The pandemic has made paying by credit card almost a default, but smaller businesses want the federal government to make card companies give them a break on the transaction fees they pay for each purchase.
The pandemic has made paying by credit card almost a default, but smaller businesses want the federal government to make card companies give them a break on the transaction fees they pay for each purchase.
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Fueled by Black turnout, Democrats scored stunning wins in Georgia in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Now, Republicans are trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. GOP lawmakers in the once reliably red state are rolling out an aggressive slate of voting legislation that critics argue is tailored to curtail the power of Black voters and undo years of work by Stacey Abrams and others to increase engagement among people of colour, including Latino and Asian American communities. The proposals are similar to those pushed by Republicans in other battleground states: adding barriers to mail-in and early voting, major factors in helping Joe Biden win Georgia's 16 Electoral College votes and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff take the two Senate seats that gave Democrats control of the chamber. But one aspect of their plans, a proposal to eliminate early voting on Sundays, seems specifically targeted at a traditional get-out-the-vote campaign used by Black churches, referred to as “souls to the polls." It's led many to suggest Republicans are trying to stop a successful effort to boost Black voter turnout in Georgia, where they make up about a third of the population and have faced a dark history of attempts to silence their voices in elections. “It's a new form of voter suppression, the Klan in three-piece suits rather than white hoods,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald III of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which has participated in souls to the polls events. “They know the power of the Black vote, and their goal is to suppress that power.” In previous elections, souls to the polls campaigns were festive, with vehicles and people parading to election offices during early voting windows. Churches would sometimes playfully compete to see which could bring the most voters, said McDonald, who described the GOP legislation as “spiteful.” In Georgia and elsewhere, Republicans say proposals to tighten voting access are meant to bolster confidence in elections, though they have been some of the loudest proponents of meritless claims that the election was fraudulent. The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy group, has counted 165 bills in 33 states this year meant to limit access to voting. In Georgia, Republicans control state government and have introduced dozens of legislative measures that would restrict voting access. GOP state Rep. Barry Fleming is chief sponsor of a wide-ranging proposal that would ban Sunday early voting, require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the time when an absentee ballot could be requested, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be placed and curb the use of mobile voting units, among other changes. In committee hearings, Fleming has cast the legislation as “an attempt to restore the confidence of our public in our election system.” He didn’t respond to an email or phone message requesting comment. Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project that Abrams founded in 2014, called the GOP measures a backlash “to our multiracial, multilingual progressive majority that is winning elections." Biden beat former President Donald Trump by roughly 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democrat to win a presidential contest in Georgia since 1992. Biden received nearly double the number of absentee votes as Trump in a state that became a major target of Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. Biden's win there was confirmed in three separate counts, including one by hand. "These measures, in our opinion, are not based on any objective, data-driven, evidence-based assessment of the issue but solely with the intention to undermine Black voters and other communities of concern,” said Democratic state Rep. Michael Smith, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Policy Committee. Because Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, at least some form of their proposals are likely to become law. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, has called for a photo ID requirement for absentee voting but has yet to back a specific proposal. His office said it was still reviewing the legislation. Republicans are trying to limit ways to vote that have been wildly popular. After states expanded access to mail-in and early voting during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 70% of all ballots cast nationwide came before Election Day. An estimated 108 million people voted by mail, early in person or by dropping off absentee ballots. In Georgia, over 4 million voters cast early or absentee ballots. “They realize if they continue to allow individuals to vote by mail, it is going to be an uphill battle for Republicans to win at the polls and maintain their position,” Democratic state Rep. Debra Bazemore said. At the federal level, Democrats are pushing for a sweeping overhaul of how Americans vote. House Democrats are expected to vote next week on a measure that would establish federal election standards like early voting periods, same-day voter registration and other policies that Republicans have dismissed as federal overreach. And they are expected to introduce another bill to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had triggered federal scrutiny of election changes in certain states and counties with histories of discrimination. Georgia was among the states that previously had to get approval for voting changes. “If left to their own devices, Republicans will try to limit the ability of minority voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat co-sponsoring the bill on federal election standards. “It's open season on voting rights in Georgia,” he said. ___ Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York. ___ Associated Press coverage of voting rights receives support in part from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Anthony Izaguirre And Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — For Native Americans, Deb Haaland is more than an elected official on track to become the first Indigenous secretary of the Interior Department. She is a sister, an auntie and a fierce pueblo woman whose political stances have been moulded by her upbringing. News of her historic nomination electrified Indian Country. Tribal leaders and organizations for weeks have urged people to write and call U.S. senators who will decide if she’ll lead the agency that has broad oversight over Native American affairs and energy development. Haaland’s confirmation hearing this week is being closely watched in tribal communities, with some virtual parties drawing hundreds of people. The hearing started Tuesday and will continue Wednesday. To mark the event, supporters projected a picture of the New Mexico congresswoman on the side of the Interior building with text that read “Our Ancestors’ Dreams Come True." A mobile billboard with Haaland's image also made its way around Washington, D.C. Many Native Americans see Haaland as a reflection of themselves, someone who will elevate their voices and protect the environment and tribes’ rights. Here are stories of her impact: ________ ALETA ‘TWEETY’ SUAZO, 66, LAGUNA AND ACOMA PUEBLOS IN NEW MEXICO Suazo first met Haaland when they were campaigning for Barack Obama, walking door to door in New Mexico's pueblos. When Haaland was chosen to represent New Mexico as one of the first two Native American women ever elected to Congress, she turned to Suazo and the state's Native American Democratic Caucus to make treats for a reception. They prepared hundreds of pueblo pies, or pastelitos, and cookies, froze them and took them to Washington. Wearing traditional black dresses, they handed out the goodies with a thank-you note from Haaland. Suazo said she admires Haaland because she is eloquent and smart, “no beating around the bush,” and she is a Laguna Pueblo member who has returned there to dance as a form of prayer. When she heard Haaland was nominated as Interior secretary shortly after winning a second term in Congress, Suazo wasn't overjoyed. “Oh my gosh, she is going to go there, and who is going to represent us?" said Suazo, who lives in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. “There goes our one and only Indian representative.” She wanted to be assured that Haaland would be replaced by someone just as dynamic, who would work hard to protect the environment, address an epidemic of missing and slain Indigenous women and expand broadband, she said. “I was happy, but I was afraid. I didn't want to lose her," Suazo said. But she sees the importance, she said, in having a Native American oversee an agency that touches nearly every aspect of Native American life. Suazo sent a message to Haaland ahead of the hearing to say “be a strong woman,” or “gumeh.” She went back and forth watching it on television and in a virtual party. “It kind of reminds me of people having prayer groups, that kind of collective sending (of) good thoughts and prayers and support, and to have that many people doing it at one time was just so great," Suazo said. ____ BRANDI LIBERTY, 42, IOWA TRIBE OF KANSAS AND NEBRASKA When Liberty saw a picture of Haaland in a traditional ribbon skirt and moccasins for Joe Biden's inauguration, she cried. She thought about her grandmother Ethil Simmonds Liberty, who didn't become a U.S. citizen until she was 9 despite being born on her tribe's reservation that straddles Kansas and Nebraska. Her grandmother was a powerful advocate for her people, petitioning to turn a pigpen into a playground, writing letters to U.S. presidents and leading efforts to get a road paved to the reservation, she said. Brandi Liberty thought about her own daughter, who she hopes will carry on her legacy in working with tribes and embracing their heritage. She thought about her time earning a master's degree and seeing single mothers bringing their children to class, each understanding it wasn't a burden but a necessity. She later became a single mother like Haaland, who often speaks about her experience working through college and amassing debt. Liberty also thought about how Haaland could move other tribes in the right direction and connect them to Washington. Essentially, Liberty's grandmother on a larger scale. “This is no different than when Obama became the first Black president and what that signified,” said Liberty, who lives in New Orleans. “This is a historical mark for Indian Country as a whole.” Liberty caught most of Tuesday’s hearing while updating her parents and others through texts and social posts. She found herself in tears again as Haaland made her opening statement and touched on personal struggles. “I could relate to so much of it,” Liberty said. ____ ZACHARIAH RIDES AT THE DOOR, 21, BLACKFEET TRIBE OF MONTANA Rides At The Door is studying environmental sciences and sustainability, and fire science as a third-year student at the University of Montana in Missoula. He brings a perspective to his studies that Haaland has touted as unique from Indian Country — that everything is alive and should be treated with respect and that people should be stewards of the land, rather than have dominion over it. In high school, he learned about the mining industry and how it has impacted sites that are part of the Blackfeet creation story. He learned about the American Indian Movement's role in fighting for equality and recognition of tribal sovereignty. He also recently learned the United States had a Native American vice-president from 1929 to 1933, Charles Curtis. Rides At The Door isn't sure what he wants to do when he graduates. But he knows he wants to learn the Blackfeet language, and maybe become a firefighter or work on projects that route buffalo to his reservation. He was working Tuesday but planned to catch up on the hearing through social media. Already, he was seeing memes and other posts that praised Haaland. Seeing her political rise is inspiring, he said. “It’s a great way for younger Natives to say, ‘Alright, our foot is in the door. There’s a chance we could get higher positions.’” ___ DEBBIE NEZ-MANUEL, 49, NAVAJO NATION IN ARIZONA, NEW MEXICO AND UTAH During her recent campaign for an Arizona legislative seat, Nez-Manuel sought an endorsement from Haaland. She was looking for someone whose values aligned with hers: grounded in beliefs, connected to the land, a consistent and strong leader unchanged by politics. After layers of vetting, she got the endorsement and planned to announce it at a get-out-the-vote rally featuring Haaland at the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona. It also was a chance for the two women to take a picture together. Then, the event was cancelled because of the pandemic. Nez-Manuel was devastated. Days before she was supposed to meet Haaland, Nez-Manuel was sitting at home when her phone rang. She didn't recognize the number. “Hey Debbie, this is Deb,” the voice on the phone said. “Who?” Nez-Manuel asked. The caller replied: “Deb Haaland. Good morning. I'm calling from New Mexico. I'm sitting in my kitchen." Nez-Manuel's heart raced, and she struggled to voice all the thoughts she had so carefully scripted for that meeting. Haaland, she said, was patient and shared stories about life on and off a reservation — something that resonated with Nez-Manuel. “It's like talking to an auntie," she said. "She's very matter of fact.” Nez-Manuel joked about flying to Washington for Haaland's confirmation hearing to get that elusive picture. Instead, she and her husband, Royce, connected to a virtual watch party from their home on the Salt River-Pima Maricopa Community northeast of Phoenix. Nez-Manuel said Haaland showed she was willing to learn from others, aptly answering questions and pledging to make decisions based on science. “She is about protecting what's there, what's good for humanity, not for pocketbooks,” Nez-Manuel said. “That's something that stood out very clearly.” ___ This story has been corrected to show Brandi Liberty is 42 years old. ___ Fonseca is a member of AP's Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her at https://twitter.com/FonsecaAP Felicia Fonseca, The Associated Press
CAIRO — Rescue workers searched a second day Tuesday for at least five people missing after a tour boat capsized on a lake near Egypt’s Mediterranean city of Alexandria. Officials said nine passengers, including three children, were dead. The boat was carrying at least 20 people and capsized late Monday in the Lake of Mariut, while returning from a tour to an island in the lake, they said. Rescue workers retrieved nine bodies, including children ages 1, 1 1/2 and 4, and were searching for others, ambulance officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The top prosecutor's office said in a statement at least six people survived the mishap, and rescue workers were still searching for at least five others. Authorities arrested the boat owner, who was also the voyage captain, the statement said. Any survivors still in the lake, located west of Alexandria, could go into shock as temperatures fell Tuesday in the already cold waters. Relatives spent the night on the shoreline, hoping their loved ones could be rescued or their bodies retrieved. Calls for volunteer divers to help in the search were circulated on social media. Citing relatives, local media reported that the victims, all from the same family, were returning from a voyage to an island in the lake. The passengers arrived on the island in two groups but they were all packed on a single boat for their return, the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm daily reported. Alexandria’s governor, Mohammed el-Sharif, said in comments late Monday the boat was small and overcrowded, suggesting a possible cause of the capsizing. Most boats on the lake work without licenses, he said. Samy Magdy, The Associated Press
CALGARY — Athletes setting significant records in their sport are often too busy achieving those milestones to process their place in history at the moment. What helps Jennifer Jones wrap her head around a career 153 wins at the Canadian women's curling championship is seeing them through the eyes of people she loves. Jones became the career leader in wins at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts with a 6-5 win Tuesday over Newfoundland and Labrador's Sarah Hill. Jones arrived at the 2021 Tournament of Hearts two back of the 152 victories held by Colleen Jones. Jennifer Jones knows the record would have meant a lot to her late father Larry, who died two years ago at age 80. "My dad always loved the records," Jones aid Monday. "He always followed all the records. I know he would watching from above, (be) very, very proud. "It definitely means something to me. As you kind of approach the end of your career, just to be remembered for doing something that you love is pretty remarkable." The wins record is among many Jones holds in women's curling. If the six-time national champion prevails in Calgary, the 46-year-old from Winnipeg will be the only woman to win seven. Should daughters Isabella and Skyla take up curling, the record book provides a compelling argument that their mother is the best to ever play the game. "My kids do look at it. There's a book with my name in it with some records," Jones said. "I hope if anything it just shows them that if you work hard, that dreams are possible. I just want them to have the best possible life and if this can have any impact on that, it's absolutely incredible." Jones's first win in 2002 was an 8-4 victory over Prince Edward Island's Kathy O'Rourke, who is P.E.I's alternate in Calgary this year. Jones's 153rd wasn't a work of art as her team's shooting accuracy was 80 per cent, but it was one Jones and her Manitoba foursome needed to get to a 3-2 record. Sitting on 2-3 until their next game Wednesday wouldn't have felt uncomfortable. "We were grinding it out today," Jones said. "We really needed this win to stay kind of in there in the competition." Quebec's Laurie St-Georges topped Pool B at 4-1 ahead of Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Birt at 3-1. Manitoba was knotted at 3-2 with Chelsea Carey's Wild Card One. St-Georges downed Nunavut's Lori Eddy 7-5. Carey lost a second straight game, falling 7-5 to B.C.'s Corryn Brown. B.C., Newfoundland and Saskatchewan were even at 2-2. Saskatchewan's Sherry Anderson fell 7-6 to New Brunswick's Melissa Adams, who won her first game. Nunavut was winless in five games. Ontario's Rachel Homan and defending champion Kerri Einarson at 4-0 were the only undefeated teams in the tournament heading into Tuesday's Pool A draw. The top four teams from each pool of nine at the end of the preliminary round Thursday advance to the two-day championship round and take their records with them. The championship round's top three will be Sunday's playoff teams, with the No. 1 seed rewarded with a bye to that day's final. Jones has won everything there is to win in women's curling, including two world titles a decade apart in 2008 and 2018. Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen went undefeated en route to an Olympic gold medal in 2014. "I can't believe this is my 11th year with Jennifer and the girls," Lawes said. "I still feel like I'm the 21-year-old kid when I joined the team. "I was just so eager to learn from the best. I've always looked up to Jen. She's a role model and how special is it to be able to play with people that you're inspired by?" Jones and former second Officer own the record for most Hearts final appearances (9). Dawn McEwen, who is pregnant and sitting out this year, played lead for Jones in seven of them. Jones has appeared in the most playoff games (33) and shares the playoff win record (21) with Officer. "I've been so fortunate to have the best human beings as teammates that have supported me throughout I don't know how many years," Jones said. In her 16th Hearts appearance, Jones trails only Colleen Jones (19) for the most by a skip. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Canada's prison ombudsman is calling for alternatives to incarceration in a new report that shows the number of COVID-19 cases at federal facilities more than doubled in the second wave.Correctional investigator Ivan Singer says new cases climbed to 880 at more than a dozen prisons between early November and Feb. 1, compared to 361 cases at six institutions in the first wave.He says about 70 per cent of second-wave cases occurred at two Prairie facilities — the Saskatchewan Penitentiary and Manitoba's Stony Mountain Institution — leaving Indigenous inmates disproportionately affected.The prisons are the two largest in the country and contain some of the system's oldest infrastructure, with an evident connection between viral spread and large shared living areas as well as poor ventilation.Singer is calling on the federal government to prioritize early release of older inmates and to consider closure of aging, costly penitentiaries in favour of a more community-based approach to corrections.The Correctional Service of Canada says it has vaccinated about 600 older and medically compromised offenders, and plans to begin inoculating the rest of its 12,500 inmates in the spring.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
Going outside could be just what the doctor ordered. British Columbia has launched a new program that has doctors prescribing the great outdoors to help people with mental health issues or chronic illnesses. Robin Gill explains the science behind it.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke on Tuesday and agreed to coordinate on efforts to get web giants to pay for news, according to a statement from Ottawa. The two leaders "agreed to continue coordinating efforts to address online harm and ensure the revenues of web giants are shared more fairly with creators and media," a statement detailing the issues discussed in their telephone call said.
VANCOUVER — British Columbia will permanently allow restaurants, bars and tourism operators to buy liquor at wholesale prices, a move that industry hopes will help revive the struggling sector. The provincial government made temporary changes last June to allow the hospitality industry to buy alcohol at the same cost as liquor stores and it has now made that decision permanent. Previously, restaurants, pubs and tourism businesses with liquor licences paid full retail price — the wholesale price, plus a markup set by the government — on most alcohol purchases. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says in a news release that the government is making the change permanent to give businesses certainty and to help the estimated 190,000 residents who work in the sector. Trevor Kallies, beverage director for the Donnelly Group, which owns several bars in Vancouver, says in the release that wholesale liquor pricing will help alleviate some financial pressures so businesses can focus on other areas, such as the health and safety of staff and customers. Restaurants Canada says in a statement that the move fulfils a long-standing recommendation from the industry group and it thanked the B.C. government for levelling the playing field between the province's retail and hospitality sectors. "This move will go a long way to help British Columbia's hard-hit restaurant sector transition from survival to revival," said Mark von Schellwitz, vice-president for Western Canada. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
SAN FRANCISCO — Poet, publisher and bookseller Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who helped launch and perpetuate the Beat movement, has died. He was 101. Ferlinghetti died at his San Francisco home Monday, his son Lorenzo Ferlinghetti told The Associated Press Tuesday. The cause was lung disease. His father died “in his own room,” holding their hands "as he took his last breath, his son said. Lorenzo Ferlinghetti said his father loved Italian food and the restaurants in the North Beach neighbourhood where he made his home and founded his famous bookstore. He had received the first dose of the COVID vaccine last week and was a month shy of turning 102. Ferlinghetti was known for his City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, an essential meeting place for the Beats and other bohemians in the 1950s and beyond. Its publishing arm released books by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and many others. The most famous release was Ginsberg’s anthemic poem, “Howl." It led to a 1957 obscenity trial that broke new ground for freedom of expression. The Associated Press
Toronto police say a second teenage boy has been arrested in the shooting of a 14-year-old girl. They say the boy surrendered to police on Monday and is facing eight charges related to the incident on Feb. 12. A 17-year-old boy was charged on Thursday for his role in the shooting. Police allege that a group of young people were together inside an apartment when a gun went off and the girl was struck in the head. They say the suspects and others fled the apartment, and the girl was transported to hospital in life-threatening condition. Police say she is now stable but has life-altering injuries and remains in hospital. The accused can't be named under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
ROME — The Republic of San Marino finally can start its coronavirus vaccination drive after the first shots arrived Tuesday. But the city-state surrounded by Italy had to resort to its “Plan B” and buy Sputnik V jabs from Russia after plans to get European Union-approved doses from Italy got delayed. A pink and yellow truck escorted by police cars brought the first 7,500 Sputnik V vaccines into San Marino and delivered them at the main hospital. Officials said the Russia-made doses will eventually be enough to vaccinate some 15% of the microstate’s population of around 33,800. San Marino bought Sputnik V shots at the last minute after an agreement to have Italy send a proportion of the vaccines it received through the EU's vaccine procurement system got delayed. San Marino, located near Rimini on the Adriatic coast, isn’t an EU member, and as such was excluded from the deals the 27-nation bloc negotiated with pharmaceutical firms. The San Marino secretary of state, Luca Beccari, said during a news conference last weekend that the negotiations with Italy took a long time and that under an agreement signed Jan. 11, San Marino was to receive one dose for every 1,700 that Italy received from the EU. But the deal hit a snag as Italy and other EU countries faced delivery delays for the three EU-approved vaccines, the ones from: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Italy has administered some 3.7 million doses. “Unfortunately, the time required to define these procedures and the fact that San Marino is a country that has not yet started its vaccination campaign has forced us to seek alternative solutions,” Beccari said in explaining the Sputnik purchase. “As for all other countries, it is necessary to start the vaccination campaign as soon as possible in order to ensure the safety of its citizens,” he said. The European Medicines Agency has said the developers of Sputnik V recently asked for advice on what data they needed to submit for the vaccine to be licensed across the European Union. Hungarian health authorities have approved both Sputnik V and the vaccine developed by state-owned Chinese company Sinopharm. San Marino has had a proportionately devastating outbreak, with 3,538 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 73 deaths. Roberto Ciavatta, San Marino’s secretary of state for health, said Sputnik V was safe and effective. “It is not that it did not pass any controls. On the contrary, as all the research and data available show, it is a vaccine that is already administered in 30 countries, About 70 million people have been vaccinated with it. It has extremely high safety standards,” he said. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
On Tuesday the maintenance supervisor at Riverview Gardens woke up excited as Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health woke up “pumped” and ready to go. Dr. David Colby inoculated Rick Walker with the COVID-19 vaccine at the John D. Bradley Convention Centre at 9:30 a.m. It was the first vaccine given to a local person that is not a long-term care resident and it is also the first Pfizer vaccine to be issued locally. “It’s like a train coming down the tracks. It (COVID) is going to come to you sooner or later,” Walker said. “I am excited to be a part of the solution honestly.” Chatham-Kent hopefully saw the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic when long-term care residents got their first doses of the Moderna vaccine in late January. Second doses for those residents started Monday. Now all staff in long-term care homes and the primary caregivers of its residents are able to receive their immunization. Riverview Gardens staff and caregivers were the first up, with more than 300 doses expected to be doled out. “This is an absolute milestone. This is ground zero,” Colby said. Walker said he would encourage all other Chatham-Kent residents to get the vaccine. “You always have (COVID) in the back of your mind. But this is the solution where we can get to the end of this and I firmly believe that.” “Who would have ever guessed that when we were celebrating New Year’s in 2020 what was to lie ahead of us? And here we are. It’s time to rid Chatham-Kent of this pestilence, it's the way to do it,” Colby said of getting vaccinated. Chatham-Kent reported 18 active cases Tuesday after five recoveries and one new case were reported on Tuesday morning. Fairfield Park long-term care home in Wallaceburg has one active case of COVID-19 among its residents and one active case among staff left active. The cumulative total of cases for Fairfield sits at 100 and now new ones were reported this week. The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance outbreak in the Medicine Unit remains active with 24 cumulative cases. Two patients are still in the hospital with the virus. Four staff are off work after testing positive for COVID-19, but not all are related to the outbreak. Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
First Nation communities along the James Bay and Hudson Bay coast are in lockdown after a spike in cases. Since last Friday, 15 cases of COVID-19 have beenreported in Moosonee. The Porcupine Health Unit has also warned of a potential exposure risk to people who were at GG's Ace Hardware Store in Moosonee Thursday Feb. 1 to Friday, Feb. 19. People who have visited the store during those days are advised to monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the last day they visited, which ends Feb. 25 to March 5. In a video message posted on Facebook, Moosonee’s Mayor Wayne Taipale asked people not to panic and stay home. “There’s likely to be more positive cases during tracing but we urge everybody not to panic,” he said. “We encourage everybody to follow the requirements, stay home and not to travel unless it’s essential, to wash hands, wear mask and keep distances. If we all do this, then we’ll be getting this under control faster.” Fort Albany First Nation, Attawapiskat First Nation, Moose Factory Island and Kashechewan First Nation are currently in lockdown. Moose Factory's lockdown is in effect until March 12. Vehicle traffic to the island is restricted to Moose Factory Island residents, essential workers and residents from other communities who need to receive medical care. A mandatory curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. has been put in place for all Moose Factory Island residents with exemptions for those who need to work, are in need of medical care and those participating in traditional harvesting, according to Moose Cree First Nation's statement. Residents are also required to wear double masks in all public places. Moosonee Health Centre will be offering COVID-19 testing Wednesday, Feb. 24 by appointment only. In Fort Albany, there is a community lockdown for domestic air travel and suspension of the temporary winter road travel corridor. Community members that have medical appointments in Moose Factory will be required to provide proof to be able to travel on the winter road. All travellers, who are currently out of Fort Albany, will have until Thursday, Feb. 25 to return to the community. They will be required to isolate for 14 days and complete a nasal swab. Kashechewan First Nation is in a two-week lockdown until March 5. Community members can use the winter road to travel to Moosonee for medical purposes until Feb. 27. According to Kashechewan’s statement, there will be medical drivers who will take the patients from the community and drive them to the Weeneebayko General Hospital in Moose Factory. At this time, residents are not allowed to drive to appointments on their own. The Porcupine Health Unit COVID-19 information line can be reached at 705-267-1181 or 1-800-461-1818. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
THUNDER BAY — A new website launched this week features various services and tools to support victims and survivors of local human trafficking, says the co-chair of the Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking. Thunder Bay has been identified as one of the top six hubs in Ontario for human trafficking says Kristal Carlson, human trafficking youth and transition worker at Thunder Bay Counselling and co-chair of the Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking. “This crime is rampant in Thunder Bay,” she said Monday, Feb. 22. The website was created to provide victims and survivors of human trafficking with access to free services and to also spread awareness and education in the community about the crime. “The Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking created the website to help community members, potential survivors and business people alike to be able to acknowledge, identify and potentially intervene if they should see human trafficking in young peoples’ lives,” Carlson said, adding the crime is often under-reported. For women, only one in 10 will report and for men only one in 20 will report to police, Carlson said. “It is such an under-reported crime so any sex-based crime we know that only six per cent will ever end in conviction so it is really hard to convince people to come forward when there is not the likelihood that something will happen,” she said. And while groups such as the Thunder Bay Coalition To End Human Trafficking exist to support victims of the crime, it is important to note they do not classify themselves as a “rescuing people” group, Carlson said. “We support individuals to move forward when they are ready in the way that is going to best suit them in their current situation,” she said. Last year alone, through various programs across the Coalition more than 60 people were successful in leaving their current situation, Carlson said. The creators of the new website also hope to address misconceptions around human traffickers that are often presented in media and movies. “Human trafficking, more times than not, is somebody being exploited by the person they identify as their boyfriend, their best friend or somebody that they know so that happens in more than 85 per cent of cases,” she said. The other most common form of trafficking is the exploitation of young people by family members, extended family members, caretakers or guardians. “More times than not it’s happening by the person they believe to be their boyfriend, girlfriend or best friend,” Carlson said. The website also teaches individuals how to identify signs and risk factors of human trafficking. “We also want to raise the education in the city of Thunder bay because we are identified as one of the top six hubs in the province of Ontario and Ontario makes up two-thirds of all human trafficking that takes place in our country,” Carlson said. Carlson also points out that coming forward doesn’t mean individuals have to report to the police. “The Thunder Bay Police have started to do some really amazing work in being able to meet survivors exactly where they are at and not needing to move forward with charges but to support them for when they are ready to do that if they are ever ready to do that,” she said. “We just want [survivors] to know they are not alone and that there are people to support you no matter where you are, whether you are currently at risk, entrenched, or you looking to exit, there are people here to support you.” For more information, visit Thunder Bay Coalition’s new website by clicking here. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
(Julia Wright/CBC - image credit) A new study published by the New Brunswick Multicultural Council indicated over 80 per cent of respondents believed there is unconscious bias or covert racism in the province. The survey said 88.89 per cent of white respondents said there was unconscious or covert racism in the province while 74.53 per cent of respondents who identified as people of colour said unconscious or covert racism existed. Husoni Raymond, the anti-racism project and policy development co-ordinator with the council, said he was surprised at how many people acknowledged that racism exists in the province. "Generally, the narrative is that there's no racism in New Brunswick or in Canada," said Raymond. "I believe that over the last year, when there's been increased awareness to anti-black racism and state violence against racialized people, that more people are willing to interrogate racism within the Canadian context." The survey asked respondents "Do you believe there is racism in New Brunswick?" If respondents answered yes, they were directed to the next question which asked what kind of racism with the options systemic racism, intentional or overt racism, unconscious bias or covert racism and other. Furthermore a majority of respondents said intentional or overt racism was a factor in the province, 78.12 per cent for white respondents and 68.63 for BIPOC respondents. The survey defines intentional or overt racism as "racial discrimination that stems from conscious and intentional personal prejudice and beliefs." Unconscious bias or convert racism is defined as "racial discrimination that stems from unconscious or unintentional prejudice and beliefs." The council says 71 per cent of respondents believe there is systemic racism in the province, defined in the survey as "the policies and practices fixed in institutions, which result in the exclusion or promotion of designated groups." And 83.6% of respondents said they have witnessed racism first hand. A report into the survey said the analysts found the white numbers "surprising" and noticed that white respondents said both overt and unintentional racism existed at higher rates than people of colour did. The report said this could be that white people are more polite to people of colour in person, the white people who filled out this survey are more aware of racial issues or people who've been in Canada longer have more knowledge of racism. The report suggests new arrivals are disproportionately people of colour. Methodology The survey was conducted by Anovasi Research on behalf of the council and was conducted voluntarily online. The survey featured 30 questions and could've been completed in either French or English. It drew 959 respondents, of which 907 were deemed "qualified respondents" Raymond said he was surprised at how many people acknowledged that racism exists in the province. "it just goes to show that a lot of people are interested in this topic right now and we have the momentum to contribute to some real change within our community," said Raymond While the questions were multiple choice, the survey also allowed for people to elaborate on some of their answers, including questions about racist incidents that respondents were subject to or witnessed. "The results were very broad," said Raymond. "People noting their experiences in the service sector, people noting, you know, things that they've heard, things that they've been called on the streets, et cetera." Lack of diversity Raymond said the survey indicated that a lack of diversity was a concern. "A lack of diversity in New Brunswick, especially in positions of power, is something that was highlighted," said Raymond. The 2016 census said 3.4 per cent of the province's population identify as visible minorities and four per cent identify as Aboriginal. Raymond said he hopes the survey will spur the province to develop and adopt an anti-racism strategy.
HALIFAX — Iain Rankin was sworn in as Nova Scotia's 29th premier Tuesday along with a cabinet that included two former leadership rivals.Rankin tapped ex-Liberal party leadership contenders Labi Kousoulis and Randy Delorey for high-profile jobs, with Kousoulis getting the crucial finance portfolio and Delorey assuming duties as minister of justice and attorney general.Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc swore in the 17-member cabinet at the Halifax Convention Centre during a ceremony that was scaled back due to COVID-19 protocols."We are writing a new chapter for sure, but it is one that reflects and respects our past," Rankin said in an address after swearing his oath of office. "Governments that have come before ours ... have provided us with strong foundations to support our agenda."The 37-year-old Rankin was chosen as Liberal party leader earlier this month at a virtual convention in Halifax. He captured his party's top job by billing himself as an agent of generational change and has vowed to be a collaborative premier who will place an emphasis on the environment.He takes office with a shortened window to establish himself — a provincial election must be called by the spring of 2022. Rankin, however, said he is immediately focused on governing and dealing with important issues such as jobs, the economy and tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.He told reporters there is no shortage of challenges."I'm really impressed with the team that I have and I'm putting them in the right place to help me deliver on the commitments I made during the leadership campaign, Rankin said. "Issues of climate change, inequality and building back a strong economy that's more inclusive."Kousoulis will have the tough task of balancing fiscal discipline with the need to bolster an economy damaged by the pandemic. Nova Scotia went from a projected surplus of $55 million to a deficit of $779 million over the past fiscal year — a figure former premier Stephen McNeil recently said would be closer to $500 million by this spring's budget."The work will be to ensure that we're supporting Nova Scotians and getting ourselves back on a solid financial footing," Kousoulis said. He said that while the upcoming budget is already largely prepared, there could be a chance to tinker by adding some of Rankin's priorities.Signalling change, Rankin created a new department — Infrastructure and Housing — that will be headed by former business minister Geoff MacLellan, who has said he won't be running in the next election.He also created two offices: Mental Health and Addictions under new Health Minister Zach Churchill, who shifts from education; and the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives, which will become the responsibility of Tony Ince, who remains as minister of African Nova Scotian affairs.Kelly Regan was sworn in as deputy premier and retains her position as minister of community services while taking on responsibility for the province's seniors.Cabinet newcomer Keith Irving was appointed minister of the newly renamed Department of Environment and Climate Change. Other first-time cabinet ministers include Ben Jessome as minister of the public service commission, and Brendan Maguire, who takes over municipal affairs. Irving, a former architect who lived for 26 years in Iqaluit, said he's ready to deal with what has been a long-time interest. "While living in the Arctic in the early '90s, I saw the effects of climate change," he said. "It was very real there and it is now very real for all of Canada and Nova Scotia."Chuck Porter returns to cabinet in a new role as minister of lands and forestry, while Derek Mombourquette is the new minister of education. The Immigration Department will be getting a new title as well, becoming the Office of Immigration and Population Growth, overseen by Lena Metlege Diab, who will remain as minister of labour and minister of Acadian affairs. Lloyd Hines remains as minister of transportation, while others retaining their old jobs include Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell, Service Nova Scotia Minister Patricia Arab and Culture and Heritage Minister Suzanne Lohnes-Croft. Rankin replaces McNeil, who announced his retirement last August after 17 years in politics. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
A pre-trial conference will be held next month for a man charged in connection with a downtown stabbing death last summer. Last week, lawyers for the Crown and defence set March 8 for a pre-trial conference that will determine the length of a forthcoming preliminary inquiry in the case of Jason Holm. Holm, 37, is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of 39-year-old Paul Samuel Whitten, who was stabbed to death on Aug. 1, 2020. Police said they were called to a home on Clarke Street in the West End, where Whitten was found with serious injuries. He later died and Holm was arrested a short time later. The Independent Investigations Office, B.C.’s arm’s-length police watchdog, is looking into the circumstances that led to Whitten’s death because Mounties had been looking for Holm before Whitten was killed. “On July 31, Kamloops RCMP received a call from a woman who was concerned about the mental health of a male relative,” the IIO said in a news release issued last summer. “Officers visited the man’s home, but reported being unable to locate him.” A preliminary inquiry lasting at least a week is expected, as it will also address issues with some of the witnesses raised by the defence, Crown prosecutor Tim Livingston told court. Holm had been expected to attend court via video conference last week to elect a mode of trial, but he refused to leave his cell. Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
OTTAWA — Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem says the central bank is seeing early signs that people may be purchasing homes solely because they believe prices may go up. Macklem says rising prices in particular for single-family homes are still a long way from the heated market the country observed about five years ago. Fuelling the increase has been a combination of demand for more space as millions of workers do their jobs remotely, constrained supply and rock-bottom interest rates driven low by central bank actions. The bank's key policy rate has been at 0.25 per cent for about 11 months, and its quantitative easing program is trying to reduce the rates paid on things like mortgages to drive spending. Macklem says the central bank is surprised by the rebound in the housing market. He adds there are early signs of what he called "excess exuberance," with people maybe expecting the recent increases in prices to go on indefinitely. "What we get worried about is when we start to see extrapolated expectations, when we start to see people expecting the kind of unsustainable price increases we've seen recently go on indefinitely," Macklem said during a question-and-answer session with chambers of commerce in Edmonton and Calgary. "We are starting to see some early signs of excess exuberance, but we're a long way from where we were in 2016-2017 when things were really hot." The central bank plans to keep its key rate low until the economy recovers, expected sometime in 2023, and adjust its bond-buying program over time. Macklem says there is still a need for considerable monetary policy support to generate a complete recovery. In the meantime, the bank will keep an eye on debt levels, as mortgage debt rises as households pay down other debt like credit cards and personal loans, Macklem says. "We are acutely aware that in a world of very low interest rates, there is a risk that housing prices could get stretched, households could get stretched, and certainly that's a risk we want to guard against," Macklem told reporters following the speech. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press