Protest showdown in Ottawa and Ukraine crisis deepens: In The News for Feb. 18


Published February 18, 2022 at 4:30 am

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 Feb. 18 …

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA — Ottawa is holding its collective breath as police appear ready to finally end the so called Freedom Convoy protest that has paralyzed a good chunk of the capital city’s downtown core for the past three weeks.

With significantly bolstered ranks municipal, provincial and national police officers have established a perimeter with about 100 checkpoints covering Ottawa’s downtown to keep out anyone intent on joining the protest this weekend.

They have also arrested a number people, including two organizers of the protest against COVID-19 public health measures. Tamara Lich was in custody Thursday night charged with counselling to commit mischief, while Chris Barber was also facing that charge along with charges of obstruction and counselling to commit obstruction.

As snow blanketed the city Thursday police spent much of the day going around warning protesters, once again, to pack up and pullout now, or else risk arrest and other tough sanctions.

But many demonstrators still refused to budge. And city residents, who have grown increasingly frustrated with their lives being upended by the protest, are now waiting to see if police will back up their words with action to take back the streets.  

Meanwhile, use of the federal emergencies law that the government invoked to give police the tools needed to end the occupation is now being debated in the House of Commons. It’s expected to receive approval in a vote on Monday with the Liberals and NDP supporting the plan and the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois opposing it.

Also this …

LYTTON, B.C. — More than seven months after a wildfire destroyed much of the British Columbia village of Lytton, actions have been announced that open the possibility of a homecoming for many displaced residents. 

Lytton Mayor Jan Polderman says removal of fire debris from the village will start next month and rebuilding of homes could begin by the fall. 

Denise O’Connor, whose home of more than 30 years was destroyed in the fire, says the rebuilding can’t come soon enough for anxious and frustrated residents.

She says residents heard little for months from the local or provincial governments about plans to rebuild the community or when people could begin to build their new homes.

Liberal Jackie Tegart, who represents Lytton in the B-C legislature, says the New Democrat government did not move quickly enough to help Lytton following the June 30th fire and now months later people are confused and angry.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth acknowledges the frustrations of residents about wanting to return, saying the government is committed to rebuilding Lytton but the recovery will take time.

And this … 

Far out in deep space, four times the distance between Earth and its moon, a piece of Canadian technology that could help reshape our understanding of the universe has passed its first crucial tests.

The systems that aim the massive James Webb Space telescope, designed and built through the Canadian Space Agency, have been used to lock on to a target star — a sign that the millions of dollars and thousands of hours spent on the signature project are going to work out just fine. 

“It’s extremely satisfactory seeing everything coming into place,” said Jean Dupuis, a senior mission scientist with the agency. “It’s a sense of amazement and happiness.”

The James Webb, the result of $13 billion and more than two decades of work, is meant to be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the instrument that mesmerized stargazers with its stunning images of the heavens. Webb, however, will orbit much deeper in space — about 1.6 million kilometres out — and be anywhere from a hundred to a million times more sensitive.

Launched in late December, it is designed to study the nature of planets beyond our solar system and what the oldest galaxies around can tell us about the birth of the universe. Webb will be able to analyze exoplanetary atmospheres and gather data from so-called “First Light” galaxies, formed 13.6 billion years ago.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

NEW YORK — To plead the Fifth or not to plead the Fifth. 

That’s the question facing Donald Trump after a New York judge Thursday ordered the former president to testify in a long-running state civil investigation into his business practices. 

Barring a successful appeal, Trump would face a decision between answering Attorney General Letitia James’ questions or invoking his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. 

Trump has often equated such silence with evidence of guilt. 

Legal experts say the former U.S. president could be unpredictable in a deposition and also faces political risks in remaining silent. 

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Canada’s foreign minister has accused Russia of trying to escalate the crisis with the West by shelling a kindergarten in eastern Ukraine.

“Canada strongly condemns the unprovoked Russian military activity in the Donbas region of Ukraine. Innocent civilians were put in danger by this clear effort by Russia to escalate the crisis. We commend the restraint shown by Ukraine,” Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said in a written statement on Thursday evening.

The Ukrainian military command said shells hit a kindergarten in Stanytsia Luhanska, wounding two teachers, and cutting power to half the town. Ukraine blamed separatists for shelling its forces but said they didn’t fire back.

“We will continue to work with our allies to co-ordinate our responses to deter further Russian aggression. Any further military incursion into Ukraine will have serious consequences, including co-ordinated sanctions,” Joly said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Twitter the shelling “by pro-Russian forces is a big provocation.”

The escalating hostility came as Defence Minister Anita Anand emerged from two days of meetings with NATO counterparts with fresh assurances of Canada’s commitment to the military alliance, but no new promises of reinforcements to protect allies from Russia.

Anand instead suggested the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to deploy additional troops and equipment to eastern Europe is limited due to its numerous other commitments both at home and around the world.

Anand was speaking at the end of a news conference in Brussels, where defence ministers from across the 30-country transatlantic alliance were seized over the last two days with Russia’s recent military buildup around Ukraine and the threat of a new war in Europe.

The end of the meeting coincided with a resurgence of fears about war as U.S. President Joe Biden warned Russia could invade Ukraine within days, and violence spiked in a long-running standoff in eastern Ukraine.

Also this …

NEW DELHI — A court in India has sentenced to death 38 people for a series of bomb blasts in 2008 that left more than 50 dead and 200 wounded in the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat state, which has a history of violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims. 

It was the first time that so many accused have received death sentence in a single case in India, however, the sentence must be confirmed by a higher court. 

Judge A. R. Patel also sentenced 11 people to life imprisonment in the case in which more than a dozen bombs went off in several parts of Ahmedabad.

A militant Islamic group has claimed responsibility for the bombings. 

On this day in 2002 …

Sears said its Eatons stores would be closed or converted to Sears outlets, spelling the end of the 133-year-old Eatons brand.

In entertainment …

TORONTO — Haviah Mighty is giving 10 Black-owned small businesses a bit of extra cash to help them grow and thrive.

The Canadian rapper has announced the winners of her Black Entrepreneur 10K Giveaway, focused on supporting Black Canadian businesses.

Mighty says she wanted to share the wealth after receiving half the winnings from last year’s $20,000 Prism Prize which went to her music video “Thirteen.”

She launched a contest in December and narrowed down the entrants to 20 businesses who then made their case on Instagram Live.

The chosen recipients offer an array of Canadian products and services including clothing, braids, black and brown bandages and plush dolls.

Mighty provided $1,000 to each of the 10 winners, and Afro Caribbean Business Network Canada gave $250 to each of the 10 runners-up.

The 2019 Polaris Prize winner said Thursday that the giveaway introduced her to a variety of Black Canadian businesses she didn’t know existed.

“I wanted to focus on the people who have those setbacks in the entrepreneurial world and give them a little bit of a leg up, give them a little bit of attention,” she said in an interview from her home in Brampton, Ont.


MONTREAL — A new international study involving Canadian researchers has found that people who had COVID-19 during the pandemic’s first wave were more susceptible to nightmares — and the worse their infection, the more bad dreams they experienced.

The study found that, for some, the experience of a COVID-19 infection was as intense as a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. 

Sleep researchers in 14 countries including Canada compared the frequency of nightmares and other dreams in two groups of 544 subjects, a group of people who had COVID-19 and a control group of people who were not infected. The data was gathered between May and July 2020.

The researchers found that the frequency of dreams increased by about 15 per cent in the two groups during the first months of the pandemic.

The frequency of nightmares was similar for the two groups before the outbreak of the pandemic. However, the frequency of nightmares increased by 50 per cent in the group that had COVID-19 and by 35 per cent in the control group. The researchers also found that participants who had a moderate or serious form of the disease were more susceptible to nightmares than those whose infection was less serious.

The reason for the increase is not entirely clear. While the study did not rule out the possibility that it was due to effects of the virus on the brain, psychological factors associated with uncertainty and isolation, such as the loss of contact with family and friends, may also be involved. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2022

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