Ever see an owl do this before? Amazing!
Ever see an owl do this before? Amazing!
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
Facebook says it is lifting its ban on political and social-issue ads put in place after the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Political candidates, groups and others will be able to place ads on Facebook and Instagram beginning on Thursday. Restricting political advertisements following the November election was among the host of measures Facebook put in place last year in an attempt to ensure its platform is not used to sow chaos and spread misinformation. Facebook halted U.S. political ads when the polls closed on Nov. 3, an extension of an earlier restriction on new political ads in the week leading up to Election Day. It said at the time that the ban would be temporary but did not give a clear end date. “We’ve heard a lot of feedback about this and learned more about political and electoral ads during this election cycle,” the company said in a blog post Wednesday. “As a result, we plan to use the coming months to take a closer look at how these ads work on our service to see where further changes may be merited.” Twitter has banned political ads permanently. Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press
Toronto police say a man who was in a position of authority with the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Program has been charged with sexual assault. The force says the man was with the cadet program in Toronto in November 2019 and allegedly sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl. They say the 27-year-old man surrendered to police on Feb. 24 and is no longer in his position of authority. Police say the man faces charges that include sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a young person. He is scheduled to appear in court on April 12. Police say there may be other alleged victims. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
CALGARY — Waterous Energy Fund says it has prevailed in its takeover of private junior oilsands producer Osum Oil Sands Corp. It says a total of 45.7 million Osum shares, about 34 per cent of the outstanding total and more than 50 per cent of the shares the fund didn't already own, were deposited to its offer of $3 per share by the expiry date. The fund says it intends to buy the remaining shares within four months. Osum leaders reversed their strong opposition to the Waterous deal last month after the initial offer of $2.40 per share was increased by 25 per cent. Waterous, a Calgary investment firm established in 2017 and headed by CEO Adam Waterous, said it bought 45 per cent of the outstanding shares last July from Osum's three largest shareholders. It says five of Osum's directors and four executive officers, including CEO Steve Spence, have voluntarily resigned. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada expects to spend up to $5 billion on vaccines and other COVID-19 treatments. Procurement Minister Anita Anand previously said vaccines alone would cost at least $1 billion but the specific contract costs are protected by confidentiality clauses with drug makers. Federal budget documents show $5.3 billion was approved in December for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, including the purchase of doses, research and development. Last month $5 billion of that was shifted from the current fiscal year into 2021-22 because most of the vaccine doses Canada is buying aren't being delivered until after March 31, which is when the federal fiscal year ends. Canada is guaranteed to buy more than 240 million doses of seven different vaccines if all are approved, with only 6.5 million doses expected before the end of March. The Public Health Agency has not said specifically how much of the $5 billion is going to vaccines versus other COVID-19 medications. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
ALBANY, N.Y. — Besieged by sexual harassment allegations, a sombre New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized Wednesday, saying he “learned an important lesson” about his own behaviour around women, but he said he intended to remain in office. “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said at a Wednesday press conference. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.” Cuomo said he will “fully co-operate” with the state attorney general’s investigation into sexual harassment allegations. Attorney General Letitia James is in the process of selecting an outside law firm to conduct an investigation into the allegations and produce a report that will be made publicly. Cuomo had avoided public appearances for days as some fellow Democrats call for him to resign. Before Wednesday's press conference, the governor last spoke to reporters during a teleconference call on Feb. 22. His last media briefing on video was Feb. 19. He hadn't spoken publicly since giving New York Attorney General Letitia James a referral to investigate claims that he sexually harassed at least two women in his administration. One former aide, Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo quizzed her about her sex life and asked whether she would be open to a relationship with an older man. Bennett rejected Cuomo’s attempted apology, in which he said he’d been trying to be “playful” and that his jokes had been misinterpreted as flirting. Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent at the end of a meeting, and once suggested they play strip poker while aboard his state-owned jet. Cuomo has denied Boylan’s allegations. And another woman, Anna Ruch, told The New York Times that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her at a September 2019 wedding. Cuomo started Wednesday's press conference focusing on the latest data on the coronavirus pandemic. He highlighted a disproportionately high number of hospitalizations in New York City, news that the state is receiving an initial shipment of 164,000 doses of the new one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and that three vaccination sites will temporarily shift to 24/7 operations. __ This story has been updated to correct the day of the press briefing. It was on Wednesday, not Tuesday. Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — In a solid start, more than 200,000 people signed up for coverage the first two weeks after President Joe Biden reopened HealthCare.gov as part of his coronavirus response, the government said Wednesday. Early consumer interest in the three-month special enrolment period shows pent-up demand for health insurance a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people still unemployed or unable to work as many hours as before. If the pace keeps up, “this special enrolment period could make a meaningful dent in the number of people uninsured,” said Larry Levitt, who tracks health insurance for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “The enrolment numbers so far are stronger than I would have expected.” Biden called the sign-ups “an encouraging sign,” adding that “we can’t slow down until every American has the security and peace of mind that quality, affordable health coverage provides.” Reopening the health insurance markets fits into Biden’s strategy of pushing the U.S. toward coverage for all by building on the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare.” HealthCare.gov offers taxpayer subsidized private health insurance, catering mainly to low- and moderate-income working people. If Congress passes Biden’s coronavirus response bill, financial assistance for premiums will become considerably more generous, and a greater number of solid middle-class households would also qualify. Though the sweetened subsidies last only through the end of next year, their availability is expected to boost insurance coverage. The Democratic COVID-19 legislation also features incentives for states to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income adults. The numbers released Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show that more than 206,000 people signed up for coverage from Feb. 15-28. The figures are partial, since they cover only the 36 states served by the federal HealthCare.gov insurance market. National enrolment will be higher when totals from states running their own insurance websites are factored in later. Another 54,000 people who went to HealthCare.gov were found to be eligible for Medicaid, the agency reported. HealthCare.gov will be accepting applications through May 15, a stretch about twice as long as the regular annual open enrolment. The government has a $50 million advertising budget for the sign-up period, five times what the Trump administration would spend on annual open enrolment. Former President Donald Trump tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to repeal “Obamacare” and refused to reopen enrolment because of the pandemic. Biden’s special sign-up period features a special emphasis on reaching Black and Latino communities that have borne a heavy burden from COVID-19. “Obamacare” now covers more than 20 million people through a combination of subsidized private plans and, in most states, expanded Medicaid. Job losses during the pandemic have have increased the number of uninsured people, but it’s unclear by how much. Some experts estimate between 5 million to 10 million more uninsured, while the Congressional Budget Office suggests a lower number, closer to 3 million. In total, the budget office estimates that about 33 million people are uninsured. That's still less than when former President Barack Obama's health care law was passed, but it marks a definite reversal from prior years in which the uninsured rate steadily declined. Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press
LONDON — Prince Philip is “slightly improving” and the royal family is keeping its fingers crossed for the hospitalized royal's recovery, his daughter-in-law Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, said Wednesday. Philip, 99, has been hospitalized since being admitted Feb. 16 to King Edward VII’s Hospital in London, where he was treated for an infection. On Monday, he was transferred to a specialized cardiac care hospital, St. Bartholomew’s, to undergo further treatment alongside testing and observation for a pre-existing heart condition. “We heard today that he’s slightly improving. So that’s very good news," Camilla said during a visit to a coronavirus vaccination centre in London. "We’ll keep our fingers crossed.” The duchess is married to Prince Charles, eldest son of Philip and Queen Elizabeth II. Buckingham Palace said Monday that Philip was “comfortable and is responding to treatment but is expected to remain in hospital until at least the end of the week.’” The two-week stay is already Philip’s longest-ever stint in hospital. His illness is not believed to be related to the coronavirus. Both Philip and the queen, who is 94, received COVID-19 vaccinations in January. Philip, who retired from royal duties in 2017, rarely appears in public. During England’s current coronavirus lockdown, Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, has been staying at Windsor Castle, west of London, with the queen. Philip married the then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and is the longest-serving royal consort in British history. He and the queen have four children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. The Associated Press
SoftBank-backed British fund Greensill Capital is in talks to sell large parts of its business after losing the backing of two asset managers who underpinned parts of its multi-billion dollar supply chain financing model. WHAT IS SUPPLY CHAIN FINANCE? Supply chain financing, often also referred to as reverse factoring, is a method by which companies can get cash from banks and funds such as Greensill Capital to pay their suppliers without having to dip into their working capital.
TORONTO — Veteran Canadian strawweight Randa (Quiet Storm) Markos will face Luana Pinheiro at UFC 260 on March 27. It will mark the 17th UFC fight for the 35-year-old from Windsor, Ont., who made her debut in the promotion in December 2014. Markos (10-10-1) has lost three straight and four of her last five, dropping her record in the UFC to 6-9-1. Markos lost a decision to Japan's Kanako Murata last time out in November. Pinheiro (8-1-0) is making her UFC debut after posting a first-round KO win in November over Stephanie Frausto in Dana White's Contender Series. The 27-year-old Brazilian has won her last six outings. The main event at the UFC's Apex production facility in Las Vegas sees Stipe Miocic (20-3-0) put his heavyweight title on the line against No. 1 contender Francis (The Predator) Ngannou (15-3-0). Miocic won by unanimous decision when they met at UFC 220 in January 2018, There are two other Canadians on the UFC 260 card. Flyweight Gillian (The Savage) Robertson, a native of Niagara Falls, Ont., who makes her home in Port Saint Lucie, Fla., faces Miranda (Fear The) Maverick and Quebec middleweight Marc-Andre (Power Bar) Barriault takes on Morocco's Abu (Gladiator) Azaitar. Robertson and Miranda were supposed to meet Feb. 13 at UFC 258 but the Canadian had to withdraw due to a non-COVID-related illness. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Newer media outlets in Turkey are reaching a wider audience but the practices of big tech gate keepers such as Google and Facebook are slowing their efforts to catch up with mainstream, mostly pro-government media, a report said on Wednesday. Algorithms that direct news searches online and on social media sites and videos platforms such as YouTube tend to favour established media outlets, the report by the International Press Institute (IPI) found. Some 90% of major media in Turkey is now owned by the state or is close to the government after more than a decade of pressure by President Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party that has included fines, taxes and litigation.
TORONTO – The provincial government announced new measures meant to make carp fishing more accessible in southern Ontario including along the St. Lawrence River. The new regulations, announced February 24th, allow anglers to use up to three lines when fishing for common carp. “This will help more anglers take advantage of Ontario’s world-class carp fishing opportunities,” said Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry John Yakabuski. The regulation changes cover zones 12 through 20 including Lakes Huron, Erie, Ontario, and the Ottawa River. “The St. Lawrence River system and tributaries are well-known as a fishing destination for carp anglers,” said Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell. “This new measure will make carp more attractive as a sportfish, which will also help to support local tourism operators who host international clients.” There are a few conditions for anglers to follow if using more than one line. Bait used by anglers must be plant-based or artificial corn. Those shoreline fishing cannot have their lines more than two metres apart. If fishing from a boat, all the lines need to be on board with the angler. The ministry said conditions are to lower the risk of catching non-Carp species of fish, and reduce crowding of anglers at popular shoreline fishing locations. Matt Windle, a research scientist with the St. Lawrence River Institute said that the common carp are an introduced, non-native species of fish originally from Asia. “The fish can cause damage to local aquatic ecosystems by reducing water clarity, uprooting vegetation, and competing with native fish species for food sources,” he said. “Although technically not classified as invasive, they do cause problems for other native fish in the region, and as such I am in favour of the proposed plan to adopt multi-line fishing for this species, with the caveat that there be measures in place to prevent increased bycatch of native species.” The carp fishing season opens this year on May 1st and runs until July 31st. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
Members of the Eastern Newfoundland Regional Appeal Board have ruled the Town of Paradise was correct in refusing an application by Fairview Investments in August of 2019 for a commercial plaza with a drive thru on Topsail Road. The main concern of the town, as citied in the appeal board document, was the safety of students attending a nearby school. The board found that the Town followed due process as per its Development Regulations, which require that it consult with the public and that representations received be considered by council before taking a vote on a discretionary use application. The Shoreline reached out to Fairview to inquire as to whether there were plans to submit the application for another location, but did not receive a response. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne says the federal government is spending $518 million on efforts to boost Canada’s ability to produce vaccines, among more than 100 research projects receiving new money. He says the funding will help provide Canadian researchers with equipment and shared databases, among other things.
Most kids are introduced to probability math by rolling dice over and over on a desk or floor. But Maureen Richardson’s Grade 3 class will learn the likelihood of rolling snake eyes (hint: it’s low) by programming a small hand-held device to display numbers on a screen at the push of a button. “Instead of just going and getting a bag of dice ... we can code a dice or coin flipper,” she said. “They’re learning code, but we’re using it as a tool to help us with our math.” Richardson, a teacher at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Elementary School in Waterdown, is using code to teach her Grade 3 class everything from probability and temperature to spelling to social-emotional skills. Thanks to Microsoft and Fair Chance Learning, a Canadian company working to bring technology to classrooms, Richardson has a class set of micro:bits, which are minicomputers “the size of a child’s palm” — about $25 each — that she uses to teach kids the basics of coding. “When they get a device in front of them, their eyes light up,” she said. “They’re excited about it.” Richardson uses block coding, a language in which Lego-like bricks are connected to create commands. “You just sort of click and drag the code that you need over into the workspace and that’s how they write their code,” she said. “It’s very simple.” In the fall, Richardson introduced the class to coding through a simple activity: programing the micro:bit to “write” letters in the device’s 25 LED lights. “When you start the program, it will then spell their name based on the blocks they put it in the order,” she said. “It’s just teaching them that each of these little blocks connect together.” Once they mastered the device’s functions, the students could practise spelling other words using the device. Other activities include programming the micro:bit, which has a temperature sensor, to act as a thermometer, coding happy — or sad — faces to express emotion and using the built-in accelerometer as a step-counter to measure physical activity. “We know that’s what’s ahead for them, that coding will be part of their jobs in the future,” said Richardson, who has two daughters in post-secondary STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs. “Knowing what their career path is like, I thought, ‘You might as well start introducing them now.’” Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
The Arctic Winter Games International Committee has postponed the 2022 Arctic Winter Games, that were set to take place in Wood Buffalo, Alta. In a news release Wednesday morning, the committee described the decision as a "proactive response to the global COVID-19 pandemic" after conversations with the Wood Buffalo host society, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and the government of Alberta. "There were just no guarantees for us," John Flynn, the president of the Arctic Winter Games International Committee, told the CBC. "We do not want to say cancelled…. [but] right now, we don't really have a date." The Games were originally scheduled to take place from March 6-12. Flynn said organizers will be looking for alternate dates for the 2022 event. The high-profile circumpolar sporting competition normally runs every two years. About 2,000 athletes from around the world — including Russia, Greenland, Finland and Norway, as well as Yukon, Nunavut, Nunavik, Northwest Territories, northern Alberta and Alaska — usually attend. This is the second Games in a row to be affected by the pandemic, following the cancellation of the 2020 games that were set to take place in Whitehorse. Those games were called off just a week before the event was scheduled to start — something Flynn said organizers wanted to avoid in 2022. "That was a big factor," he said. "We really don't want what happened in Whitehorse to take place in Wood Buffalo." Health and safety are 'paramount concern' Wednesday's release said the decision to postpone the games "was made to ensure the health and safety of all the participants, coaches, volunteers, staff, spectators and the host community." The committee also said the pandemic would likely prevent them from hosting a meaningful experience. "The health and safety of our circumpolar participants, coaches and volunteers is of paramount concern, and although it is a great disappointment that we must postpone the 2022 Arctic Winter Games, we are steadfast in our decision," Flynn is quoted as saying in the release. "We analyzed the relevant risks and considered our tolerance for those risks, and we learned from best practices employed by other major games leaders to come to this difficult decision," the quote continues. On CBC Yukon's Airplay Wednesday, Flynn said he feels "very sorry for the young athletes." "They say they have nowhere to put their energies," he said. "We understand how important the Arctic Winter Games is to them." Melissa Blake, co-chair of the 2022 Wood Buffalo Arctic Winter Games, said in the release that the host society supports the international committee's decision and understands the "significant considerations" involved. "We would like to thank the community and our volunteers for their continued support as we prepare to welcome the circumpolar North at a later date," Blake said. Aaron Wells, executive director of Aboriginal Sports Circle NWT, said that it's disappointing news to hear following the cancellation of last year's Games. "I feel bad for the athletes and the coaches and especially athletes that may never get to experience the games if they're postponed long enough," said Wells. "But I do understand that there's a lot of decisions and factors that are taken into place to kind of come up with these decisions." Wells said that the Aboriginal Sports Circle was also looking forward to archery being introduced to the games in 2022, after its premiere was cancelled along with the Games in 2020. "It definitely has a major effect on athlete development in helping prepare for other major games or other tournaments or national events." But despite the difficult news, Wells, who is also a long-time basketball coach, said that within five minutes of receiving it, a number of different coaches were reaching out to each other about different opportunities they can provide to athletes. "It's not like we sit around and pout about these games being postponed indefinitely. We move on to the next potential event or what we can do to make sure that these athletes are getting the opportunities they deserve."
During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are feeling isolated than ever. But the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre is seeking to connect people and bring them together virtually. “I’m a firm believer that you have to be agile, you have to move quickly to get something out there to help people,” says Tammi Belfer, the president of the centre’s board of directors. After the pandemic forced most services to close last March, Belfer and the rest of the team immediately moved to virtual programming through Zoom. She says they’re now able to reach more people who would struggle to physically visit the office. The centre’s biggest fundraiser of the year coincides annually with International Women’s Day. This year, it’s taking place on Saturday and has been modified to fit a virtual setting. “This year is quite unique,” explains Megan Chambers, who’s currently a volunteer member of the centre’s governance committee and in the process of being appointed to the board. For the event’s 25th anniversary, some things will remain the same: Richmond video reporter Thor Diakow will act as the master of ceremonies, and attendees will listen to a keynote address from the founders of Boss Lady Collective, a Vancouver-based group that helps female entrepreneurs. But some elements will change to fit the new format, including door prizes and trivia to increase interactivity. The goal is to reach 120 attendees, which is about half the number who would attend the usual in-person event. An online silent auction is aiming to raise $10,000, with donated items ranging from $10 to $600 in value. “I’m hoping we can blow this out of the water for the centre this year,” says Chambers. “I’m really so blessed to be able to work with (the centre), and I want to see it succeed as much as possible. Longtime community supporter and former MLA Linda Reid—who Belfer notes has been a help to the centre for many years—will receive the first annual achievement award. Following a challenging year, the centre is hoping to continue to grow. It has three major pillars in its strategic plan: building community and partnerships; learning and training; and working to enhance the support groups it runs. “Our specific goal right now is to build awareness and build strategies on how to do that, and make sure we’re staying current and relevant,” says Belfer. The centre’s support group for moms often has kids in attendance, since people are tuning in from home. And the grandmothers support group meets via telephone. While most women who use the centre’s services are between the ages of 35 and 60, Belfer says she’s also noticed more young women starting to use the services offered by the centre, “and that’s the future.” The job ready program teaches skills like resumé writing and gives women a chance to interact in small groups. There’s also an English language program where people learn language skills and converse. Despite the lower traffic during the pandemic, thousands of women are still seeking support from the centre—more than 3,500 participated in its programs, and nearly 900 were drop-in visitors. Belfer hopes to be able to open the doors to more drop-in visitors soon, as the centre is currently closed to the public. “The level of need is growing more, and people are getting stressed. I feel a higher stress level happening,” she says. “I think we need to be there more than anything, and we need to do fun and educational things. “People are connecting, we just need to encourage them—we need to tell them about it. I think the women’s resource centre has been the best-kept secret in Richmond since 1976. We’re here, and we’re here for a long time.” The virtual International Women’s Day event is taking place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. this Saturday (March 6), and people can register for free online. You can also support the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre through its online auction here, using the room code IWD2021. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
TORONTO — CBS All Access will be renamed Paramount Plus on Thursday, which brings heaps of new streaming programming to its U.S. subscribers, but not Canadian customers.A representative for ViacomCBS says while American audiences will have access to a library of Paramount films on the platform, as well as TV series from Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Showtime and Comedy Central, none of those options will be available north of the border.Instead, the Canadian rebrand to Paramount Plus is little more than a logo change, at least for now.Michelle Alban, vice president of communications for the Canadian market at ViacomCBS, said programming announcements are expected at an undetermined future date.It's another twist in the increasingly complex world of streaming rights for Canadian viewers.Last week, ViacomCBS executives pulled out all the stops for the revamp and rename of the U.S. streaming platform. More than 50 new productions were announced for the streaming service in the coming years. They include original series based on popular Paramount films, among them "Fatal Attraction," "Flashdance" and "The Italian Job." But whether those shows wind up on Paramount Plus in Canada is still unclear.Several years ago, leadership at ViacomCBS began selling off licensing rights to its marquee CBS All Access original series, including "Star Trek: Discovery" and "Star Trek: Picard."Those shows went to Canadian broadcaster Bell Media who first aired them on traditional TV channels before they appeared on Crave, its own streaming platform. Others were acquired by fellow streamers.That left CBS All Access with the leftovers of its own service in Canada, a handful of less memorable shows such as a remake of "The Twilight Zone" and "Why Women Kill."With its new life under the Paramount Plus brand, the streaming platform's future is still to be charted in Canada.For now, Paramount Plus will be absent of Hollywood movies and largely house older TV series, such as "Beverly Hills 90210," "Taxi," "The Brady Bunch" and "I Love Lucy," and a live feed of CBS News.A commercial-free subscription to Paramount Plus will remain at its current price of $5.99 a month in Canada.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
SOUTH DUNDAS – Two employees of the Municipality of South Dundas have left their positions in the last month, and a third person is retiring. Recreation program coordinator Jamie Scott resigned from his position, with his last day being on February 16th. Scott was with the municipality for nearly two years and hired in May 2019. Meagan Bingley, who was business retention and expansion coordinator for South Dundas’ economic development department, departed to return to the insurance industry. Bingley was hired in October 2020. Director of Corporate Services andClerk Brenda Brunt informed council last week of her upcoming retirement. Her nearly 31 year career with South Dundas and pre-amalgamation Williamsburg Township has seen Brunt serve as clerk, marriage commissioner and at one point acting-CAO. More information on Brunt’s retirement will be presented in a report to council, which is expected on March 22nd. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
YEREVAN, Armenia — Armenian authorities on Wednesday deployed snipers in the parliament building as thousands of protesters rallied nearby, and launched a criminal probe against a top opposition leader amid the country's spiraling political crisis. Thousands of opposition supporters rallied in the Armenian capital Wednesday to demand the prime minister's resignation, amid a heavy presence of security forces. Nikol Pashinyan has faced opposition demands to step down since he signed a November peace deal that ended fierce fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in which Azerbaijan routed the Armenian forces. The political tensions escalated last week when the military’s General Staff demanded Pashinyan's resignation, and he responded by firing the chief of the General Staff, Col. Gen. Onik Gasparyan. On Wednesday, about 10,000 opposition demonstrators rallied outside the parliament building at a time when Pashinyan arrived to attend a session. As part of tight security measures, security agents armed with sniper rifles took positions in the building's windows and on its roof and remotely controlled stun grenades were placed in a park outside. Vazgen Manukyan, a veteran politician whom the opposition named as a prospective caretaker prime minister, denounced the security measures as an attempt by Pashinyan to scare his opponents. The country's top investigative agency said Wednesday it has accused the 75-year-old Manukyan, who served as prime minister in 1990-91 when Armenia was still part of the Soviet Union and served as defence minister when it became independent, of making calls for the seizure of power and violent change of the constitutional order. The prime minister's order to dismiss the chief of the General Staff is subject to approval by Armenia’s largely ceremonial president, Armen Sarkissian, who has refused to endorse it. Some legal experts argued that the order would take effect automatically following Sarkissian's failure to contest it in the nation's high court, but others pointed to legal caveats that could allow the top military officer to stay on. Manukyan, the opposition leader, warned that if Pashinyan manages to force the military chief out, the army would likely disobey the prime minister. As part of manoeuvring to defuse the political crisis, Pashinyan offered to hold a snap parliamentary vote later this year but rejected the opposition's demand to step down before the vote and let a caretaker successor take the helm. Pashinyan has faced opposition demands to resign since Nov. 10 when a Russia-brokered peace deal ended six weeks of intense fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. The agreement saw Azerbaijan reclaim control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas that had been held by Armenian forces for more than a quarter-century. Pashinyan, a 45-year-old former journalist who came to power after leading large street protests in 2018 that ousted his predecessor, still enjoys wide support despite the defeat in the fighting that lasted 44 days and killed more than 6,000. He has argued that the peace deal was the only way to prevent Azerbaijan from overrunning the entire Nagorno-Karabakh region, which lies within Azerbaijan but was under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994. Russia has deployed about 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the peace deal. ____ Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. By Avet Demourian, The Associated Press