WASHINGTON — The Defence Department took more than three hours to dispatch the National Guard to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol despite a frantic request for reinforcement from police, according to testimony Wednesday that added to the finger-pointing about the government response. Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the then-chief of the Capitol Police requested military support in a 1:49 p.m. call, but the Defence Department's approval for that support was not relayed to him until after 5 p.m., according to prepared testimony. Guard troops who had been waiting on buses were then rushed to the Capitol. That delay stood in contrast to the immediate approval for National Guard support granted in response to the civil unrest that roiled American cities last spring as an outgrowth of racial justice protests, Walker said. As local officials pleaded for help, Army officials raised concerns about the optics of a substantial National Guard presence at the Capitol, he said. “The Army senior leadership” expressed to officials on the call “that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed Guardsmen on the Capitol,” Walker said. The Senate hearing is the second about what went wrong on Jan. 6, with national security officials face questions about missed intelligence and botched efforts to quickly gather National Guard troops that day as a violent mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Even as Walker detailed the National Guard delay, another military official noted that local officials in Washington had said days earlier that no such support was needed. Senators were eager to grill officials from the Pentagon, the National Guard and the Justice and Homeland Security departments about their preparations for that day. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump had talked online, in some cases openly, about gathering in Washington that day and interrupting the electoral count. At a hearing last week, officials who were in charge of security at the Capitol blamed one another as well as federal law enforcement for their own lack of preparation as hundreds of rioters descended on the building, easily breached the security perimeter and eventually broke into the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the rioting. So far, lawmakers conducting investigations have focused on failed efforts to gather and share intelligence about the insurrectionists’ planning before Jan. 6 and on the deliberations among officials about whether and when to call National Guard troops to protect Congress. The officials at the hearing last week, including ousted Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, gave conflicting accounts of those negotiations. Robert Contee, the acting chief of police for the Metropolitan Police Department, told senators he was “stunned” over the delayed response and said Sund was pleading with Army officials to deploy National Guard troops as the rioting rapidly escalated. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar, one of two Democratic senators who will preside over Wednesday's hearing, said in an interview Tuesday that she believes every moment counted as the National Guard decision was delayed and police officers outside the Capitol were beaten and injured by the rioters. “Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Klobuchar said. The hearing comes as thousands of National Guard troops are still patrolling the fenced-in Capitol and as multiple committees across Congress are launching investigations into mistakes made on Jan. 6. The probes are largely focused on security missteps and the origins of the extremism that led hundreds of Trump supporters to break through the doors and windows of the Capitol, hunt for lawmakers and temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes. Congress has, for now, abandoned any examination of Trump’s role in the attack after the Senate acquitted him last month of inciting the riot by telling the supporters that morning to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. As the Senate hears from the federal officials, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman will testify before a House panel that is also looking into how security failed. In a hearing last week before the same subcommittee, she conceded there were multiple levels of failures but denied that law enforcement failed to take seriously warnings of violence before the insurrection. In the Senate, Klobuchar said there is particular interest in hearing from Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, who was on the phone with Sund and the Department of the Army as the rioters first broke into the building. Contee, the D.C. police chief, was also on the call and told senators that the Army was initially reluctant to send troops. “While I certainly understand the importance of both planning and public perception — the factors cited by the staff on the call — these issues become secondary when you are watching your employees, vastly outnumbered by a mob, being physically assaulted,” Contee said. He said he had quickly deployed his own officers and he was “shocked” that the National Guard “could not — or would not — do the same." Contee said that Army staff said they were not refusing to send troops, but “did not like the optics of boots on the ground” at the Capitol. Also testifying at the joint hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees are Robert Salesses of the Defence Department, Melissa Smislova of the Department of Homeland Security and Jill Sanborn of the FBI, all officials who oversee aspects of intelligence and security operations. Lawmakers have grilled law enforcement officials about missed intelligence ahead of the attack, including a report from an FBI field office in Virginia that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington. Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of the report at the time, even though the FBI had forwarded it to the department. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies. Though the information was raw and unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.” Mary Clare Jalonick And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
More than 30 years after Prince Akeem Joffer and his sidekick Semmi first travelled to the United States to find a royal bride, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall reprise their roles in comedy sequel "Coming 2 America". Murphy, creator and star of the 1988 film - which proved more popular with audiences than critics when it came out - returns to the fictional nation of Zamunda, this time as Akeem prepares to become king. A father to three daughters in a country where only a male heir can sit on the throne, Akeem finds out he has a son in America and returns to Queens, the New York borough he first visited decades ago, to meet him.
LOS ANGELES — Vanessa Bryant said she is focused on “finding the light in darkness” in an emotional interview with People magazine detailing her attempts to push forward after her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gigi died in a helicopter crash early last year. Bryant said the late NBA superstar and Gigi continue to “motivate me to keep going” in the magazine’s Women Changing the World issue, which will be released Friday. The issue salutes the activists, innovators and role models who are making a difference. The 38-year-old widow of the Los Angeles Lakers legend expressed how she’s been trying to navigate heartache while trying to rebuild a life for herself and three daughters. “Lying in bed crying isn’t going to change the fact that my family will never be the same again,” she said. “But getting out of bed and pushing forward is going to make the day better for my girls and for me. So that’s what I do.” Kobe Bryant was killed when the helicopter carrying him, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others crashed into a mountainside in Calabasas, California, while flying to a girls basketball tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy on Jan. 26, 2020. Vanessa Bryant said her devotion to her daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri have been a saving grace. “My girls help me smile through the pain,” she said. “They give me strength.” On the magazine cover, Vanessa Bryant sports a Lakers jacket with Kobe's No. 24 on the right sleeve. Vanessa Bryant said she wants to honour her husband and daughter’s legacy by creating opportunities for young female athletes. She has since taken charge of creative projects left unfinished at Granity Studios, the late NBA star’s multimedia company she now helms. She recently relaunched Kobe’s charitable non-profit as Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation — a nod to the father-daughter duo — to help empower young girls and provide equal opportunities to underserved athletes. Bryant felt compelled to follow through on the vision her husband long championed. Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
NEWARK, N.J. — When a traveller became stricken at Newark Liberty International Airport, the police got an assist from a celebrity doctor: Mehmet Oz. The incident occurred late Monday night when Port Authority Officer Jeffrey Croissant saw the 60-year-old man fall to the floor near a baggage claim area. Croissant called for backup, and immediately began performing CPR on the unidentified man, who wasn't breathing and didn't appear to have a pulse, according to the Port Authority. When another person came over to help, Croissant didn’t immediately recognize it was Oz, the cardiac surgeon and longtime host of TV’s “Dr. Oz Show,” who had arrived on the same flight. The two performed CPR together on the man until three other officers brought oxygen and a defibrillator for the man, who eventually regained a pulse and was taken to a hospital for evaluation. “What better help than to have a cardiac surgeon?" Croissant said afterward. The Associated Press
European telecoms firms are cashing in on the money-making power of masts, as tower companies line up to pay multi-billion dollar price tags for antennas buzzing with ever more data ahead of the advent of 5G. Upgrading networks, including towers, for 5G - which promises an age of self-driving cars and brain surgery performed at a distance - will soak up some $890 billion between 2020 and 2025, the GSMA industry body says. European operators are increasingly willing to exploit assets to help finance those build-outs.
U.S. private payrolls increased less than expected in February amid job losses in manufacturing and construction, suggesting the labor market was struggling to regain speed despite the nation's improving public health picture. Part of the labor market's problems appear to be rooted in a shortage of workers. Other data on Wednesday showed job growth in the services industry retreated last month, with businesses reporting they were "unable to fill vacant positions with qualified applicants" and "need more resources to meet demand."
Britain's Prince Philip, the 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth who is in hospital for tests for a heart condition and treatment for an infection, is "slightly improving", Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall said on Wednesday. Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has been in hospital for over two weeks since he was admitted having felt unwell, and on Monday moved hospitals to one specialising in cardiac treatment, for tests and observation for a pre-existing heart condition. On a tour of a vaccination centre in south London, Camilla, the wife of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, told a volunteer the Duke was "slightly improving" and that "we keep our fingers crossed".
An 84-unit apartment building for seniors, including 26 affordable housing units, is scheduled to open in 2022 in Whitehorse's Takhini neighbourhood, the Yukon government announced Tuesday. Normandy Manor, which has been in the works in some form or another for more than a decade, is being built at 468 Range Rd. Construction began in August 2020. The plan is to build 10 bachelor, 70 one-bedroom, and four two-bedroom apartments. Of the 26 affordable housing units, 10 have been leased out to the Yukon Housing Corporation for 20 years for $3.5 million. Borud Enterprises, Ketza Construction, and Northern Vision Development (NVD) have partnered under the group KBC Developments to develop the property. Prices for affordable housing units are going to be set at 80 per cent of the median rent for the same kind of unit in the city, according to Michael Hale, NVD's president. He referenced the Yukon Bureau of Statistics' Yukon Rent Survey. If the numbers reported in the October 2020 survey don't change, bachelor, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments should cost $720, $800, and $1,006, respectively. Hale said they are building a home for people who may struggle to live on their own but are not ready to live in continuing care, government supported housing. "We intend to build a community where Yukon seniors can have a social life, independence and continue to engage in the broader Whitehorse and Yukon communities," he said. Affordable housing units will be made available for the entirety of the building's 50-year mortgage, Hale added. There will be an additional charge for services, including 24-hour staffing, housekeeping, meals, and recreational activities. Pricing for that is still to be determined. Hale said the aim is for a late-summer opening date, and the company is accepting names for its wait list. Determining what age makes someone a senior in this context is still being worked on, as is whether non-seniors will be allowed to live there, he said. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will provide about $34.5 million for the project. Hale said that's in the form of a mortgage, all of which will have to be paid off except for $5 million. The City of Whitehorse is offering a tax rebate of up to $500,000 over 10 years for the project, he added. The Yukon government is providing a $1 million split evenly between the Housing Initiatives Fund, and the Municipal Matching Rental Construction Grant.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A blast smashed five windows at a coronavirus testing centre in a small Dutch town early Wednesday, police said. Nobody was hurt in the explosion, which was condemned by the government and health officials. “For more than a year, we've been leaning heavily on the people on the front line. And then this. Crazy,” Health Minister Hugo de Jonge tweeted. The head of the country’s umbrella organization for local health services that carry out coronavirus testing called the blast a “cowardly act.” “Our people have to be able to do this crucial work safely,” Andre Rouvoet tweeted. Police in the province of North Holland tweeted that “an explosive went off” near the testing centre in Bovenkarspel just before 7 a.m. Police cordoned off the area, which is 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Amsterdam, and were investigating the cause of the blast. Police spokesman Menno Hartenberg said it was unclear whether the testing centre was deliberately targeted or when the facility would be able to reopen. He said it was clear that the explosive didn't "get there by accident. But we have no idea at the moment who exactly left it there and what the intention was.” Police said a metal cylinder that had exploded was found outside the building. The northern regions of North Holland province have been identified as a virus hotspot in recent weeks, with infection numbers higher than the national average. In January, rioters torched a coronavirus test facility in the fishing village of Urk on the first night of a 9 p.m.-to-4:30 a.m. nationwide curfew imposed as part of the government’s latest coronavirus lockdown. Attacks health workers and facilities around the world have increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A new report by the Geneva-based Insecurity Insight and the University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Center identified more than 1,100 threats or acts of violence against health care workers and facilities last year. Some Dutch lockdown restrictions were relaxed Wednesday with hairdressers, masseurs and other “contact professions” allowed to reopen if they adhere to strict social distancing and hygiene measures. Nonessential shops also were allowed to reopen in the Netherlands for the first time since mid-December, though only to very limited numbers of customers who make an appointment in advance. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ The Associated Press
Fingers crossed, residents and visitors to the area will be able to attend the Ripley Food, Art and Craft Show on Aug. 21, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the Community Centre. The annual show is a showcase for local vendors, bringing them all together under one roof to connect with shoppers. Like so many other events scheduled last summer, the show had to be cancelled because of pandemic restrictions that prohibited large gatherings under one roof. “This past year has been tough on small businesses, local artisans and our residents,” said Maggie Young, who handles community services programming and administration for the Township of Huron Kinloss. “The Township of Huron-Kinloss and the Community Services Department are committed to providing a space and hosting an event to help showcase local artisans and food producers, as well as re-introducing events for the community to attend. Therefore, every effort is being made to host the 2021 Ripley Food Art Craft Festival, keeping in mind the safety and wellbeing of both the vendors and visitors.” Young said all protocols advised by public health will be followed, and may include masks if required, the number of people allowed in the building at one time and sanitizer will be available. If necessary, booths can be spaced two-metres apart and directional flow arrows will be placed on the floor. Young says community services will “go above and beyond” what restrictions are in place. Organizers also have a plan B ready, should it be decided that the event cannot be held on the arena floor. It can be moved outside, under tents, if necessary, and as a last option, held online with a marketplace and vendor focus. Registration is now open for vendors, which has in past years welcomed 40-50 small businesses. Information is available by calling 519-395-2909 or emailing email@example.com or follow the event on Facebook @RipleyArtisansFestival for status updates. All money raised from the event is directed back to the Town of Ripley and Huron Kinloss. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
A house fire on Tuesday afternoon was caused by an accidental grease fire in the kitchen, according to Windsor's fire department. One person was treated for a minor burn at the home on Lauzon Road, the fire department said in a series of tweets Tuesday. Two people are displaced as a result of the fire, and damage is estimated at $100,000. At about 5:30 p.m., the fire department tweeted that the flames had been extinguished. More from CBC Windsor
Denis Giles, the editor of a small Indian newspaper, received a phone call as he sat typing in his one-room office in Port Blair overlooking the languid waters of the Andaman Sea. The caller, Mohammed Siddiqui, was frantic and largely incoherent. Giles said he was about to hang up until he heard, in broken Hindi: "Please help me... Many people may die."
PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron has met with four grandchildren of an Algerian independence fighter to tell them that Ali Boumendjel had been tortured and killed by French soldiers in 1957. It was a further step in Macron's efforts to reconcile France with its colonial past while offering an outstretched hand to Algeria, which France occupied for 132 years. In a statement late Tuesday, the presidential Elysee Palace said Macron wants to give families of the disappeared on both sides of the Mediterranean “the means to learn the truth.” Macron is the first French president born after the end of Algeria's brutal seven-year war of independence in 1962, and had promised to reckon with colonial-era wrongs and, put an end to the two countries' still rancorous relationship. Algeria held a special place among France’s colonial conquests, becoming part-and-parcel of France like other French regions. While Algerians make up a large portion of immigrants in France, the North African country harbours enmity from the years of colonization that culminated in the war, its brutal secrets locked in archives that Macron said he is gradually trying to reopen. “No crime, no atrocity committed by anyone during the War of Algeria can be excused or left hidden,” the Elysee statement said. “They must be faced with courage and lucidity, with absolute respect for those whose lives were torn apart by them and whose destinies were broken.” France’s bid to seek reconciliation is part of a larger movement of reckoning with the dark past of nations, notably in the United States where Civil War-era statues honouring southern heroes who defended slavery are being torn down. Macron has said he is opposed to removing statues to erase history. He has also said he doesn’t want to apologize to Algeria — even though he surprised everyone when he said, while campaigning for the presidency he won in 2017, that France’s colonization was a “crime against humanity.” Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said last year that his country is still awaiting an official apology. A report commissioned by Macron from historian Benjamin Stora, considered France’s top expert on Algeria, said the “excesses of a culture of repentance” don’t contribute to facing the past. However, Stora also said that healing wounds demands improving understanding of what the colonial system entailed, including its daily reality and ideological goals and “how some in Algeria and France resisted this system of domination.” Among recommendations was recognition of the killing of Boumendjel. His wife Malika had spent a lifetime trying to uncover the truth of her husband’s death during the especially brutal Battle of Algiers when, the presidential statement said, “he was arrested by the French army, placed in a secret (location), tortured, then killed on 23 March 1957.” It said a French general, Paul Aussaresses, “admitted to have ordered one of his subordinates to kill him and cover the crime as a suicide.” Aussaresses was convicted in 2004 of defending torture. In 2018, Macron formally recognized the responsibility of the French state in the 1957 death of a dissident in Algeria, Maurice Audin, admitting for the first time the military’s use of systematic torture during the war. Macron wants to honour Gisele Halimi, a French feminist who supported Algeria’s independence and denounced the use of wartime torture. He hopes to have her reburied at the Pantheon monument in Paris, a resting place for some of France’s most distinguished citizens. ___ Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed. Elaine Ganley, The Associated Press
Caleb shows the easy way to cook rice in an instant pot with perfect results. Enjoy!
There has been a lot of talk coming from governments lately, including ours, about making Big Tech companies — Facebook, Google and their ilk — pay news organizations for the stories that appear on their platforms. Last month, Facebook shocked Australian users after following through on its threat to ban news from its platform down under if the Australian government continued to pursue legislation that would force Big Tech to pay. Facebook relented, but the message is clear: the tech giant doesn't think it owes news companies anything. In terms of where eyeballs reading stories on news sites come from, that would be a fair point. When I was managing editor of Northern News Services, the amount of traffic that came directly from Facebook was easily 90 per cent, and surely it still is. But it's not the quantity of news on Facebook, nor the number of eyeballs the platform pushes toward news websites, that's at issue. Rather, it's the wholesale destruction of the news industry's ability to generate advertising revenue. And more philosophically, it's how we maintain a robust fourth estate while independent and privately-owned press are on the ropes and only the publicly-funded CBC is big enough to keep us informed and hold governments to account in the hinterlands outside major urban centres. 'When I was managing editor of Northern News Services, the amount of traffic that came directly from Facebook was easily 90 per cent, and surely it still is,' writes Mike Bryant. (Stephen Lam/Reuters) When I joined Northern News Services (NNSL) as a cub reporter in 1999, I entered a newsroom stuffed to the rafters with journalists. No one got rich on an NNSL salary, but the more advertisements sold, the more pages were needed to be filled by other stuff as well, and since poetry and jam recipes were not likely to hold readers to the page, it had to be news. And thus, for many years, there was the expectation that a reporter would be sent to village council meetings in Fort Simpson, N.W.T., or to capture the winner and her big catch at the fishing derby in Baker Lake, Nunavut, or to get the kids' faces from soccer camp in Inuvik, N.W.T. This model of maximum coverage is largely dead now. How do print and other traditional news media compete when the ad that used to cost $600 in the newspaper can be "boosted" on Facebook for $25? Big Tech has wrecked the ability of news agencies to generate revenue from advertisements, especially from the private sector, which knows a good deal when it sees one. Gone, too, are the classifieds and job ads. Goal must be to restore community journalism The reality came home for me in 2015 while standing at the layout board with NNSL's then-managing editor (now publisher) Bruce Valpy trying to figure out how to stuff the guts back into the Yellowknifer and News/North papers after jettisoning the arts and business pages. The following year witnessed the death of the print edition of Northern Journal, a newspaper based in Fort Smith, N.W.T. The year after that, northerners said goodbye to the NNSL-owned Deh Cho Drum. I'm not suggesting that we somehow turn back the clock and save traditional media from its own obsolescence. But there is still a need for traditional journalists, especially in the North, where reliable reporting options are limited. If Canada is to follow in Australia's footsteps, and it appears Trudeau's Liberal government is keen to do so, the objective must be to hire more journalists. My fear is that whatever deal is worked out will involve only a handful of the largest media companies in Canada. Ottawa must avoid the temptation to drop out of the conversation should Big Tech and major Canadian publishers make nice and carve out their own deals, like their counterparts in Australia have been doing. The federal government must ensure the goal is hiring more journalists and restoring journalism in communities where journalism has been lost — and to make Big Tech pay for that. Good thing there is already a precedent fund with that very aim in mind. The Local Journalism Initiative was launched by the federal government in 2019 with a budget of $50 million over five years — enough to hire between 150 to 200 journalists, by my calculation. I accessed this fund two years ago so NNSL could hire a reporter to cover Nunavut's Kitikmeot region. The only problem, of course, is that the Local Journalism Initiative is funded by taxpayers. Canadian taxpayers are pumping cash transfusions into news companies that are simultaneously being bled dry by Silicon Valley. Big Tech is not going to go broke if it has to start paying for news. Taking over responsibility for Canada's journalism initiative fund would be an excellent place to start. Let's make sure the idea get's a boost.
Cindy and Ray Brownlee are terrified for their daughter. Becky, who is 39, has Down syndrome, type 1 diabetes and asthma. Having Down syndrome means her immune system is compromised. She had to stop working as a Walmart greeter, a job she has held for more than 15 years and where she is much beloved by staff and customers alike. Unlike others with Down syndrome, she does not live in a congregate or group living setting — she lives with her parents — and is therefore not prioritized for the vaccine. This is despite the fact that people with Down syndrome have five times the hospitalization rate as compared to the general population due to COVID-19 and 10 times the mortality rate. "The province’s vaccination eligibility criteria is ever evolving as we work our way through this pandemic. At this time, Becky is not eligible as per vaccination eligibility," a provincial spokesperson stated by email. "Currently, Focused Immunization Teams are visiting congregate living facilities — several of which are home to individuals with either physical or intellectual challenges. Eligibility for general population was announced recently: 95 and over and adjusted on a regular basis pending appointment availability. First Nations eligibility began at 75-plus and is adjusted on a regular basis." According to the province’s vaccine queue calculator, there are 501,597 Manitobans ahead of Becky. Back when the pandemic reached Manitoba, Becky developed double pneumonia. Her parents were very concerned it might be COVID-19. That’s when her doctor told her to stop working as a greeter. He also said she couldn’t go anywhere. She can take walks, she can be in the car with her parents, and she can go to the doctor’s office. In an effort to secure Becky a vaccine, the Brownlees have written to Premier Brian Pallister, Health Minister Heather Stefanson and Brandon West MLA Reg Helwer. "All we got back was this standard form letter," said Cindy. Cindy is familiar with one other adult in Brandon with Down syndrome and very significant health issues who is living in their own home. "We’re familiar with lots of other people who have Down syndrome, but they’re living in congregate or group homes," she said. The Brandon Sun attempted to call the Manitoba Down Syndrome Society for relevant statistics, but the office is closed and the message said calls would only be returned on Thursday. Ray supports other vulnerable groups prioritized for early vaccination, such as First Nations and residents at personal care homes and congregate living and group settings. However, he believes it is wrong to exclude Becky and other vulnerable individuals. "Everything that comes into our house is wiped down with a disinfectant — groceries, anything. We had the plumber here not too long ago and the whole house was disinfected wherever he was. A lot of care and caution," said Ray. "It just seems to me that we’re doing our share, but we’re not getting consideration on the other end." Meanwhile, Brandon University professor Bruce Strang, whose teenage son Sean has Down syndrome, told the Sun on Tuesday that he’s filing a human rights complaint regarding the province not including people like his son in its vaccination plans. He also said research has shown that individuals with Down syndrome are more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 or die because of the virus than people without it, so Strang believes the province should place them and others with disabilities at a higher priority to receive their vaccinations. Strang previously filed a human rights complaint against the province and the Brandon School Division for not appropriately considering the needs of students with disabilities and health conditions when making their COVID-19 back-to-school plans. "The provincial government and the chief medical officer of health have, in my view, completely ignored disability issues in the vaccine rollout," he said. "The government is once again failing to live up to its duties under the Human Rights Code, and it’s discriminating against people with disabilities in the vaccine rollout." According to Strang, he has tried to reach officials at Manitoba Health to speak about the issue, but was told that no one would speak with him over the phone. Two weeks ago, he sent an email to the office of Health Minister Heather Stefanson, to which he said he has only received an automated reply. The email sent to Stefanson’s office said that if he does not hear a reply, he will make a complaint to the provincial Human Rights Commission. A copy of this email was provided to the Sun. The professor pointed to an online town hall that chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin participated in on Feb. 8, during which another Manitoba parent expressed concern about her daughter with Down syndrome and what could happen if she contracted COVID-19 as she gets sick easily. The Brownlees also participated in the town hall. The parent asked why people like her daughter are not being given vaccination priority. "When we look at the modelling, the best way to quickly protect the most vulnerable Manitobans is the age-based approach," said Roussin. "If we took a risk-based approach, we actually protect less Manitobans quickly who are at risk. (These) are the decisions we’re forced to make when we have extreme vaccine scarcity, but there’s no doubt that there’s going to be people who are at higher risk that don’t get vaccinated." Strang didn’t appreciate Roussin’s response. "The answer was essentially nothing," said Strang. "That they knew that people with Down syndrome who have greatly increased risk of medical issues and death due to COVID-19, but they were going to concentrate on rolling out the vaccine by age only to the general population. That to me is an astonishingly lazy answer." Additionally, the Brownlees said they are afraid that Becky will be offered the AstraZeneca vaccine, which operates in a different fashion than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and is said to be less efficient. Strang and the Brownlees aren’t the only ones concerned about children and adults with Down syndrome. Canada as a whole is ignoring the issue, while other countries and some states in the U.S. have prioritized those with Down syndrome to be vaccinated. Cindy cannot understand why Roussin’s science is not the same as the science around the world. Parents in Quebec have launched a Canada-wide petition at bit.ly/3kCQT7r Ready for My Shot is another grassroots advocacy group and can be found at readyformyshot.ca ~ with files from Colin Slark Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Les municipalités de Saint-David-de-Falardeau et Dolbeau-Mistassini ont été sanctionnées par l’Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) après qu’elles aient accordé illégalement des contrats à des entreprises privées sans que ces dernières détiennent d’autorisation de contracter en vertu de la Loi sur les contrats des organismes publics (LCOP). L’AMF explique qu’en août 2018, Saint-David-de-Falardeau a accordé un contrat d’une durée de deux ans à l’entreprise JRM Excavations pour des travaux d’entretien d’hiver de chemins d’une valeur de 1,3 M$. Les vérifications faites par l’AMF ont révélé que cette entreprise ne détenait pas d’autorisation de contracter au moment du dépôt de sa soumission. Le conseil municipal a procédé au renouvellement du contrat pour la saison hivernale 2020-2021 par le biais d’une résolution adoptée le 4 mai 2020. L’exécution du contrat se terminera au printemps 2021. Le même scénario s’applique à la même époque dans le cas de Dolbeau-Mistassini, alors que la municipalité a accordé un contrat à l’entrepreneur Excavation Unibec alors que le soumissionnaire ne détenait pas d’autorisation de contracter au moment du dépôt de sa soumission. Selon René Bouchard, directeur des Affaires publiques à l’AMF, en vertu de la LCOP, toute entreprise voulant offrir des contrats de services de plus d’un million ou de construction de plus de 5 M$ doit obligatoirement apparaître sur le registre des entreprises autorisées à contracter avec le gouvernement. « Les entreprises qui veulent obtenir des contrats de plus de 1 M$ en services professionnels ou de 5 M$ en construction doivent déposer une demande à l’AMF qui transfère le dossier à l’Unité permanente anticorruption (UPAC) qui, elle, vérifie la situation de ses dirigeants », explique-t-il. l précise que la problématique dans les deux cas cités plus haut se situe à deux niveaux, soit le fait que les deux entreprises n’étaient pas autorisées à contracter et que les deux municipalités n’ont pas effectué les vérifications requises. En vertu de la décision de l’AMF, Saint David-de-Falardeau et Dolbeau-Mistassini devront se doter de procédures afin de s’assurer que toute entreprise ayant remporté un contrat public selon les critères fixés détient une autorisation de contracter et qu’elle maintient son autorisation durant l’exécution du contrat. De plus, ces municipalités doivent assurer la formation de leurs employés œuvrant en gestion contractuelle tout en établissant un processus de contrôle. Elles disposent de 45 jours pour informer l’AMF des changements apportés à la suite des recommandations déposées. Le directeur des communications a précisé que chaque fois que l’AMF dépose des recommandations, les dossiers des municipalités sont transférés à l’UPAC pour examen par le Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales, lequel peut intenter des poursuites. Pour ce qui est des entreprises concernées, elles doivent se conformer à la loi si elles souhaitent obtenir de nouveaux contrats gouvernementaux. Depuis deux ans que l’AMF rend des décisions de cette nature, M. Bouchard mentionne qu’une trentaine de cas ont été traités, excluant les interventions de nature administrative. Environ 5000 entreprises au Québec ont obtenu leur droit de contracter avec des organismes gouvernementaux selon la loi. Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
The new targeted COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the WFCU Centre in east Windsor opened its doors on Monday, and media outlets got a peek at the facilities on a tour Wednesday morning. Seniors who are 80 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine at the clinic. "The set up is great, it's very well laid out and we hope that the signage and everything will help our seniors navigate the facility in a safe manner," said Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for Windsor and Essex County. In an interview with CBC Radio's Windsor Morning on Tuesday, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit CEO and chief nursing officer Theresa Marentette said that those receiving the vaccines are allowed to bring a caregiver. She explained that when people arrive for their scheduled appointments, they are screened for COVID-19 through a questionnaire, then they go through front doors while wearing mask, use hand sanitizer and register. They then move onto the floor of the centre. When they're with the nurse, they get asked a few questions, receive their shot and are then directed to a waiting area for 15 minutes or more before being released. Updates are sent live to the COVAX vaccine tracking system. The health unit said 144 people who are 80-plus were vaccinated on opening day on Monday. The clinic is vaccinating six people every 15 minutes but starting Thursday, that will ramp that up to nine people. The health unit says at this time, supply is the biggest issue. About 1,000 vaccines will be distributed per week. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said the city and the health unit will be ready when more vaccine supply arrives. "Although we're delivering and vaccinating 150 people a day today, it's just a matter of weeks before thousands of doses arrive and we have to be prepared to really ramp this facility up," he said. The health unit has urged patience, saying it will take time to get to everyone who wants a shot. Appointments are being assigned randomly rather than first-come first-serve. About 11,800 people have pre-registered to be vaccinated since appointment applications opened up last Thursday. Lila Cox, 90, with her son, Larry Cox. Lila received her first dose of the vaccine on Wednesday, March 3, at the WFCU Centre clinic. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC) Lila Cox, 90, received her first dose of the vaccine at the clinic on Wednesday. "It was easy," she said. "No problem at all." Her son, Larry Cox, who accompanied her, said it was a relief that she received the shot.
A wild rally in shares of Rocket Companies that saw the stock rise 70% in an apparent short squeeze has attracted fresh bets that the stock price will decline. Shares of Rocket, the parent of mortgage lender Quicken Loans, were down 31.7% to $28.43 in afternoon trading on Wednesday. The heavily-shorted stock had surged more than 70% on Tuesday in a move that analysts said was likely sparked by bearish investors unwinding bets against the stock as its share price surged.
Music's ability to connect us, even if only virtually, is on display in the latest film project by Vicki Van Chau in collaboration with the Calgary Chinese Orchestra. Van Chau is co-director and editor for a new documentary and music video called Off to the Races. The film features interviews and a music collaboration of 72 musicians playing a classic Chinese erhu song, Horse Race. The erhu is a Chinese violin. The idea to produce the 12-minute doc came from Jiajia Li, the artistic director of the Calgary Chinese Orchestra and a flutist. Vicki Van Chau is the co-director and editor of the film.(Kai Sunderland) Li wanted to do something to honour the Lunar New Year despite restrictions on the ability to gather. Van Chau and Li connected in November and opened up the call for submissions from artists playing the song on their instruments. Li chose the song, which was composed in the 1960s, for its upbeat and hopeful theme. And because it's less than three minutes long, it would be easy for submitting musicians to learn and record in time. There were so many submissions that the music producer, Warren Tse, wrote an intro and interlude so that more musicians could be included in the final performance. Erhus, pipas, fiddles, pianos and other instruments are played alongside each other in the video featuring 72 submission from Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Singapore, the United States and China. The video was released via YouTube on Feb. 14. With files from Huyana Cyprien and the Calgary Eyeopener.