This is how the American Alligator survives in freezing temperatures! Check it out! Full credit to: Gator Country on Facebook
This is how the American Alligator survives in freezing temperatures! Check it out! Full credit to: Gator Country on Facebook
In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Emma Corrin just won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Princess Diana.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Since Myanmar's military seized power in a coup on Feb. 1, overthrowing elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, security forces have detained more than 1,000 people, hundreds at protests and many more in raids - often at night. As well as Suu Kyi and her cabinet, the detainees include doctors and teachers, actors and singers, and other civilians who took part in daily protests, according to figures from The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). Founded by ex-prisoners of the former junta, the AAPP now finds itself recording a new generation of political detainees.
NEW YORK — Kohl's reported mixed results for its fiscal fourth quarter, delivering a 30% increase in profits but a 10% drop in sales. Results handily beat Wall Street estimates. Online sales growth remained strong, up 22% for the latest quarter, and accounted for 42% of net sales. The Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, company also issued a per-share forecast for the current year whose top range beat analysts' expectations. It also expects solid revenue growth. The earnings report comes out as Kohl’s is fighting back against an investor group’s efforts to take control of the department store chain’s board, arguing that it would derail its progress and momentum. The investor group nominated nine members for Kohl’s board of directors as it looks to boost the company’s stock and its financial performance. The group owns a 9.5% stake in Kohl’s. Kohl's has been pushing various initiatives to attract shoppers including expanding its activewear and home area. The department store's program with Amazon to accept eligible Amazon items, without a box or label, has done well. It said Tuesday the initiative has resulted in 2 million new customers in the past year of whom a third are younger. Late last year, the department store chain announced that Sephora will replace all cosmetics areas at Kohl’s with 2,500 square foot shops, starting with 200 locations in the fall. It will expand to at least 850 stores by 2023. Kohl's CEO Michelle Gass told The Associated Press during a phone interview on Tuesday that the chain is seeing a momentum in its business, and called the Sephora shops a “game changer." And while shopping at its stores are not yet back at a normal rate, she believes that Kohl's will recover some of that. She also noted that Kohl's will be ready when shoppers start going out more, but that casual dressing will still be important. Kohl's earned $343 million, or $2.20 per share, for the quarter ended Jan. 30. That compares with $265 million, or $1.72 per share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted earnings was $2.22, well ahead of the $1.01 per share that analysts forecast, according to FactSet. Sales reached $6.14 billion, down from $6.83 billion in the year-ago period. But results surpassed the $5.88 billion that analysts had expected, according to FactSet. Kohl’s expects net sales for the current year to increase in the mid-teens percentage range. The company also forecasts that per-share range should be anywhere from $2.45 to $2.95 for the year. Analysts forecast $2.65 per share, according to FactSet. Shares rose 50 cents to $57.49 in late morning trading. Anne D'Innocenzio, The Associated Press
ALGIERS, Algeria — Hundreds of students restarted their weekly Tuesday protest marches that were called off last spring because of the coronavirus. The march came eight days after the Hirak pro-democracy movement reappeared in streets around the country to mark its second anniversary and days after the weekly Friday marches restarted. Hirak's peaceful protests helped force long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office in 2019. His successor, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, has promised reform of the system marked by corruption under Bouteflika and with the shadow of the army ever-present. “Civilian state and not a military state,” one group of students cried out, hoisting high a banner reading “We don't go home until the demands of Hirak are met.” Police watched, their vans blocking some streets, as marchers detoured around security forces, moving through winding streets at the bottom of Algiers' famed Casbah toward the imposing central post office, the traditional rallying point for the Hirak. Demonstrators sang and waved flags with no incidents reported. The Associated Press
It's clear that when girls and young women are at the forefront of major social justice movements, the old structures of patriarchy and misogyny can be challenged and hopefully dismantled.
An all-candidates forum took place virtually via Zoom on Feb. 23, 2021 for the Coast Mountains School District trustee by-election to fill the Terrace seat vacated when Art Erasmus moved away last year. All seven candidates participated via Zoom, and the forum was streamed live on the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. Sarah Zimmerman, executive director of communications for Coast Mountains College served as the moderator for the event. Dave Crawley, Ed Harrison, Peter Lambright, Roger Leclerc, Lynn Parker, Diana Penner and Kate Spangl are all vying for the Terrace seat. The forum lasted two hours, and there were some disruptions with the online format as some candidates found themselves muted occasionally and had to start their answer over. Two candidates were given one minute to respond to a question, and other candidates could use one of two rebuttals to respond to a question that they were not asked. All candidates were given an opportunity to share what they would most like to accomplish should they be elected. Here are their responses in the order that candidates answered. Peter Lambright: “If I am successful for the next couple years while I sit on the board, I strongly believe we should be lobbying and hitting up the provincial government fast and hard so that we can start updating our failing infrastructure. As Terrace is growing, and it is the hub of the north, we have a lot of young people moving here for work and jobs, and once again if we did this together as Terrace, Tsimshian, Gitxsan, Haisla and Nisga’a, with their support and our support and our working forward for the greater future of our school district, we can start to get a lot of the different benefits if we started doing it all as one, and as someone who’s been in Aboriginal relations and is related to pretty much everybody around here, and as a former chief I know most of the leaders and I know they would step forwards for the greater good of their kids.” Ed Harrison: “I think the five-year plan is actually the critical component of the district’s thrust in terms of the new curriculum because it truly asks the district to seriously look at and analyze what parents, students, guardians are saying about the school system and gives it a basis to build on over the next five years, and it also does seriously hold people accountable for what it is they are saying they want to do, so I would see that as the critical component.” Lynn Parker: “From my platform it is accountability, it is to ensure, and it will go along with what I said before about the five-year plan, if we are to work on more ways to support a student in reading, writing, math or science to excel in their education and acknowledge employees needing to feel value for their work efforts, if we are to help get this five year off the ground by ensuring each child has their say in class about what supports they need, I think we need to hear from the students and hear from the staff, so we need that somehow, so I think our biggest pressure is to ensure that they are heard.” Kate Spangl: “I think for me the biggest priority is what I said in my opening, is communication, is open, flowing, timely, respectful communication that we are seeking from our community, from our parents, from our students. I echo what Lynn and Ed said about our five-year plan, we have to have that communication from all of our partners in order for that five-year plan to be solid and to be meaningful. I think opening up more lines of direct communication is what I would really like to achieve in the next year and a half.” Dave Crawley: “I think for me, first of all would be to help guide the schools through the pandemic to get us past the COVID-19 and onto a better way and then the five-year plan is very important so I believe that having a direction, having goals and then checking along the way to see that we are on track and that we are moving in the right direction is essential to the success of the schools and to the learning of the students, all of them.” Roger Leclerc: “I think exiting out of COVID-19 is going to take a while and its going to really affect the delivery of programs and services at the school district, and I agree with the district’s plan, that we need to get this done but along with that we need to have an implementation strategy, that we take that plan and implement it in the district, just the plan itself needs to have that next step to go with it, so those are my priorities.” Diana Penner: “I think over and above the biggest thing for me is teamwork, I think we’ve discovered more and more that every time when something falls off the radar screen the quickest way that we fall off with it is that we’re not all on the same page, so for me it’s always been teamwork. It’s about our 4,000 students, hearing their voices heard, the 770 staff, hearing their voices heard, it’s about all of our 19 schools being on the same page, all of us wanting the same thing for one another and working with one another. So having said that technology I think right now is the place where we are falling off the quickest so I think that for me, staying abreast with what’s going on with technology and this is a prime example with our mics and all that sort of stuff, it’s a hard track to stay on.” The entire all candidates forum can be viewed on the Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce Facebook page. General voting day is March 6 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Terrace Sportsplex Multipurpose Room. There is also an advance voting day and that is March 3 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Terrace Sportsplex Multipurpose Room. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
Dr. Seuss Enterprises released a statement that the company will stop the sale and publication of six books that "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong."
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican defended Pope Francis’ decision to go ahead with his trip to Iraq this weekend despite rising coronavirus infections there, saying Tuesday all health care precautions have been taken and that the trip is an “act of love for this land, for its people and for its Christians.” Francis is due to visit Iraq Friday-Monday in his first foreign trip since the pandemic erupted last year. Planning for the trip went into high gear after infections fell, but cases have spiked in the past month and infectious disease experts say a papal trip to a country with a fragile health care system simply is not a good idea. The Vatican has taken its own precautions, with the 84-year-old pope, his 20-member Vatican entourage and the 70-plus journalists on the papal plane all vaccinated. Iraq, however, only began its vaccination campaign Tuesday and most Iraqis who come to see the pope won't be inoculated. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni was asked how the Vatican could justify exposing Iraqis to such a risk of infection when the Vatican itself has been on a modified lockdown for months, with no public audiences, and why the trip couldn’t be postponed for even a few months. Bruni noted that Iraq has a predominantly young population and that the current daily caseload was small compared to the overall population. He said the trip has been designed to limit crowds, and that all papal events would follow Iraqi health protocols that include limited participation, social distancing, mask mandates and other measures. The pope will use a covered car — likely armoured — for all his transfers, which the Vatican says should limit the formation of crowds on the street. However, he is to celebrate a Mass for an expected 10,000 people in the sports stadium in Erbil and will use an open car there. “An entire community and an entire country will be able to follow this journey through the media and know that the pope is there for them, bringing a message that it is possible to hope even in situations that are most complicated," he said. Asked why the trip couldn't be postponed, Bruni said this period was “the first possible moment for a journey like this” and that there is “an urgency” to go. The aim of the trip is to encourage Iraq’s dwindling Christian communities that were violently persecuted by the Islamic State group, and to promote greater dialogue with Iraq’s Shiite majority. The trip will mark the first-ever papal meeting with a grand ayatollah, the Iranian-born Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani. “Perhaps the best way to interpret this journey is as an act of love for this land, for its people and for its Christians,” Bruni said. “Every act of love can be interpreted as extreme, but as an extreme confirmation to be loved and confirmed in that love.” He acknowledged there might be consequences, but said the Vatican measured the need for Iraqis to feel the pope was close to them and loved them. “Obviously the pope also looks at this need,” Bruni said. Francis' itinerary includes a meeting Friday with priests, seminarians and nuns in the Syro-Catholic Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad, where Islamic militants in 2010 slaughtered 58 people in what was the deadliest assault targeting Christians since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. The massacre was carried out by Al-Qaida in Iraq, which later became the Islamic State group. Francis will also travel north, to Kurdistan and the northern Iraqi cities of Mosul and Qaraqosh, which were devastated by IS and where Christian communities that date to the time of Christ were nearly emptied of their residents, and their churches and homes destroyed. In between, Francis will travel to southern Najaf to the home of al-Sistani, a figure revered in Iraq and the Shiite world. Nearby, he will preside over an interfaith gathering in Ur, the biblical birthplace of Abraham, the prophet common to Christians, Muslims and Jews. The meeting is expected to take place in the shadow of Ur's magnificent pyramid-shaped zigguraut, part of a UNESCO world heritage site. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
Ontario reported another 966 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, as debate continues around whether the province should expand the time between vaccine doses to speed up its immunization efforts. The new cases include 253 in Toronto, 223 in Peel Region and 99 in York Region. Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were: Ottawa: 64 Waterloo Region: 46 Thunder Bay: 39 Simcoe Muskoka: 36 Durham Region: 34 Halton Region: 32 Hamilton: 23 Windsor-Essex: 23 Sudbury: 19 Brant County: 13 Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 13 Lambton: 11 (Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit on a given day, because local units report figures at different times.) The seven-day average of daily cases fell slightly to 1,098. The cases come as Ontario's lab network processed 30,767 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and logged a test positivity rate of 2.9 per cent. Seven more cases of the virus variant first found in the United Kingdom were confirmed through whole genome sequencing, bringing the total in Ontario so far to 542. However, coronavirus variants remain tied to several outbreaks, including one at a Toronto school. The Ministry of Education also reported 262 further school-related cases: 231 students, 30 staff members and one person who was not identified. According to the Ministry of Health, there were 677 people with COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals. Of those, 284 were being treated in intensive care, four more than yesterday, and 189 required a ventilator to breathe. With 11 additional deaths in today's update, Nearly 7,000 people with COVID-19 have now died in Ontario. As of yesterday evening, the official death toll stood at 6,997. The seven-day average of deaths, however, has decreased in the wake of the province giving out first doses of vaccines to residents of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes. Health units administered 22,326 shots yesterday. A total of 264,896 people have now received both doses of a vaccine and are considered fully immunized. Ontario explores extending time between vaccine doses Public health officials in Ontario are currently exploring whether the interval between doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be extended. The move would allow for more first jabs to be given out more quickly, and single doses of both have been shown to impart considerable immunity to the virus. Yesterday, British Columbia's provincial health officer said that the province would extend the time between doses to four months, with the goal of giving all of its residents who want one a first dose by July (B.C.'s population is just over five million.) Dr. Bonnie Henry said the change is based on the "miraculous" protection offered by a single shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which can be up to about 90 per cent. Quebec has similarly increased the interval between shots to 90 days. Internationally, both the United Kingdom and Israel have also allowed for more generous timing between shots. Other jurisdictions, such as the U.S., are for now sticking with the recommended 21 and 28 day intervals dictated by clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, respectively. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones released a joint statement Monday, saying the province has sought guidance from the federal government and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on whether it should follow B.C. WATCH | Vaccine task force member Dr. Isaac Bogoch on extending time between doses: Throughout Phase 1 of Ontario's ongoing vaccination campaign, second doses were delayed up to 42 days for some cohorts. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and member of Ontario's vaccine task force, said that given the urgency of the vaccination effort, people should expect to see more discussion about how long a second shot can wait. "Quite frankly, this is a public health emergency and that's why many jurisdictions are starting to delay that second dose and that's why I think you will see the debate raging around how far we can extend that second dose," he told CBC News Network. Bogoch added that there is "emerging data" from multiple places and sources to support increasing the interval. Seniors wait to enter a COVID-19 vaccination centre in Brampton. Peel Region is one of several public health units that began offering first doses to people 80 years and older this week, ahead of the provincial government's official start date. Speaking to reporters at Queen's Park today, Elliott said her ministry is "anxiously awaiting" the results of NACI's review of Ontario's request. "We've been following the recommendations of NACI and Health Canada at every step along the way. We want to make sure that the decisions that Ontario makes are based on science," she continued. Re-visit guidance on AstraZeneca vaccine, expert says Meanwhile, there is also continued debate over NACI's guidance on the recently-approved AstraZeneca vaccine. NACI said late last week that it is not recommending the vaccine for those 65 years old and above. The committee argued that AstraZeneca's clinical trials did not provide enough data on the efficacy of the vaccine for that age group. Evidence from the U.K. however, suggests that a single dose of the Astrazeneca vaccine is "extremely effective" at limiting severe illness and death from COVID-19 for those aged 65 and older, said infectious disease specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti. In an interview with CBC Radio's Metro Morning, Chakrabarti said he believes NACI's decision is short-sighted and could actually contribute to vaccine hesitancy for those offered the AstraZeneca product. "People have it in their minds that AstraZeneca is an inferior vaccine and I don't blame them because the messaging around this has been very poor," he told host Ismaila Alfa. LISTEN | Infectious disease expert on NACI's AstraZeneca guidance: In Europe, France and Germany had previously announced they would also limit AstraZeneca doses to those younger than 65. Yesterday, however, France reversed it's decision, citing evidence from other jurisdictions. Getting a first dose of vaccine to as many people as possible is "our ticket out of the pandemic," Chakrabarti said. "Right now, as it stands, I would get any vaccine that is offered so that we can vaccinate as many people as possible," he added. That includes the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite limited data from the clinical trials themselves. "We're in a public health emergency and I think that sometimes a little bit of uncertainty is going to be there." Elliott said she anticipates Ontario's first doses of AstraZeneca to begin arriving next week, though she could not say how many are expected in the initial shipment.
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole says the Liberal government doesn't have a plan to achieve economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. He says the Liberals talk about "building back better," which means they will leave sectors they don't like out of their vision for the country.
France's banking industry body wants a new European Union law that would force non-EU banks to shift swathes of euro derivatives clearing from the City of London to Frankfurt, people familiar with the matter said. Since Britain fully left the European Union in December the City of London finance industry has lost access to its biggest market and trading in euro shares and swaps have moved to the EU. Sources told Reuters that the French Banking Federation (FBF) does not believe it would work if non-EU banks were asked voluntarily to move trillions of euros in interest rate swaps positions from the London Stock Exchange's LCH clearing arm to the bloc.
An Oro-Medonte-area developer has pleaded guilty to doing work — without a permit — on a protected property and has been ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 and rehabilitate the disturbed land. Crestwood Park Holdings Inc., through its principal, Tom Rennie, admitted to undertaking development on the land at 99 Mount St. Louis Rd., in Oro-Medonte Township, near Concession 7, through which the Coldwater River flows, between Aug. 23, 20117 and Nov. 13, 2018 without permission. According to an admitted statement of facts read into the court Monday, two bridges and a staircase were built on the property without a permit. “This is a win for the environment,” John Olah, the lawyer representing the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) which has jurisdiction over the area, said following the hearing. But a neighbour questions whether the fine will be a sufficient deterrent for developers in the future. “It would appear the bar has been set low for any company considering undertaking development on environmentally protected lands in the province,” said Robert Young, who lives on 65 acres next to the Crestwood land. “How are developers going to view this adjudication? “These two bridges were constructed in the Coldwater River valley on environmentally protected lands by Mr. Rennie without the knowledge of the NVCA and were intended to be used commercially for future patrons of Mr. Rennie’s proposed new Webers restaurant,” Young added. Young said one of the bridges was constructed, in part, on his property without his permission or knowledge, and he was concerned future patrons using the bridge would end up on his side of the property line and impact “the pristine, natural river valley environment.” Crestwood’s Rennie was jointly charged, but the charge against him was dropped. “The purpose of erecting the foot bridges was to allow access to the remainder of the property (the eastern portion), which was inaccessible due to the river,” Rennie wrote in an emailed statement after the hearing. “I acknowledge my mistake of not obtaining a permit for this particular purpose, and in accordance with the restoration order have removed the southwest bridge and am making agreed-upon modifications to the northeast bridge. “I am pleased this matter has now been resolved with NVCA and I look forward to having continued access to the entirety of the property," he added. The idea, Rennie said, was to create foot bridges for safe passage over the river. The staircase to the river was allowed to remain. In addition to removing one bridge and remediating the affected land, the accompanying order mandates Crestwood to submit a removal and restoration plan and provide a certification of implementation by June 1. It must also prove to the NVCA that the design of the northeast bridge crossing addressed the control of flooding, erosion, pollution and conservation issues, and that it is designed only for pedestrian use. Rennie, the owner of the iconic Webers restaurant on Highway 11 which serves as the unofficial gateway to cottage country, had been working toward establishing a gas station, community facility and two restaurants — including another Webers — on 8.5 acres of land along Mount St. Louis Road in Moonstone, near the local ski resort and Highway 400. Last summer, he sought a minister’s zoning order for a future rest stop on the property zoned rural/agricultural and environmentally protected. According to the NVCA, much of the property consists of wetlands, a cold water creek which accommodates cold water fisheries species, such as brook trout, and is therefore regulated for wetlands, flood plain and erosion hazards. Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
Regina–SaskEnergy is warning of a potential telemarketing scam targeting its residential customers. The warning comes a week after its sister Crown corporation, put out a warning of a scam targeting its customers. SaskEnergy said in a release on March 2 it has received reports that individuals claiming to be associated with either SaskEnergy, or the federal government, are contacting customers regarding their eligibility for various rebates, including: carbon tax, furnace replacement and equipment maintenance. These callers are not associated with SaskEnergy, and are not offering rebates on behalf of SaskEnergy, the Crown corporation emphasized. SaskEnergy rebates are not offered through solicitation or door-to-door sales. All SaskEnergy rebates are offered through participating SaskEnergy Network Members only. For more information about SaskEnergy current rebates and programs, and a list of qualified Network Member companies, visit www.saskenergy.com. Anyone who has received calls of this nature should make a report to the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority (FCAA) of the Government of Saskatchewan at 1-306-787-5645 or 1-877-880-5550 (menu option #1), SaskEnergy said, adding, “If you have provided personal financial information, including bank account or credit card information over the phone, you should report the matter to local police, as well as immediately contact your financial institution.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Manitobans can now choose to designate one other household to form a pandemic bubble and all businesses — except indoor theatres, concert halls, casinos and bingo halls — can reopen when new public health orders come into effect Friday. Indoor recreation facilities such as gyms, pools and fitness centres can operate at 25 per cent capacity with physical distancing measures in place for spectators, locker rooms and common areas. The province had considered eliminating rules requiring masks for people in recreation facilities while exercising, but decided to keep it in place for this round of the health orders, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said. The new orders, which Roussin unveiled during a news conference on Tuesday, will remain in effect until March 25. To read a breakdown of the new rules on the Manitoba government website, click here. "We shouldn't interpret these reopenings as a reduction in our risk," Roussin said, stressing the need to keep case numbers down, as more easily transmissible variants of the virus poses a threat to the health system. Under the rules for household bubbles, all members of both households must agree to only visit each other. Manitobans can either choose the household bubble option, or can instead continue to designate up to two people to come to their home. Among the other changes, the limit on outdoor gathering sizes has doubled to 10 people. Restaurants can operate at 50 per cent capacity, but the rule limiting seating to household members only remains in place. If restaurants were allowed to seat more than one household together, there would be no way for them to avoid seating multiple households together, Roussin said. "We know that Manitobans want to get out with other people at these restaurants. We just can't have people from different households, multiple households sitting at the same table for prolonged periods of time." WATCH | Dr. Brent Roussin on reason for sticking to single-household seating in restaurants: Other businesses can also operate at 50 per cent capacity, up to a maximum of 250 people. Places of worship can reopen at 25 per cent capacity, up to a maximum of 100 people. Arcades, go-kart tracks, day camps for children and children's facilities can also open at 25 per cent capacity. Dance, theatre and music facilities can open for individual instruction and group classes at 25 a maximum per cent capacity. Professional theatre, dance, symphony and opera companies can resume rehearsals, as long as they are not open to the public. The changes come after the Manitoba government announced last week that it was considering a broad swath of relaxed COVID-19 rules. Members of the public were invited to offer their feedback on the proposed changes. Officials began loosening some restrictions to allow for a "slow reopening" of some businesses on Jan. 23 after Manitobans spent months in near lockdown. At first, the changes applied to all areas but the north. On Feb. 12, restrictions were relaxed further, this time with northern Manitoba included. Despite those relaxed rules, daily COVID-19 case counts have continued to fall across the province. On Monday, Manitoba posted its lowest daily case count since Oct. 7. WATCH | Province announces new COVID-19 orders:
WARSAW, Poland — A Polish court on Tuesday acquitted three activists who had been accused of desecration and offending religious feelings for producing and distributing images of a revered Roman Catholic icon altered to include the LGBT rainbow. The posters, which they distributed in the city of Plock in 2019, used rainbows as halos in an image of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus. Their aim was to protest what they considered the hostility of Poland’s influential Catholic Church toward LGBT people. The court in the city of Plock did not see evidence of a crime and found that the activists were not motivated by a desire to offend anyone’s religious feelings, but rather wanted to defend those facing discrimination, according to Polish media. The conservative group that brought the case, the Life and Family Foundation, said it planned to appeal. “Defending the honour of the Mother of God is the responsibility of each of us, and the guilt of the accused is indisputable,” the group’s founder, Kaja Godek, said on Facebook. “The courts of the Republic of Poland should protect (Catholics) from violence, including by LGBT activists.” The case was seen in Poland as a freedom of speech test under a deeply conservative government that has been pushing back against secularization and liberal views. Abortion has been another flashpoint in the country after the recent introduction of a near-total ban on it. One defendant, Elzbieta Podlesna, said when the trial opened in January that the 2019 action in Plock was spurred by an installation at the city's St. Dominic's Church that associated LGBT people with crime and sins. She and the other two activists — Anna Prus and Joanna Gzyra-Iskandar — faced up to two years of prison if found guilty. An LGBT rights group, Love Does Not Exclude, welcomed the ruling as a “breakthrough.” “This is a triumph for the LGBT+ resistance movement in the most homophobic country of the European Union,” it said. The image involved an alteration of Poland’s most-revered icon, the Mother of God of Czestochowa, popularly known as the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. The original has been housed at the Jasna Gora monastery in Czestochowa — Poland's holiest Catholic site — since the 14th century. Podlesna told the Onet news portal that the desecration provision in the penal code "leaves a door open to use it against people who think a bit differently. “I still wonder how the rainbow — a symbol of diversity and tolerance — offends these feelings. I cannot understand it, especially since I am a believer,” Podlesna told Onet. Podlesna was arrested in an early morning police raid on her apartment in 2019, held for several hours and questioned over the posters. A court later said the detention was unnecessary and ordered damages of about $2,000 awarded to her. Because of all the attention the altered icon has received, it is now a very recognized image in Poland, one sometimes seen at street protests. Vanessa Gera, The Associated Press
"The Soul of a Woman," by Isabel Allende (Ballantine) Acclaimed writer Isabel Allende’s short memoir, "The Soul of a Woman" is a bold exploration of womanhood, feminism, parenting, aging, love and more. This short, but mighty memoir opens with a proud declaration that Allende has been a feminist since kindergarten, and from there launches readers into an enchanting examination of the life she has lived ever since. Now in her late 70s, Allende reflects on her life, from her childhood and parents to her experience becoming a mother and grandmother. The memoir is a chronicle of her fierce advocacy for herself and for the power of women, and it is also an ode to the many people who shaped her. With humour and wisdom, Allende offers poignant observations on topics like ambition, the lack of respect we show to aging people and the #MeToo movement. Spending time with Allende within these pages is a true delight. The book is conversational, contemplative, and relatable. Allende is self-deprecating and jubilant, writing as if she is chatting over coffee and scones with an old friend about the lessons life has taught her. The book will no doubt make you think about these big concepts in new and personal ways. —- Read more about Molly Sprayregen at https://www.mollyspray.com. Molly Sprayregen, The Associated Press
Kent Fawcett didn’t plan to spend hours each day in the kitchen when he started making hummus. Then his dehydrated hummus business, Local Pulse, took off. “My bottleneck is how much I can fit into a dehydrator,” said the Kamloops-based entrepreneur. “That’s why I have to go in every single day, to do small batches.” Yet change is coming to Fawcett’s daily hummus grind. The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries announced funding for four new food hubs last month, including $750,000 to build one in Kamloops. The community-run centres offer commercial space and equipment to small farmers and food processors who can’t afford their own facilities, helping them stay in business and bolstering local food security. About two-thirds of B.C.’s food is imported, according to a 2020 report commissioned by Metro Vancouver. Most will have gone through some degree of processing facility that transforms raw ingredients into everything from canned beans to cuts of beef. B.C. has lost dozens of processors in recent decades as consolidation and trade deals have encouraged companies to centralize processing capacity where labour is cheap, Hannah Wittman, professor of land and food systems at the University of British Columbia, said in an August interview. For farmers, that’s made selling to local markets challenging. Food safety requirements mean manufactured products like hummus or jam — which generate more income for producers than raw ingredients — need to be made in a commercial kitchen. But upfront costs to build one are a major barrier for many farmers and small-scale food processors. That’s where food hubs come in, said Fawcett. “A lot of food producers are interested in (a food hub) because they want to scale up their business, but they don’t necessarily want to take on all that risk … The sharing model is just sort of the best thing going forward,” he said. He aims to use the planned Kamloops hub’s commercial dehydrator and blender to increase his production and reduce his time in the kitchen, freeing him up to develop new products and possibly hire an employee. He was also recently hired as the food hub co-ordinator by the Kamloops Food Policy Council, the organization behind project. Provincially funded food hubs are already operating in Vancouver, Port Alberni and Surrey, and B.C. has plans to invest $5.6 million to eventually create 12 food hubs provincewide, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries said in a statement. Each one is designed in partnership with local food organizations and will tailor its services to local needs. For instance, the Port Alberni hub focuses on fish and seafood processing. A recently announced hub in Creston will also help with regional distribution, according to Elizabeth Quinn, executive director of Fields Forward, the organization supporting the Creston hub. “(The) B.C. Food Hub network is a wonderful example of innovation at the local level, creating jobs and supporting farming, skills training, and community building in the regions they operate,” said Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Lana Popham said in a statement. Still, the idea of a food hub is nothing new. They’ve been part of societies worldwide for millennia. It’s only recently that institutional and government support for local food has fallen as globalized food supply chains became widespread, said Allison Blay-Palmer, professor in geography and environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. “I think the reason we’re starting to revive that idea, or take it more seriously, is because we’re starting to realize that the global food system serves a purpose, but it can’t be relied on 100 per cent to give us a healthy food system that can provide food locally on a consistent basis,” she said. Food hubs are increasingly common, though not all follow the same funding or organizational model as B.C.’s. For instance, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Centre for Sustainable Food Systems estimates there are roughly 125 food hubs in Ontario. Internationally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has supported hundreds of U.S.-based food hubs, and they feature in Scotland’s legislative proposal to become a “Good Food Nation.” The common thread between them is a desire by farmers, producers, policy-makers and consumers to reduce the length — and vulnerability — of their supply chain. “This globalization process (in the food system) is supposed to be more efficient,” said Blay-Palmer. “I think people are just starting to realize that they want to know where (their food) is coming from. They want to have confidence in its quality, and its nutritional value, and they also want to be supporting local business.” That’s at the heart of Fawcett’s work establishing and — once its completed — using the Kamloops hub. “The big goal of the (Kamloops) Food Policy Council is to create a food system that is sovereign (that) goes back into supporting our environment and supporting our people,” he said. Marc Fawcett-Atkinson/Local Journalism Initiative/Canada's National Observer Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
A recent controversy over the consistency of butter reflects the need for evidence rather than anecdotal data.