New restrictions in Ontario?; eight dead in U.S. shooting: In The News for April 16

·8 min read

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of April 16 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Ontario could announce new public health restrictions today to curb surging cases of COVID-19 which are straining hospital capacity.

The province's associate medical officer of health said Thursday that additional recommendations have been made to cabinet.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe said the situation in the province is "dire" and worse than any other point in the pandemic.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said "everything is on the table" when asked about possible new restrictions on Thursday.

She would not say what specific measures cabinet was considering, or could be announced today.

Ontario's science advisory co-chair Dr. Adalsteinn Brown is also expected to provide an updated pandemic modelling briefing today.

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Also this ...

Canadians may be looking with envy at the United States as it lifts COVID-19 restrictions and distributes vaccinations, but experts say key indicators show there’s no reason to covet our southern neighbour’s pandemic response.

“The final chapter in the COVID-19 pandemic has not been written yet. This is still an evolving and highly dynamic changing story,” said Nazeem Muhajarine, a professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan.

In recent weeks, U.S. citizens have received vaccines en masse. President Joe Biden had set a goal of 100 million vaccines to be given during his first 100 days in office, but increased that to 200 million when the original target was met in half the time.

But Muhajarine said you cannot define success by that alone. The U.S., for most of the pandemic, has had significantly higher infection rates and continues to see many more people hospitalized and dying.

“There is nothing to be envious about with the pandemic indicators.”

Areas across Canada have brought in tighter restrictions as the pandemic's third wave, fuelled by more easily transmissible variants, has resulted in increased infections, hospitalizations and pressures on the health-care system. For the first time since COVID-19 took hold last spring, Canada last week averaged more confirmed cases per one million people than the U.S.

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What we are watching in the U.S. ...

Eight people were shot and killed in a late-night shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, and the shooter has killed himself, police said.

Multiple other people were injured Thursday night when gunfire erupted at the facility near the Indianapolis International Airport, police spokesperson Genae Cook said.

At least four were hospitalized, including one person with critical injures. Another two people were treated and released at the scene, Cook said.

The shooter wasn't immediately identified, and Cook said investigators were still in the process of conducting interviews and gathering information.

Police were called to reports of gunfire just after 11 p.m. and officers observed an active shooting scene, Cook said. The gunman later killed himself.

FedEx released a statement saying it is co-operating with authorities and working to get more information.

“We are aware of the tragic shooting at our FedEx Ground facility near the Indianapolis airport. Safety is our top priority, and our thoughts are with all those who are affected,” the statement said.

Family members gathered at a local hotel to await word on loved ones. Some said employees aren’t allowed to have their phones with them while working shifts at the facility, making it difficult to contact them, WTHR-TV reported.

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Also this...

The Montana senate narrowly defeated a bill Thursday that would have allowed the state to resume lethal injections.

The decision directly affects Ronald Smith, originally from Red Deer, Alta., who has been on death row since 1983.

All executions have been stayed in Montana since 2015 because the state requires the use of an ultra-fast-acting barbiturate, which is no longer available.

Montana's house of representatives passed the bill that would have amended protocol to include any substance in a lethal quantity sufficient to cause death. But the senate voted it down 26-24, with seven Republicans joining 19 Democrats.

"There's a lot of smiles around here. We've been working behind the scenes trying to convince enough of the senators to vote against the legislation," said Sam Forstag, legislative program manager for the American Civil Liberties Union.

"This means the injunction prohibiting executions in Montana will remain in place."

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What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

The United Arab Emirates played a role in getting longtime Asian rivals India and Pakistan to agree to a cease-fire amid tensions over the disputed region of Kashmir, the Emirati ambassador to Washington said.

The comments by Yousef al-Otaiba come as the Emirates tries to recalibrate its diplomacy to Washington following U.S. President Joe Biden taking office.

After enjoying a close relationship to President Donald Trump, the autocratically ruled UAE has sought to underline its importance in regional affairs as Biden has struck a harder tone with Saudi Arabia and suggested he wants to rejoin Iran's nuclear deal with world powers.

Speaking in a video released Wednesday by Stanford University's Hoover Institution, al-Otaiba acknowledged an Emirati role “in bringing the Kashmir escalation down” between the two nuclear-armed nations.

“We try to be helpful where we have influence with two different countries,” al-Otaiba told H.R. McMaster, a former national security adviser to Trump. “India and Pakistan was the most recent one.”

In February, India and Pakistan agreed to adhere to a 2003 accord over the heavily militarized Himalayan region that had been largely ignored since its signing. Troops regularly exchanged artillery, rocket and small-arms fire across the so-called Line of Control, killing hundreds including civilians.

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On this day in 1992 ...

David Milgaard was released from a Manitoba prison after serving nearly 23 years for the 1969 murder of Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller. The Saskatchewan government declined to retry Milgaard after the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a new trial. DNA evidence cleared Milgaard in 1997, and he later received $7 million in compensation from the federal and Saskatchewan governments.

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In sports ...

The Vancouver Canucks say some players need more time to recover from a COVID-19 outbreak that has swept through the team.

General manager Jim Benning said in a statement Thursday that certain players have cleared the medical evaluations that they need to pass before returning to the ice, but "many" others have not been cleared and need more time to recover.

"Our medical staff are confident the recovery process for those players will be aided by an additional couple of days," Benning said.

"Above all else the health and safety of players, staff and families remains the priority."

The NHL has postponed Friday night's game between the Canucks and visiting Edmonton Oilers.

"The decision to extend the period prior to the team’s resumption of play was made to provide club staff and players with additional time for recovery and preparation following its recent COVID outbreak," the league said in a statement. "The NHL made the decision with input from the league’s, (the NHL Players' Association's) and club’s medical groups."

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ICYMI ...

The owner of a Saskatoon grocery store says he was "shocked and horrified" by a video circulating online showing a security guard in a physical altercation with an Indigenous woman accused of shoplifting.

Chris Fowler has posted on FreshCo’s Facebook page that the encounter should never have happened and that the security guard’s contract with the store has been terminated.

The nine-minute video posted on social media on Wednesday shows a man kneeling on a woman as he attempts to handcuff her in the store’s parking lot.

Bystanders question the man’s actions as he and the woman continue to struggle, both yelling for help and making accusations.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations Saskatchewan, is calling for charges against the guard.

It says Indigenous women are disproportionately targeted and victimized.

Fowler, a Metis father of two, says the store is co-operating with an investigation into what happened.

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Also this...

Alex White thought he was watching a huge worm writhing in plastic-wrapped lettuce he’d just brought home from a Sydney supermarket — until a snake tongue flicked.

“I kind of completely freaked out when I saw this little tongue come out of its mouth and start flicking around and realized it was a snake because worms don’t have tongues,” White said on Thursday.

“I definitely kind of panicked a bit,” he added.

It was a venomous pale-headed snake that authorities say made an 870-kilometre (540-mile) journey to Sydney from a packing plant in the Australian city of Toowoomba wrapped in plastic with two heads of cos lettuce.

The refrigerated supermarket supply chain likely lulled the cold-blooded juvenile into a stupor until White bought the lettuce at an inner-city ALDI supermarket on Monday evening and rode his bicycle home with salad and snake in his backpack.

White and his partner Amelia Neate spotted the snake moving as soon as the lettuce was unpacked onto the kitchen table.

They also noticed the plastic wrapping was torn and that the snake could escape, so they quickly stuffed the reptile with the lettuce into a plastic food storage container.

White phoned the WIRES rescue organization and a snake handler took the snake away that night.

Before the handler arrived, White said WIRES had explained to him: “If you get bitten, you’ve got to go to hospital really quickly.”

ALDI is investigating how a snake could have found its way into a supermarket.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2021

The Canadian Press