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This woman lost her sight — but now she has frightening visions

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A Nova Scotia woman has been experiencing visual hallucinations following the loss of her sight.

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Prosecution wraps up case in Chauvin murder trial with tearful testimony from Floyd’s brother

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As the prosecution wrapped up its case in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Monday, the court heard emotional testimony from the younger brother of George Floyd. Philonise Floyd, the younger brother of George Floyd, broke into tears as he described his sibling’s relationship with their-now deceased mother, during his testimony on Monday.…

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As the prosecution wrapped up its case in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Monday, the court heard emotional testimony from the younger brother of George Floyd.

Philonise Floyd, the younger brother of George Floyd, broke into tears as he described his sibling’s relationship with their-now deceased mother, during his testimony on Monday. (Court TV/The Associated Press)A cardiologist testified that George Floyd’s death was “absolutely preventable.” Another witness told the court that no reasonable officer would have used the force that was applied Floyd. 

But as the prosecution wrapped up its case in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Monday, it was Floyd’s younger brother who provided the emotional testimony, breaking into tears as he described his older sibling’s relationship with their now-deceased mother.

“That’s my oldest brother George. I miss both of them,” Philonise Floyd told the Hennepin County District Court in downtown Minneapolis when shown a picture of his brother as a young boy with their smiling mother. 

“He would always be upon our mom. He was a big Mama’s boy. I cried a lot. But George, he loved his mom.”

George Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed a knee on the back of his neck for around nine minutes as two other officers held him down. He had been detained outside a convenience store after being suspected of paying with a counterfeit bill.

Chauvin is on trial on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of the 46-year-old Black man.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill told jurors that closing statements could begin next Monday. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

Video captured by a bystander shows the handcuffed Floyd repeatedly saying he couldn’t breathe. 

The outcome of the high-profile trial is being closely watched after the video prompted widespread outrage, setting off protests over race and police brutality across the U.S. and around the world.

Judge Peter Cahill told jurors that the trial could wrap up this week, with closing statements beginning April 19.

Playing video games Philonise spoke about growing up poor in Houston: how they would play video games together; how his brother, who couldn’t cook, would still make the best banana mayonnaise sandwiches and syrup sandwiches.

George, he said, was a gifted athlete who tried to teach him how to catch a football not by throwing it directly to him, but away.

Philonise shed tears as he spoke about their mother’s death in 2018; how hurt his brother was that he didn’t get to see her in Houston before she died.

“It hurt him a lot. And when we went to the funeral … George just sat there at the casket. Over and over again, he would just say ‘Mama, Mama,’ over and over … And I didn’t know what to tell because I was in pain, too. We all were hurtin’ and he was just kissing her, and just kissing her. He didn’t want to leave the casket.”

In some of the videos of his arrest, Floyd can be heard calling out, “Mama!” repeatedly and saying, “Mama, I love you!” although it’s unclear who he was referring to, as court heard from Floyd’s girlfriend that that was a name he used for her as well.

Philonise was allowed to give testimony as a “spark of life witness,” a doctrine, in the state of Minnesota, which allows the prosecution to call on individuals who can speak in court to humanize the victim of a crime.

Defence begins Tuesday  The defence beings making its case on Tuesday, when Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson will try to prove that Floyd was, in fact, not a victim, at least not of his client.

Nelson will spend the next days trying to convince the jury that Chauvin’s actions were justified, that he did what his training taught him. And he will raise the possibility, as he has during cross-examination, that it was a combination of Floyd’s underlying medical conditions, drug use and adrenaline flowing through his system that ultimately killed him.

On Monday, however, two expert witnesses for the prosecution attempted to punch holes in those theories. 

Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist, testifies in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiology expert from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, echoed previous witnesses in saying Floyd died of low oxygen levels from the way he was held down by police.

Although Floyd suffered from narrowing of the arteries and hypertension, Rich said that was extremely common. Floyd also had a mildly thickened or mildly enlarged heart, he testified, which would be normal in someone with high blood pressure. 

Indeed, Rich testified, Floyd had an exceptionally strong heart, and there was no evidence he suffered a heart attack on the day of his death.

“I can speak with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event and he did not die from a drug overdose,” he said.

“I believe that Mr. George Floyd’s death was absolutely preventable,” he said.

Had Floyd not be subjected to the initial prone restraint, while he was handcuffed, and pushed face first into the pavement, “I don’t think he would have died,” Rich said.

As well, when he complained he couldn’t breathe, putting him in a position where he could have started to expand his lungs again, “I think very likely would have also saved his life,” Rich said.

On cross-examination, Rich agreed with Nelson that Floyd would have survived if he had “simply gotten in the back seat of the squad car.”

But he added: “Had he not been restrained in the way in which he was, I think he would have survived that day. I think he would have gone home, or wherever he was going to go.” 

Court also heard from use-of-force expert Seth Stoughton who said no reasonable officer would have believed Chauvin’s actions were “an appropriate, acceptable or reasonable use of force.”

He said it was unreasonable as well to think that Floyd might harm officers or escape after he had been handcuffed to the ground.

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Liberals, Bloc vote to end Commons defence committee hearings on military misconduct

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One of two parliamentary investigations into sexual misconduct in the Canadian military is being shut down. The governing Liberals, with the support of the Bloc Québécois, have called an end to defence committee hearings this week over the the objections of Conservatives and New Democrats. Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance sits in the front…

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One of two parliamentary investigations into sexual misconduct in the Canadian military is being shut down. The governing Liberals, with the support of the Bloc Québécois, have called an end to defence committee hearings this week over the the objections of Conservatives and New Democrats.

Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference on Friday, June 26, 2020 in Ottawa. Vance, who is now retired, faces allegations of inappropriate behaviour that first surfaced in the media in early February. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)One of two parliamentary investigations into sexual misconduct in the Canadian military is being shut down.

The governing Liberals, with the support of the Bloc Québécois, forced a motion through the House of Commons defence committee on Monday that effectively ends its hearings into misconduct this week and sends the issue on to the report-writing stage.

Both the Opposition Conservatives and the New Democrats opposed the motion.

The Liberal parliamentary secretary for defence, MP Anita Vandenbeld, said the committee needs to move on in order to get its report and recommendations to the government before the summer recess.

The defence committee began its investigation after allegations of inappropriate behaviour involving former chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance first surfaced in the media in early February.

The Commons status of women committee is conducting a separate investigation into the impact of the misconduct crisis on women in uniform. It will continue with further hearings for the moment.

The defence committee, meanwhile, was charged with figuring out who in the Liberal government knew what and when about claims that Vance had inappropriate relationships with female junior officers and had sent a racy email to a woman of junior rank.

The investigation took on new life weeks after getting underway when Admiral Art McDonald, Vance’s successor, stepped aside after it was revealed that he was under investigation over a separate allegation of misconduct.

Liberal committee members say the committee has heard from sexual misconduct victims who have urged the government to do a better job of supporting those who risk their careers to report harassment, abuse and assault.

‘No one has taken responsibility’: NDP defence critic “They are eagerly awaiting the release of our committee’s report,” Liberal MP Ivan Baker said. “They would urgently like us to complete that report.”

New Democrat defence critic Randall Garrison said policies to support victims, while important, were not the primary focus of the defence committee.

“The subject of this study is why nothing was done at the highest level when allegations of sexual misconduct [surfaced] against a sitting chief of the defence staff, who was allowed to serve for an additional three years without any action being taken, without any investigation, and was in fact given a pay raise, which indicates a judgment of satisfactory performance,” Garrison said.

“What we’re trying to do is give confidence to Canadian women that they can serve equally in the Canadian military. And that confidence comes only when they know these issues will be taken seriously at the very highest level.”

WATCH | Conservative MP questions defence minister about termination of Commons committee hearings on military misconduct: 

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Federal government, Air Canada reach deal on relief package that includes customer refunds

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The federal government has reached an agreement with Air Canada that will provide the pandemic-battered airline with financial support — while committing the airline to refunding customers who saw their flights cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government and Air Canada have reached an agreement that will see Ottawa provide the…

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The federal government has reached an agreement with Air Canada that will provide the pandemic-battered airline with financial support — while committing the airline to refunding customers who saw their flights cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government and Air Canada have reached an agreement that will see Ottawa provide the carrier with financial assistance through loans and equity investments. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)The federal government has reached an agreement with Air Canada that will provide the pandemic-battered airline with financial support — while committing the airline to refunding customers who saw their flights cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the deal, the government will provide the country’s largest airline with up to $5.4 billion through a variety of low-interest loans and take an equity stake in the company worth $500 million.

In exchange for federal government support, Air Canada has agreed to refund customers who had their flights cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The airline also has agreed to restore flights on nearly all suspended regional routes and to place limits on compensation for company executives, share buybacks and the payment of dividends to shareholders.

In addition, Air Canada said it would to maintain its workforce at current levels, respect collective bargaining agreements and protect workers’ pensions. The company currently has 14,859 active Canadian employees, although it employed over 30,000 employees before lost revenue caused it to lay off tens of thousands of workers. 

Lifeline for a battered industry Today’s agreement — reached after months of negotiations — promises a desperately-needed lifeline for an industry that’s among those hardest hit by the COVID-19.

Air Canada’s passenger numbers declined 73 per cent in 2020 following several years of record growth. During 2020, it reduced staff by more than 20,000, more than half of it pre-COVID total. Then, it cut another 1,700 employees in January.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, pictured at a news conference in November, called the agreement with Air Canada ‘a good and fair deal for Canada and Canadians.’ (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

In February, former Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinescu called 2020 the “bleakest year ever” for commercial aviation when he announced the airline had lost a staggering $1.16 billion in the fourth quarter.

“The additional liquidity program we are announcing today achieves several aligned objectives as it provides a significant layer of insurance for Air Canada, it enables us to better resolve customer refunds of non-refundable tickets, maintain our workforce and re-enter regional markets,” Michael Rousseau, the airline’s current president and CEO, said in a statement. 

“Most importantly, this program provides additional liquidity, if required, to rebuild our business to the benefit of all stakeholders and to remain a significant contributor to the Canadian economy through its recovery and for the long term.”

A pair of Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767 passenger aircraft are pictured at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on July 3, 2019. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Customers who purchased non-refundable fares but did not travel due to COVID-19 since February 2020 will be eligible to receive refunds as of Apr. 13, the company said.

The government said the financing will allow Air Canada to continue supporting the country’s aerospace industry — in part by allowing it to complete the purchase of 33 Airbus A220 aircraft, manufactured at Airbus’ facility in Mirabel, Que., and a separate order for 40 Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

‘Workers should be happy’: union leader Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, which represents about 15,000 workers in the airline industry, called the agreement a “win-win” for the government, consumers, the industry and airline workers. 

“You’ve got consumers [who] are winning because Air Canada is going to give back their refunds. Taxpayers are winning because these are straight loans, it’s not grants. And the federal government will take about $500 million worth of shares or six per cent ownership,” said Dias in an interview on CBC’s Power & Politics.

“All in all, I think workers should be happy … it’s a win-win for everyone.”

WATCH | Air Canada relief deal offers ‘template’ for other airlines, says Unifor president:

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