Tag Archives: Newly

West Virginia lawmaker among dozens of people newly charged over Capitol siege

A West Virginia state lawmaker has been charged with entering a restricted area of the U.S. Capitol after he livestreamed himself with rioters, the Justice Department announced Friday.

Ken Kohl, a top deputy federal prosecutor in Washington, announced the charge against Derrick Evans on a call in which he presented dozens of new charges against members of a mob that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday.

It wasn’t immediately announced if Evans is in custody. Several other state lawmakers across the country travelled to Washington, D.C., for demonstrations this week but it’s unknown if any other elected official joined the mob of Donald Trump supporters attacking the U.S. Capitol.

A growing number of Republicans and Democrats said they want to expel Evans from the legislature if he does not resign. His attorney, John Bryan, said late Thursday that the delegate didn’t commit a crime and doesn’t plan to resign.

Other people who were charged include a man who was photographed in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and an Alabama man who had Molotov cocktails and firearms in his truck parked near the U.S. Capitol, Kohl said.

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Ghislaine Maxwell denied arranging girls for Prince Andrew in newly released deposition

Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend denied introducing Britain’s Prince Andrew to underage sex partners in a defensive and combative deposition made public Thursday, calling the prince’s accuser an “awful fantasist.”

“Are we tallying all the lies?” Ghislaine Maxwell asked during the 2016 deposition, saying she could not recall taking Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre out for a night of clubbing with Andrew in London. “Her tissue of lies is extremely hard to pick apart what is true and what isn’t.”

The exchange was contained in hundreds of pages of transcripts ordered released by U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska in a civil lawsuit.

Maxwell has been charged with recruiting three underage girls in the 1990s for Epstein to sexually abuse and committing perjury in the depositions, though the charges don’t relate to the prince. She has pleaded not guilty.

Maxwell, 58, parried a long list of inquiries about Epstein’s sexual proclivities and her interactions with Giuffre and other young women, insisting she never saw the financier have sex with anybody.

Denied hiring under-18 girls

“She is an absolute total liar and you all know she lied on multiple things and that is just one other disgusting thing she added,” Maxwell said, denying having three-way sex with Epstein and Giuffre.

“I never saw any inappropriate underage activities with Jeffrey ever.”

Giuffre has accused Epstein of arranging for her to have sexual encounters with numerous wealthy and influential men, including Prince Andrew. He and the other men have denied her allegations.

Maxwell repeatedly denied hiring anyone under the age of 18 for Epstein.


In this Sept. 2, 2000 file photo, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is seen leaving a wedding in Salisbury, England in a car driven by Britain’s Prince Andrew. (Chris Ison/PA/The Associated Press)

As for whether she was Epstein’s girlfriend after meeting him in 1991, Maxwell called it a “tricky question.”

“There were times when I would have liked to think of myself as his girlfriend,” she said.

Asked whether it was Epstein’s “preference to start a massage with sex,” Maxwell said: “I think you should ask that question of Jeffrey.”

In a deposition of Epstein conducted later in 2016, Epstein mostly invoked the Fifth Amendment, which protects against self incrimination.

“Fifth,” he replied when he was asked if Maxwell was “one of the main women” he used to procure underage girls for sexual activities.

Deposition stemmed from defamation case

Preska had ordered the transcripts of seven hours of depositions of Maxwell released by Thursday morning. The judge allowed release of the transcripts after rejecting arguments that the interviews for Giuffre’s 2015 defamation lawsuit against Maxwell would jeopardize a fair criminal trial for Maxwell next July.

Maxwell has been held without bail since her July arrest on charges that she procured the underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse between 1994 and 1997.


Virginia Roberts Giuffre is shown on Aug. 27, 2019. Unsealed court documents have provided a glimpse into a fierce civil court fight between Jeffrey Epstein confidante Ghislaine Maxwell and one of the women who accused the couple of sexual abuse. (Bebeto Matthews/The Associated Press)

The 2016 transcripts were among over 2,000 pages of documents being released since a federal appeals court last year began unsealing documents from the since-settled Giuffre lawsuit. She said Maxwell recruited her at age 17 to be sexually abused by Epstein and Maxwell from 1999 to 2002.

The Miami Herald, whose reporting in 2018 brought fresh scrutiny to Epstein’s crimes, had argued in seeking the unsealing that Maxwell’s fear of embarrassment shouldn’t stop the public from learning of “the sexual abuse of young girls at the hands of the wealthy and powerful.”

Epstein was 66 in August 2019 when he killed himself in a federal jail in Manhattan as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.

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Toronto FC’s Justin Morrow heads up newly formed Black Players Coalition of MLS

Change is coming and Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow is helping lead the way.

The 32-year-old fullback from Cleveland is executive director of the newly formed Black Players Coalition of MLS, aimed at addressing racial inequality in the league and positively impacting Black communities across Canada and the U.S.

The coalition was announced Friday on Juneteenth, a day celebrating the end of slavery in the U.S.

“It’s been madness — in a beautiful way,” Morrow said of the round-the-clock efforts to form the group on short notice.

As it has been around the globe, the decision to band together was triggered by the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

“Right after the death of George Floyd, there were a lot of conversations going on between the Black players in the pool of Major League Soccer. But they were fragmented,” Morrow said.

“Although we were all thinking the same thing, we were having the conversations with our own groups. So we were able to start a chat that really got a group of guys together from different teams and from there we branched out to having 70 Black players on a Zoom call a week after the death of George Floyd.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Jamie Strashin discusses increased activism among Black athletes:

Powered by protest, more Black athletes are speaking out against racism, but using their platform has limits. 1:46

“The Zoom call was just amazing. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. There was a lot of anger there, pain, amidst everything that was going on with the pandemic and the return-to-play negotiations and, of course, what happened to George Floyd. So guys were expressing that, but also expressing love for each other and support for each other.

“Just a lot of intense, passionate speeches happened in that call. And that’s really when we decided we needed an organization. And from there it’s just been a roller-coaster ride trying to get this thing together just to be announced today. But the way we’re looking at is it’s just the starting line and we still have all of the work ahead of us.”

The coalition board members are Ray Gaddis (Philadelphia Union), CJ Sapong (Chicago Fire), Quincy Amarikwa (formerly D.C. United), Kendall Waston (FC Cincinnati), Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Bill Hamid (DC. United), Earl Edwards Jr. (D.C. United), Jalil Anibaba (Nashville SC), Kei Kamara (Colorado Rapids) and Ike Opara (Minnesota United) serving as board members.

“There will be change,” tweeted Morrow and the board members.


“It’s important that we use our platforms as professional athletes,” Morrow said in an interview. “We want to lead the change, specifically in Major League Soccer, because we don’t see the Black representation that we want to see at the coaching level or at the high executive levels. We don’t see that in Major League Soccer and we don’t see that in the MLS Players Association.

“So we want to see more of us and we have initiatives aimed at getting that done. We’ve already brought that to the league and so we’re in conversations with them about how we can make that happen together.”

A difference on both sides of the border

The coalition also wants to make a difference outside the league through targeted charitable donations and helping build up local Black communities on both sides of the border.

The fact that it took the death of Floyd to spur action leaves Morrow somewhat conflicted.

“I lament that a little bit,” he said. “Because obviously this wasn’t the first time that this happened. Not in the United States or anywhere in the world. We’d be blind to say that racism doesn’t exist everywhere in the world.

“And so we as Major League Soccer players can stand up to that because we have soccer players from all over the world that represent their countries. And so these are the types of things that we want to stand up for. And unfortunately we came about [after] the death of George Floyd, another Black man dead at the hands of a white police officer in the United States. And it’s something that we should have long before that.”

Morrow, a U.S. international whose father was a police officer, is in his seventh season in Toronto after beginning his pro career with four seasons in San Jose. One of the first names on the TFC team sheet, the Notre Dame graduate was an MLS all-star in 2012.

While the coalition says it is a stand-alone organization, it will partner with the MLS Players Association and MLS on racial issues, other initiatives and charitable donations. So far it says it has secured $ 75,000 US in charitable donations by the MLSPA on its behalf.

Morrow said the coalition will make voter registration a priority with November elections looming in the U.S.

He expects more talks among players as the entire league moves to Florida for next month’s MLS is Back Tournament.


MLS issued a statement in support of the coalition, saying it “proudly recognizes and supports” the group and called its members “influential change leaders.”

The MLSPA said it was “proud to support and stand with” the coalition.

“We are clear, however, that the change that is needed in our sport cannot come from the BPC alone, the association said in a statement. “Real change must come from within each one of us, and each of our organizations.

“For the MLS Players Association, this means listening, asking questions and internal reflection. It means re-examining our mission, our organization and our structure.”

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Selena Gomez Sends a Message to an Unfaithful Lover on Newly Released Song ‘Feel Me’

Selena Gomez Finally Officially Releases 2016 Song ‘Feel Me’ | Entertainment Tonight

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Newly leaked documents show PC health-care changes 'done deal', NDP says

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath revealed new documents on Monday she says show the province had already signed off on leaked health-care legislation the Progressive Conservatives dismissed as "just a draft" last week.

Hours later, Health Minister Christine Elliott battled back at her own news conference, accusing the NDP of "fear-mongering." Elliott also said the material was non-partisan public service documents that she had never seen. 

The unnamed bureaucrat allegedly responsible for the document breach has been fired, and the Ontario Provincial Police have been called in to probe the case. 

The NDP is accusing the PCs of plotting to privatize healthcare, but the governing party says that's not the case 1:41

But the NDP says the "internal government documents" released on Monday appear to be government presentations, and include references to cabinet approving the plan and appointing board members.

"It's a done deal," Horwath said. "But the entire Ford government has been hiding this plan from the public. Why? Because people won't like it."

The documents follow last week's draft legislation, also leaked by the NDP, showing the Doug Ford government wants to create a "super agency."

The NDP accused the government of trying to create a two-tier private health system in Ontario, but Elliott denied that allegation last week, maintaining the government is committed to strengthening the province's health system.

Analyst cites PC pressure

CBC Toronto has learned that the public servant behind the "unauthorized disclosure of confidential government documents" has been fired. The OPP has been notified of the breach, said Steven Davidson, the head of the Ontario Public Service. 

Christo Aivalis, a Queen's University labour studies professor, said while government documents are routinely leaked, the sources of those leaks are rarely fired or prosecuted. He said he believes the PC government is putting pressure on bureaucrats to crack down on leaking.

"I think that it's being done here, because the dirt that's been dug up — for lack of a better term — has real meaning to it, and the government is probably mad the people have found out the nature of their actions," Aivalis said.

"I think they're acting to prevent further leaks of credible information in the future, and that's why they've taken this step."

Christine Elliott says her government is committed to strengthening Ontario's public health-care system. (Ed Middleton/CBC)

'Unprecedented power'

In December, high ranking officials received confidential information of the government's planned changes to Ontario's health-care system, Horwath said. 

Horwath said the changes would give the PC government "unprecedented power to farm out" services to private sector entities.

The NDP also says the documents introduce a new model of care delivery, called MyCare groups, which would outsource services such as laboratories, many of which are already privately run, and the province's air ambulance service.

NDP says changes from Doug Ford government would overhaul the system and create a two-tier private system. (Shutterstock)

The NDP leader said the contracts would be won through a bid system, which will have "expression of interest" due in March, if the legislation were approved. 

No skipping the line

Ontario's health minister said Monday the NDP "intentionally created confusion" about the PCs' plans for health care in Ontario. 

Elliott said the government has no plans to create for pay services and says people with money will never be able to "skip the line" when it comes to health-care services. 

"We will not be privatizing any of the services referenced today by Andrea Horwath," Elliott said. "In fact, the document that she released today was an internal non-partisan public service document which I have never seen."

Elliott went on to say, her government is bringing "desperately needed and overdue changes" Ontario's health system at a later date. 

Last week, the NDP released a draft version of upcoming PC health-care legislation, which would dissolve the province's Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) and create a "super agency" to oversee the health system.

Due diligence

The NDP received all the documents last week, but only released the draft legislation last week and held onto the internal government documents over the weekend. 

"I think it was important for our staff to take as much due diligence as possible," Horwath said, defending her decision to withhold some details last week," she said.

"We do not have anything else to share with you on this subject, and who knows, we all know how this works, today is today, tomorrow is tomorrow and next week is next week."

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Curiosity’s Newly Dust-Free Penny Shows Strength of Martian Winds

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We often hear about the dust storms and wind on Mars, but it’s hard to visualize conditions on the ground when the planet’s only inhabitants are robots. Today, the Curiosity rover has provided a handy visual example of how the wind blows on the red planet. The record consists of two images of a penny, one before the windy season and one after.

You probably didn’t know there was a penny on Mars, but NASA didn’t send Curiosity out into the solar system without a little walking around (or rolling around) money. The penny was minted in 1909, the first year the coin depicted president Abraham Lincoln. NASA mounted the coin vertically on the front side of the rover. It’s there to help test the focus and sharpness of Curiosity’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), the camera on the end of the rover’s robotic arm. The penny is next to a color and scale test panel that serves a similar purpose. It’s the only penny on Mars, which I suppose makes it a red cent.

Mars experienced a major planet-wide dust storm earlier this year. It engulfed the Opportunity rover first in June before sweeping over Curiosity a few weeks later. Unfortunately, Opportunity is a solar-powered robot. NASA put the rover into sleep mode in advance of the dust cloud, but it has not woken up since. Curiosity has a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) power source that is unaffected by a layer of dust.

Curiosity snapped the first image of the penny (above) on September 4th, showing dust caked on the surface. Keep in mind, this is a vertical surface — something horizontal like Opportunity’s solar panels would have much more coverage. The image below shows the same penny on December 2nd after the “windy” season on Mars was well underway. As you can see, the penny is almost completely free of dust.

Despite the thin atmosphere on Mars, the air can really get moving. NASA has expressed hope that wind could clear Opportunity’s solar panels and let the rover wake up again. It’s possible the rover’s batteries are irreparably damaged after so long without active internal heating. Still, NASA has not given up on Opportunity. The agency recently increased the frequency of pings to the robot as well. The windy season on Mars is expected to last through January. If Opportunity doesn’t wake up by then, it’s unlikely to ever do so.

Now read: NASA Loses Contact With Opportunity Rover as Martian Dust Storm Rages OnNASA Celebrates 5 Years of Curiosity With New Mars Rover Video, and NASA releases new Curiosity selfie at Martian dune field

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Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins to chair newly created federal pharmacare committee

CBC News has learned former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins will chair a federal government advisory council with a goal of creating a national pharmacare plan.

Hoskins announced his resignation as minister this afternoon without providing any details.

A federal government source has told CBC News the council’s mandate will be to “consult a wide range of stakeholders, provinces, territories, Indigenous groups and experts” and then provide the government with options on how to proceed with a national pharmacare program.

The advisory council has until 2019 to complete its job.

 

It’s expected the federal government will make the announcement during Tuesday’s budget.

“In leaving Queen’s Park, I am determined to continue building better healthcare for all Canadians,” said Hoskins in a statement. “That path and journey will become clearer in the days ahead.”

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The parliamentary budget officer estimated that establishing a universal program for prescription medications would amount to about $ 4.2 billion in savings annually. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Canadians currently pay among the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world. Canada is also the only country with universal health care that doesn’t include prescription drugs.

Pharmacare was part of the original plan for universal health coverage in 1964. While the Liberals endorsed pharmacare and promised a timetable to introduce it in their 1997 election campaign platform, the current government has said it will instead focus on trying to lower prescription drug costs.

Canadians are currently covered by a patchwork of public and private drug plans, while a minority pay completely out of pocket for their prescriptions. 

Government-run plans cover about 40 to 45 per cent of Canadians, and are for the most part only available to seniors, Ontarians under 25, otherwise uninsured Quebecers, welfare recipients, Indigenous people and members of the RCMP and Canadian Forces. 

When the committee asked the Parliamentary Budget Officer to research how much would be saved on prescriptions if Canadians were covered by these cheaper provincial drug plans, he concluded it would be $ 4.2 billion annually. That doesn’t include the cost to government of extending insurance coverage to everyone.

The federal ​Standing Committee on Health is reviewing a draft report on pharmacare. 

Federal NDP Health Critic Don Davies has called for national pharmacare. Davies said he’s puzzled by the new appointment, saying it pre-empts the parliamentary health committee’s work.

“We’re putting the finishing touches on a report after hearing from 90 witnesses, a broad spectrum of stakeholders from across the country,” Davies said. “It smacks of politics, not policy.”

Colleen Flood, director of the Centre for Health Law Ethics and Policy in Ottawa, supports the idea of a Canada-wide pharmacare plan.

Enormous price difference

Flood, born and raised in New Zealand, sees up to a 10-fold difference in the price of life-saving medications in New Zealand’s pharmacare plan compared with prices in Canada.

“That’s an enormous difference in price, which you know a savvy public purchaser may be able to achieve with good bargaining with pharmaceutical companies. So the question is, will the system be set up to facilitate that?”

Hoskins is a doctor and an officer of the Order of Canada. He was first elected as an MPP in 2009 in the Toronto riding of St. Paul’s. He ran for the Ontario Liberal Party leadership in 2013. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne appointed him economic development minister in her first cabinet, then made him her health minister after the 2014 election. 

Hoskins is resigning as a member of provincial parliament and won’t be running in the June provincial election.

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Health Canada assisted private plasma clinics, newly released documents say

A coalition of health advocates recently held a news conference on Parliament Hill to release more than 800 documents showing how Health Canada officials worked behind the scenes to change Canada’s voluntary blood plasma donation system.

Kat Lanteigne of BloodWatch said the documents reveal that government officials knew back in 2010 that they were helping to privatize part of the Canadian plasma sector. The officials knew they were opening up the Canadian plasma market to a large multinational company, Biotech AG, which was in partnership with a smaller company, Canadian Plasma Resources.

“They were actually trying to create a secondary plasma collector in this country and create an American-style model,” Lanteigne said. “That’s what was so shocking.”

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Blood and plasma bags are pictured here. Plasma is the straw-coloured portion of blood that is processed into pharmaceutical products for patients. (Marion Berard/AFP/Getty Images)

BloodWatch, a group advocating to preserve a completely voluntary blood donor system in Canada, obtained the documents under access to information laws. 

The documents, including internal government emails and minutes of meetings, show Health Canada bureaucrats assisting in the launch of the new business — a chain of clinics that would harvest plasma from Canadians who would be paid.

The public first learned about the plans in 2013 when CBC News reported that the first two clinics were preparing to open for business. 

[The federal government]

 should have said, ‘no thank you we have a public blood system here, we’re not going to support a secondary operator,'” Lanteigne said.

When the Ontario government learned that three paid plasma clinics were poised to open in Toronto and Hamilton, the province passed a law banning them.

But internal Health Canada emails reveal bureaucrats continued to work with the plasma company even while the Ontario debate unfolded.

At one point during the Ontario controversy, Jim Pimblett, the lobbyist for the plasma company, emailed a Health Canada bureaucrat to say that media reports were favourable to the company. In another document, Health Canada and the private plasma company agreed on the need to co-ordinate their responses to media questions.

Company plans 10 paid plasma centres

“I have no comment on the correspondence released under the access to information request,” said Canadian Plasma Resources CEO Barzin Bahardoust.

He told CBC News in an email that he still plans to open 10 paid plasma centres across Canada along with a plasma processing facility. Right now the company has paid clinics in Saskatoon and Moncton, N.B.

According to the Canadian Plasma Resources website, people can be paid up to $ 50 per donation.

A previous access to information request by BloodWatch turned up documents showing that Canada’s national blood agency warned Health Canada that the private clinics might draw donors away from the voluntary system. The agency says it has noticed a drop in voluntary blood donations in Saskatoon, where people can be paid for their plasma.

BloodWatch, along with the Canadian Health Coalition and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, released the documents in the foyer of the House of Commons on November 20 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Krever Commission, as a reminder about Canada’s troubled history of managing the blood supply.  

The Krever Commission investigated Canada’s tained blood scandal, after hundreds of Canadians were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C through blood transfusions in the 1980s. 

One of the key recommendations by Judge Horace Krever at the time was to “ensure that blood products used in Canada are made from the blood and plasma collected from unpaid donors.”

The World Health Organization also recommends that donors not be paid.

Health Canada said in an email that it has appointed a panel of experts to study the sustainability of Canada’s plasma supply. Most of the plasma used in Canada is manufactured into pharmaceutical products including albumin, clotting factors, and immune globulins (IGIV). Those products are processed using plasma collected from donors in the U.S., who are paid. 

As they read through the documents, the BloodWatch group said, they were surprised at the access the private clinic had to Health Canada officials.

“We have asked for years for meetings with Health Canada and meetings with the health minister and we have been denied every single time,” Lanteigne said.

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Newly available drug secobarbital could boost number of self-administered assisted deaths

Only a tiny percentage of Canadians who’ve received medical assistance to end their lives has chosen to self-administer a lethal drug cocktail.

But that could change now that secobarbital — the drug most commonly used for assisted suicide in other countries — is available in Canada.

Secobarbital is considered the best way for suffering individuals who want to control the manner of their death as much as possible, including administering the medication themselves.

“It’s kind of the barbiturate of choice because (its) quicker onset and duration is such that the dying period is reduced,” said Dr. Stefanie Green, president and co-founder of the Canadian Association of MAID Assessors and Providers.

“Much of the other recipes cause an extended dying period to happen, which is not always successful.”

Health Canada reports that from June 2016 to June 2017 — the first year in which medical assistance in dying (MAID) was legal in Canada — a total of 1,982 individuals received an assisted death. Of those, just five were self-administered deaths.

Could help patients in rural areas

Green said the unavailability of secobarbital may, at least in part, explain the small number of self-administered deaths.

In general, orally ingested drug cocktails present some difficulties that are not associated with those injected intravenously: they taste bad, they can induce nausea and vomiting, the patient can fall asleep before the entire dose is consumed, which can ultimately cause it to be ineffective.

“You want to mitigate those factors as best as possible,” Green said. “So if you’re going to choose to use a barbiturate and an oral cocktail, this (secobarbital) would be the best one.”

Among other things, she said secobarbital is more soluble than other barbiturates, meaning it can be dissolved in a smaller volume of liquid, thereby reducing the risk that patients won’t consume the entire dose.

Green expects that self-administered deaths will increase somewhat now that secobarbital is available.

“There are certainly a significant amount of people who want to be the ones to have the control, who want to be the ones with the medication in their hand, who want to say, ‘I’m going to take this to my backyard and drink it when I darn well please, thank you very much,”‘ she said.

The drug may be particularly helpful in rural or remote areas where it may be difficult to find a nearby physician or nurse practitioner willing to provide an assisted death, Green added. Individuals in those areas may find it easier to get a prescription for a lethal dose of secobarbital that they can administer themselves.

Company doesn’t want name publicized

Because it is fast-acting, secobarbital may also make the self-administration option more viable in a province like British Columbia, where Green practices and which requires a physician to be present throughout the assisted dying process, even when the patient self-administers the medication. That was not feasible when the barbiturates used could take hours, or even days, to work, she said.

Secobarbital, once widely used as a sedative decades ago, has not been available in Canada for years. That it is now is largely due to Jocelyn Downie, a professor of law and medicine at Dalhousie University and a passionate advocate of medical assistance in dying.

When she realized few people were using the self-administration option, Downie said she explored ways to make secobarbital available. She discovered that the cost and time required to get the drug approved for marketing in Canada was a big obstacle so she found “an alternate path:” persuading a pharmaceutical products company to provide the active ingredients for the medication that can be compounded, or mixed, by a pharmacist to produce secobarbital.

Since the company doesn’t want its name publicized, Green said her organization is acting as “the middleman.” It will provide the necessary contact information to health care providers and pharmacists who are helping patients who choose the self-administered death option.

“For those of us in the field, it’s good news, it’s very good news to be able to offer this extra option to our patients, some of which we know will take it and we’ll be happy to provide a better quality product for them,” said Green.

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Newly released image shows just how close Air Canada jet came to disaster

Newly released data and photos show how shockingly low an Air Canada jet was when it pulled up to avoid crashing into planes waiting on a San Francisco International Airport taxiway last month.

The Air Canada pilots mistook the taxiway for the runway next to it and flew their jet to just 18 metres above ground before pulling up to attempt another landing, according to National Transportation Safety Board information released Wednesday.

That’s barely taller than the four planes that were on the taxiway when the incident occurred late at night on July 7.

Pilots in a United Airlines plane alerted air traffic controllers about the off-course jet, while the crew of a Philippine Airlines jet behind it switched on their plane’s landing lights in an apparent last-ditch danger signal to Air Canada.

NTSB investigators said they have not determined probable cause for the incident that came within a few feet of becoming one of the worst disasters in aviation history.

“It was close, much too close,” said John Cox, a safety consultant and retired airline pilot.

Captain had 20,000+ hours in the sky

The investigators said that as the Air Canada jet approached the taxiway just before midnight after a flight from Toronto, it was so far off course that it did not appear on a radar system used to prevent runway collisions.

Those systems were not designed to spot planes that are lined up to land on a taxiway — a rare occurrence, especially for airline pilots. But the Federal Aviation Administration is working on modifications so they can, agency spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Both pilots of the Air Canada Airbus A320 jet were very experienced. The captain, who was flying the plane, had more than 20,000 hours of flying time, and the co-pilot had about 10,000 hours.

The pilots told investigators “that they did not recall seeing aircraft on taxiway but that something did not look right to them,” the NTSB said.

Investigators could not hear what the Air Canada captain and co-pilot said to each other during the aborted landing because their conversation was recorded over when the plane made other flights, starting with a San Francisco-to-Montreal trip the next morning. Recorders are required to capture only the last two hours of a plane’s flying time.

Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for Air Canada, declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

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