Infectious diseases physician Dr. Isaac Bogoch joins The Morning Show to answer your latest COVID-19 questions about new vaccines, airport testing and reduced restrictions in some provinces.
Infectious diseases physician Dr. Isaac Bogoch joins The Morning Show to answer your latest COVID-19 questions about new vaccines, airport testing and reduced restrictions in some provinces.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia said Saturday it intercepted a missile attack over its capital and bomb-laden drones targeting a southern province, the latest in a series of airborne assaults it has blamed on Yemen’s rebel Houthis. The Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen’s yearslong war announced the Iran-allied Houthis had launched a ballistic missile toward Riyadh and three booby-trapped drones toward the province of Jizan, with a fourth toward another southwestern city and other drones being monitored. No casualties or damage were initially reported. There was no immediate comment from the Houthis. The attack comes amid sharply rising tensions in the Middle East, a day after a mysterious explosion struck an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman. That blast renewed concerns about ship security in the strategic waterways that saw a spate of suspected Iranian attacks on oil tankers in 2019. The state-owned Al-Ekhbariya TV broadcast footage of what appeared to be explosions in the air over Riyadh. Social media users also posted videos, with some showing residents shrieking as they watched the fiery blast pierce the night sky, which appeared to be the kingdom’s Patriot missile batteries intercepting the ballistic missile. Col. Turki al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said the Houthis were trying in “a systematic and deliberate way to target civilians.” The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh issued a warning to Americans, calling on them to “stay alert in case of additional future attacks.” Flight-tracking websites showed a number of flights scheduled to land at Riyadh’s international airport diverted or delayed in the hour after the attack. A civil defence spokesman, Mohammed al-Hammadi, later said scattered debris resulted in material damage to one house, though no one was hurt, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported. As Yemen's war grinds on, Houthi missile and drone attacks on the kingdom have grown commonplace, only rarely causing damage. Earlier this month the Houthis struck an empty passenger plane at Saudi Arabia's southwestern Abha airport with a bomb-laden drone, causing it to catch fire. Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition has faced widespread international criticism for airstrikes in Yemen that have killed hundreds of civilians and hit non-military targets, including schools, hospitals and wedding parties. President Joe Biden announced this month he was ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, including “relevant” arms sales. But he stressed that the U.S. would continue to help Saudi Arabia defend itself against outside attacks. The Houthis overran Yemen’s capital and much of the country's north in 2014, forcing the government into exile and months later prompting Saudi Arabia and its allies to launch a bombing campaign. __ Associated Press writer Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report. Isabel Debre, The Associated Press
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is expected to ask President Joe Biden to consider sharing part of the U.S. coronavirus vaccine supply with its poorer southern neighbor when the two leaders hold a virtual summit on Monday, U.S. and Mexican officials said. Biden is open to discussing the matter as part of a broader regional effort to cooperate in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic but will maintain as his “number one priority” the need to first vaccinate as many Americans as possible, a White House official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Lopez Obrador has been one of the most vocal leaders in the developing world pressing the richest countries to improve poorer nations’ access to the vaccines.
Security forces battling a decades-long insurgency in Indian-controlled Kashmir are alarmed by the recent arrival in the disputed region of small, magnetic bombs that have wreaked havoc in Afghanistan. "Sticky bombs", which can be attached to vehicles and detonated remotely, have been seized during raids in recent months in the federally administered region of Jammu and Kashmir, three senior security officials told Reuters. "These are small IEDs and quite powerful," said Kashmir Valley police chief Vijay Kumar, referring to improvised explosive devices.
(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine overview: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations," Sharma said, based on a preprint. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. AstraZeneca is working on reformulating its vaccine to address more transmissible variants of coronavirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. WATCH | Performance of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine so far: There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
HYDERABAD, India — A man was killed by a rooster with a blade tied to its leg during an illegal cockfight in southern India, police said, bringing focus on a practice that continues in some Indian states despite a decades-old ban. The rooster, with a 3-inch knife tied to its leg, fluttered in panic and slashed its owner, 45-year-old Thangulla Satish, in his groin last week, police inspector B. Jeevan said Sunday. The incident occurred in Lothunur village of Telangana state. According to Jeevan, Satish was injured while he prepared the rooster for a fight. “Satish was hit by the rooster’s knife in his groin and started bleeding heavily," the officer said, adding that the man died on the way to a hospital. Jeevan said police filed a case and were looking for over a dozen people involved in organizing the cockfight. If proven guilty, the organizers can be jailed for up to two years. Cockfights are common in the southern Indian states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka despite a countrywide ban imposed in 1960. Animals rights activists have for long been calling to control the illegal practice, which is mainly organized as part of local Hindu festivals usually attended by hundreds of people, though the crowds sometimes swell to thousands. The cockfights are often held under the watch of powerful, local politicians and involve large sums of betting money. Last year, a man was killed when a blade attached to his bird’s leg hit him in the neck during a cockfight in Andhra Pradesh. In 2010, a rooster killed its owner by slashing his jugular vein in West Bengal state. According to police, the rooster involved in last week's incident was among many other roosters prepared for the cockfight betting festival in Lothunur village. As the practice goes, a knife, blade or other sharp-edged weapon is tied to the leg of a bird to harm its rival. Such fights continue until one contestant is either dead or flees, declaring the other rooster the winner. Officer Jeevan said the rooster was brought to the police station before being taken to a local poultry farm. “We may need to produce it before the court,” he said. Images of the rooster tied with a rope and pecking on grains at the police station were widely viewed on social media. Omer Farooq, The Associated Press
(Canadian Community Services Organization handout - image credit) Volunteers masked up outside Flemingdon Health Centre on Saturday to hand out free healthy snack kits, along with masks and hand sanitizer, for hundreds of the neighbourhood's children. Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe Park have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19. Tens of thousands of people live close together in the community in high-rise buildings. Many of the residents are racialized, living off low incomes and working essential jobs — all of which puts them at increased risk for catching and spreading the virus. The kits are a gesture of support for struggling parents, and the reaction has been "amazing," said Masood Alam, president of the Canadian Community Services Organization, a volunteer effort which launched back in April in response to the pandemic and only recently incorporated into a non-profit. "We started with 50 families," Alam said. "Now, they're helping us out… volunteering with us." To date, he said the group has distributed 2,500 adult masks and 900 kid masks. Moving forward, the Kids Healthy Snacks Drive will provide 300 children weekly with healthy snacks and personal protective equipment, including more masks for their parents. It's a small but meaningful volunteer initiative, and Saturday's efforts were bolstered by the latest report from Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. WATCH | COVID-19 means sacrifices, stress for residents of Thorncliffe neighbourhood The provincial group released a report Friday recommending vaccines be distributed based not just on age but neighbourhoods too. The recommendation stems from the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 "on residents of disadvantaged and racialized urban neighbourhoods throughout the province," said the report. "This vaccine strategy will maximize the prevention of deaths … and best maintain health-care system capacity." Per expert projections, a strategy involving age and neighbourhoods could prevent an additional 3,767 cases, as well as 168 deaths, compared with a strategy that prioritizes based on age alone. "There's a big need in this community," said Alam, who added that the group is also trying to spread awareness about the vaccine "to help the community be ready to get [vaccinated]." Ahmed Hussein, executive director of The Neighbourhood Association, is one of the community advocates who's been pushing for the prioritization of vulnerable communities like Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park. "The science advisory group really followed the science so that's the logical thing," he said. "We hope the government will do that." A neighbourhood approach makes sense as part of a public health approach, said Jen Quinlan, the chief executive officer at Flemingdon Health Centre. "You want to make sure you can vaccinate and address the pandemic in the quickest way, and in my opinion it only makes sense to start with those who are most vulnerable to negative health outcomes," Quinlan said. She said she understands that conversations around vaccine access are "very sensitive" and that many people are concerned and worried the rollout isn't fast enough. However, Quinlan said, the stakes are different for Torontonians who are able to work from home safely and haven't seen a big drop in income throughout the pandemic. "Many Torontonians are not in that position," she said. "They're delivering your food, they're stocking your grocery aisles, they're packing all of your Amazon orders, and if we want to address the spread of COVID-19 across Toronto we should start with those who are most likely to spread it and who are most exposed." WATCH | The push to prioritize some neighbourhoods for COVID-19 vaccines Until neighbourhood residents start getting injected with the vaccine, Quinlan said a key part of the Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe Park approach is encouraging more people to get tested. They're even using decommissioned TTC buses to set up testing facilities in the parking lots at the base of high-rise apartment buildings, she said. Despite the fatigue after a long winter under stay-at-home orders, Quinlan said she's "really proud of community leaders" and intends to "keep public health messaging alive and well."
The Ailuromania Cat Cafe, which was the Middle East's first cat cafe when it opened in 2015, hopes the relaxing properties of its 25 rescue and shelter cats will help find them their forever homes. Now Ailuromania hosts cats from a government-run animal shelter in the neighbouring emirate of Ras al Khaimah, hoping to increase adoptions. The cafe's name Ailuromania is a play on the Greek-derived English word for a lover of cats: ailurophile.
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia lawmakers gave final approval Saturday to a bill that will legalize marijuana for adult recreational use, but not until 2024, when retail sales of the drug would also begin. With a compromise bill clearing the House and Senate, Virginia becomes the first Southern state to vote to legalize marijuana, joining 15 other states and the District of Columbia. The legislation now goes to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who supports legalization. The bill was a top priority for Democrats, who framed legalization as a necessary step to end the disparate treatment of people of colour under current marijuana laws. But talks between Democrats in the House and Senate grew tense in recent days, and a compromise version of the massive bill did not emerge publicly until late Saturday afternoon. “It’s been a lot of work to get here, but I would say that we’re on the path to an equitable law allowing responsible adults to use cannabis,” said Sen. Adam Ebbin, the chief sponsor of the Senate bill. Several Democrats said they hoped Northam would send the legislation back to them with amendments, including speeding up the date for legalization. “If we have already made the decision that simple possession should be repealed, we could have done that today and ended the disproportionate fines on communities of colour,” said Sen. Jennifer McClellan. “Let's be absolutely clear — this bill is not legalization, and there are a lot of steps between here and legalization,” she said. Northam's spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky, said the governor “looks forward to continuing to improve this legislation.” “There's still a lot of work ahead, but this bill will help to reinvest in our communities and reduce inequities in our criminal justice system,” she said. Under the legislation, possession of up to an ounce (28.3 grams) of marijuana will become legal beginning Jan. 1, 2024, at the same time sales will begin and regulations will go into effect to control the marijuana marketplace in Virginia. Under a provision Senate Democrats insisted on, the legislation will include a reenactment clause that will require a second vote from the General Assembly next year, but only on the regulatory framework and criminal penalties for several offences, including underage use and public consumption of marijuana. A second vote will not be required on legalization. The Senate had sought to legalize simple possession this year to immediately end punishments for people with small amounts of marijuana, but House Democrats argued that legalization without a legal market for marijuana could promote the growth of the black market. Lawmakers last year decriminalized marijuana, making simple possession a civil penalty that can be punished by a fine of no more than $25. House Majority Leader Charniele Herring said that while the legislation isn’t perfect, it was a “justice bill.” “This moves us in a ... direction to strike down and to address those institutional barriers, and over-policing, over-arrests, over-convictions of African Americans who do not use marijuana at a higher rate than our white counterparts, but we seem to get the brunt of criminal convictions,” Herring said. A recent study by the legislature’s research and watchdog agency found that from 2010-2019, the average arrest rate of Black individuals for marijuana possession was 3.5 times higher than the arrest rate for white individuals. The study also found that Black people were convicted at a rate 3.9 times higher than white people. The bill calls for dedicating 30% of marijuana tax revenue — after program costs — to a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund. The money would be used to help communities that have been historically over-policed for marijuana crimes, with funds going toward scholarships, workforce development and job placement services, and low- or no-interest loans for qualified cannabis businesses. Virginians who have a marijuana-related conviction, have family members with a conviction, or live in an area that is economically distressed could qualify as social equity applicants who would get preference for licenses to get into the marijuana marketplace as cultivators, wholesalers, processors and retailers. The largest portion of the tax revenue from marijuana sales would go toward funding pre-K for at-risk kids. The bill drew sharp criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and and other racial justice advocacy groups. “Today, the Virginia General Assembly failed to legalize marijuana for racial justice. Lawmakers paid lip service to the communities that have suffered decades of harm caused by the racist War on Drugs with legislation that falls short of equitable reform and delays justice,” the ACLU said in a tweet. Groups that opposed legalization entirely have said they are concerned that it could result in an increase in drug-impaired driving crashes and the use of marijuana among youth. Republican lawmakers spoke against the measure Saturday night, saying such a critical issue deserved a less rushed approach. “I would say there are not more than two or three members of this body that have a clue about the comprehensiveness of what this bill does,” said Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment. Denise Lavoie And Sarah Rankin, The Associated Press
(John Woods/The Canadian Press - image credit) Lawmakers in Maine are discussing how the state could plug into a proposed Canadian electricity grid that is meant to make renewable energy more accessible and affordable for the Atlantic provinces and Quebec. Christopher Kessler, a Democrat in the Maine House of Representatives, introduced a bill last month that would see the state lobby for a seat at the negotiating table for an interconnected clean energy grid called the Atlantic Loop. The Atlantic Clean Power Planning Committee — made up of officials from federal and provincial governments, and major electric utilities — has been talking about the Atlantic Loop since 2019, and released a rough map of the grid in a report last summer. The Trudeau Liberals gave the Atlantic Loop a nod of support in last fall's Throne Speech. The loop would likely rely on some upgrades to existing energy lines, and some new construction, but no detailed plan has been made public. This map of a possible Atlantic Loop route was included in an interim report from the Atlantic Clean Power Planning Committee in August 2020. The committee is expected to release a final report in March. Maine looking to export renewable energy Kessler said he wants his state to be part of the loop because Maine and Atlantic Canada have similar goals for removing carbon from their electric grids, and linking up could be mutually beneficial. He said it would also help Maine with its goal of eventually selling renewable energy to other jurisdictions. "Maine has an interest in not just having access to renewable energy to help stabilize our grid and make it more reliable, but Maine also has goals to be a renewable energy exporter," Kessler said in an interview. He pointed out that Maine already has infrastructure linking it to New Brunswick and Quebec, but whether those links will connect with the rest of the Atlantic Loop is unclear. "It's all completely up in the air as to how [the Atlantic Loop] would look. That's the exact point of this starting of the conversation, is so we can have those discussions and do that analysis and see if there is something where both Maine and the Atlantic provinces can work together so we can reach our decarbonization goals." Should Kessler's bill pass, it would require the governor to voice interest in the Atlantic Loop directly to the prime minister and the premiers of all the involved provinces, and ask for "equal footing" in all negotiations. Governor's office suggests staying out of negotiations The bill went to a public hearing at a committee of the state legislature earlier this month. Next, it will be debated further by committee members, who will decide whether to advance it to the whole House of Representatives. If it passes at the house, it would move to the state senate for a final vote. Workers are shown on the construction site of the hydroelectric facility at Muskrat Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador in 2015. The Atlantic Loop would be fed, in part, by hydroelectric projects like Muskrat Falls. One of the testimonies submitted to the public hearing was from the Governor's Energy Office. Office director Dan Burgess wrote that rather than pushing for a place at the negotiating table, "it may be more productive for Maine to continue monitoring the ongoing planning initiative and any advancements of the Atlantic Loop concept." Kessler disagreed. "I think that being actively involved is the only option … We will miss out on any potential opportunities if we don't ask. And we certainly need to be an active participant rather than a spectator," he said. Since that public hearing, Kessler said, he's been working with the governor's office to come up with some solutions for the points Burgess raised. MORE TOP STORIES
(Submitted by Shyla Augustine - image credit) Shyla Augustine is hoping to help give her children and others a chance to learn a bit of the language of her ancestors. Along with illustrator Braelyn Cyr, Augustine has created an alphabet book that includes the Mi'kmaw word for the animals used to highlight each of the letters from A to Z. Augustine is a member of Elsipogtog First Nation now studying education at St. Thomas University in Fredericton. In an interview with CBC's Shift-NB, she said she got the idea for the book while volunteering at the University of New Brunswick's Early Childhood Centre. "The kids were really curious about the Mi'kmaq language and how to count in Mi'kmaw, and words, and because my son was actually attending the childhood centre at the time, he just so happened to be there." After realizing that she didn't know many words in the language herself, she decided to create an alphabet book she could share with the children at the centre. Augustine, an education student at St. Thomas University, has created an alphabet book that includes the Mi'kmaw word for the animals featured in it. "[I thought] maybe my son could read through it with them and teach them some more of his own language, and so he could learn some more of his own language as well." Growing up, Augustine said she spoke some Mi'kmaw while going to school on-reserve, and she picked up some listening to members of her household speak it. She later transferred to a school off-reserve, where the language wasn't spoken or taught. She said her shyness as a girl also kept her from practising it much. As an adult, she's hoping to reconnect with her language and give that same opportunity to her children. "I really want my children to know their own language and who they are and where they come from, because that's an important thing to know about yourself. And I want them to be proud of who they are." The book features a series of animals representing each letter of the alphabet, along with the Mi'kmaq translation of each animal. Augustine said her family members even offered some inspiration for the animals to include in the book. Deer, her son, Laken's spirit animal, is the one used to represent the letter D. That animal is called "Lentuk" in Mi'kmaw, she said. And otter, which is used to represent the letter O, was inspired by her brother, who lives with cystic fibrosis. "My children are very close with him and they love him too, so we decided that we were going to put a representation in my book of him as well. "It was really made with love." Augustine said the book is being published by Monster House Publishing and copies will go on sale next month.
(Shutterstock/HTWE - image credit) The Ontario government's new Combating Human Trafficking Act is a welcome start to tackling a widespread issue, but there may be a significant gap that needs to be addressed, the Opposition says. Bill 251 was introduced in the provincial legislature on Feb. 22 — National Human Trafficking Awareness Day — by Ontario Attorney General Sylvia Jones. "We are making bold leaps to raise awareness among the public, protect victims, support survivors, and hold perpetrators accountable," Jones said. More human trafficking is reported to police in Ontario than in any other part of the country, she said. One of the bill's cornerstones for rescuing victims recognizes the fact that they are often taken to hotels and motels to be sexually exploited. The first section of the proposed legislation requires hotels to maintain a registry of every guest who checks in — including their name and address. It also allows police officers and First Nations constables to more quickly gain access to a hotel's registry if "there are reasonable grounds to believe information recorded in the register will assist in locating or identifying a person who is currently a victim of human trafficking or is at imminent risk of being trafficked." But the bill doesn't specify whether people operating other types of lodging, including short-term rentals such as Airbnb, will be subject to the same requirements, said Chris Glover, an NDP opposition MPP. "There is a real need to not just go after hotels ... in terms of you know, regulating and asking them to participate," Glover said. "There's also a real need to get Airbnb involved and other short-term rental agencies to stop human trafficking in their sites as well." In addition to hotels, the bill says, "businesses in a prescribed class are also required to keep these registers." CBC News asked the Ontario government to clarify whether or not that would include Airbnb, but it was unable to provide a response by deadline. The bill also includes a provision for the attorney general or other government ministers to make additional regulations, including identifying other businesses to be included, after the the act becomes law. But Glover and other advocates say it's important to recognize that human trafficking occurs in many different types of short-term accommodations by specifying that in the legislation itself. "If it's not clear on its face when you read the act who is a 'prescribed class' or what lodging services apply, then it needs to be right in legislation so that everyone knows who it applies to," said Christa Big Canoe, legal advocacy director at Aboriginal Legal Services. Indigenous women and girls are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking in Canada. "One of the things we heard over and over again in the national inquiry [on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls] was the role of hotels or this type of temporary residence or living situations that sees Indigenous women put through sexual exploitation and trafficking at a huge rate," she said. Christa Big Canoe, legal advocacy director for Aboriginal Legal Services, says human trafficking and sexual exploitation happens in every form of lodging from five-star hotels to motels to short-term rentals, including Airbnb. Most people don't realize how often human trafficking happens, often "in plain sight," Big Canoe said. People often picture rundown, roadside motels when they think of trafficking, she said. It definitely happens there, but traffickers also exploit their victims in all sorts of lodging, from large five-star hotels to Airbnb rentals. "It's way more insidious than most people are aware. It's almost like society has a willful blindness," Big Canoe said. "It's like we see it and we look away, or we might suspect it but we don't act." In addition to keeping a registry of guests, hospitality workers should be trained to look for signs of trafficking, she said. For example, if a group of people check in and only one of them is a girl or woman, that can be a potential signal. Human traffickers often take their victims' credit cards — or steal their names to apply for new credit cards — and use them to book rooms, said Richard Dunwoody, executive director of Project Recover, a not-for-profit organization that helps survivors to regain their financial footing. Among more than 120 survivors the organization helped last year, Dunwoody said, credit card receipts showed their traffickers used hotels and services like Airbnb about equally. Both Glover and Big Canoe say they hope the bill will be amended as it moves through second and third readings before receiving royal assent and becoming law. Who to call if you believe human trafficking is happening Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-833-900-1010 Click here to see the hotline's website or to use the chat function.
GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany — Schalke fired coach Christian Gross on Sunday after two months in charge along with three senior club staff in a desperate bid to avoid Bundesliga relegation. The Gelsenkirchen-based club is last in the league and nine points from safety with 11 rounds remaining. Gross was fired a day after a 5-1 loss at Stuttgart, leaving Schalke looking for its fifth coach of a turbulent season. The 66-year-old Swiss coach arrived in December with more than 30 years of coaching experience around the world, including a spell with Tottenham in 1997 and 1998, but hadn’t coached in Europe since 2012. He led the team to its only win of the season to end a 30-game winless run in the Bundesliga, but couldn't build on that, with Schalke earning two points from nine games since then. David Wagner was fired as coach in September before his successor Manuel Baum followed in December. The team played two games under stand-in coach Huub Stevens before appointing Gross. Sporting director Jochen Schneider, who was due to leave at the end of the season, was also fired, as was the team co-ordinator Sascha Riether and lead fitness coach Werner Leuthard. Schneider on Saturday denied reports of mutiny within the squad amid reports that several players had asked for Gross to be replaced. Schalke didn't name a new coach and said Monday's training session would be conducted by fitness coaches. The club said Peter Knäbel, who heads the youth department, would take over Schneider's sporting director role until further notice, with “a view to planning for the new season”, a sign the club is preparing for its first season in the second tier since 1991. Former Germany striker Gerald Asamoah moves up from overseeing the under-23 team into Riether's co-ordinator role. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Hong Kong police on Sunday detained 47 pro-democracy activists on charges of conspiracy to commit subversion under the city's national security law, in the largest mass charge against the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's opposition camp since the law came into effect last June. The former lawmakers and democracy advocates had been previously arrested in a sweeping police operation in January but were released. They have been detained again and will appear in court on Monday, police said in a statement. They allegedly violated the national security law that was imposed by Beijing for participating in unofficial election primaries for Hong Kong's legislature last year. The defendants include 39 men and eight women aged between 23 and 64, police said. The move is part of a continuing crackdown on the city's democracy movement, with a string of arrests and prosecutions of Hong Kong's democracy proponents — including outspoken activists Joshua Wong and Jimmy Lai — following months of anti-government protests in 2019. The pro-democracy camp had held the primaries to determine the best candidates to field to win a majority in the legislature and had plans to vote down major bills that would eventually force Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to resign. In January, 55 activists and former lawmakers were arrested for their roles in the primaries. Authorities said that the activists' participation was part of a plan to paralyze the city's legislature and subvert state power. The legislative election that would have followed the unofficial primaries was postponed by a year by Lam, who cited public health risks during the coronavirus pandemic. Mass resignations and disqualifications of pro-democracy lawmakers have left the legislature largely a pro-Beijing body. Among those arrested on Sunday was former lawmaker Eddie Chu. A post on his official Twitter account confirmed that he was being charged for conspiracy to commit subversion and that he was denied bail. “Thank you to the people of Hong Kong for giving me the opportunity to contribute to society in the past 15 years,” Chu said in a post on his Facebook page. Another candidate in the primaries, Winnie Yu, was also charged and will appear in court on Monday, according to a post on her official Facebook page. American lawyer John Clancey, a member of the now-defunct political rights group “Power for Democracy” who was arrested in January for his involvement in the primary, was not among those detained on Sunday. "I will give full support to those who have been charged and will be facing trial, because from my perspective, they have done nothing wrong,” Clancey told reporters. The security law criminalizes acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers to intervene in Hong Kong's affairs. Serious offenders could face a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. Nearly 100 people have been arrested since the law was implemented. Zen Soo, The Associated Press
TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $12 million jackpot in Saturday night's Lotto 649 draw.However, the draw's guaranteed $1 million prize went to a lottery player in Ontario.The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on Mar. 3 will be approximately $15 million. The Canadian Press
British royal drama "The Crown" and comedy "Schitt's Creek" won top television honors at the Golden Globes on Sunday in a mostly virtual bicoastal ceremony that took place under pandemic conditions and a furor over diversity. Newcomer Emma Corrin, 25, who played a young Princess Diana in "The Crown," was named best TV drama actress, beating veterans Olivia Colman and Laura Linney.
(Dave Irish/CBC - image credit) The latest stage of a project that will see the further development of the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax's Bedford Basin will have no significant adverse environmental impact, says the Crown corporation responsible for the project. The Halifax Port Authority plans to construct an 11-bay, 2,700-square-metre building to be used by Canada Border Services Agency for examining shipping containers at the terminal. A truck gate — where electronic scanners help keep track of containers and their cargo — will also be built, along with a large asphalt compound and new roads, including one that will connect the project to Africville Road. The new infrastructure will be constructed on land that has been created by infilling the Bedford Basin over the past several years. In total, nearly four hectares of the infilled land will be paved to accommodate the project. As part of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada's approval process, the port authority was required to assess the potential effects of the container examination facility and truck gate. Port authority spokesperson Lane Farguson said an environmental consultant hired by the port authority concluded there would be no significant adverse environmental effects. The port authority would not elaborate on how that conclusion was reached, saying only that the determination was made through the impact assessment process. In order to mitigate potential adverse environmental effects, silt fences will be installed around the perimeter to prevent silt-laden water and debris from getting into the basin, vehicles will be equipped with mufflers to reduce noise and lighting will be designed to reduce light pollution. Project will reduce truck traffic, says port authority Right now, when the CBSA selects containers to inspect, they are trucked to the Burnside business park and then back to the terminal before they move on to their destination. Farguson said having a container examination facility at the terminal will reduce truck traffic over the MacKay Bridge and in the Burnside area. "It will reduce the associated mileage and greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "It is a small step toward a slightly smaller carbon footprint." The project involves the construction of an 11-bay container examination facility, seen in the above rendering as a brown building in the centre of the photo. Members of the public were invited to comment on the potential environmental impact of the project in November and December, but Farguson said no comments were received. Construction on the container examination building, truck gate and roads could get underway later this year, said Farguson. Infilling project approved in 2012 The infilling project, called the Fairview Cove Sequestration Facility, was approved by the federal government and began in 2012. In total, as of the end of November 2020, about 6.3 hectares have been infilled, or an area about one-third the size of Citadel Hill. The material used to fill in the water is largely pyritic slate that has been removed from construction sites on the peninsula. "You can't just leave that lying around on the surface, because when it gets interacting with fresh water and oxygen — in other words, if it rains on top of this stuff — you get acidic runoff and that acidic runoff can affect freshwater streams," Farguson said. Infilling has been taking place since 2012. In July 2018, a man died when the dumptruck he was operating rolled into the water at the site. The construction company he worked for was fined $60,000 for failing to provide proper guidance and equipment. The pyritic slate is buried in the seawater near the Fairview Cove terminal and then capped with clean fill. "That way, you take oxygen out of the mix and then it's no longer an aerobic environment. And for us, it's a great building material for that type of thing," Farguson said. More change is expected at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in the coming years. In 2019, the federal government announced funding to link the north-end terminal with the container terminal by Point Pleasant Park in Halifax's south end, as part of the Windsor Street Exchange Redevelopment Project. MORE TOP STORIES
An Israeli-owned ship hit by an explosion in the Gulf of Oman strategic waterway has arrived at a port in Dubai, where is it is due to be assessed in dry dock. Israel's defence minister on Saturday said that an initial assessment had found that Iran was responsible for the explosion. The blue and white ship is now berthed in Dubai's Port Rashid, having sailed from its position off the coast of Omani capital Muscat, where the explosion occurred.
Bullet casings were reportedly found in Yangon after reports of gunfire at an anti-coup protest in the capital.View on euronews
OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don't want an election in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic but the Conservatives appear to be pursuing a strategy that could give the Liberals justification for calling one. Liberals are accusing the Conservatives of systematically blocking the government's legislative agenda, including bills authorizing billions in pandemic-related aid and special measures for safely conducting a national election. The Conservatives counter that the Liberals have not used the control they have over the House of Commons' agenda to prioritize the right bills; other parties say both the government and the Official Opposition share the blame. "They're playing politics all the time in the House. It's delay, delay, delay and eventually that delay becomes obstruction," the Liberals' House leader Pablo Rodriguez said in an interview. "It's absurd. I think it's insulting to Canadians and I think people should be worried because those important programs may not come into force ... because of the games played by the Conservatives." He pointed to the three hours last week the Commons spent discussing a months-old, three-sentence committee report affirming the competence of the new Canadian Tourism Commission president. That was forced by a Conservative procedural manoeuvre, upending the government's plan to finally start debate on the pandemic election bill, which contains measures the chief electoral officer has said are urgent given that the minority Liberal government could fall at any time if the opposition parties unite against it. A week earlier, MPs spent three hours discussing a committee report recommending a national awareness day for human trafficking — something Rodriguez said had unanimous support and could have been dealt with "in a second." That debate, also prompted by the Conservatives, prevented any progress on Bill C-14, legislation flowing from last fall's economic statement with billions in expanded emergency aid programs and new targeted aid for hard-hit industries. That bill was introduced in December but stalled at second reading, with Conservative MPs talking out the clock each time it did come up for debate. After eight days of sporadic debate — more than is normally accorded for a full-fledged budget, Rodriguez noted — Conservatives finally agreed Friday to let the bill proceed to committee for scrutiny. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has argued that "modest debate" is warranted on C-14, which he maintains is aimed a fixing errors in previous rushed emergency aid legislation. Last December, the Conservatives dragged out debate on Bill C-7, a measure to expand medical assistance in dying in compliance with a 2019 court ruling. For three straight days last week, they refused consent to extend sitting hours to debate a motion laying out the government's response to Senate amendments to C-7, despite a looming court deadline that was extended Thursday to March 26. Conservatives note they offered the previous week to extend the hours to allow a thorough debate but the government waited five days before tabling its response to the amendments. For Rodriguez it all adds up to "a pattern" of obstruction aimed at blocking the government's legislative agenda. Procedural machinations are commonly used by opposition parties to tie up legislation. But Rodriguez argued it's inappropriate in a pandemic when "people are dying by the dozens every day." If the government held a majority of seats in the Commons, it could impose closure on debates. But in the current minority situation, it would need the support of one of the main opposition parties to cut short debate — something it's not likely to get. In a minority Parliament, Rodriguez argued, all parties share responsibility for ensuring that legislation can at least get to a vote. But Conservative House leader Gérard Deltell lays the blame for the legislative impasse squarely on Rodriguez. "The government House leader has failed to set clear priorities, and has therefore failed to manage the legislative agenda," he said in a statement to The Canadian Press, adding that "my door is always open for frank and constructive discussions.” Bloc Québécois House leader Alain Therrien agrees the Liberals have "mismanaged the legislative calendar and must take their responsibilities." But he doesn't exempt the Conservatives. He said their obstruction of the assisted-dying bill and another that would ban forcible conversion therapy aimed at altering a person's sexual orientation or gender identity is "deplorable." "These are files that require compassion and rigour. It is inexcusable to hold the House hostage on such matters," Therrien said in an email, suggesting that O'Toole is having trouble controlling the "religious right" in his caucus. As far as NDP House leader Peter Julian is concerned, both the Liberals and Conservatives are trying to trigger an election. "We believe that is absolutely inappropriate, completely inappropriate given the pandemic, given the fact that so many Canadians are suffering," he said in an interview. Julian accused the Liberals of bringing forward unnecessary legislation, like the election bill, while "vitally important" bills, like one implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and another on net-zero carbon emissions, languish. The Liberals' intention, he said, is to eventually say there must be an election because of "all these important things we couldn't get done." And the Conservatives "seem to want to play into this narrative" by blocking the bills the government does put forward. Veteran Green MP Elizabeth May, however, agrees with Rodriguez, who she says must be "at his wits' end." "What I see is obstructionism, pure and simple," she said in an interview. She blames the Conservatives primarily for the procedural "tomfoolery" but accuses both the Bloc and NDP of being "in cahoots," putting up speakers to help drag out time-wasting debates on old committee reports. "It's mostly the Conservatives but they're in league," May said. "They are all trying to keep anything orderly from happening that might possibly let the Liberals say we've accomplished a legislative agenda. Whether the bills are good, bad or indifferent is irrelevant in this strategy." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
Check out this heartwarming clip of a little girl bringing a blanket over to her Alaskan Malamute named Dude. She says it's for him to snuggle with then tells him to "Bundle Up". Dude seems to be relaxed with the blanket!