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Emergency buzzer had been disabled at prison where Clayton Cromwell died: report – Halifax

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An emergency intercom in the jail unit of a young Halifax man who died of a methadone overdose had been improperly disabled by guards who regarded it as a nuisance, according to a corrections investigation.

The report says a cellmate found 23-year-old Clayton Cromwell unconscious on April 7, 2014, and yelled at other inmates with an intercom in their cell to press the “red button.”

But there was no response for 10 or 15 minutes, inmates said, and they had to start kicking doors and yelling to get attention of officers at Halifax’s Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility.

According to the report, released to The Canadian Press under freedom-of-information legislation, the intercom had been cut some time earlier, in contravention of provincial rules.

“They used to have intercoms in there,” a captain is described as telling the corrections investigator.

“They were a nuisance for the most part.”

READ MORE: Privacy chief criticizes partial suppression of N.S. jail death report

He told the investigator that if someone needed medical attention or had disabilities, they had a special cell with a working intercom, but otherwise inmates “get ahold of us by yelling, banging, waving their towels…”

The investigator quoted the cellmate as saying he shouted to ask other inmates to use the emergency intercom to get the attention of guards.

“They were trying to press buzzers … I think the intercom only in the handicap cell works,” the investigator quoted the inmate saying.

The investigation report says a follow up email from the correctional officer several days after the death indicated that the intercom in the specialized health cell also wasn’t working, and there was no record on the reason for that.

The Department of Justice declined all comment on whether the lack of intercom may have caused a delay in response to the dying prisoner and whether changes have been made in response, citing an ongoing lawsuit from his family.

Devin Maxwell, the lawyer representing Cromwell’s family, said in an interview he feels the disconnected system played a role.

“Disabling the intercom system removed a level of security from the inmates that could have allowed Clayton’s cell mate to contact correctional officers before he died. Nuisance was not a sufficient reason to take that option away,” he wrote in an email.

The report contains disputed versions of when inmates first attempted to get the attention of correctional officers, with some reporting they’d been trying since 6 a.m., three hours before the official time of death.

However, closed circuit television showed the first attempts were between 8 a.m. and 8:15 a.m.

WATCH MORE: N.S. justice minister fields tough questions after inmate death






Maxwell says the issue of when inmates first tried to alert corrections officials to the overdose “remains an open issue,” but he argues the failure to detect overdose symptoms the day and night before suggests understaffing at the jail and problems in jail procedures.

Cromwell was in the jail awaiting a hearing on alleged probation violations. He was repeatedly described by inmates as a “good kid,” who’d been in the unit for a short period of time.

Inmates told the investigator that potent opioids were believed to be on the unit, and inmates gave descriptions of the signs of Cromwell’s overdose through the evening and night of his descent into the fatal overdose.

A guard said inmates were being pressured to “cheek” medication – a term meaning the substance is concealed in the inmate’s mouth. One inmate described how opioids “had been floating around” in the days before the overdose.

The document says that the prisoners were locked in their cells for much of the afternoon before Cromwell’s death due to an unrelated health emergency.

Nonetheless, it appears that somehow Cromwell ended up receiving and taking a deadly combination of methadone and an anti-depressant called bezodiazepine, according to autopsy findings. It said medical evidence showed his body wasn’t used to the drug, and a single dose was sufficient to kill him.

According to the investigation report, inmates said on the evening before his death Cromwell was described as “a bit groggy,” and staring at the television in the common area in an unusual way.

However, details were blanked out of the descriptions and all the interviews with guards were cut out of the report released to The Canadian Press, despite the freedom of information commissioner’s findings in August that the province hadn’t provided sufficient evidence to show why they should be withheld.

A cellmate told the investigators that by 11:30 p.m. on April 6, Cromwell was making gurgling noises. At 2 a.m., about seven hours before Cromwell was declared dead in his cell, the cellmate was still hearing Cromwell make “gurgling” noises and had rolled him over.

READ MORE: N.S. privacy commissioner smacks down justice department over secrecy around death of Clayton Cromwell

The report has the inmate describing the noise as “like he was choking on his spit or something … a lot of fluids in his mouth,” and also describes him lifting his arm up and down.

Dr. Risk Kronfli, the director of offender health services at the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said in an interview that a number of measures have been taken since Cromwell’s death to reduce the risk of opioids reaching prisoners.

They include increasing the period of time that inmates are observed after receiving medication by 10 minutes, and thorough strip searches of males before leaving the health unit.

The prison also now has a body scanner to check inmates coming into the facility for any drugs on or inside their body, he said.

“I can tell you since we implemented the strip search and the longer period of time (of observation) there hasn’t been any methadone that’s made its way back to the unit,” said Kronfli.

He said about 29 people are currently on the opioid replacement program at the facility, with 23 receiving methadone, four Suboxone and two on Kadian.

The doctor said the program at the jail is usually for addicts and the medical staff have to balance the safety of the facility with the need to treat the addiction, even if a person has abused the program.

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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