The U.S. government executed convicted murderer Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, early on Wednesday, after the Supreme Court cleared the last hurdle for her execution by overturning a stay.
Montgomery’s execution marked the first time a female prisoner has been executed since 1953 in the United States.
She was pronounced deceased at 1:31 a.m. ET on Wednesday, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said in a statement.
Challenges were fought across multiple federal courts on whether to allow execution of Montgomery, 52, who had initially been scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection of pentobarbital, a powerful barbiturate on Tuesday in the Justice Department’s execution chamber at its prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Kelley Henry, Montgomery’s lawyer, called the execution “vicious, unlawful, and unnecessary exercise of authoritarian power.”
“No one can credibly dispute Mrs. Montgomery’s longstanding debilitating mental disease — diagnosed and treated for the first time by the Bureau of Prisons’ own doctors,” Henry said in a statement.
Convicted for 2007 murder
Montgomery was convicted in 2007 in Missouri for kidnapping and strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett, then eight months pregnant. Montgomery cut Stinnett’s fetus from the womb. The child survived.
Some of Stinnett’s relatives travelled to witness Montgomery’s execution, the Justice Department said.
As the execution process began, asked by a female executioner if she had any last words, Montgomery responded in a quiet, muffled voice, “No,” according to a reporter who served as a media witness.
Federal executions had been on pause for 17 years and only three men had been executed by the federal government since 1963 until the practice resumed last year under President Donald Trump, whose outspoken support for capital punishment long predates his entry into politics.
Montgomery’s lawyers asked for Trump’s clemency last week, saying she committed her crime after a childhood in which she was abused and repeatedly raped by her stepfather and his friends, and so should instead face life in prison.
Suffered brain damage, mental illness, says ACLU
It is one of three executions the U.S. Department of Justice had scheduled for the final full week of Trump’s administration. Two other executions scheduled for Thursday and Friday have been delayed, for now at least, by a federal judge in Washington, to allow the condemned murderers to recover from COVID-19.
The American Civil Liberties Union and some liberal lawmakers had previously opposed the government’s plans to execute Montgomery, with ACLU saying her life had been “marred by unthinkable trauma that resulted in documented brain damage and mental illness.”
Montgomery’s execution was the first of 2021 by the federal government and the 11th since last year.
In 2020, the U.S. government executed 10 people and it was for the first time ever that the federal government conducted more executions than all U.S. states combined, according to a database compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center.
One of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent women’s rights activists was sentenced on Monday to nearly six years in prison under a vague and broadly worded law aimed at combating terrorism, according to state-linked media.
Loujain Alhathloul’s case, and her imprisonment for the past two and a half years, have drawn international criticism from rights groups, members of the U.S. Congress and European Union lawmakers. Alhathloul, whose family members in Canada have been advocating for her release, is a graduate of the University of British Columbia who lived in Canada for five years.
State-linked Saudi news outlet Sabq reported that Alhathloul, 31, was found guilty by the kingdom’s anti-terrorism court on charges including agitating for change, pursuing a foreign agenda and using the internet to harm public order.
She has 30 days to appeal the verdict.
Activism and imprisonment
Alhathloul was among a handful of Saudi women who openly called for the right to drive before it was granted in 2018 and for the removal of male guardianship laws that had long stifled women’s freedom of movement and ability to travel abroad.
She was arrested for the first time in 2014 while attempting to drive across the border from the United Arab Emirates — where she had a valid driver’s licence — to Saudi Arabia. She spent 73 days in a women’s detention facility, an experience she later said helped shape her campaigning against the kingdom’s male guardianship system.
In 2016, a year after she became one of the first women to stand for municipal election in Saudi Arabia, she was among 14,000 signatories on a petition to King Salman calling for an end to the guardianship system.
In March 2018 Hathloul was arrested in the UAE, where she was studying, and forcibly flown to Riyadh, where she was held under house arrest before being moved to prison in May, rights groups say. She was among at least a dozen other women’s rights activists arrested.
UN calls sentence ‘deeply troubling’
In a statement, the UN human rights office said the conviction and sentence handed to Hathloul, “already arbitrarily detained for 2½ years, is also deeply troubling.” The office urged her “early release” as a matter of urgency.
Her family has called on the Canadian government to be more aggressive in holding Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations to account. Alhathloul has told her family she has been held in solitary confinement and suffered electrocution, flogging, and sexual assault.
A rights group called Prisoners of Conscience, which focuses on Saudi political detainees, said that Alhathloul could be released as early as the end of March 2021 based on time served. She has been imprisoned since May 2018 and 34 months of her sentencing will be suspended.
The judge ordered her to serve five years and eight months in prison for violating anti-terrorism laws, according to Sabq, which said its reporter was allowed inside the courtroom during Monday’s session.
His doomed crusade to overturn the U.S. election result crossed a milestone following electoral college meetings Monday that formally selected Joe Biden as the next president.
Not in a century and a half,since the post-Civil War era, has a defeated presidential candidate continued to challenge the results past those electoral college meetings.
That’s where Trump now finds himself. He has persisted in peddling the idea he can still win even after losing Monday in the formal electoral votes.
He not only denied the electoral college reality in a flurry of defiant tweets: Trump’s campaign also convinced groups of Republicans to organize their own parallel meetings in various swing states and declare him the winner.
It’s part of a no-hope effort to persuade the U.S. Congress to call the election result erroneous and to vote to overturn it.
“This is off the charts,” said Alexander Keyssar, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and author of abook on the history of the electoral college.
“It’s very unusual.”
Keyssar said there have often been arguments about elections, and recounts, and even court fights like the one in 2000 between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
There was also a protest froma few Democrats who delayed, by a couple of hours, congressional certification of Bush’s win in Ohio in 2004.
But what’s novel, he said, is the losing candidate insisting on fighting after 538 voters of the electoral college formalize the results across the country.
That threshold was breached Monday.
Trump allies suggested they intended to keep the struggle going until a final showdown: when members of Congress meet onJan. 6 at 1 p.m.ET to complete the final step in the selection of the president.
Several election experts dismissed Trump’s alternate slate gambit as futile.
WATCH | Trump supporters gather in Washington D.C. to protest election results:
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump rallied in Washington, D.C., to decry presidential election results, two days before the electoral college meets to certify Joe BIden’s win. 3:00
The congressional numbers simply aren’t there for him: For Trump to get the required simple majority in both houses of Congress to nullify certain states’ votes, he would need a string of unprecedented and, frankly, unfathomable developments.
For starters, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives would have to agree to it. It’s highly unlikely he would even get the tiny Republican Senate majority to go along, given that several Senate Republicans have already recognized or even congratulated Biden on his win. Both chambers would need to nullify the results in at least three states, strip Biden of at least 37 electoral votes to keep him under the 270 majority, and then to force what’s called acontingent election in which each state delegation in Congress gets a vote.
“Not gonna happen. It’s just not gonna happen,” Keyssar said.
There’s no sign Trump has the required support even within his own party — as a growing number of Republican lawmakers declared Monday, eitherbluntly ortentatively, that it’s over and Biden has won.
In state capitals, a number of top state-level Republicans have also made clear they won’t help Trump fight the result through their own legislatures.
Republican leaders in Michigan issued statements calling Biden the election winner Monday — it drew a torrent ofangry comments online from Republican voters.
The author of a two-year oldpaper that previewed how mail-in ballots could prompt legal feuds and chaos said this is it for Trump.
Edward Foley said that after dozens of court losses, and after Monday’s 306-232 loss in the electoral college, Trump can try whatever he wants with Congress.
“It’s still not going to affect the result,” said Foley, director of Ohio State University’s election-law program and author of different books on the electoral college and disputed elections.
But he said the prolonged feud can still damage the country.
Electoral college votes under cloud of security
At least four people werestabbed and one wasshot last weekend during election-related street confrontations between opponents and supporters of the president in Washington, D.C., and Washington State.
Security concerns prompted authorities to take unusual precautions to protect members of the electoral college.
In Michigan, Chris Cracchiolo accepted a police escort to the event in the state legislature; police had urged lawmakersto avoid the building because of credible threats of violence.
“I wouldn’t have believed it,” Cracchiolo said in an interview, referring to the tension surrounding the vote.
“So many things over the last four years have shocked me. … So many things [where] I just shake my head and say, ‘I’ve never seen this before.'”
Cracchiolo, a sales representative for three decades for AT&T, is now a volunteer with the state Democratic Party. At a meeting this past summer, he was selected by members in his area to be one of Michigan’s 16 electors.
He said he felt a bit nervous during the three-hour drive Monday from his home in northern Michigan to Lansing, the state capital.
Ultimately, though, he saw very few pro-Trump protesters on the way into the legislature; after the meeting, he waved off the offer of a police escort and walked back, unsupervised, to the parking lot.
He said he’s hopeful American politics will get back to a calmer place after the pandemic. He said the incoming president, Biden, is well-suited to that nation-soothing task.
Yet events elsewhere on the Michigan legislature grounds suggested dreams of national unity may have to wait a while.
A group of Michigan Republicans arrived for a planned meeting to choose a competing slate of Trump electors and were toldto leave by a police officer.
At the Trump campaign’s request, such unofficial electoral college meetings were held by Republicans in different states, inArizona,Pennsylvania,Georgia and elsewhere.
Trump aide Stephen Miller described the latest plan in an interview with Fox News.
“We’re going to send those [competing lists] up to Congress,” Miller said.
Security and secret sites
Meanwhile, the campaign will keep fighting in court, arguing that states failed to follow election laws, and hope that some court victories persuade Congress to appoint Trump in its Jan. 6 votes.
The Trump campaign has lost dozens of court cases so far.
In Pennsylvania, Marian Moskowitz arrived for her meeting at an undisclosed location.
As a member of the electoral college she knew the plan was to meet at the Forum auditorium in the state capital of Harrisburg.
But the site was kept secret from the public for security precautions. Moskowitz, an early Biden supporter, got a call from the party last month inviting her to be an elector.
“It was just so overwhelming. So humbling and exciting. All these emotions go through you,” she said, expressing pride in being able to cast a vote for the first female vice-president, and first Black vice-president, Kamala Harris.
‘Just the craziest year’
She pulled up to a parking garage and a shuttle transported her to the meeting location where 20 Pennsylvanians voted for Biden.
“It’s just just the craziest year. Don’t you feel like you’re living in a novel somewhere?” Moskowitz said, referring to the unusually high security precautions.
“I am concerned. I think we can see now with this president how vulnerable our democracy truly is. That one person can change the way we function.”
Biden, for his part, saluted the resiliency of the U.S. electoral system.
In a speech Monday night, he said there’s now evidence that nothing — not even a pandemic, or an abuse of power — can extinguish American democracy.
Commercial flights with Boeing 737 Max jetliners resumed Wednesday for the first time since they were grounded worldwide following two deadly crashes nearly two years ago.
Brazil’s Gol Airlines became the first in the world to return the planes to its active fleet, using a 737 MAX 8 on a flight from Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre, according to the flight tracking website Flightradar24.
The company’s own announcement didn’t specify the route of the flight.
Gol is set to start regular service on Dec. 18, according to aviation data firm Cirium, with several daily flights between Sao Paulo and other major Brazilian cities.
Customers will be able to exchange their tickets if they don’t want to fly on a 737 Max, a Gol spokesperson told The Associated Press in an email.
Gol, the country’s largest airline with 36 million passengers annually, owns seven 737 Max aircraft, according to Cirium. It is the only Brazilian company with the model in its fleet.
“The MAX is one of the most efficient aircraft in aviation history and the only one to undergo a complete recertification process,” Gol’s chief executive officer, Paulo Kakinoff, said in a statement earlier this week.
Canada yet to clear 737 Max to fly
The Boeing plane was grounded globally in March 2019, shortly after a 737 Max crashed in Ethiopia. A prior crash in Indonesia involving the model occurred in October 2018. In all, 346 people died.
Brazil’s aviation regulator lifted its restrictions on the 737 Max in November, clearing the way for the plane to resume flights in Latin America’s biggest country.
Similar restrictions have been lifted in the U.S. and Europe, where commercial flights with the plane are expected to resume soon, likely starting with American Airlines on Dec. 29.
WATCH | Canada holds off on clearing Boeing 737 Max 8 to fly:
U.S. aviation authorities have cleared the Boeing 737 Max 8 to return to active service more than two years after a pair of crashes killed 346 people, but Transport Canada is holding off, despite assurances from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing that the troubled MCAS computer system has been fixed. 2:00
In Canada, Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s office told CBC News last week that no final decision on validating changes to the aircraft had been made yet and that the “commercial flight restrictions” remain in effect.
That came after Canadian families of crash victims say they took part in a video call with officials from the department who told them it could soon take the first step toward potentially clearing the aircraft to fly again.
Transport Canada has been working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and received a directive listing changes to the aircraft.
Transport Canada’s safety experts have been doing their own independent review of those proposed changes to determine if the aircraft is safe to fly again.
For the Corner Brook Minor Hockey Association, it was like being on the receiving end of an open-ice body check.
It was in late March near the end of the 2018-19 season in Corner Brook, N.L., when league officials were informed they were thousands of dollars behind in payments for ice time.
By the time officials got to the bottom of things, it was discovered the organization was missing around $ 80,000.
An investigation by the RCMP led to the league’s former treasurer being charged with six fraud-related offences.
“It was a shock. It was very unfortunate, especially when you have a small community and everyone’s involved in hockey,” said Darren Harvieux, the league’s new treasurer and part of a group of volunteers who has worked to put the organization back on firm financial footing.
Harvieux says the arrest did nothing to repair damage caused by the alleged thefts.
“The money that went missing was money that came from parents, hard-working parents in the community,” he said. “We are a small community and the biggest thing was really that people’s money had gone missing — money they had thought was for the enjoyment of their children playing hockey.”
And it’s just one example of a common situation Canada-wide: adults in positions of trust stealing or allegedly stealing money from a youth sports organization that is left reeling. An investigation by CBC Sports reveals that in the last decade alone nearly $ 8 million has gone missing from dozens of sports leagues and associations across Canada.
The amount of money stolen ranges from a few thousand to millions of dollars, but the pattern in almost every case is similar: a theft is carried out by one person within the organization who is responsible for the league’s finances.
Click on pinpoints for details
Another example: around the same time as the Corner Brook incident but halfway across the country, it was emerging that a staggering amount of money had gone missing from the Ontario Minor Hockey Association.
The OMHA oversees 225 local associations and 28 leagues across the province, involving nearly 300,000 players, coaches, trainers and parents. According to court documents obtained by CBC Sports, the league’s director of finance — a 16-year employee — stole nearly $ 2.4 million over six months “to support an online gambling and shopping addiction.”
The theft is believed to be the largest amount of money ever stolen from a North American youth sports organization. It only came to light when the employee confessed to OMHA executive director Ian Taylor after she realized the association would be unable to make a large scheduled payment.
The woman subsequently pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
According to court documents, she had “sole access” to one of the league’s secondary bank accounts. On 35 different days, she made 84 transactions from the OMHA’s primary account to the secondary account. She then, according to documents, used the money to pay off personal credit card bills.
In most of these cases, the money is stolen over an extended period of time and is often used to fund a gambling or drug addiction or to buy luxury items.
For example, the man tasked with organizing athletic competitions for a large number of schools around London, Ont., stole almost a million dollars over nearly a decade in what the judge called an “egregious breach of trust.”
At his trial, it was revealed much of the stolen money went to pay for home renovations, including “a saltwater pool and hot tub, retaining walls, interlocking pathways and related construction and significant expensive plantings.” He received a three-year sentence.
Click on pinpoints for details
The thefts tend not to be complicated affairs.
In 2012, the former treasurer of the Richmond Soccer Association in British Columbia was sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted of stealing more than $ 200,000 over five years. She simply wrote more than 200 cheques to herself and her husband.
In sentencing the woman, the judge wrote: “The Richmond Youth Soccer Association was not a sophisticated business entity with systems of checks and balances designed to protect its financial affairs. It is a volunteer organization and was highly dependent on the accused to act honestly with their money. The real victims were the thousands of young people who would have benefited greatly from the monies the accused stole.”
The real victims were the thousands of young people who would have benefited greatly from the monies the accused stole.– Judge in sentencing treasurer who stole $ 200,000 in Richmond, B.C.
More recently, the treasurer of a different small hockey association in Newfoundland was sentenced to five months in jail after stealing more than $ 50,000 over two years. The accused wrote more than 35 cheques to herself to fuel cocaine and gambling addictions.
In a victim impact statement, the association told the court the theft left it “concerned about their ability to continue to operate minor hockey in this region. Parents are being asked to fund-raise over and above the usual level and there has been an additional financial burden placed on the families and community members, in general, as they are being asked to contribute to the association to keep the hockey program viable.”
In our analysis, CBC Sports included only cases where criminal charges were laid or a civil action was launched to recoup stolen money.
But experts say the issue is likely much more prevalent because many cases, for a number of reasons, are never reported to police.
Erik Carrozza is a Philadelphia-area accountant who has documented dozens of similar stories across the United States. He is a longtime youth sports treasurer and founder of the Center for Fraud Prevention. Carrozza started the centre to help youth sports organizations implement prevention strategies to reduce the risk of theft.
WATCH | Why community sports organizations are vulnerable to fraud:
Why community sports organizations are vulnerable to fraud and how they can better protect themselves. 3:30
Carrozza says the volunteer boards of directors who run these organizations often attempt to deal with fraud internally to avoid their own embarrassment, as the boards are responsible for governance and oversight.
“They’re actually reporting themselves and admitting their own shortcomings,” he said. “That is not an easy thing for some people to do.”
Carrozza also points to the so-called community factor, where the guilty party is often a well-known member of organization, has friends on the board and has multiple children who play in the league.
“[The organizations] are a little reluctant to blow up somebody’s life and [their] family,” said Carrozza, adding the cases that are reported usually follow a familiar script.
“You’ve got a brazen crime occurring in the sense that there’s no attempt to cover it up. These are the people that are writing cheques out for themselves and it goes on for years,” he said. “The reason why is the lack of oversight and governance.
“The treasurer isn’t a sophisticated financial criminal. [They are thinking] I can just write a check to myself and nobody will notice.”
Katie Misener, a professor at the University of Waterloo, examines fraud and theft at the youth sports level.
Misener says that at various points of the year — and especially around registration time — leagues could have hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing through their bank accounts.
She says a number of factors make these largely volunteer organizations vulnerable.
In many cases, a league’s money is handled by a single volunteer with what Misener calls a “learned advantage,” somebody who knows how the organization’s finances work and how to manipulate them.
“We tend to trust the parents that are in these leadership roles within our sport clubs,” Misener said. “They’re great people and they contribute a lot of time and their own resources to those roles, helping kids be active and running the club.
“We don’t tend to think that Joe down the street, who’s the treasurer for a hockey club, might embezzle funds. But the reality is that it typically is a treasurer or a board member such as the president who have been the ones who have committed fraud.”
Premier Doug Ford will be joined by Ontario’s health minister and top doctor on Friday after hearing a loud, clear warning that the province could face more than 6,000 COVID-19 cases per day by mid-December if it doesn’t add more public health restrictions.
Ford’s office confirmed there will be a cabinet meeting today to review the latest recommendations from Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer.
That dramatic COVID-19 projection was contained in updated modelling by health experts released on Thursday.
It comes as the province reported 1,396 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter that 440 of those cases were found in Toronto, 440 in Peel and 155 in York Region.
Just over 40,500 tests were completed, she said. Ontario is also reporting 19 deaths on Friday, as well as 1,018 resolved cases.
Other regions that saw double-digit increases included Ottawa at 41, Durham at 41, Hamilton at 43, Halton at 55 and Waterloo at 43.
The province is also reporting 116 school-related cases Friday. There are ongoing outbreaks of the illness in 93 long-term care facilities, with 702 active cases among residents and 478 among staff.
(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found in the Ministry of Health’s daily update, which includes data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any particular region on a given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, which often avoids lag times in the provincial system.)
Pressure on ICUs growing, at least 67 people on ventilators
The growing number of cases is also coming with some grim outcomes. More vulnerable seniors are again dying in long-term care homes and intensive care units are seeing more COVID-19 patients, something that might soon force hospitals to limit other surgeries and procedures.
There are also 110 patients in intensive care in the province, according to the latest report from Critical Care Services Ontario (CCSO), which is distributed daily to critical care stakeholders and shows the most up-to-date numbers provided directly by intensive care units across the province.
That figure was shared on Twitter Friday by Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto. He said patients are now being moved from “overburdened” ICUs to those with more space.
The province’s daily report states 452 people are now hospitalized, an increase of 21 from yesterday. The report says that of those in the ICU, 67 are on a ventilator.
Ford was not part of the modelling news conference, but his office said said later in an email statement that he “won’t hesitate to take action” if Williams recommends it.
Ford, Williams and Elliott are set to speak at Queen’s Park at 2:30 p.m. ET — later than Ford’s usual news conference time. You’ll be able to watch that announcement live in this story.
So far, Ford has defended his approach to dealing with the pandemic, even as Peel Region and the City of Toronto ratcheted up their responses beyond what’s in the provincial framework. On Thursday, the Ontario NDP called for a two-week “circuit-breaker” shutdown to disrupt COVID-19, something Ford rejected.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath repeated that call on Twitter on Friday morning.
Ontarians are now facing terrifying COVID-19 projections. Pinching pennies & hoping for the best will cost lives.<br><br>To avoid a health & economic catastrophe, we need a circuit breaker – a targeted, fully-funded 2-week modified Stage 1 in hotspots only.
Since they were released, experts have slammed the thresholds for moving cities and regions into “red zone” or “lockdown” as too high. Ford has said he needs to balance controlling the spread of COVID-19 and the needs of the economy.
Ontario reported 138 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday after its network of labs completed nearly 30,000 tests on Friday, a number that the health minister calls a “milestone.”
Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a series of tweets on Saturday that the numbers of people hospitalized, admitted to intensive care units and intubated have all decreased.
For a second day in a row, 66 per cent of the new cases reported on Saturday are under the age of 40.
Twenty-seven out of 34 public health units in Ontario are reporting five or fewer cases. A full 16 are reporting no cases at all, Elliott said.
Ottawa is reporting 28 new cases on Saturday, while Windsor-Essex is reporting 33, Toronto is reporting 23, while Peel Region is reporting 12.
Elliott said the province has processed more than two million tests since the pandemic began in late January.
“Testing will remain a critical part of our plan to defeat this virus,” she said.
Elliot said the daily new case numbers represent a 0.4 per cent increase.
Today, as Ontario reports 138 cases of <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a>, a 0.4% increase, we’ve reached another milestone: having processed nearly 30,000 tests yesterday, we’ve now processed over 2M tests since the pandemic started. Testing will remain a critical part of our plan to defeat this virus.
On its website, the Ontario government reported on Saturday that it has a cumulative total of 38,543 cases, with 34,240 of those cases now marked as resolved.
Officially, a total of 2,759 people have died of COVID-19 in Ontario. Currently, 97 people are hospitalized, 30 are in intensive care units, with 21 of that number on ventilators.
Of the official death toll of 2,759, the number of males who have died is 1,255, while the number of females is 1,464. The sex of 40 people who have died is unknown, according to Alexandra Hilkene, spokesperson for Elliott.
A CBC News count based on data provided directly by public health units, which avoids lag times in the provincial reporting system, puts the real current toll at 2,792 as of 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Advocacy group opposes plan to mandate tests on farms
A group representing migrant workers is criticizing a proposal to mandate COVID-19 tests on farms in southwestern Ontario.
Chris Ramsaroop, a spokesperson for Justice for Migrant Workers, says mandatory testing will lead to “criminalization and heightened surveillance” of the workers.
But Premier Doug Ford and the medical officer of health in Windsor-Essex say they are considering the measure.
Farms have been hard hit by the novel coronavirus in recent weeks.
Officials announced on Friday that Windsor-Essex now has the highest rate of COVID-19 in the province.
Announcement on Stage 3 coming next Wednesday
Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex continue to be in Stage 2 of the province’s reopening plan, but the premier has said an update on whether or not they will be able to proceed to Stage 3 will be made next Wednesday.
Ford said on Friday that health officials have asked for more time to “analyze the numbers” in the three areas.
“And I’ve always said, we can’t rush this,” Ford told reporters. “I’m hopeful we’ll have some good news to share on Wednesday.”
Stage 3, among other things, means residents would be allowed to dine indoors at restaurants or drink in pubs. Gyms and movie theatres would also be allowed to reopen.
Under Stage 3, limits on gatherings would increase to a maximum of 50 people indoors and a maximum of 100 people outdoors, with physical distancing in place.
A total of 31 public health units are now in Stage 3 in Ontario
Seven more regions, or public health units, formally entered Stage 3 on Friday, joining the 24 that moved into Stage 3 on July 17.
Pounding rain that already caused deadly floods in southern Japan was moving northeast Wednesday, battering large areas of Japan’s main island, swelling more rivers, triggering mudslides and destroying houses and roads. At least 58 people have died in several days of flooding.
By Wednesday morning, parts of Nagano and Gifu in central Japan were flooded by massive downpours.
Footage on NHK television showed a swollen river gouging into the embankment, destroying a highway, while in the city of Gero, the rising river was flowing just below a bridge.
In a mountainous town of Takayama, several houses were hit by a mudslide, their residents all safely rescued.
In Kagoshima, a pickup truck was hit by a mudslide and fell into the ocean, but the driver was airlifted out with a head injury, according to Fuji Television. In another town in Oita, two brothers in the 80s were dug up alive by rescuers after a mudslide smashed into their hillside house, NHK said.
As of Wednesday morning, the death toll from the heavy rains starting over the weekend had risen to 58, most of them from the hardest-hit Kumamoto prefecture. Four others were found in Fukuoka, another prefecture on Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island.
Across the country, about 3.6 million people were advised to evacuate, although evacuation is not mandatory and the number of people who actually took shelter was not provided.
Rain subsided by Wednesday afternoon in many areas, where residents were busy cleaning up their homes and work places.
In Gero, a man washed down mud at the entrance of his riverside house despite the evacuation advisory. “I was told to run away and my neighbours all went, but I stayed,” he said. “I didn’t want my house to be washed away in my absence.”
In Oita, teachers at a nursery school were wiping the floor and drying the wet furniture. “I hope we can return to normal life as soon as possible,” Principal Yuko Kitaguchi told NHK.
Rain, flooding hamper rescue efforts
Though the rains were causing fresh flooding threats in central Japan, flooding was still affecting the southern region. And search and rescue operations continued in Kumamoto, where 14 people are still missing.
Tens of thousands of army troops, police and other rescue workers mobilized from around the country to assist, and the rescue operations have been hampered by the rains, flooding, mudslides and disrupted communications.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga urged residents to use caution. “Disasters may happen even with little rain where grounds have loosened from previous rainfalls,” he said.
Suga pledged continuing search and rescue effort, as well as the government:s emergency funds for the affected areas.
Japan is at high risk of heavy rain in early summer when wet and warm air from the East China Sea flows into a seasonal rain front above the country. In July 2018, more than 200 people, about half of them in Hiroshima, died from heavy rain and flooding in southwestern Japan.
Governors of U.S. states hit hardest by the resurgent coronavirus halted or reversed steps to reopen their economies on Wednesday, led by California, the nation’s most populous state and a new epicentre of the pandemic.
New cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, shot up by nearly 50,000 in the U.S. on Wednesday, marking it the biggest one-day spike since the start of the pandemic.
“The spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said in ordering the closure of bars, bans on indoor dining and other restrictions in 19 counties, affecting more than 70 per cent of the state’s population.
The change in California, which was the first U.S. state to impose sweeping “stay-at-home” restrictions in March, will likely inflict more financial pain on the owners of bars and restaurants who have struggled to survive the pandemic.
The epicentre of the country’s COVID-19 epidemic has moved from the Northeast to California, Arizona and New Mexico in the West, along with Texas, Florida and Georgia.
Texas again topped its previous record on Wednesday with 8,076 new cases, while South Carolina reported 24 more coronavirus deaths, a single-day high for the state. Tennessee and Alaska also had record numbers of new cases on Wednesday.
The U.S. recorded nearly 48,000 new infections on Tuesday, including more than 8,000 each in California and Texas.
WATCH | Infectious disease researcher on airline travel, NHL hubs and testing for COVID-19:
Craig Jenne says airlines are taking significant health measures to avoid the coronavirus but believes only essential travel should be considered. 6:02
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Grisham, a Democrat, on Wednesday extended the state’s emergency public health order through July 15, saying that authorities would “aggressively” enforce mandatory mask rules.
“I want to be as clear as I can possibly be: New Mexico, in this moment, still has the power to change the terrible trajectory of this virus,” Grisham said. “But our time is limited. And we are staring down the barrel of what Texas, Arizona and many other hard-hit states are grappling with.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat whose city was for months at the centre of the U.S. outbreak, said Wednesday he would postpone a plan to allow indoor restaurant dining beginning Monday.
“We see a lot of problems and we particularly see problems revolving around people going back to bars and restaurants indoors, and indoors is the problem more and more,” de Blasio told reporters.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll found Americans are increasingly worried about the spread of COVID-19, the serious and sometimes fatal illness caused by the coronavirus.
Roughly seven in 10 Republicans said they were personally concerned about the virus’s spread, up from six in 10 in previous polls. About nine in 10 Democrats said they are similarly worried, a level of concern that has not changed.
Conservatives have generally been less willing to wear masks or follow other restrictions imposed by local authorities to stop the spread of the virus as the issue has become increasingly politicized.
What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada
As of 11:20 a.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 104,642 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 68,217 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,677.
A new mobile app meant to help with contact tracing of COVID-19 cases won’t roll out across Ontario Thursday as planned.
The province will be the first to use the COVID Alert app, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it should be ready for downloading in the rest of the country later this summer.
This comes as large parts of Ontario look to moving to Stage 3 of the province’s COVID-19 reopening plan, with the spread of the coronavirus remaining slow in most public health units.
Meanwhile, Canadians celebrated a Canada Day like no other as they marked the national holiday under unprecedented circumstances.
WATCH | Manitoba gives update on elective surgery backlog due to COVID-19:
The province is looking for proposals from the public or private sector that will help increase capacity for surgeries while there is a ‘window’ to act. 1:52
Canada Day 2020 took place amid both a global pandemic and a growing conversation about systemic racism in society.
The pandemic forced the cancellation of high-profile events and large celebrations like the annual pomp and pageantry on Parliament Hill in favour of backyard barbecues and online offerings to keep crowds from gathering.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
The Palestinian Authority has announced a five-day quarantine in the West Bank in response to a major increase in coronavirus cases and deaths in recent days.
The Palestinian government says the lockdown will take effect Friday, and people will be required to shelter at home. A two-month total lockdown of the Palestinian territory was lifted in late May.
In the past two weeks, Palestinian health authorities have reported more than 1,700 confirmed coronavirus cases in the West Bank city of Hebron and hundreds more in Bethlehem and Nablus.
The occupied West Bank has a total of 3,045 confirmed cases and 11 deaths from the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.
South Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 151,000. An emerging hot spot is in Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg, with 28 per cent of the country’s cases.
This comes as the African continent tops 400,000 infections and deaths have crossed 10,000 as health officials warn the pandemic is picking up speed on the continent of 1.3 billion people.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says confirmed cases are now above 404,000 on the 54-nation continent, while testing capabilities remain low because of shortages of materials.
Kazakhstan will implement a second, softer lockdown for two weeks from Sunday to help combat a surge in coronavirus cases, the government said on Thursday.
Authorities will close some non-essential businesses, limit travel between provinces, cut public transit services’ hours of operation and ban public gatherings. The measures may be tightened or extended later, the cabinet said in a statement.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered new curbs after coronavirus cases in the Central Asian country rose more than sevenfold following the lifting of its first, more restrictive lockdown in mid-May.
South Korea says it has confirmed 54 more COVID-19 cases as the coronavirus continues to spread beyond the capital region and reach cities like Gwangju, which has shut schools and tightened social restrictions after dozens fell sick this week.
The figures reported Thursday brought the national case total to 12,904, including 282 deaths.
Health Minster Park Neung-hoo is expressing alarm over the rise of infections in Gwangju, which had one of the smallest caseloads among major South Korean cities before this week.
China is reporting three newly confirmed cases of coronavirus, and says just one of them involved local transmission in the capital of Beijing.
The report Thursday appears to put the country where the virus was first detected late last year on course to eradicating it domestically, at least temporarily.
The National Health Commission says the other two cases were brought from outside China. No new deaths were reported, leaving the toll at 4,634 among 83,537 total cases of COVID-19.
China is moving swiftly to reopen its economy, but mass unemployment looms as the heavily indebted government is reluctant to spend lavishly on stimulus programs.
With new coronavirus cases in Tokyo surging to a two-month high, Japan faces the prospect of a second wave without the experts who tackled the first phase of the epidemic.
Instead, a new panel comprising a Nobel-prize winning geneticist, an artificial intelligence expert and a cardiologist will advise the government, as Japan seeks to revitalize its recession-hit economy.
The reshuffle has raised concerns among some health experts over Japan’s risk management capability as the pandemic could re-intensify.
India’s coronavirus infections surpassed 600,000 on Thursday, with 17,834 deaths, as authorities battled to contain the pandemic while easing lockdown rules, officials and the health ministry said.
Fresh challenges to protect people from the virus emerged for disaster management officials in the northeast state of Assam amid torrential rainfall, where floods and landslides killed 57 people this week and more than 1.5 million were forced to flee their homes.
Assam’s health minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, said the state had started testing aggressively to identify coronavirus cases among villagers forced to take shelter in community halls, schools and government buildings.
The United Kingdom’s government will effectively ditch its air bridge plans and simply end the coronavirus quarantine rules for those arriving from 75 countries so that people can go on holiday, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The newspaper said the U.K. would shortly lift a ban on non-essential travel to nearly all EU destinations, including Bermuda and Gibraltar, and Turkey, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has been grappling with how to open up international travel after it imposed a two-week quarantine for arrivals, which has added to the woes of the shuttered tourism and travel industry.
Indonesia is working to produce its own COVID-19 vaccine next year, amid growing anxiety that developing countries could have difficulty getting access to a future jab, the head of Indonesia’s national COVID-19 research team said Thursday.
“The production capability and capacity of biotech companies in the world is, we know, limited, and global supply chains also have challenges,” Ali Ghufron Mukti, head of the innovation team at Indonesia’s research and technology ministry, said.
“Therefore, it is necessary for Indonesia to develop its own COVID-19 vaccine. And it will be by Indonesia, from Indonesia, to Indonesia,” he said.