus just runs out of customers. But we have very little basis to understand what that level is." Jha says the potential reasons for the global decline are only theoretical right now. "No one really has a clear sense of why the cases are dropping," he said. "So I think one needs to be very cautious when talking about plausible explanations." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
The Grizzly Gazette met with Sergeant Dean Purcka, Detachment Commander of the Swan Hills RCMP, to discuss the RCMP’s current activities and priorities in the community of Swan Hills. Sgt. Purcka was born and raised in Yellowknife, NWT, living there until he attended the RCMP Academy, “Depot” Division in Regina, SK. He was posted to Alberta in 2003 and has lived here ever since, serving in Fox Creek, Whitecourt, and Swan Hills. Having lived in Swan Hills for around 4 ½ years now, Sgt. Purcka and his family are happy here and do not have any current plans to move on. At the provincial level, the RCMP has been focusing on reducing property crimes and increasing community consultation. Over the last 30 days in Swan hills, all of the criminal files that have been opened have been property crimes. One of the main themes in our conversation about reducing and successfully investigating property crimes was the importance of sharing information. Optimally the sharing of information occurs at multiple levels of the investigation, often beginning with people reporting the crimes when they occur. Reporting crimes when they occur is critical because it is difficult for RCMP officers to effectively prevent and investigate incidents if they are unaware that an incident occurred. A report should be filed with the RCMP. The information collected in this report will help the local RCMP detachment investigate the incident. The sharing of this information with surrounding districts can, and has, led to criminals being apprehended in neighbouring districts. For example, the group that brazenly stole the ATM machine from the Husky gas station in 2019 was located in a completely different district and charged with the assistance of information that was collected in Swan Hills. The Swan Hills RCMP Detachment works closely with the Barrhead detachment. This is beneficial to both detachments because they are in different districts and therefore do not necessarily receive the same communications. The information collected while investigating an incident goes to a local crime reduction unit to be analyzed and then to district intelligence coordinators who facilitate the sharing of information back and forth between districts and local detachments. With this intelligence-sharing arrangement, the individual RCMP detachments can operate in a concerted effort, which leads to more successful outcomes. Unfortunately, there are some crimes that do not get reported. In some lucky cases, people have had property recovered that was never reported as stolen in the first place. Even if people are convinced that reporting a crime won’t be of any direct help, that it won’t result in a thief being arrested or stolen property being returned, reporting the crime to the RCMP is still a critical step. Sharing the information collected in an RCMP report with other detachments could be vital to a successful investigation. It is also helpful to the RCMP’s efforts if people report people or circumstances that seem suspicious or out of place. Especially in a smaller community like Swan Hills, residents are generally pretty aware of which people and vehicles are familiar and which ones might seem out of the ordinary. Sgt. Purcka said that preventative patrols could be instituted when there appears to be a suspicious activity trend. The officers’ schedules could also be adjusted if there were a trend of crimes happening at a particular time of day or night, to be present and patrolling at that time. Regrettably, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into the works when it comes to community consultation. Before the pandemic, officers had much more opportunity to be in the community, available for informal conversations to connect with the people of Swan Hills. Many of the places that these informal meetings would happen, such as local eateries, aren’t as accessible or open to that kind of socialization under the current health restrictions. Sgt. Purcka expressed genuine regret at how the opportunities for these interactions are currently limited and an eagerness to connect with the community again in a more meaningful way when it is safe to do so. Accountability is one of the core values of the RCMP, including to all stakeholders and clients. Sgt. Purcka stressed that he wants the public to know that they are welcome to talk to him and bring any concerns that they may have to him. He wants to ensure that the RCMP members’ investigations are good and thorough and wants to know if members of the public think that things haven’t been going well. If the people of Swan Hills are running into issues with the RCMP, please bring these concerns to the RCMP office. Ideally, Sgt. Purcka would like to be able to have an in-person town hall to meet with and connect with members of the community, but it might be some time before that is possible due to the current health restrictions. Swan Hills FCSS had assisted the Swan Hills detachment in hosting a successful virtual town hall during the summer, and Sgt. Purcka expressed an eagerness to hold another one soon. The Grizzly Gazette thanks the Swan Hills RCMP detachment and Sgt. Purcka for an enjoyable and very informative conversation. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
La dernière tempête ne sera bientôt qu’un souvenir, alors que les équipes affectées au soufflage de la neige tassée en bordure des rues, la semaine dernière, ont déjà complété plus de 85 % de l’opération de chargement. Voilà ce qu’affirme l’administration Demers dans un communiqué publié ce mardi 23 février en fin de matinée. Mine de rien, la tempête qui avait débuté dans la nuit du 15 au 16 février a laissé des accumulations au sol de quelque 21 cm de neige. «Le traitement des trottoirs se poursuit quant à lui en continu sur l’ensemble de l’île, précise la Ville. Avec les quelques centimètres prévus cette semaine, un épandage préventif est aussi en cours sur les parcours prioritaires, incluant les voies réservées, boulevards et autres artères principales». Toujours selon les autorités municipales, les précipitations sont en baisse par rapport à la même période l’année dernière. Depuis le 1er novembre, il est tombé 157 cm de neige et 76 mm de pluie, comparativement à 184 cm de neige et 118 mm de pluie à pareille date en 2020. Il est toujours possible de suivre les opérations de déneigement à neige.laval.ca. Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
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
Grey County has adopted a land acknowledgement statement after consulting local communities and looking at the use of statements in other municipalities. A land acknowledgement should be sincere and meaningful and provide a connection to history and to those First Nations and Metis who are living in the area now, the clerk said in presenting a report to county council. She said that it’s important to consider how to use the acknowledgement so that it remains meaningful, and continues to build connections with local First Nations people. There are supporting practices at the county addressing involvement of Indigenous Peoples, she said, such as required consultation and also having an indigenous-led component of social services budget. When it is possible to gather, an in-person ceremony will take place with representatives from Indigenous Peoples. Suggested times for use are inaugural council meetings of the county and municipalities, special events and on agendas where matters impact on land and on native issues. County Councillor Rob Potter of Blue Mountains said the statement can remain meaning when used more often, as they do in his municipality. “We consider it very meaningful and that’s why we have it at the beginning of every meeting,” he said. “I’m not sure how we would make it more meaningful by not using it as often.” “It’s simply acknowledging truth,” he said. Southgate Deputy-Mayor Brian Milne, who made the motion, said of the Grey County acknowledgement: “It’s never too late to do the right thing.” Wording of the acknowledgement: “We acknowledge with respect, the history, spirituality, and culture of the Anishinaabek, Six Nations of the Grand River, Haudenosaunee, and Wendat-Wyandot-Wyandotte peoples on whose traditional territories we gather and whose ancestors signed Treaties with our ancestors. We recognize also, the Metis and Inuit whose ancestors shared this land and these waters. May we all, as Treaty People, live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with all its diverse peoples.” M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
OTTAWA — The Trudeau government has agreed with the Senate that Canadians suffering solely from grievous and irremediable mental illnesses should be entitled to receive medical assistance in dying — but not for another two years.The two-year interlude is six months longer than what was proposed by senators.It is one of a number of changes to Bill C-7 proposed by the government in response to amendments approved last week by the Senate. The government has rejected another Senate amendment that would have allowed people who fear being diagnosed with dementia or other competence-eroding conditions to make advance requests for an assisted death.It has also rejected one other amendment and modified two others in a motion that was debated Tuesday in the House of Commons."I believe that C-7 is one important and prudent step in ensuring greater respect for the autonomy of a broader category of Canadians who are suffering intolerably," Justice Minister David Lametti told the Commons, expressing hope that the Senate will accept the government's "reasonable" proposals.Bloc Québécois MP Luc Thériault said his party will support the minority Liberal government's response, assuring it will pass.While the Bloc would have liked to go further to expand access to assisted dying, he said the bill does make some important progress on that front."It is very important to keep moving forward," Thériault told the Commons.Once approved by the Commons, the bill will go back to the Senate, where senators will have to decide whether to accept the verdict of the elected chamber or dig in their heels.Bill C-7 would expand access to assisted dying to intolerably suffering individuals who are not approaching the natural end of their lives, bringing the law into compliance with a 2019 Quebec Superior Court ruling.As originally drafted, the bill would have imposed a blanket ban on assisted dying for people suffering solely from mental illnesses.A strong majority of senators argued that the exclusion was unconstitutional, violating the right to equal treatment under the law, regardless of physical or mental disability, as guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.They voted to impose an 18-month time limit on the mental illness exclusion, which the government now wants to extend to two years.Lametti said he still believes the exclusion is constitutional and he "does not believe we are entirely ready" to safely provide assisted dying for people with mental illnesses. Nevertheless, he said the government has heard the concerns of Canadians who fear the exclusion may never be lifted and will, therefore, support a two-year sunset clause."We think 24 months is still an ambitious timeline to implement such an important change in Canada's MAID (medical assistance in dying) policy but it still provides a fixed timeline in the relatively near future," Lametti said.During the two-year interlude, the government is also proposing to have an expert panel conduct an independent review of the issue and, within one year, recommend the "protocols, guidance and safeguards" that should apply to requests for assisted dying from people with a mental illness.Until the exclusion is lifted, senators had wanted to clarify that it does not apply to people with neurocognitive disorders like Alzheimer's disease. However, the government has rejected that amendment.In rejecting advance requests, the government motion argues that the Senate amendment on that issue "goes beyond the scope of the bill" and requires "significant consultation and study," including a "careful examination of safeguards."Lametti said he knows many Canadians will be disappointed by the government's rejection of that amendment. But he said the issue should be examined during the legally required five-year parliamentary review of the assisted dying law, which was supposed to have begun last June but has yet to materialize.The government has agreed, however, to a modified version of a Senate amendment to finally get that review underway within 30 days of Bill C-7 receiving royal assent. The government is proposing the creation of a joint Commons-Senate committee to review the assisted-dying regime, including issues related to mature minors, advance requests, mental illness, the state of palliative care in Canada and the protection of Canadians with disabilities. The committee would be required to report back, with any recommended changes, within one year.The government has also agreed to a modified version of another Senate amendment to require the collection of race-based data on who is requesting and receiving medical assistance in dying.It is proposing to expand that to include data on people with disabilities and to specify that the information be used to determine if there is "the presence of any inequality — including systemic inequality — or disadvantage based on race, Indigenous identity, disability or other characteristics."That is in response to the strenuous opposition to Bill C-7 from disability rights advocates who maintain the bill sends the message that life with a disability is a fate worse than death. They've also argued that Black, racialized and Indigenous people with disabilities, already marginalized and facing systemic discrimination in the health system, could be induced to end their lives prematurely due to poverty and a lack of support services.Some critics have also raised concerns about unequal access to assisted dying for marginalized people, rural Canadians and Indigenous people in remote communities.The government's response did not satisfy either the Conservatives, who largely opposed the original bill, or the New Democrats, who object in principle to the unelected Senate making substantive changes to legislation passed by the Commons.NDP MP Charlie Angus criticized the "unelected and unaccountable Senate" for expanding assisted dying to "people who are depressed."Conservative MP Michael Barrett moved an amendment to the government motion, that would delete the proposed sunset clause on the mental illness exclusion.He further slammed the government for ignoring the concerns of disability rights advocates and signalled that his party will not go along with the government's "fevered rush" to pass what he called a "deeply flawed" bill."That's why we're here today, to stand up for them and be the voice that this government cannot ignore," Barrett said.The government is hoping to have the bill passed by both parliamentary chambers by Friday to meet the thrice-extended court-imposed deadline for bringing the law into compliance with the 2019 ruling.But with the Conservatives signalling that they may drag out debate on the Senate amendments, the government will ask the court on Thursday to give it one more month — until March 26.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
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.
OTTAWA — Canada's chief public health officer says results from COVID-19 vaccinations so far are encouraging enough that she thinks the need for massive lockdowns could be over before the end of the summer.But Dr. Theresa Tam says some of the more personal measures, like wearing masks and limiting close contact outside our households, may be with us longer.Tam says there are several factors that will determine when Canadians can return to something more closely resembling a normal life, including new COVID-19 variants and how quickly fast vaccines are injected.Canada is aiming to vaccinate all who want to be by September.But Tam says she is hopeful some of the most difficult restrictions could disappear even before that goal is reached, given the positive results vaccines are showing so far.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is hopeful lockdowns won't be needed in his country after June 21, but Tam wouldn't put a specific date on that step for Canada.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
The aurora borealis, or northern lights, has been dancing up a storm over Alberta over the last few weeks. Quite a number of beautiful pictures of this spectacle have been posted to social media by those fortunate enough to catch the show. But what causes this light show in the sky? The northern lights result from collisions between charged particles from the sun's atmosphere and molecules in the Earth's atmosphere. The charged particles from the sun are blown across vast distances on the "solar wind." If the Earth happens to be in these particles' path, the magnetic field and atmosphere react. Auroral displays can be seen above the magnetic poles of both the northern and southern hemispheres. The auroral display in the southern hemisphere is known as aurora australis. Keep your eye on the sky and your camera ready to capture some fantastic photos! Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Terrace city councillor Jessica McCallum-Miller has resigned from her position, saying in a Facebook post she felt unsupported by her colleagues when advocating for Indigenous peoples, youth and females at council. “It is my personal belief that systemic and internalized racism as well as sexism had played a role in the inability of my colleagues to respect and understand my personal and diverse perspectives,” McCallum-Miller said in a Feb. 22 Facebook post addressed to the City of Terrace announcing her resignation effective immediately. McCallum-Miller was the youngest and first Indigenous councillor in Terrace’s history. She was first elected to council in 2018 with 883 votes after serving for four years as Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine director for rural Terrace, south coast. She first ran for council in 2014 at the age of 21. “When attempting a second time to clearly define and express the need for the City of Terrace councillors to partake in localized cultural awareness training with the Tsimshian peoples of this land, it became clear to me how important that training would be,” she said in the Facebook post. “I felt unheard, I felt spoken over, I questioned whether Truth and Reconciliation was being honoured or was a priority for our community.” In the post, the outgoing councillor disclosed that she lives with anxiety and depression, and considered taking her own life in March 2020 as a result of her treatment on council. “I am also an individual who finds healing through my work as an Indigenous artist, and through the practice of my culture as a Gitxsan, Nisga’a, and Tsimshian person,” McCallum-Miller said in the post. “In order to heal spiritually and further decolonize my life I will be focusing on my sacred work so that I may help heal others one day through cultural practices and tradition.” Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc said McCallum-Miller challenged the status quo and made council better in a Feb. 22 statement. “Councillor McCallum-Miller provided an important and distinct perspective on many issues up for consideration at our council meetings,” she said. “We will miss her honesty, dedication, and thoughtfulness. I would like to thank her for her service to the community and wish her all the best.” The current term ends in the fall of 2022, so a by-election is required to fill McCallum-Miller’s vacant seat. The City of Terrace will release information on that process in the coming weeks. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News