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Around Red Deer May 18th…..

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2:50 pm – Red Deer RCMP are hoping you can help them find 35 year old Nadia Bull. She was last seen in Red Deer on May 12. RCMP believe she may now be in the Rocky Mountain House area, and wish to verify her well-being. Read More.

11:53 am – The Innisfail Farmer’s Market is back for another season! Read More.

11:48 am – Food Truck Thursdays are back for another season in Sylvan Lake! Read More.

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9:16 am – Red Deer RCMP are asking for public assistance to locate 13 year old Jayden Lafferty. He was last seen in Red Deer on April 19 and RCMP wish to verify his well-being. Jayden Lafferty is described as Caucasian, 5’3” tall, 105 lbs, Wavy light brown hair and Blue eyes. If you have been in contact with Jayden Lafferty or have information on his whereabouts, please contact the Red Deer RCMP at 403-343-5575.

9:07 am – Red Deer College celebrated two events on Wednesday, May 17th. The Learning Pathways in Central Alberta Memorandum of Understanding signing and the 2017 Community Awards. In the afternoon, representatives from RDC and seven local School Divisions gathered to celebrate the ongoing partnership created through Learning Pathways in Central Alberta, a Memorandum of Understanding between the eight organizations. Later in the evening, community members, alumni and distinguished guests gathered to celebrate two deserving individuals and one community partner at the 2017 Community Awards ceremony. Alfio Truant was awarded the G.H. Dawe Memorial Award for his commitment to community and leadership. The Distinguished Alumnus Award went to Rod Kennedy for his personal and professional achievements, as well as public service. The Community Partner Award was presented to seven central Alberta School Divisions, in recognition of their collaborations with Red Deer College in promoting high school completion and the transition to post-secondary learning.

8:59 am – Rocky Mountain House RCMP are hoping you can help them find 24 year old Waylon Frencheater. Read More.

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8:33 am – Arson charges have been laid against 39-year-old Denis Fortin in connection with an apartment fire in Ponoka on May 1st. Read More.

8:24 am – The Alberta government has announced $54.2 million in funding this year for improvements to campgrounds, new picnic tables and improved infrastructure. In Central Alberta, Jarvis Bay Provincial Park will receive some campground upgrades, while Fish Lake Provincial Park will see campground upgrades and an expansion. Read More.

8:05 am – It’s a busy day at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School in Red Deer. A representative from Red Deer College Career Services will be presenting to Grade 8 students. Information will include what it is like to be a college student, what kind of careers going to college can help them achieve, and how to work towards getting to the college level. Also, Presenters from the University of Calgary Let’s Talk Science Team will be presenting to Grade 6 students. Students will have an opportunity to participate in various hands-on crime lab activities during this session.

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Amid threats to members, House to vote on new security

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Colorado Rep. Jason Crow, a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, says it took time for him to stop constantly scanning his environment for threats when he returned from war 15 years ago. But after the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he says he’s picked the habit up again.

Crow was trapped with several other members of Congress in the upper gallery of the U.S. House that day while a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters tried to beat down the doors to the chamber and stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

Crow says he never would have thought “in a million years” he’d be in that situation in the Capitol, but some of his old training has since kicked in, like looking in his rear-view mirror and assessing if people around him might be carrying a gun. Like almost every other member of Congress, his office has received threats against his life.

“There’s no doubt that members are on edge right now,” Crow says, and the threats from outside “are unfortunately the reality of congressional life.”

Those threats have more than doubled this year, according to the U.S. Capitol Police, and many members of Congress say they fear for their personal safety more than they did before the siege. Several say they have boosted security measures to protect themselves and their families, money for which will be part of a broad $1.9 billion spending bill that the House will vote on this week, along with a separate measure that would create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. Democrats, in particular, say both bills are crucial to try to reconcile the trauma that many still feel.

“This was an armed assault on our democracy, and I’m a witness — I’m a victim and a witness to it,” says New Hampshire Rep. Annie Kuster. She received treatment for post-traumatic stress after she was also trapped in the House gallery that day and heard rioters trying to break through the doors close to where she was hiding.

Kuster says she thought she was going to die before officers cleared the hallways and hustled her and others out. “I think we need a full investigation with a Jan. 6th commission, and I believe that the Capitol Police who saved our lives that day deserve more support,” she says.

Democrats say a bipartisan commission investigating the attack, including what led to it, is more important than ever after some Republicans have recently started to downplay the severity of the insurrection, portraying the rioters who brutally beat officers with flagpoles and other weapons and broke into the Capitol through windows and doors as peaceful patriots.

Many Republicans who initially condemned Trump for telling his supporters to “fight like hell” that day have increasingly stayed quiet on his repeated false claims that the election was stolen, even though that was rebuked by numerous courts, bipartisan election officials across the country and Trump’s own attorney general. It’s unclear how many in the GOP will vote for either bill.

Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., said at a hearing last week that a video feed of the rioters looked like they were on a “normal tourist visit.” Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., said a woman who was shot and killed by police as she tried to break through a window adjacent to the House chamber was “executed,” and he argued that the Justice Department is harassing those who have been arrested.

Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat who also says he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after the attack, said those comments were “really hard to take” after witnessing the insurrection. He says he’s received an increased number of threats since January, especially when he has spoken on TV about treatment he received in the aftermath. Some of the calls and messages are specific and credible threats, he says, while many others are “abusive, threatening type language.”

The security spending bill would provide congressional offices with more money to combat those threats, including enhanced travel security, upgrades to home-district offices and better intelligence to track people down. The bill would also “harden” the complex by reinforcing doors and windows, adding security vestibules and cameras and providing dollars for removable fencing that could quickly be erected during a threatening situation while leaving the Capitol open to visitors.

Like many members, Republican Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois says he feels as if the threats are more acute in his home district, where there is less security. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are currently protected by a tall fence and National Guard troops who have been there since Jan. 6. Members are “as safe as ever” there, he says, but “it’s those times when you’re not in the Capitol, I think that’s where the threats seem to emanate from the most.”

Davis knows that well, as one of several Republican members who was at a baseball practice four years ago in Alexandria, Virginia, when a gunman wounded Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and four other people. And in 2019, an Illinois man was arrested for “threatening to blow my head off,” as Davis puts it. Randall Tarr pleaded guilty to federal charges and was sentenced to probation.

As the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, which oversees the Capitol Police, Davis has pushed for the force to be more aggressive in arresting those who threaten members and to reform the arcane command structure in Congress that forces the chief to ask for permission before making major decisions. The security spending bill would not do that, but it would boost Capitol Police training and pay for new equipment after the force was badly overrun on Jan. 6.

In the meantime, members are upgrading their personal security. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., says he’s started using his house alarm more often and has been more cautious in recent months. “I’ve definitely felt less secure since Jan. 6 than I did before,” says Himes, who sits on the House intelligence committee.

Some say it’s easier not to know what’s going on. Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat, said he’s generally adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with his staff on security matters since the insurrection, and he doesn’t ask why when a police car sometimes shows up in front of his house to guard it.

“I don’t necessarily want to know the full story,” says Krishnamoorthi, who has young children. “I just trust that law enforcement is doing their job.”

Kuster says she is feeling better these days after taking advantage of employee assistance resources in the Capitol. Still, she says her experience was “really, really difficult,” especially because she received a death threat as soon as she arrived home to New Hampshire after the insurrection. Home was the one place “I can usually feel safe,” she says.

She said she regularly talks to and texts with her colleagues who have also had post-traumatic stress, and she says some of them are still hurting.

“We need a security plan so that everyone can feel safe here,” Kuster says. “I want the ‘people’s house’ to be able to reopen.”

Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press

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Tories demand more info on investigation into general overseeing vaccine campaign

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OTTAWA — Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is blasting the Liberal government for not providing Canadians with more information about why the general overseeing Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign has been forced to step aside.

The Department of National Defence issued a terse three-line statement on Friday evening announcing that Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin was leaving his role because of an unspecified “military investigation.”

Some experts have since criticized the lack of details around the nature of that investigation given the importance of his position and recent concerns about a lack of transparency and accountability from the military.

O’Toole is now echoing those criticisms, calling on the Liberal government to be transparent with Canadians, suggesting its failure to do so represents a threat to the public’s confidence in the military and the vaccine campaign.

O’Toole is also demanding the government announce who will be taking over from Fortin, who has declined to comment, and managing the vaccination campaign.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to take questions from reporters today for the first time since news of Fortin’s reassignment on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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