A big gust of wind sweeps snow off of a roof in Saanich, BC.
A big gust of wind sweeps snow off of a roof in Saanich, BC.
LONDON — Buckingham Palace said Wednesday it was launching an investigation after a newspaper reported that a former aide had made a bullying allegation against the Duchess of Sussex. The Times of London reported allegations that the duchess drove out two personal assistants and left staff feeling “humiliated.” It said an official complaint was made by Jason Knauf, then the communications secretary to Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry. He now works for Harry’s elder brother, Prince William. The palace said it was “clearly very concerned” about the allegations. It said in a statement that the palace human resources team “will look into the circumstances outlined in the article” and would seek to speak to current and former staff. “The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace,” it said. American actress Meghan Markle, a former star of the TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year. In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California, and are expecting a second child. The bullying allegations were reported four days before the scheduled broadcast of an Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan, which is anticipated to draw a huge audience. It also comes less than two weeks after the palace announced that the couple’s split from official duties would be final. A spokesman for the duchess said she was “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.” In a 30-second clip released by CBS Wednesday night, Winfrey asks Meghan how she feels about the palace “hearing you speak your truth today?” “I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” Markle says. “And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, there's been a lot that's been lost already.” The Associated Press
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Thursday: ENGLAND A place in the Premier League's top four is at stake in the meeting between Liverpool and Chelsea, two teams who were expected to be challenging for the title this season. Liverpool's title defence has collapsed mostly because of a bad run of injuries, plunging the champions to sixth place. Chelsea, which spent nearly $300 million on new players for this season, has regained some form after changing managers — Thomas Tuchel came in for the fired Frank Lampard in January and is unbeaten after nine games — but is still only in fifth place. The winner would climb above West Ham into fourth place. Seventh-place Everton is level on points with Liverpool heading into a match at next-to-last West Bromwich Albion, while Fulham could climb out of the relegation zone on goal difference by beating Tottenham at home. SPAIN Levante and Athletic Bilbao play in the Copa del Rey semifinals, with the winner meeting Barcelona in the April 17 final in Seville. Barcelona eliminated Sevilla on Wednesday. Levante, playing in the Copa semifinals for the first time in 86 years, held Athletic to a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Bilbao. Athletic is the competition's second most successful club with 23 titles. It will play in last season's postponed final against Basque Country rival Real Sociedad on April 3. ITALY Inter Milan can extend its lead at the top of Serie A with a win at relegation-threatened Parma. Antonio Conte’s side can move six points clear of second-place AC Milan after the Rossoneri were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Udinese on Wednesday. Inter has won six of its past seven league matches, scoring 17 goals and conceding just the one. Parma is second from bottom, six points from safety. It drew its past two matches 2-2 after leading 2-0 in both. It also drew 2-2 at Inter in October. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
The owner of a Calgary cafe has started a letter-writing campaign aimed at convincing city council to reverse a decision that will result in the eatery being evicted from a historic building in Eau Claire. The city, however, says its decision is irreversible — and has been in the works for a long time. The 1886 Buffalo Cafe has been running out of the historic Eau Claire Lumber Company building for about 40 years. Next month, however, the city will not be renewing its lease, in order to undertake some long-anticipated area refurbishment. City councillors said the cafe owners were given notice in 2017 that the city would need to move the building to do some major flood work, and as part of the redevelopment that was happening in Eau Claire. But owner Joanna McLeod told CBC News she feels the city led her astray with confusing communications that made her think they'd be able to stay in the building longer. It prompted her to start a letter-writing campaign and petition in the hopes of saving the cafe. "I just think there's a lot of missing information for the city's aspect," she said. "We've been the best tenants for 40 years … and we would really just love to stay in that building." 'Timeline of assurance' McLeod said they were in negotiations with the city to renew its lease in 2018. At the time, they were on a month-to-month lease, she said, because of the developments that were planned for Eau Claire. The cafe owners were told the revitalization of the area would have the cafe moved closer to the river, and in the same building. In February 2020, McLeod said, she was offered a five-year lease by the city that went unsigned after a realtor told her the language wasn't typical for a commercial lease, and the cafe owners wanted a few details changed before they committed. According to the city, the lease was rescinded in November 2020, after the tenant failed to sign and the city received confirmation of $8.6 million in funding from the province to proceed with the Eau Claire Plaza reconstruction project. But McLeod said there are documents and emails that showed a "timeline of assurances given to us by the city, and kind of leading us down a path of security with them." The owners were blindsided, she said, when they were eventually given notice by a leasing agent that they had 90 days to vacate the premises. And thinking they were going to be staying in the building, McLeod said they invested money into the place. "Had we known that it was a possibility that we wouldn't be able to continue business out of that building … we would have chosen to do business a little differently," McLeod said. Development plans not a secret, councillor says If the decision isn't reversed by the city, McLeod said, she is hoping they will be compensated for the business decisions they made "under bad faith." However, Coun. Druh Farrell told the CBC that while she is very sympathetic with the owners, they have known for a very long time that these developments were in the works. "It's not a secret, and the information has been shared with council, and we've been working on this for a number of years," said Farrell, who represents Ward 7. Significant changes are coming to the area, including essential flood work, that will be very disruptive — but there is a commitment to restore the building and put it in a new designated location, Farrell said. It will be available again in 2023. "There will be no reversing this decision," Farrell said. Still, McLeod is hoping the city might budge. "We're imploring them to change their mind. It's a building that's not only close to our hearts, it's a building that's close to many hearts," McLeod said. "It's just such an iconic piece of Calgary."
VICTORIA — British Columbia wants to try and reduce shootings connected to gangs and drugs in legislation introduced today that partly focuses on the transportation of illegal firearms.Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says some of the changes in the proposed law would include penalizing drivers who transport illegal firearms, allowing for vehicles to be impounded that are used to transport illegal firearms and preventing gang members from using shooting ranges. The Firearm Violence Prevention Act would also protect social workers and health professionals from civil liability if they breach client confidentiality by reporting information to police about guns. Farnworth, who is also public safety minister, says in a statement the majority of gun owners in B.C. abide by the law and the legislation will have little impact on them.Dwayne McDonald, the RCMP’s criminal operations officer in charge of federal, investigative services and organized crime for B.C., says the bill would help police in their investigations and combat gun violence.The B.C. government says the legislation would also strengthen existing laws concerning armoured vehicles and body armour by requiring those applying for those permits allowing their use to submit their fingerprints.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Ontario will extend the interval between doses of COVID-19 vaccines to up to four months after a national panel recommended doing so, paving the way for an acceleration of the province's immunization effort. A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province welcomed the updated guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization released late Wednesday afternoon. The recommendation came two days after Ontario sought advice on dosing intervals in an effort to speed up its rollout, which has been criticized for being slow. "This will allow Ontario to rapidly accelerate its vaccine rollout and get as many vaccines into arms as quickly as possible and, in doing so, provide more protection to more people," Alexandra Hilkene said in a statement. The province said it will soon share details on an updated vaccine plan that accounts for the new dosing recommendation as well as expected supply of the recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca shots. Earlier Wednesday, Ontario said it plans to administer the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to residents aged 60 to 64. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said the targeted use of the vaccine will help cut illness and death across Ontario. "We know that from age 60 and up there are, unfortunately, more hospitalizations when someone gets COVID," she said. "By focusing in on those parts of our population that are more vulnerable, what we ended up actually doing is tamping down and curbing transmission." Jones said the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot will not be administered through mass immunization clinics but through a "different pathway," although she did not elaborate on what that would be. Ontario said earlier this week that it was following the advice of the national vaccine panel that recommended against using the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot on people aged 65 and older due to limited data on its effectiveness in seniors. Jones also said the government has signed an agreement with the province's pharmacists' association to have COVID-19 shots administered in pharmacies in the coming months. Ontario has so far focused on vaccinating the highest-priority groups, including long-term care residents and certain health-care workers. The province has said it aims to start vaccinating residents aged 80 and older starting the third week of March, though the timeline is subject to change. Some public health units, however, have moved ahead with vaccinations for the general population, starting with people aged 80 and older. Those units are taking bookings for immunizations through their own web or phone systems as a provincial portal remains under development. Ontario has administered a total of 754,419 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine so far. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Wednesday that the government should follow the advice of its science table which said last week that thousands of cases could be prevented if the vaccine rollout was based on neighbourhood as well as age. "It just seems logical to me that there's an opportunity there when it comes to AstraZeneca," she said. Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the government must clearly communicate its updated plan soon. "I'm just pleading with the government, if you want public confidence, then give us a clear transparent plan," he said. "Let us know that there might be adjustments, I think the public is going to understand that." The province reported 958 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and 17 more deaths from the virus. There are 668 people currently hospitalized, including 274 people in intensive care and 188 on ventilators. Meanwhile, Ontario is expected to determine later this week if a number of COVID-19 hot spot regions will move back to its pandemic restrictions framework. Toronto, Peel, and North Bay remain under strict stay-at-home orders that are set to expire Monday. The top doctors in Toronto and Peel both said Wednesday that they want their regions to re-enter the framework next week in the strictest "grey lockdown" category. Toronto's medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen De Villa, said lifting the order is reasonable but precautions still must be taken. She says moving to the grey category, which allows retailers to open at 25 per cent capacity, is better than placing the city in the second-strictest red category, which allows indoor restaurant dining and personal care services. Peel's medical officer of health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, said positive trends are reversing due to a growing number of virus variant cases and he’s recommending a return to the grey-lockdown zone to preserve the progress that has been made. “This does permit a gradual reopening of certain sectors in our community,” Loh said. “I know it may be hard to hear for some, but our indicators still remain somewhat precarious and it makes it difficult to recommend any other level.” -with files from Holly McKenzie-Sutter and Denise Paglinawan. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
If you're planning a drive through the heart of Grandview-Woodland any time soon, be prepared to ease off the gas pedal. Starting Wednesday, a large swath of the neighbourhood becomes the city's first "slow zone" pilot with the speed limit dropping to 30 km/h in the area bounded on the east and west by Clark Drive and Commercial Drive, and on the north and south by First Avenue and Grandview Highway North. All municipal streets in the province have a default speed limit of 50 km/h unless otherwise posted, but the city says slower speeds could help eliminate traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries. Studies have shown slowing vehicles dramatically improves safety for people walking and cycling. New slow-zone in the East Vancouver neighbourhood of Grandview-Woodland where the speed limit will be 30 km/h.(City of Vancouver) According to a World Health Organization study, the probability of a fatality is 15 per cent when a vehicle travelling 30 km/h hits a pedestrian. If the vehicle is going 50 km/h, the probability of fatality increases to 50 per cent. Grandview-Woodland was identified as a good candidate for the pilot based on speeds, collisions, vulnerable populations (seniors/children/low income) and community amenities. Signs have been installed to alert drivers to the change. City staff will monitor the pilot and report back to council in the fall. Information gathered could be used to create more slow zones in Vancouver. In the summer, the city brought in 24 hour a day 30 km/h zones around schools and playgrounds. Municipalities advocate for reduced default limits Winston Chou, manager of the traffic and data management branch with the city, said the provincial Motor Vehicle Act makes projects like this one more challenging than they need to be. Under the act, municipalities can set their own limits, but they must post signs for each change. According to Chou, an entire area can't have a blanket change applied. "We're certainly advocating to the province to allow road authorities and local jurisdictions to set default speeds, especially on residential neighbourhoods," he said, calling the requirement to post changes on each block "onerous." "That can prove to be very expensive and time consuming for staff to do the design work, the cost of the signs, the cost of installation," said Chou. According to city officials, the Grandview-Woodland pilot project cost $33,000 for just 120 signs, as well as $2,000 for notification letters for residents. In 2019, the Union of B.C. Municipalities voted to call on the province to make 30 km/h the default provincial limit on streets with no centre line, with posted signs to increase it if desired by municipalities. In 2016, then-Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall released a report that, among other things, recommended the province reduce the default speed limit to 30 km/h.
Although Alek Minassian was found guilty of all counts in the Yonge Street van attack, the judge has set a Canadian precedent by considering autism a “mental disorder” under the Criminal Code. Kamil Karamali reports.
PARIS — Canadian forward Jonathan David scored two late goals as Lille beat Marseille 2-0 to stay top of the French league on Wednesday. David, from Ottawa, scored in the 90th minute and again two minutes into injury time. The northern side remains two points ahead of defending champion Paris Saint-Germain, which won 1-0 away to Bordeaux. Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda kept out shots from United States forward Timothy Weah and David in the second half to frustrate Lille. But the veteran France No. 2 spilled an angled shot from Jonathan Ikone in the 90th and David finished from close range. Defending champion PSG was missing Kylian Mbappe through suspension and was without the injured Neymar, while striker Moise Kean was ruled out after testing positive for the coronavirus earlier Wednesday. Winger Pablo Sarabia filled in and scored in the 20th minute when he turned in Idrissa Gueye’s cross from the left. Bordeaux winger Hatem Ben Arfa should have equalized against his former club when he ran through in the 70th, only to shoot just wide of the left post. The top three sides all won 1-0, with Lyon edging out Rennes at home to stay one point behind of PSG. Lyon is now four points clear of fourth-place Monaco after it lost 1-0 at Strasbourg for a first defeat in 13 league games. DEPAY DELIVERS Lyon forward Memphis Depay created the winning goal for substitute Houssem Aouar in the 73rd minute. Depay sprinted through down the right, but then lost his balance after shrugging off a defender just outside the penalty area. He got quickly back up and slid-tackled the ball to Aouar, who clipped the ball neatly over the goalie. Lyon had struggled to break down a well-organized Rennes side whose coach Julien Stephan resigned on Monday after a bad run of form. Tino Kadewere had a goal ruled out for offside midway through the second half, and strike partner Karl Toko Ekambi went close before Depay delivered. OTHER MATCHES Fifth-place Lens continued its good form with a 3-2 win at Saint-Etienne while sixth-place Metz slipped to a 1-0 home defeat to Angers. Brest beat last-place Dijon 3-1 at home and Nice moved into midtable by downing struggling Nimes 2-1. Also, Reims beat Nantes 2-1 and Montpellier drew 1-1 with Lorient. There are 10 rounds left. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Jerome Pugmire, The Associated Press
A national panel of vaccine experts recommended Wednesday that provinces extend the interval between the two doses of a COVID-19 shot to up to four months when faced with a limited supply, in order to quickly immunize as many people as possible. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued updated guidance for the administration of all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in Canada. Extending the dose interval to four months will create opportunities to protect the entire adult population against the virus within a short timeframe, the panel said in releasing the recommendation. As many as 80 per cent of Canadians over 16 could receive a single dose by the end of June simply with the expected supply of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the panel said. The addition of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to the country's supply could mean almost all Canadians would get their first shot in that timeframe, but the federal government has not yet said how many doses of that vaccine will be delivered in the spring and how many in the summer. "The vaccine effectiveness of the first dose will be monitored closely and the decision to delay the second dose will be continuously assessed based on surveillance and effectiveness data and post-implementation study designs," the panel wrote. "Effectiveness against variants of concern will also be monitored closely, and recommendations may need to be revised," it said, adding there is currently no evidence that a longer interval will affect the emergence of the variants. The committee's recommendation came hours after Newfoundland and Labrador said it will extend the interval between the first and second doses to four months, and days after health officials in British Columbia announced they were doing so. Manitoba also said Wednesday it will delay second doses in order to focus on giving the first shot to more people more quickly. Ontario previously said it was weighing a similar move but would seek advice from the federal government. -with files from Mia Rabson in Ottawa This report was first published on March 3, 2021. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Latest on congressional testimony about the Capitol insurrection (all times local): 5 p.m. The U.S. House is abruptly finishing its work for the week given the threat of violence at the Capitol by a militia group seeking to storm the building, as happened in a deadly siege Jan. 6. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer notified lawmakers late Wednesday of the sudden schedule change. The decision was made given the threats on the Capitol, according to a Democratic aide granted anonymity to discuss the matter. The House had been scheduled to be in session Thursday, but moved up consideration of its remaining legislative item, the George Floyd Justice in Police Act, to Wednesday night. Capitol Police said earlier Wednesday they have uncovered intelligence of a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. The news comes nearly two months after a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the iconic building to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. — Lisa Mascaro ___ HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT NATIONAL SECURITY OFFICIALS' TESTIMONY ON THE CAPITOL INSURRECTION: National security officials testify in the second Senate hearing about what went wrong on the day of the Capitol insurrection, facing questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops. ___ HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON: 1 p.m. The Senate has named a veteran intelligence official as the new sergeant at arms, a crucial position after the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol and the ouster of the previous official. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that retired Lt. Gen. Karen Gibson will take charge of the chamber’s administration and security. She’ll head the first all-female leadership team at the Office of the Sergeant at Arms in its 223-year history. Gibson comes to the Senate from a 33-year military career, including as a senior intelligence officer in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, supporting troops in the Middle East, Schumer said. Schumer called her the “perfect person” for the job. She has been involved in the weeks-long review of the Jan. 6 siege and is prepared to take immediate action to improve Capitol security. Gibson will take over from Jennifer Hemingway, who temporarily filled the position after the resignation of Michael Stenger after the riot. A mob loyal to former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol trying to overturn the presidential election. Five people, including a police officer, died. Longtime Schumer aide Kelly Fado will become deputy sergeant at arms, and Hemingway will serve as the office’s chief of staff. __ 11:35 a.m. The head of the National Guard for Washington, D.C., says Pentagon concerns about “optics” delayed the sending of troops to protect the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack. Maj. Gen. William Walker also noted under Senate questioning Wednesday there were no such concerns expressed when the D.C. National Guard was called out in response to the civil justice demonstrations in the spring and summer of 2020. Walker testified there was an “unusual” Pentagon memo on Jan. 5 that required him to seek advance authorization from the secretary of the Army and the secretary of defence for specific measures during the gathering of thousands of Trump supporters seeking to force Congress to overturn the November presidential election. The memo required Walker to seek personal authorization from the secretary of defence for equipment including weapons and body armour. Walker says the secretary of the Army separately authorized the use of protective equipment for the troops. Walker says D.C. officials pleaded with the Army officials to quickly send the National Guard to help police guard the Capitol. But Walker says senior Army leaders opposed sending uniformed troops to the Capitol. He says, “The Army senior leaders did not think that it looked good.” ___ 11 a.m. The acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says there has been a more than 93% increase in the number of threats received by members of Congress in the first two months of this year compared with the same period last year. Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman testified Wednesday before a House subcommittee. Pittman says there has also been more than a 118% increase in total threats from 2017 to 2020. Pittman says the majority of the suspects behind those threats lived outside Washington, D.C. Pittman’s testimony comes nearly two months after thousands of pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s presidential win. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died as a result of the violence. The Associated Press
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Town Treasurer Andre Morin joined last Tuesday's St. Marys Town Council meeting for the culmination of the months-long process of crafting the 2021 municipal budget. Morin has spoken with Council on multiple occasions throughout the budget process and many of those details have been reported on previously in the Independent. The key takeaways start with the tax levy increase of $12,799,710, which equates to a property tax net increase of 0.85 percent. When other municipal costs are included, such as water, sewer, and solid waste, the average St. Marys household will see a total increase of 1.01 percent. Councillor Tony Winter commended Town staff on crafting a draft budget. The Town's cautious approach to dealing with the pandemic reflects well in the adopted budget with a property tax increase of under one percent. For comparison, the City of Stratford passed their budget earlier this year with a tax levy increase of just over two percent, while Perth County and the City of London both passed budgets with tax increases of over three percent. Before passing the budget by-law, Mayor Al Strathdee spoke on the budget process, saying that he felt this year's process went even more smoothly than last year, even with the hindrances imposed on Town staff and the Council. He credited Town staff for their hard work and diligence during the process. As requested by Councillor Winter, because of the importance of the legislation, a recorded vote was held and the 2021 budget was approved unanimously. Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent
Ikea's new plant-based meatballs are different from the existing veggie balls.
Police in St. John's are investigating an incident between a landlord and his tenants that ended with a front-end loader tearing out the side of a house. Robert Regular says he didn't mean to strike his own house, but his tenants, Cory Monk and Joella Dyke, said his actions were reckless and put them and their animals in danger. "He physically pushed our car out of the way with a backhoe and then drove the backhoe into the house," Dyke said. "I don't want to leave here. I've been afraid to leave the property for months because I don't know. I was fearful something like this would happen when we weren't here." Tensions have been simmering between both sides for several months over a disagreement about legal occupancy, and made worse by a dispute resolution system bogged down in pandemic delays. Regular served them an eviction notice for late rent in October, but the tenants say they paid the overdue rent before the eviction date. Under provincial legislation, that would make the eviction notice irrelevant. Regular says they haven't paid the full amount and wants them out of the house. It came to a head Wednesday morning when Regular showed up with a front-end loader and a driver prepared to clear snow from the side of the house. He told CBC News he wanted to get scaffolding set up to do repairs on the leaking roof. Monk said he was worried Regular intended to damage the house to get them to leave, and refused to move his car from the side of the house. Screenshots from a video taken by Monk show his landlord, Robert Regular, in the driver's seat of a loader and pushing Monk's car with the bucket.(Submitted by Cory Monk) Video of the incident shows Regular manning the controls of the loader while another man — who Monk said was the original driver — stood on the side of the machine. Regular pushes forward with the bucket and moves the car backwards, despite Monk being on the hood of the car. The video does not clearly show how the loader ends up striking the house. Regular said he accidentally snagged the corner of the house while backing away from the car. The police were called during the incident, but Regular had left by the time officers arrived. Monk said he tried to stop him from leaving, and Regular said his windshield was smashed in the process. WATCH | Ryan Cooke reports on Cory Monk and Joella Dyke and their dispute with their landlord: Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Const. James Cadigan said no arrests have been made, but statements are being taken from everyone involved and the scene has been photographed. The tenants want to see their landlord charged with recklessly endangering their safety. Regular wants Monk charged with mischief for damaging his vehicle. Pandemic delays cause boiling tensions The disagreement at the centre of the issue — whether the eviction order is enforceable — should have been settled long ago. Disputes between tenants and landlords are settled by the residential tenancy board. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, however, hearings have either been rescheduled or happened via teleconference. Landlords and tenants have reported lengthy delays in the process. The dispute at the centre of the Allandale Road incident began in November, and there still has not been a hearing, despite both sides voicing concern for damage to the property. "We've been stuck between a rock and a hard place for a very long time, and because of COVID everything is slowed down with the tenancy board, with the city, with everything," Dyke said. "That's completely understandable. But because it slowed down, our landlord decided to take the law into his own hands this morning." A tarp was thrown over a window smashed by a backhoe at this home on Allandale Road. The tenants say their landlord smashed it out after pushing their car aside with the plow.(Ryan Cooke/CBC) Regular denies that was his intention, saying he wants to preserve the old farmhouse and renovate it — albeit for new tenants. Dyke and Monk said they've been trying to leave, but are having a hard time finding a place that will take them and their six pets, several of which were inherited when Monk's mother died suddenly. "We've been looking for another place for years, but no landlord will look at us," Dyke said. The couple says they are looking into hiring a lawyer to explore their options against Regular. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Editor's note: This story is part of a series on the LGBTQ+ community in the Ottawa Valley. A Friday night art club in Pembroke not only teaches macrame, watercolour painting and embroidery for LGBTQ+ youth, it has also become a supportive place to “bare wounds,” according to one of the participants. Ky Crosby, 16, has been attending Rainbow Art Club at Studio Dreamshare since January this year. “We were baring wounds ... showing each other what we have been through. We were each other’s support systems,” Crosby said of the 26 participants. Crosby, from Petawawa, admitted being scared during the first meeting but found the group to be kind and accepting. “It changed me. I love it there,” Crosby said. Cameron Montgomery, a full-time artist and owner of the gallery, has been leading the art club online since the summer of 2020. The art club was made possible through a federal grant of $20,000 in partnership with Pflag Renfrew and United Way East Ontario. “(The youth) say ‘this is the highlight of my week.’ They really get value from it. It’s become a safe space for (LGBTQ+) youth,” Montgomery said. Participants receive boxes of craft supplies sent in the mail. There’s a different project every week. Crosby identifies as a lesbian and uses the pronouns they/them. “A few months ago, I told (my parents) I was gender fluid. Some days I’d feel more masculine, other days feminine, some days I’d feel in-between.” “I didn’t know if people would understand it,” Crosby said. When asked about the challenges LGBTQ+ individuals face, Crosby admitted it’s heartbreaking to see stigma. “I believe in 44 countries you could be killed (for being LGBTQ+). If anything, I just want to open people’s minds. Let them know that we are people, we feel things, we want the same things they do,” they said. Small-minded people, according to Crosby, are a “common threat": people who are not understanding and not willing to understand. “I also believe that within ourselves, we ourselves are big threats. We undermine, we doubt ourselves. We really need to let our guard down and allow other people to see in,” Crosby observed. “We all want to love, we’re scared. We all want to be happy at the end of the day,” they said. For more information, visit the following websites: http://www.pflagrenfrewcounty.ca and https://www.studiodreamshare.com Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News
BRUSSELS — The European Union said Wednesday that Britain's “unilateral action" on trade rules will breach international law and is threatening legal action as post-Brexit tensions continue to escalate between the two sides. Commission vice-president Maroš Šefcovic said in a statement that UK's decision to unilaterally extend a grace period on checks for goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland amounts to “a violation" of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. The Protocol was designed to ensure an open border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after Brexit. “This is the second time that the UK government is set to breach international law," Šefcovic said. “This also constitutes a clear departure from the constructive approach that has prevailed up until now." The EU's anger was sparked by the British government's decision to extend until October a grace period for checks on agri-food entering Northern Ireland that was set to expire at the end of the month. In September last year, the UK had already upset the 27-nation bloc when it considered — then backpedaled — legislation that would have given Boris Johnson's government the power to override part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement relating to Northern Ireland. The sensitivity of Northern Ireland’s status was underscored earlier this year when the EU threatened to ban shipments of coronavirus vaccines to Northern Ireland as part of moves to shore up the bloc’s supply. That would have drawn a hard border on the island of Ireland - exactly the scenario the Brexit deal was crafted to avoid. Šefcovic held discussions Wednesday with cabinet minister David Frost, the former chief Brexit negotiator now responsible for EU relations. “Lord Frost explained that the measures announced today, following official-level notification to the Commission earlier this week, were temporary technical steps, which largely continued measures already in place, to provide more time for businesses such as supermarkets and parcel operators to adapt to and implement the new requirements in the Protocol," a UK government spokesperson said. Before their talks, Šefcovic said he would tell Frost “the European Commission will respond to these developments in accordance with the legal means established by the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement." The Associated Press
THUNDER BAY — The provincial government’s decision to close two youth detention facilities in northwestern Ontario has been described as “horrific” by the Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation. Earlier this week, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services announced Jack McGuire Centre and JJ Kelso Centre would no longer be operational by April 30. Several youth facilities across the province including in the northwest have been significantly underused due to a reduction of youth being admitted into custody since 2004, the ministry said. Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said the decision to close the facilities and transfer the youth elsewhere will have a major impact on not only the youth but their families as well. Youth currently residing at these facilities were transferred to the remaining facilities in the northern region, the ministry said. “It means no service at all for our young people and families that need these types of supports,” Fiddler said in an interview on Wednesday, March 3. “It means that they will be even more displaced, they will be even more far away from their families and communities,” he said, adding having facilities in both Kenora and Thunder Bay gave families at least some opportunity to interact with their kids. The decision to close the facilities comes from recommendations made by the auditor general, the ministry said in an emailed statement to Tbnewswatch this week. Fiddler said the decision was sudden and abrupt. “I think everyone from my understanding was blindsided by this,” he said. “They were given one hour notice and [the youth were] shackled along with a few of their belongings and then taken to a plane and flown to a southern location. It’s just horrific.” Most of the youth have either been transferred to Sault Ste. Marie or to facilities in southern Ontario such as Ottawa and Toronto, Fiddler said. There was also no communication to the families of the youth in custody of the transfers. “I don’t know how anyone can treat a person like that to send them far away without informing families, without properly creating a transition plan to ensure support for young people and letting them know that this is happening,” Fiddler said. “It was very sudden and I can’t imagine the trauma.” A letter was sent to the Ford government on behalf of NAN Grand Council Treaty #3 expressing their concern on the closures. “They were given such a short notice that they didn’t have time to say their goodbyes," he said. Fiddler said it will be almost impossible for families to travel to see their children, most of whom are from remote fly-in communities. Dr. Ben Stride-Darnley, president of the board of volunteer directors for the William W. Creighton Youth Centre, said they are appalled and shocked at the province’s decision to close their facilities. “There was no involvement from us, no chance to negotiate, no chance to collaborate and no chance to ensure that resources are maintained locally,” Stride-Darnley said on March 3 in an interview. The president says the board has been aware of the relatively low numbers of youth in custody and had come together with community partners to put together a proposal to convert some or all of their spaces into secure treatment. “With redirection away from incarceration it then becomes inevitable that we have low numbers,” he said. “Having said that keeping youth closer to their own communities is key to transition and key to recuperation and rehabilitation.” He adds that youth in custody in the northwest are some of the most vulnerable in Ontario. “We would take youth from anywhere north of Wawa to Hudson Bay to the Manitoba border,” he said. “Sending them further afield makes visitation very difficult, even within our own catchment it is difficult because of distances to Kenora and Thunder Bay.” Youth in custody at these facilities were informed on Monday morning they would be transported to other facilities later that same afternoon, Stride-Darnley said. “At the same time were informed, we were not allowed to tell them where they were going, we were not allowed to tell their parents or their guardian that they were moving despite requests by both myself and the executive director to the ministry,” he said. Stride-Darnley explained how William W. Creighton Youth Services is known for how they build relationships for youth who are incarcerated. “We work with them to build up their well-being, their self-esteem, their mental health issues, address other health issues and make sure they are attending and achieving in school and trying to build them up so they don’t become a part of a cycle of youth criminal justice or adult justice issues,” Stride-Darnley said. “So there were tears by the youths having to be shackled and having to be transferred and not knowing where they were going and that to me is a detrimental experience and I would also argue is a racist experience. It is very similar to the Sixties Scoop and residential schools in that at nowhere at no point where their needs or concerns really addressed by the ministry,” he said. Indigenous youth account for 90 per cent of youth in incarceration systems across Ontario, according to Stride-Darnley. “It is integral to the well-being of youth especially in the justice system that they are close as possible to their home communities and being a 1,000 to 1,500 kilometres away is not conducive to rehabilitation,” he said. “None of the money being saved is being relocated to the northwest it is all going to the central coffer and there has been no redirection to other community programming at this point. That is a cost-saving, not a human-based decision which is unfortunate.” The ministry says the closure of youth facilities across the province will allow the government to re-invest nearly $40 million into other programs. “We need to look at the long term and how we can support these children into adulthood and how we need to look at the longer-term solutions rather than just shutting down facilities like we are seeing this week,” Fiddler said. He hopes the provincial government will be open to having discussions on how to support youth in custody and their families going forward. There will be 50 jobs losses in both Kenora and Thunder Bay as a result of the facilities closing. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
LEIPZIG, Germany — Yussuf Poulsen scored as Leipzig reached the semifinals of the German Cup with a 2-0 win Wednesday over a Wolfsburg team which hadn't conceded a goal for eight games. Wolfsburg had the chance to seize control of the quarterfinal when it was awarded a first-half penalty after a video review found Christopher Nkunku had fouled Kevin Mbabu while trying to clear the ball. However, top scorer Wout Weghorst slipped as he took the spot kick and sent the ball high over the crossbar. Poulsen picked up a pass from Alexander Sorloth in the 64th minute and powered past two defenders before hitting the ball past goalkeeper Koen Casteels. Hwang Hee-chan made sure of the win in the 88th when he lashed in a rebound after Casteels parried a close-range shot from Emil Forsberg. Leipzig and Wolfsburg are also rivals for Champions League qualification, sitting second and third respectively in the Bundesliga table. Leipzig lost the cup final in 2019 and is bidding to win its first major trophy. Also Wednesday, second-division Holstein Kiel powered into the semifinals with a 3-0 win over Rot-Weiss Essen, which was bidding to be only the second fourth-tier club ever to reach the semifinals after Saarbrücken managed the feat last year. Kiel knocked out last year's cup winner Bayern Munich in the second round in January. Borussia Dortmund booked its place in the semifinals on Tuesday when Jadon Sancho scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over local rival Borussia Mönchengladbach. The other quarterfinal between Werder Bremen and second-division Jahn Regensburg was due to be played Tuesday but was called off the day before when a number of Regensburg's players and staff tested positive for the coronavirus. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
MERIDEN, Conn. — Jill Biden, the teacher in the White House, along with new Education Secretary Miguel Cardona went back to school Wednesday in a public push to show districts that have yet to transition back to in-person learning that it can be done safely during the pandemic. “Teachers want to be back," the first lady said after she and Cardona spent about an hour visiting classrooms and other areas at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in Meriden, Connecticut. “We want to be back. I’m a teacher. I am teaching virtually.” Biden is a veteran community college English professor who is now teaching remotely from the White House. She said her students recently told her they can’t wait to be back in the classroom. “But we just know we have to get back safely,” she said. The trip was the first order of business for Cardona, Connecticut's former education commissioner, who was sworn into his new Cabinet job only the day before. Biden and Cardona also visited a Pennsylvania middle school on Wednesday. They were joined by the heads of two big teachers unions during the trip, Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers in Connecticut and Becky Pringle of the National Education Association in Pennsylvania. The visits came as the clock ticks down on President Joe Biden’s promise to have most K-8 schools open for classroom instruction by the end of his first 100 days in office, or the end April. To help nudge that along, Biden said Tuesday he is pushing states to administer at least one coronavirus vaccination to every teacher, school employee and child-care worker by the end of March. The issue of vaccinating teachers became a flashpoint in school districts around the country as many teachers held the line and refused to return to their classrooms unless they were given the shots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not include vaccinating teachers in its guidelines for schools to consider when reopening after months of teaching students remotely over computers. “We must continue to reopen America’s schools for in-person learning as quickly and as safely as possible,” Cardona said. He said the president’s directive that teachers and school staff be vaccinated quickly will be “my top priority.” Later Wednesday, Biden and Cardona visited Fort LeBoeuf Middle School in Waterford, Pennsylvania, where parents told them they appreciated that the school district had sought their opinion about reopening. After shutting down in March 2020, the school with several hundred students in grades six through eight began welcoming them in-person, on a voluntary basis, starting in early September. “I love that you have this holistic approach,” Biden said. She and Cardona also visited a robotics class at the middle school and a class for students who need or want a little extra push. Supporters of former President Donald Trump waved flags bearing his name and held their thumbs upside down as Biden‘s motorcade rolled away from the school. Abortion protesters held signs that said “Protect Every Child” and “Abortion is not health care.” During the elementary school visit in Connecticut, Biden and Cardona saw kids seated some distance apart at individual desks, each one wearing a mask. See-through plastic partitions separated groups of four students who sat at half-moon-shaped tables. Hand sanitizer dispensers were available in the hallways. “I love that,” Biden said after a teacher pointed out the partitions. The teacher also said her youngsters had “no issues” wearing the masks. The school reopened in late August, Cardona said, and “it was done in a way that protected the students and their families.” The first lady and Cardona also visited a “sensory room” complete with colorful climbing walls, zip lines, monkey bars, stability balls and a mat, where special needs students can collect their emotions. Biden asked the teacher in the sensory room whether she had seen anxiety in children increasing because of the pandemic. The teacher said she had. Biden and Cardona later listened as another teacher described her transition back to in-person learning. The school visit also served as a homecoming for Cardona, who is from Meriden and was so warmly praised that Biden referred to the welcome as a “love fest.” His parents were among those on hand in the school lobby for the remarks. “Now our nation is going to have that love for you,” she said. “Educators’ favourite three words are not ‘I love you'," she joked. “It’s going to be Education Secretary Cardona.” Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — Alberta is following guidance from a national vaccine advisory panel and increasing the time between COVID-19 doses. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, says the greater lag time will allow more Albertans to be effectively vaccinated sooner. She said the plan is for Alberta to match British Columbia, which announced Monday it will follow the four-month window and get a first dose to everyone who wants one by July. “This change will significantly increase how quickly we can offer Albertans the protection of their first dose,” Hinshaw said Wednesday. “We can all take heart that by getting more first doses to Albertans more quickly, the change I am announcing today brings the light at the end of the tunnel nearer.” Earlier Wednesday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended first and second doses can be to up to four months apart if supplies are limited. The decision was made based on emerging studies in places including Quebec, the United Kingdom and Israel that show even one dose of vaccine can be about 70 to 80 per cent effective. When vaccines were first available late last year, manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna recommended two shots spaced three to six weeks apart. Alberta is now into its second round of priority vaccinations. The 29,000 highest-risk Albertans, those in long-term care and designated supportive living facilities, have been vaccinated twice. Seniors over 75 and First Nations people 65 and older are among those now allowed to book their shots. Hinshaw said second dose appointments will go ahead for those who have already booked them, and those who want to book a second shot within the previous six-week window will be able to up to March 10. Starting then, those who book a first vaccine dose will have the second one delayed by as much as four months. Newfoundland and Labrador also announced an extension to four months. Manitoba has said it will bring in a delay. Ontario said it was weighing a similar move and seeking advice from the federal government. The change comes as more vaccine doses are on the way. Along with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the federal government has approved a third vaccine from Oxford-AstraZeneca. Hinshaw said Alberta expects to soon receive shipments of that vaccine as early as next week. Alberta has so far administered 255,000 vaccinations, with 89,000 people getting the full two doses. Hinshaw reported 402 new cases Wednesday. There were 251 people in hospital, 48 of whom were in intensive care. Twelve more people died, bringing that total in the province to 1,902. Case numbers and hospitalizations are a small fraction of what they were at the height of the second wave of COVID-19 in December. The economy remains under public-health restrictions, which include no indoor gatherings and limited capacities for retailers and restaurants. Premier Jason Kenney announced earlier this week a delay in loosening some rules, given unknowns, such as variant strains of the virus. The strains can spread much faster than the original one, with the potential to quickly overwhelm the health system. Alberta has detected 500 variant cases, and Hinshaw announced Wednesday the first variant case at a continuing-care home. Churchill Manor, in Edmonton, has 27 staff and residents who have tested positive, with 19 of them positive for the variant. “Local public-health teams and the operator are taking this outbreak extremely seriously and (are) working closely together to limit spread and protect everyone involved,” said Hinshaw. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021 Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press