This puppy just loves the shower so much that she joins her owner for a moment. Cuteness overload!
This puppy just loves the shower so much that she joins her owner for a moment. Cuteness overload!
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Ground will likely be broken later this month on a new $7.2-million greenhouse facility for the city's parks department. It will be built on the site of a current baseball diamond in Jackson Park at McDougall Street and and Memorial Drive, just south of Windsor Stadium. It will replace the aging greenhouses at Lanspeary Park, some of which are 100 years old. The new 22,000-square-foot greenhouse will be twice the size of the old facility. It will allow the city to grow plants for hanging baskets, which it currently has to buy from outside sources. It will also be one large greenhouse with more room for the tropical plants that have to be housed over the winter. "Many of the plants can't be replaced. These aren't the type of things you can go to your local garden centre in the spring and simply purchase. They're expensive. They're exotic, " said James Chacko, senior manager of parks. James Chacko, senior manager of parks for the City of Windsor. The new facility will be more energy efficient and could be used for school programs, horticultural workshops, a place to grow food for food banks and a winter garden open to the public. Chacko says neighbours need not fear light pollution such as the type being experienced from the greenhouses in Leamington and Kingsville. "The plants go to sleep over the night, just like you and I do, so that there won't be any light disturbance or light pollution," said Chacko, explaining there are no ongoing operations in the night time. The city will hear from the Lanspeary Park neighbourhood about how to utilize the three acres where the old greenhouses sit, but care will be taken to incorporate one greenhouse which originally came from Willistead. The 100 year-old building is on the city's heritage registry. The current greenhouse facility at Lanspeary Park is around 100 years old, inefficient and too small. Most will be torn down and the greenspace will be incorporated into Lanspeary Park. "That may involve it remaining in place as it is, may involve moving it slightly within the footprint of this property," said Chacko. "So certainly we're not in a rush to knock down anything that is heritage designated or we will go through all the proper channels and do our best to ensure that it can be incorporated into the new Lanspeary Park " The new greenhouse is expected to be finished by the end of the spring next year. The city will also try to rework some baseball diamonds at Mic Mac Park to accommodate fast ball as a replacement for the ball diamond that will be lost in Jackson Park.
A southern Alberta man has been going through an "immigration hell," as his lawyer calls it, that has left his common-law wife and two young children stuck in Cuba for almost a year due to delays in federal officials renewing her visa. Greg Skinner, who lives in Langdon just east of Calgary, says he's frustrated with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, after 11 months of delays trying to renew a visitor visa for his common-law wife, Daylen Garcia Lopez. Garcia Lopez, a Cuban citizen, had a visitor visa that didn't expire until May 2020 when she flew from Canada to Cuba in February 2020 with their two children, who are dual citizens. But when she tried to return a few weeks later, she was told she needed to renew her visa first — and has faced a nightmare trying to do so ever since, Skinner says. "The kids are wondering what's going on — how come we can't come home?" said Skinner. "You know, it's difficult." Daylen Garcia Lopez has been in Cuba waiting for her visitor visa application to be approved for nearly a year. She's been told the delays are related to COVID-19. Skinner says he wrote the federal Immigration minister and his MP in the hopes they could intervene, but he says when that didn't resolve the issue, he decided to hire an immigration lawyer. The lawyer, Peter Wong, says he's seen a lot of delays with the processing of visa applications this past year due to COVID-19, but he says this case is extreme. "This one is particularly egregious because it separates couples,'' said Wong. "And also 11 months is outrageous, in my view." CBC News reached out to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and was told that the pandemic has had a significant impact on the federal immigration system but that the department is "providing additional resources where they are needed most, streamlining [its] processes and ramping systems back up." An IRCC spokesman also said the department is trying to prioritize certain files, including ones involving spousal sponsorships. He said the case was under review and the department was still considering Garcia Lopez's request for a waiver on her biometrics, which included fingerprints and a photograph. But both Skinner and his lawyer say her biometrics were done last November. "It's been a year and they don't even know what's going on, it's ridiculous," said Skinner. How they got here Skinner met Garcia Lopez in 2013 while he was working in Cuba as a manager at an oil and gas facility run by a Canadian company. The couple has two children together, Stephen, five, and Kristen, three. Skinner also has a 10-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. In 2019, Skinner retired and wanted to move back to Canada with his common-law and their two kids. Garcia Lopez is a Cuban national and needs a visitor visa to enter Canada. Their kids have dual citizenship and do not. Skinner says the family had been to Canada several times prior to his retirement and therefore Garcia Lopez already had a visitor visa — but it was set to expire in August 2019. In preparation for the move, Skinner says Garcia Lopez tried to renew her visa in Havana, but he says the Canadian embassy office there was closed. They moved to Canada anyway in July 2019 and he says the IRCC granted her a visa extension that expired in May 2020. Skinner says the problems began in February 2020 after Garcia Lopez flew home to Cuba with her kids for a family situation. A few weeks later, Garcia Lopez wasn't allowed to return to Canada, Skinner says, because the visa extension didn't allow it. Rather, he says, she was told she needed to get a new visitor visa while in Cuba. Skinner says it should have been a routine application, but the Canadian embassy office in Havana was still closed and not processing applications so she had to apply through the Canadian embassy office in Mexico City. But, because the Havana office was closed, Lopez wasn't able to get her biometrics done — which include fingerprints and photograph — so she asked if they could be waived. Skinner says Garcia Lopez never heard back from IRCC on her request for a waiver. In November 2020, Skinner says the Canadian embassy in Havana stated it could start doing biometrics, so she got them done and they were sent to Mexico City. Daylen Garcia Lopez is seen here at the Calgary Zoo with her two younger children, who are with her in Cuba, and her husband's daughter from a previous relationship. It's now March 2021, and Skinner says the couple still hasn't received an update on her application. Garcia Lopez and their two children have been staying with her parents at their home in Matanzas, west of Varadero. "There's no light at the end of the tunnel as far as we can see, as far as something happening," said Skinner. Pandemic no longer acceptable excuse Wong says applications such as Garcia Lopez's would normally take one to two months to process, pre-COVID. Now, he says whenever he inquires about a client's delayed visa application, he's told the same thing: embassies are understaffed and overworked due to the pandemic. "It's no longer an acceptable response — they're a year into this, and they should have figured out how to deal with visa processing," said Wong. Wong says if the federal government plans to keep taking visa applications, then it needs to properly staff its offices to process them in a timely manner. Otherwise, Wong says, the federal government should suspend visa applications until it's ready to do so. "What Greg has is a special form of immigration hell, which people have been going through all year," he said. Calgary-based immigration lawyer Peter Wong says he's seen a lot of delays with the processing of visa applications this past year due to COVID-19, but he says this case is extreme. Wong says he recommends people don't apply for a visa until wait times improve. Meanwhile, Skinner says he and Garcia Lopez will continue to press for answers, in the hopes they'll be reunited soon. "I haven't seen my kids grow for that year, I haven't been able to share any of their experiences," he said. Skinner says Garcia Lopez also applied for permanent residency in early 2020. He says that application is on hold until she is able to return to Canada to complete biometrics and a medical.
L’intensification de la vaccination incite plusieurs observateurs à prédire la tenue d’élections générales fédérales printanières et c’est pourquoi le Parti libéral du Canada (PLC) est à la recherche d’un candidat qui tentera de battre le député Richard Martel. En entrevue au Quotidien, Jérôme Duchesne, président de l’Association libérale fédérale de Chicoutimi–Le Fjord, affirme qu’il se trouve en mode prospection afin de dénicher une personne qui voudrait tenter de ravir cette circonscription. Le dernier député libéral dans Chicoutimi a été Denis Lemieux, qui a siégé du 19 octobre 2015 1er décembre 2017, date à laquelle il a démissionné. Avant lui, André Harvey avait siégé comme député libéral. Selon M. Duchesne, le PLC n’a pas de modèle-type de candidat, mais il croit que les récents sondages, établissant un taux favorable au gouvernement Trudeau, pourraient encourager certains candidats potentiels à se manifester. Il croit qu’il est possible que des élections aient lieu ce printemps même si le Nouveau Parti démocratique (NPD) a déjà fait savoir qu’il tiendrait sa promesse de ne pas faire tomber le gouvernement pendant la pandémie. Par ailleurs, les préparations vont bon train également du côté d’Élections Canada. Selon nos sources, l’organisme a débuté la location de locaux au 1479 boulevard Saint-Paul à Chicoutimi. Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Nova Scotia's film and TV industry is expecting the 2021 production season to be the busiest in years. While the pandemic has disrupted Hollywood's production pipeline, locales like Nova Scotia that have managed to control the infection rate and continue to produce film and television are appealing. Interest from American streaming companies and broadcasters increased by an estimated 100 per cent in 2020, according to Screen Nova Scotia. "I'd say probably between August and December of 2020, I was on the phone all day long with studios that were wondering what was happening in Nova Scotia," said executive director Laura Mackenzie. She wouldn't disclose which companies inquired about shooting in the province, but said she's heard from all the large U.S. streaming services. Predictable shooting schedule The Stephen King adaptation Chapelwaite, starring Adrian Brody and Emily Hampshire, shot last summer in Halifax, Dartmouth and Cole Harbour, while the new CBC series, Feudal, filmed on the South Shore. Local independent producer Marc Tetreault said it's the predictability of shooting in Nova Scotia during the pandemic that's put the province on the radar of American studios. "If you think about shooting in L.A. or Toronto or New York right now, you don't have any predictability or certainty," he said. "Film is like a really slow-moving train, and once it gets going, it's really hard to stop. And when it does stop, it costs a lot of money to get it going again." Local independent producer Marc Tetreault says quarantine costs are 'a drop in the bucket on a larger show.' He said even halting production for a day, let alone weeks, can be very costly. Tetreault said bigger shows can manage the costs associated with the pandemic, including the two-week quarantine in Nova Scotia, because those costs are quantifiable. "If you're in Nova Scotia, you should be reasonably confident that you should be able to complete your production without a major shutdown or hiccup, and I think that's really attractive to a lot of out-of-town producers," he said. The costs related to the province's quarantine rules are "a drop in the bucket on a larger show," Tetreault added. "What I think it comes down to is convincing the people who are quarantining that they're going to quarantine for two weeks — less so, you know, paying the 200 bucks a night for a hotel," he said. Is N.S. prepared to support productions? The challenge will be providing the infrastructure and support to visiting productions. In 2015, the Stephen McNeil government axed the provincial film tax credit, a 50 to 65 per cent fully refundable corporate income tax credit offered to productions hiring Nova Scotia film personnel. It was eventually replaced with the Production Incentive Fund, which offers a refund to foreign service production of 25 per cent and 26 per cent for local content. It also offers a refund of up to 32 per cent in an all-spend model on any money spent in the province for labour, accommodations and locations. Laura MacKenzie is the executive director of Screen Nova Scotia. That helped make Nova Scotia competitive with other provinces, but the film business still isn't as robust as it was in the tax credit era. "We've had amazing momentum in building our industry here over the past five years," said Mackenzie. "But we did lose quite a few crew members in 2015 when the tax credit was changed. "And so that, alongside with the loss of some production studio spaces, it's put us at a disadvantage because we can't possibly supply the demand." That's why she's putting a call out to any Nova Scotian working elsewhere. "Time to come home. We need you here," she said. Mackenzie also said finding studio space so that out-of-town productions can shoot interior scenes is as much of a challenge this year as finding skilled crew. She's looking for anyone who has comparable warehouse space. Diggstown creator struggling to cast show While it's a challenge to build up enough skilled crew for shows that may be coming to the province, it could also provide opportunity for film workers who are traditionally under-represented on film and TV sets and in front of the camera. Diggstown, a CBC legal drama shot in Dartmouth and Halifax, has also benefited from the American production slowdown — the first two seasons were recently bought by the Fox Network in the U.S. With the third season set to go to camera in April, producer and creator Floyd Kane said he's struggling to cast his show. Floyd Kane is the writer, executive producer and showrunner of Diggstown. Diggstown tells stories from Nova Scotia's Black communities, and Kane said it feels like he's seen and chosen almost every local actor of colour in the province. Now, he has to fly in racialized cast from Toronto or elsewhere, which, for a low-budget TV series, is very expensive. "I came up in the industry in Nova Scotia where I would be the only Black person or person of colour in the room," Kane told CBC Radio's Mainstreet recently. "I want to have more Black people, more people of colour working in our industry. I want to encourage that. The acting piece of this is a huge challenge. Frankly, we've done a very poor job of developing the talent pool [for people of colour] and retaining that pool by there being opportunities to work." Richard Hadley is the Maritime branch representative for ACTRA, the actor's union. He said his organization is very aware of that need. "We are looking at ways to go into those communities and let people know what the opportunities are," said Hadley. "And that is a specific area of our membership that we really want to encourage to grow, absolutely." Richard Hadley is the Maritime branch representative for ACTRA. Mackenzie from Screen Nova Scotia said it's also one of her organization's top priorities to increase diversity behind the camera. The organization has formed a diversity outreach committee to work on a strategy to come up with long-term fixes. While the industry has proven that the health and safety protocols are a draw for service production — shows that come from elsewhere to shoot here — they do still pose a challenge for lower-budgeted local shows, as Kane is finding with Diggstown. 'You will be hired on something' Tetreault said he fully supports the health protocols that are in place to keep Nova Scotians safe, "but they definitely are a hindrance to the local, usually lower budget, independent films." He said paying for supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer, and for the extra set space to allow for physical distancing, can also stretch a local production's limited budget. That said, Tetreault is still planning to make a feature film this year — and he's looking for a crew. "Now's the time," said Tetreault. "Call the unions, get the referral. Figure out what it is you're interested in and you will be hired on something." MORE TOP STORIES
Wall Street ended lower on Tuesday, pulled down by Apple and Tesla, while materials stocks climbed as investors waited for the U.S. Congress to approve another stimulus package. Volume on U.S. exchanges was 12.3 billion shares, compared with the 14.9 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.
P.E.I.'s chief public health officer announced four new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, as her office continues efforts to control two outbreaks that started in the last week of February. Following the lead of British Columbia, P.E.I. is delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine for those who have already gotten one shot, in order to give more people their first vaccine shot earlier. Dr. Heather Morrison announced a new schedule for vaccinations on the Island. A Green MLA wants to know if government is considering legislation for guaranteed paid sick leave as part of its COVID-19 response. A hardware store in Summerside has reopened for business, after a deep cleaning over the weekend. Bus ridership on P.E.I. dropped significantly after the 72-hour circuit breaker began at midnight Sunday, but T3 Transit says passengers can be assured the buses are being thoroughly cleaned and will be safe when they decide to hop back on. Cleaning companies are booked up with businesses who want their buildings disinfected following a surge in COVID-19 cases on P.E.I. Islanders who have lost their incomes or had their hours reduced by 12 hours a week between Feb. 28 and March 14 because of new COVID-19 restrictions are eligible for $500 in help from the provincial government, a P.E.I. cabinet minister said Monday. If you are eligible for a vaccine appointment on P.E.I. you can book it online. Here is a list of sites of potential exposure to COVID-19. The Chief Public Health Office is asking people who have been in these places at these times to self-isolate and get tested as soon as possible. Some testing clinics have delayed openings due to the weather Tuesday. A 22-year-old P.E.I. woman has gone public with her COVID-19 diagnosis to warn others that even if you follow all the rules, you can still catch the virus. Officials at both the English and French school boards on P.E.I. say they are prepared to move to online learning if needed but are hopeful students can return to the classroom after the three-day shutdown. P.E.I. has 22 active cases, its most ever, out of 136 diagnosed since the pandemic began nearly a year ago. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. Also in the news Further resources Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, was set to throw a Zoom party in quarantine to celebrate his 90th birthday on Tuesday, as President Vladimir Putin hailed him as an "outstanding statesman" who influenced the course of history. Gorbachev, who championed arms control and democracy-oriented reforms as Soviet leader in the 1980s, is widely credited with helping end the Cold War. His critics in Russia blame him for what they regard as the unnecessary and painful breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
CANBERRA, Australia — Police on Tuesday ruled out investigating an unnamed Australian Cabinet minister over an allegation that he raped a 16-year-old girl more than 30 years ago. The decision by New South Wales state police adds pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to establish an independent investigation to examine the accusation. The accusation has created a cloud over the 16 men in Morrison’s 22-minister Cabinet and is feeding complaints of a culture within Parliament that is toxic for women. The rape allegation was contained in an anonymous letter sent to the prime minister’s office and to three female lawmakers last week. The 31-page letter contained a statement from a complainant, taken by her lawyer, that detailed her allegation of a rape she said occurred in Sydney in 1988. The minister had not been elected to Parliament at the time. The letter, which included excerpts from her diary and a photograph of her with her alleged rapist from 1988, was forwarded by the lawmakers and Morrison to police. The woman, who has not been named, took her own life in her hometown of Adelaide in June at the age of 49. Morrison on Monday rejected calls to stand the minister down and to establish an inquiry, saying police should investigate. Police, however, said Tuesday that “there is insufficient admissible evidence to proceed.” Morrison said the minister “vigorously and completely denied the allegations.” But the woman’s lawyer, Michael Bradley, and several critics of the government have called for the minister to step down while an independent inquiry investigates the evidence. Nicholas Cowdery, formerly the chief prosecutor in New South Wales, said the allegation needs to be investigated to give voters confidence in the integrity of those governing them. The accused minister should step down, he said. “When something like this emerges, we need to know what is involved in it, does it disqualify that person from occupying that position and what action should be taken,” Cowdrey told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “The only way to do that is to run an investigation — not a criminal investigation, but an investigation with a political context run maybe by someone like a retired judge.” Barnaby Joyce was deputy prime minister when he ran into political strife in 2018 over revelations that he had impregnated a female staffer, who is now his partner, in an extramarital affair. The final straw in Joyce’s leadership of the Nationals party, the junior coalition partner, came when a woman from outside government accused him of sexual harassment. He quit as leader. Joyce, who remains a government lawmaker, said the 1988 rape allegation should be investigated in private, perhaps by a judge. But he added that the accused minister should not step down because such allegations are “a dangerous arrow that can be fired in all sorts of directions for political purposes.” “I was basically jammed out of a job, to be quite frank,” Joyce said of the sexual harassment complaint against him that was lodged with his party but not with police. “It was used as a mechanism to get me out,” he added, referring to his enemies within his party. The accused minister is also under mounting pressure to make his own identity public. Media have reported that he is expected to go public on Wednesday, but will not step aside. The police decision to drop the investigation comes two weeks after Morrison apologized in Parliament to a former government staffer who alleged she was raped by a more senior colleague in a minister’s office two years ago. Brittany Higgins quit her job in January and reactivated her complaint to police after initially not pursuing the case because she felt it would have affected her employment. The colleague, who has not been named publicly, was fired for breaching security by taking Higgins into a minister’s Parliament House office following a night of heavy drinking. The Associated Press does not usually identify alleged victims of sexual assault, but Higgins has chosen to identify herself in the media. The public disclosure has triggered a flurry of complaints about the behaviour of lawmakers and a toxic work culture within Parliament House. Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the man whom Higgins accused of rape would be contacted by police “at the appropriate time.” Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press
Critics of the gambling industry say they're concerned about a recent move toward online gambling, especially in light of the Halifax casino's uncertain future. Elizabeth Stephen, a counselling therapist who works with people with gambling addictions, said news that the Nova Scotia government has cleared the way for online casino-style gambling is "pretty significant." "What's behind that?" said Stephen. "Is it because the physical casino is in such decline and perhaps is even going to close down? Is it to replace that revenue? The Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, the Crown corporation that oversees the gaming business, released documents to CBC News showing the Halifax casino has struggled with declining and unsustainable revenues for approximately 15 years — even before the arrival of COVID-19. The documents raise the possibility of moving the casino away from its waterfront location, but the corporation said those decisions are on hold during the pandemic. Stephen is an addictions counsellor in Halifax with a private practice. "My sense is that the government is looking for alternative revenue streams, hence the talk about the online casino," said Bruce Dienes, chair of Gambling Risk Informed Nova Scotia (GRINS), a non-profit that aims to reduce gambling harms. "The problem with that, of course, is if you want to go to a brick-and-mortar casino, you have to actually go to a brick-and-mortar casino. You have to really intentionally do that, you have to be there for a certain piece of time. "Online, if you've got a phone or if you've got any internet connection, 24/7 you're at risk of being impacted negatively by that casino." 'Two very different offerings' Bob MacKinnon, the gaming corporation's CEO, said there are similarities in the gambling that takes place in a physical casino and online. "I think it is possible that some of the casino business that we would have had at the Halifax casino has gone online. There's no way for us to know an exact number," he said. "But I'll also add that generally over the longer term, we would think of them as two very different offerings: that some people like to go online, and many people like to go for a broader entertainment experience where there's music, there's food, there's shows going on, in addition to the gaming offerings." Stephen said the people she treats in her practice often start gambling in a physical casino, but later move to other venues, such as bars with video lottery terminals. The majority of gambling addicts Stephen counsels became addicted to machines like VLTs. "I think [casinos] are the foundation in some places for the start of gambling, and the kind of glamour of gambling and the excitement of gambling," she said. Stephen said most people who come to her with gambling addictions have become addicted to VLTs, although a few have been addicted to table games such as poker or blackjack. "They get to the point where they're spending way too much time there and more money than they can afford to lose. And so often their first step is to exclude themselves from the casino. Often, though, they don't do that until they maybe have reached bankruptcy," she said. Falling revenues The Halifax casino hit peak revenue of about $75 million in 2006-07, which fell to about $54 million in 2014-15 — a drop of about 30 per cent that MacKinnon said was not sustainable. Visitation during the pandemic is down 90 per cent, and MacKinnon said it's believed the Halifax casino will make about $9 million this year. The Sydney casino failed to meet its revenue and visitation targets for the 2 years leading up to the pandemic, which closed its doors altogether for about eight months. The casino in Sydney, N.S., failed to meet its revenue and visitation targets for the two years leading up to the pandemic. In 2018-19, the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation hoped the Cape Breton casino would have revenue of $22.1 million from at least 410,000 visitors. Instead, it brought in $19.5 million from 372,000 visitors. In 2019-20, its targets were $19.2 million in revenue and 410,000 visitors, but it ended up with $18.8 million from 344,806 visitors. Dienes said it shows a need for the province to move on from the gambling business, which was legalized in Nova Scotia in 1995. Dienes is the chair of Gambling Risk Informed Nova Scotia (GRINS), a non-profit organization with the goal of reducing harms related to gambling. "Here is a business model that's failing, that isn't meeting the needs of the customers. And rather than acknowledging that and moving on to a different kind of business — a different way to entertain, a different way to raise funds — they're trying to increase the risk and increase the access for something that people clearly don't want," he said. Dienes said gambling is "psychologically manipulative" and he disagrees with the government's stance that online gambling can be done safely. "This is something that's been created by government policy," he said. High-stakes bets Will Shead, an associate professor of psychology who primarily researches gambling, said he's doubtful that limitations can be placed on online gambling that would keep people safe. "We don't really know what effect this is going to have on people. You can make arguments and say this is how it's going to work, but it could potentially be disastrous for people to have access to such high betting limits online," said Shead, who teaches at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. Shead is also a board member of Gambling Risk Informed Nova Scotia, whose members are particularly concerned about high-stakes wagers online that could lead a gambler to lose thousands of dollars per hour. Shead is an associate professor of psychology at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. His research specialty is gambling. The Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation has said the online casino would include age and residency verification, privacy controls, self-exclusion options, deposit limits, time displays, analytics on player activity and information about responsible gambling. But Shead said he's concerned about young people finding ways to get around age checks, and about research that shows people are more likely to use drugs and alcohol while gambling online. In a physical casino, people are not supposed to be allowed to gamble while impaired, he said. According to its code of conduct, Casino Nova Scotia will refuse entry to someone who is impaired by alcohol or drugs. "I'm not sure if that happens all the time," said Shead, "but it's certainly not going to happen in the confines of your own home." MORE TOP STORIES
LONDON — A British newspaper publisher said Tuesday it plans to appeal against a judge’s ruling that it invaded the privacy of the Duchess of Sussex by publishing parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father after her 2018 marriage to Prince Harry. The former American actress Meghan Markle, 39, sued publisher Associated Newspapers for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement over five February 2019 articles in the Mail on Sunday and on the MailOnline website that reproduced large portions of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle. High Court judge Mark Warby ruled last month that the publisher had misused the duchess’s private information and infringed her copyright. He said the duchess “had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private” and concluded the paper’s publication of large chunks of it was “manifestly excessive and hence unlawful.” In written submissions released as part of a court hearing on Tuesday, Associated Newspapers’ lawyer Antony White sought permission to appeal, saying a bid to overturn Warby’s ruling “would have a real prospect of success.” Lawyers for Meghan, meanwhile, demanded the publisher hand over the letter and destroy any electronic copies or notes it held. They also asked the judge to order the Mail on Sunday to remove the five articles from its website and to run a front-page statement about the duchess’ legal victory. Ian Mill, an attorney for Meghan, said “the defendant defiantly continues to do the very acts which the court has held are unlawful.” “The defendant has failed to deliver up copies it has of the letter such that the threat to infringe and further to misuse her private information remains real and, inexplicably, the defendant has still not removed the infringing articles from MailOnline," he said in a written submission. Meghan, a former star of the American TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year. In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California, and are expecting a second child. In his ruling last month, the judge said a “limited trial” should be held to decide the “minor” issue of whether Meghan was “the sole author” and lone copyright holder of the letter. It is expected to take place in the fall. Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
China said on Tuesday that it was discussing a visit to its Xinjiang region by United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, but that she should not set out with the aim of condemning its policies. Bachelet said on Friday that reports about arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, sexual violence and forced labour in Xinjiang necessitated a thorough and independent assessment of the situation.
BIELEFELD, Germany — Relegation-threatened Arminia Bielefeld hired Frank Kramer as coach on Tuesday, a day after firing Uwe Neuhaus. Kramer has only limited experience in the Bundesliga after a two-game spell as interim coach at Hoffenheim in 2012 and relegation with Greuther Fürth a year later. In more recent years, he coached age-group German national teams up to the under-20 level and coached Austrian champion Salzburg's youth team. Bielefeld, which was promoted last year, is in third-to-last place in the 18-team league. Hertha Berlin is just ahead on goal difference, and improving Mainz is only one point behind in a direct relegation place. Bielefeld still has a game in hand, however. Its next game is against Union Berlin on Sunday. Bielefeld earned only one point from its last five games — a 3-3 draw at Bayern Munich — and the 3-0 loss at Borussia Dortmund on Saturday was the fifth in a row in which the team conceded at least three goals. The 61-year-old Neuhaus was immensely popular with Bielefeld’s fans after leading the team to a surprise promotion following 11 years out of the Bundesliga. He had been in charge of the club since December 2018. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
YANGON, Myanmar — Police in Myanmar repeatedly used tear gas and rubber bullets Tuesday against crowds protesting last month's coup, but the demonstrators regrouped after each volley and tried to defend themselves with barricades as standoffs between protesters and security forces intensified. Myanmar authorities have escalated their crackdown on the protests in recent days, making mass arrests and firing into the crowds. The United Nations said it believed at least 18 people were killed on Sunday by security forces. Foreign ministers from Southeast Asian countries were meeting Tuesday to discuss the increasingly volatile crisis. Despite the crackdown, demonstrators have continued to flood the streets — and are beginning to more rigorously resist attempts to disperse them. Hundreds, many wearing construction helmets and carrying makeshift shields, gathered in Myanmar's largest city of Yangon, where a day earlier police had fired repeated rounds of tear gas. They dragged bamboo poles and debris to form barricades, chanted slogans and sang songs at the police lines. They even threw banana skins onto the road in front of them in a bid to slow any police rush. The mainly young demonstrators fled in panic each time tear gas canisters were fired but soon returned to their barricades. Videos posted on social media showed similar chaotic scenes in the Insein neighbourhood of northern Yangon. Protesters also took up their flags and banners to march through the streets of Dawei, a small city in southeastern Myanmar that has seen almost daily large demonstrations against the coup. One group of demonstrators was targeted by the security forces as it entered a narrow street on its way to pay respects at the house of a man killed in Sunday’s crackdown. Another was attacked on the main street in the city’s centre. Yangon and Dawei were among the cities where security forces reportedly fired live ammunition into crowds Sunday, according to the U.N. Human Rights Office. There were reports that they also fired live rounds Tuesday, but they could not immediately be confirmed. Some fear the junta’s escalating use of force is meant to provoke a violent backlash by the demonstrators — who have largely remained nonviolent — in order to discredit them and justify an even harsher crackdown. Videos from recent days show a greater number of protesters trying to stand their ground and throw objects at the police. “I beg the people in Myanmar not to fall in this trap, so to stay peaceful,” U.N. Special Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener said in interview with CNN, acknowledging that it was easier for her, safely away from the violence, to urge peaceful protesting. She also accused the authorities of spreading rumours about the conditions of people in detention to stir up even more anger on the streets. The Feb. 1 coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar after five decades of military rule. It came the day a newly elected Parliament was supposed to take office. Ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party would have been installed for a second five-year term, but instead she was detained along with President Win Myint and other senior officials. The military government has charged Suu Kyi, 75, with several offences that critics say are trumped up merely to keep her jailed and potentially prevent her from participating in the election promised in a year’s time by the military. Her party says it does not know where Suu Kyi — who has a long history of campaigning for democracy in Myanmar — is being held. The weekend crackdown drew international condemnation. In addition to the use of force, authorities also detained more than 1,000 people over the weekend, according to the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Those detained included at least eight journalists, among them Thein Zaw of The Associated Press. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the use of force and arbitrary arrests “unacceptable,” according to his spokesperson. The U.S., British and other governments issued similar statements of concern. But the military has showed no sign of backing down. The protesters and their supporters have appealed for help from abroad, but there are few prospects for major intervention. The results of Tuesday's special meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, held by video conference because of the coronavirus pandemic, were expected to be announced in the evening. But the 10-nation regional group's policy of seeking a consensus among its members makes it unlikely to take strong action. The U.N.’s independent expert on human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, has proposed that countries could institute a global embargo on the sale of arms to Myanmar and “tough, targeted and co-ordinated sanctions” against those responsible for the coup, the crackdown and other rights abuses. But any kind of co-ordinated action at the United Nations would be difficult since two permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, China and Russia, would almost certainly veto it. Some countries have imposed or are considering imposing their own sanctions. ___ Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contributed to this report. The Associated Press
Islanders eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine can now book appointments online through Skip the Waiting Room. The P.E.I.-based company said it has secured a contract with the province to help provide more efficient access during the pandemic. "We saw reports of people waiting in a car for 8 hours to get testing done," said CEO and co-founder Mark Richardson. "COVID seemed like a great fit for me, so I started rattling the chains that I could rattle and said: 'As an Islander and a business, we'd love to help out with this.'" The company was born five years ago after Richardson found himself sitting in the waiting room at a walk-in clinic — for four and a half hours. "I thought to myself: 'There's got to be a better way to do this.'" 'I had seen some of the frustration and seen some of the lineups at the testing centres,' says Mark Richardson, the CEO and co-founder of Skip the Waiting Room. From there, the online site and app were created, giving others the option of pre-booking appointments to reduce time spent lingering in clinics. So far, Richardson said around 60,000 people have used the service for walk-in care on the Island. "I think every Canadian understands the frustration and wasted time of sitting in a waiting room or trying to get through a phone line." Now, in addition to becoming available to other provinces, Richardson said the company has expanded on P.E.I. to areas like internal medicine, MRI appointments and mammography appointments. Meeting an urgent timeline For those looking to book online before heading into a walk-in clinic, there is a fee of $5. But because of the terms of his contract with the P.E.I government, Richardson says it's free to schedule provincial services such as COVID-19 vaccines. I'm sure it will get a little bit more hectic when we get to the general announcement or the general population. - Mark Richardson, Skip the Waiting Room A statement from Health P.E.I said it entered into a short-term agreement with Skip the Waiting Room after it was identified as the only option available to "meet the urgent timelines to launch an online scheduling system to support COVID vaccine delivery." According to the statement, all safeguards outlined under the P.E.I Health Information Act are being maintained. "We had to jump through a lot of privacy hoops and some threat-risk assessments and all those things," said Richardson. "It was an extensive process but I'm glad to be on the other side of it." 'Going to do our best' Richardson said he doesn't know the exact number of people who have used the company to book vaccines so far — but he said he does expect it to increase. "I'm sure it will get a little bit more hectic when we get to the general announcement or the general population," he said. "I know people will be very eager to get their vaccine, as I am." For now, Richardson said, the company is spending time making improvements so that when Islanders do reach out to book virtually, Skip the Waiting Room is ready. "We might be able to book, you know, thousands of people a day, 24/7," he said. "We're working our best to make sure that there will be no hiccups. "No promises, but we're certainly going to do our best." More from CBC P.E.I.
The past year has fractured our world in countless ways. Now, as people look to pick up the pieces, those managing debt need to account for their position in our uneven economic recovery. In this so-called K-shaped recovery, one part of the population is rebounding quickly while another has a longer, slower path. For example, in January the unemployment rate for whites was 5.7%, compared to 8.6% for Hispanics and 9.2% for Black workers and 6.6% for Asians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who remain unemployed or underemployed might continue to rely on debt to get by. Meanwhile, those whose finances have held steady or improved may be primed to wipe out debt. MANAGING DEBT IN THE BOTTOM HALF Some consumers have had no choice but to rack up debt — including unpaid rent or mortgage, credit card debt and overdue utility bills. If this is your situation, focus on basic needs and paying minimums to avoid collections. — PROTECT THE ESSENTIALS: If you’re among the millions of Americans unable to cover your housing costs right now, take advantage of the eviction moratorium and mortgage relief programs now extended through June 30. Keep an eye out for additional benefits in the COVID-19 relief package being discussed in Washington and call 211 to get connected to local assistance for basic needs like food and shelter. Add transportation, internet and cellphone to your priorities list, too, so you can stay connected to friends and family for help and to hunt for work. “All creditors will make it sounds like they’re the most important ones to get paid,” says Amanda Christensen, a financial coach based in Morgan, Utah. “Housing and transportation have to come to the top of that list and take priority.” — IF NEEDED, LOOK FOR CHEAP CREDIT: If you need to add debt to cover your regular expenses, like groceries and utilities, financial coach Vineet Prasad of Fulton, California, suggests finding the cheapest options. “A revolving credit line on your home equity has a much lower APR than a credit card. Another option is a personal loan at a credit union.” To qualify for a HELOC, you’ll generally need equity of at least 15% of your home’s value. And weigh the risks: HELOCs tend to have adjustable interest rates, which can make them more expensive over time, and your house is at risk of foreclosure if you can’t repay the debt. — FOCUS ON LONG-TERM RECOVERY: Once your situation stabilizes, focus on paying down debt and make savings a priority, too. Consider using a debt payoff calculator that can track your debts and monthly payments. And while you may be tempted to throw all your spare income toward debt payoff, having some cash tucked away can help you weather the next financial crisis. Saving even a small percentage of your income helps, Christensen says: “If you’re not saving anything right now, see if you can get in that 1% to 5% range.” MANAGING DEBT IN THE TOP HALF If your finances held steady or improved over 2020, think about how you can take advantage of your situation, whether through charitable giving or using some of your cash to improve your finances. And if you’re focused on reducing debt, the classic payoff playbook works well: First, take stock of what you owe. Consider using a spreadsheet or online debt tracker to organize your balances. Then choose a payoff strategy, like the debt snowball method where you focus on your smallest debt by paying as much on it as you can while paying minimums on the others. Once it’s paid off, roll the amount you were paying on it into the payment for your next largest debt and so on until you’re completely debt-free. Paying off debt can be a long-haul game. To stay focused, Prasad advises finding someone who can serve as a confidant and provide encouragement. “Getting an accountability partner who is good at managing their money generally can be a huge differentiator with actually following through with your plan and the grind of paying it off over time,” he says. ANYONE CAN HAVE OVERWHELMING DEBT Regardless of your income or employment status, you may have too much debt to realistically pay off with a strategy like debt snowball. If all your monthly debt payments, including housing, total more than 50% of your monthly gross income, you may need to look into debt relief, like a debt management plan at a non-profit credit counselling agency or bankruptcy. The goal is to resolve your debt quickly and in a way that sets you up to meet future financial goals. Otherwise, you may spend years funneling money toward insurmountable debt, sacrificing retirement, an emergency fund and other goals. Bankruptcy in particular may be a good option, as it can help you resolve what you owe in a matter of months instead of years. While bankruptcy filings were down 30% in 2020, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute, that may change in 2021 as consumers’ financial pictures begin to stabilize. To make the most of the fresh start bankruptcy offers, don’t wait so long that you can’t even afford the filing fees. Act when you are in a position to improve your financial situation, says bankruptcy attorney Cathy Moran of Redwood City, California. “When you’ve hit the bottom and things are about to get better, that’s when you want to file,” Moran says. _____________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Sean Pyles is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @SeanPyles. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Pay off debt: tools and tips http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-debt-tools-and-tips Sean Pyles Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
About 1,200 NB Power customers are without electricity and some roads are impassable as strong wind gusts continue Tuesday night. The largest outages are in central York and Sunbury counties, with 541 customers in the dark around 9:50 p.m. AT Tuesday, according to NB Power's online outages list. The Crown utility didn't have an estimated restoration time for about half of those outages, with roughly 200 estimated to have their power back on by 12:30 a.m. Wednesday at the latest. Meanwhile, roughly 303 outages were reported in the Acadian Peninsula, 221 in the Carleton County area, and 100 in the Charlotte County southwest area. Restoration times for those outages ranged from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 1 a.m. Wednesday. There were around 40 customers without power in other areas of the province. More than 4,000 customers were without power earlier Tuesday evening. Snow-covered roads The Department of Transportation is reporting several roads are either impassable or only open to emergency and service vehicles, primarily in the northern part of the province. Highway 11 between Six Roads and Tabusintac on the Acadian Peninsula is closed to general traffic, along with Highway 113 from Baie de Shippagan to the Miscou Channel, and the Trans-Canada Highway from Grand Falls to Saint-Leonard. The province says there is drifting snow, poor visibility and icy patches throughout those areas. Highway 11 from Janeville to Bertrand is closed. Most of the Trans-Canada Highway is marked as partly covered in snow and ice, with travel not recommended. Other roads north of Fredericton and Moncton are either fully or partly covered in snow and ice with travel not recommended, while roads south of Fredericton are bare. The outages and road closures come as Environment Canada issued wind warnings for the Acadian Peninsula, Bathurst and Chaleur region, Campbellton and Restigouche County, warning that wind gusts could reach 90 km/h in those regions. Wind gusts are expected to last throughout the day and end by Wednesday morning. "These very strong winds will cause extensive blowing snow, especially over exposed areas, and a blowing snow advisory is now in effect for these regions as well," Environment Canada said in a statement. "High winds may toss loose objects or cause tree branches to break."
Living near the volcano is no easy task for locals, as they have to clear huge amounts of ash from the streets, and sometimes even run for cover.View on euronews
Marie-France Boudret, who works in a French home for the elderly, watched a patient suffocate to death in front of her because COVID-19 had infected his lungs. Around half of health workers in French care homes do not want to be vaccinated, according to the group of experts guiding the state's vaccine rollout - compared to only 20% of the residents who have not been inoculated. If significant numbers of care home workers do not get the jab, they could transmit the disease to residents who are not vaccinated and at high risk of serious illness, say advocates for the elderly.
MADRID — Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu was provisionally set free on Tuesday after appearing before a judge following a night in jail while being investigated for possible irregularities during his administration. Court officials said Bartomeu and his former adviser at the Spanish club, Jaume Masferrer, used their right not to make any comments in court. Bartomeu, Masferrer and two other club officials were arrested on Monday after Catalan police raided Barcelona’s headquarters in a search and seizure operation related to last year’s “Barçagate.” In that case, the club was accused of launching a smear campaign against current and former players who were critical of then-president Bartomeu and others. The club itself has not been charged but Bartomeu was not cleared. Court officials lifted the case's secrecy and those accused will have access to the evidence gathered by authorities before appearing in court again. The arrests came less than a week before the club holds presidential elections, and added to the turmoil surrounding the team recently. “Every club has its difficult moments,” said Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman, who took over after the club's crisis erupted following the team’s 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. “It’s true that a lot has happened, but we remain motivated and will keep fighting to win titles. “It obvious that this is not good for the image of the club,” said Koeman, who was hired by Bartomeu. “We have to wait and see what happens. All we can do is to focus on our job.” Barcelona is coming off its first season without a trophy since 2007-08. The team lost to Paris Saint-Germain 4-1 in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League last week, and on Wednesday will try to reverse a 2-0 first-leg loss to Sevilla in the Copa del Rey semifinals. The Catalan club is five points off the lead in the Spanish league. Barcelona, which could also lose Lionel Messi after his contract ends this season, has been led by a caretaker board since the 58-year-old Bartomeu and his board of directors resigned in October while facing a no-confidence vote. He had been loudly criticized by Messi, whose request to leave the club last season was denied by the then-president. The Spanish club has a debt of more than 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion), in large part because of the coronavirus pandemic. “What worries me the most is the club's institutional instability, not its financial difficulty,” Spanish league president Javier Tebas said. “When a new president is elected I'm certain that the club will overcome this situation.” Members of the police’s financial crimes department conducted the operation in five different locations on Monday, including Bartomeu’s house. Authorities said they were investigating “alleged crimes related to property and socio-economic order.” Barcelona had denied accusations that it hired — and overpaid — a company to make negative comments about its own players and opponents on social media in order to boost the image of senior club officials. The company was accused of using fake social media accounts to discredit opposition figures, a list said to include Messi, Gerard Piqué and former coach Pep Guardiola, when they expressed views that went against the club. The club released an independent audit report showing there was no wrongdoing. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press