Joe Biden’s apparent plan to swifty stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline may not have been a surprise in political circles, but it will certainly be a headache for Justin Trudeau’s government and be an economic blow for Alberta.
Joe Biden’s apparent plan to swifty stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline may not have been a surprise in political circles, but it will certainly be a headache for Justin Trudeau’s government and be an economic blow for Alberta.
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Fueled by Black turnout, Democrats scored stunning wins in Georgia in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Now, Republicans are trying to make sure it doesn't happen again. GOP lawmakers in the once reliably red state are rolling out an aggressive slate of voting legislation that critics argue is tailored to curtail the power of Black voters and undo years of work by Stacey Abrams and others to increase engagement among people of colour, including Latino and Asian American communities. The proposals are similar to those pushed by Republicans in other battleground states: adding barriers to mail-in and early voting, major factors in helping Joe Biden win Georgia's 16 Electoral College votes and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff take the two Senate seats that gave Democrats control of the chamber. But one aspect of their plans, a proposal to eliminate early voting on Sundays, seems specifically targeted at a traditional get-out-the-vote campaign used by Black churches, referred to as “souls to the polls." It's led many to suggest Republicans are trying to stop a successful effort to boost Black voter turnout in Georgia, where they make up about a third of the population and have faced a dark history of attempts to silence their voices in elections. “It's a new form of voter suppression, the Klan in three-piece suits rather than white hoods,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald III of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which has participated in souls to the polls events. “They know the power of the Black vote, and their goal is to suppress that power.” In previous elections, souls to the polls campaigns were festive, with vehicles and people parading to election offices during early voting windows. Churches would sometimes playfully compete to see which could bring the most voters, said McDonald, who described the GOP legislation as “spiteful.” In Georgia and elsewhere, Republicans say proposals to tighten voting access are meant to bolster confidence in elections, though they have been some of the loudest proponents of meritless claims that the election was fraudulent. The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy group, has counted 165 bills in 33 states this year meant to limit access to voting. In Georgia, Republicans control state government and have introduced dozens of legislative measures that would restrict voting access. GOP state Rep. Barry Fleming is chief sponsor of a wide-ranging proposal that would ban Sunday early voting, require a photo ID for absentee voting, limit the time when an absentee ballot could be requested, restrict where ballot drop boxes could be placed and curb the use of mobile voting units, among other changes. In committee hearings, Fleming has cast the legislation as “an attempt to restore the confidence of our public in our election system.” He didn’t respond to an email or phone message requesting comment. Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project that Abrams founded in 2014, called the GOP measures a backlash “to our multiracial, multilingual progressive majority that is winning elections." Biden beat former President Donald Trump by roughly 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democrat to win a presidential contest in Georgia since 1992. Biden received nearly double the number of absentee votes as Trump in a state that became a major target of Trump’s baseless claims of fraud. Biden's win there was confirmed in three separate counts, including one by hand. "These measures, in our opinion, are not based on any objective, data-driven, evidence-based assessment of the issue but solely with the intention to undermine Black voters and other communities of concern,” said Democratic state Rep. Michael Smith, chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Policy Committee. Because Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, at least some form of their proposals are likely to become law. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, has called for a photo ID requirement for absentee voting but has yet to back a specific proposal. His office said it was still reviewing the legislation. Republicans are trying to limit ways to vote that have been wildly popular. After states expanded access to mail-in and early voting during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 70% of all ballots cast nationwide came before Election Day. An estimated 108 million people voted by mail, early in person or by dropping off absentee ballots. In Georgia, over 4 million voters cast early or absentee ballots. “They realize if they continue to allow individuals to vote by mail, it is going to be an uphill battle for Republicans to win at the polls and maintain their position,” Democratic state Rep. Debra Bazemore said. At the federal level, Democrats are pushing for a sweeping overhaul of how Americans vote. House Democrats are expected to vote next week on a measure that would establish federal election standards like early voting periods, same-day voter registration and other policies that Republicans have dismissed as federal overreach. And they are expected to introduce another bill to restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had triggered federal scrutiny of election changes in certain states and counties with histories of discrimination. Georgia was among the states that previously had to get approval for voting changes. “If left to their own devices, Republicans will try to limit the ability of minority voters to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat co-sponsoring the bill on federal election standards. “It's open season on voting rights in Georgia,” he said. ___ Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York. ___ Associated Press coverage of voting rights receives support in part from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Anthony Izaguirre And Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Canada and Australia are banding together to ensure the revenues of web giants are shared more fairly with creators and media. A statement from Ottawa says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison have agreed to continue "co-ordinating efforts" to address online harm and ensure social media companies pay for journalism. The statement says the two leaders spoke Monday on a range of topics including the growing co-operation between Canada and Australia on the regulation of online platforms. The increasing alliance between the two countries on legislating internet giants to pay for news comes as Facebook backs down on its ban on Australians viewing and sharing news on its platform. The social media company announced Tuesday it would lift the ban, saying it had struck a deal with the Australian government on proposed legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism. Facebook caused alarm with its sudden decision last week to block news on its platform across Australia after the House of Representatives passed the draft law. With files from The Associated Press. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
Golf superstar Tiger Woods needed surgery after a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday that left him with multiple leg injuries. Officials say he was conscious when pulled from the wrecked SUV and the injuries are not life threatening.
The Township of Perry does not support looking into changes for the regional fire training funding model. After its Feb. 17 meeting, council discussed a resolution put forward by the Township of McMurrich/Monteith to the seven municipalities involved in the regional fire training. On Dec. 12, the regional fire services committee met to discuss and agreed upon a one-fifth funding model to secure the training services of Gary Courtice. This is the third three-year term that Perry, Kearney, McMurrich/Monteith, Magnetawan, Burk’s Falls, Armour and Ryerson have signed on for. Perry’s mayor Norm Hofstetter said that he had no intention of going back and trying to renegotiate the funding model. Here are key quotes from the conversation: “ … It seems to me that the wrench that’s thrown into this is (McMurrich/Monteith) gets a little upset that Ryerson, Armour and Burk’s Falls are sharing a fire department and (McMurrich/Monteith) seems to think they’re getting a benefit from it, but I don’t look at it as that,” said Hofstetter. “I’m not interested in going back and renegotiating — as far as they want to see invoices before an invoice is paid … they seem to think that the training officer has an open agenda to order whatever he wants but he works withing his budget the same as all other departments do and at the end of the year it’s all reconciled the same way we do with our budgets. So, where I’m coming from you kind of get tired of doing the same thing over and over and if we do this, we’re taking huge steps backwards in training our firefighters,” said Hofstetter. “I do know it was a huge challenge to get where we’re at and I think all of the councils thought it was finalized at that committee meeting,” said Beth Morton, clerk-administrator. “ … McMurrich/Monteith is behind the eight ball here. Some of their councillors are just not up to speed as to where we’re at with this regional fire (committee) they’re just behind and they refuse to be educated so Reeve MacPhail is going to their meeting in March to set the record straight, so to speak, because it’s the fire chiefs’ realm now and they’re working to get a resolution together for the final thing,” said Coun. Margaret Ann MacPhail. “As one of the councillors here, I would like to see us stay the course.” “It looks like a lot of time has been put in and I don’t understand how they’d see that of Mr. Courtice because I’ve seen nothing but professionalism and that’s why we chose him … I agree with Coun. MacPhail and stay the course,” said Coun. Joe Lumley. “I don’t want to play these games anymore, we have a system that’s working and this all boils down to saving $2,000 to $3,000 is what they’d save if we move to another funding model,” said Hofstetter. The Township of Perry said it would not support looking into changes in the regional fire training funding model and would prefer remain status quo with what was decided at the Dec. 12 regional fire services committee meeting. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
(Tammy Brown - image credit) A double hit and run late Sunday that left a pedestrian badly bruised and cut near Port Mouton, N.S., could have been much worse, said the general manager of the resort where the injured woman works. RCMP in Queen's County continued to search Tuesday for the driver of a vehicle suspected of sideswiping the woman before hitting an oncoming car and fleeing the scene outside the Quarterdeck Resort on Highway 3 just before 10 p.m. "It kind of clipped her [the pedestrian] on the side and kind of lifted her up in the air and took her down that way, so it was good that it wasn't straight on," said Tammy Brown, the resort's general manager. She said her employee was treated in hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, including a broken nose, two black eyes and road rash along the side of her body. She has since been released. "Her forehead was split open," said Brown. "She was beat up pretty bad. It hit her good." 'That one would've been a lot worse' Brown said the vehicle would have then crashed head-on into an oncoming Honda Civic, were it not for the quick reflexes of the other driver. "That one would've been a lot worse, as well. It would've been a head-on had she not swerved to get out of the way," she said. The Civic driver, who was unhurt, was able to help the injured pedestrian to the Quarterdeck where medical personnel and police were called. Brown said weather conditions were clear at the time of the incidents. Driver possibly unaware pedestrian hit It's possible the driver may not have even realized the woman was struck, said RCMP Cpl. Robert Frizzell, but "without a doubt, that second vehicle collision, the operator would have most definitely known that they had struck that car." The collision caused damage all along the driver's side of the Civic, he said. Frizzell said police are working on the assumption the vehicle that injured the pedestrian also struck the car "in very short order, mostly due to the close proximity of the two events." Police have a limited description of the suspect vehicle, which was last seen headed southwest toward Port Mouton. It's believed it was a black or dark-coloured vehicle — most likely a car. The make and model are unknown. Officers are canvassing the area and reviewing surveillance video for leads, said Frizzell. He said anyone who saw someone driving erratically Sunday or has seen a vehicle with fresh damage to the driver's side — either the quarter panel, the side mirror or the door — to call police or Crime Stoppers. Petition to reduce speed limit Meanwhile, staff at the Quarterdeck Resort are banding together to support their injured colleague, who remained off work as of Tuesday. The woman is a single mother of a teenager, said Brown, who was still reeling from the incident. "To have somebody be so callous ... it's shocking," she said. Resort staff have also started a petition calling for the speed limit to be lowered on the twisting, 60 km/h road that hugs the coast. "People need to be a little more aware that this is a resort and there are vacationers as well as employees that are walking close to the roadways on the shoulder because there is no sidewalk," said Brown. MORE TOP STORIES
Regina– Crop Insurance coverage is going up due to higher commodity prices, and rates are going up as well, but the premium cost per dollar of coverage continues to decline. There’s a new pilot program for vegetables, and changes for forage and chickpeas, too. On Canada Agriculture Day, Saskatchewan Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Donna Harpauer and, through a press release, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced enhancements to the 2021 Crop Insurance Program. This year, Crop Insurance coverage will reach a record level due to higher commodity prices and increased yield coverage. “Farmers across Saskatchewan continue to step up despite all the challenges thrown their way during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bibeau said in a release. “These improvements to the Crop Insurance Program give Saskatchewan farmers more coverage they can count on. We will continue working with our provincial counterparts to ensure farmers have the risk management tools to help their stability and growth.” Asked if the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on crop insurance, Harpauer said, “None.” “For over 60 years, the Crop Insurance Program has supported Saskatchewan producers with reliable coverage and exceptional customer service,” Harpauer said. “We are committed to providing producers with the insurance programs they need and the enhancements announced today build upon the current suite of programs.” Coverage going up Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) said it “continues to provide high coverage as we enter a new growing season.” Coverage will reach a record level of $273 per acre due to higher commodity prices and increased yield coverage, up from $224 in 2020. This represents a 22 per cent increase in coverage. The average premium cost per dollar of coverage continues to decline. There was a 42 per cent reduction in average premium cost per dollar of coverage over the last 10 years. This includes a 20 per cent reduction directly resulting from the strong financial position of the program, SCIC said. However, due to the increased coverage for 2021, the average premium for producers will be higher than in 2020. The average premium per acre will be $8.59, up from $7.40. Harpauer said, “Establishment benefit values are reviewed annually. This year, the establishment benefit values for canola, lentils, chickpeas and corn have increased. Canola is now $70 per acre. Large green lentils are $50 per acre and red lentils are $30 per acre. Large Kabuli chickpeas are $65 per acre and Small Kabuli chickpeas are $45 per acre. Corn is $95 per acre.” New forage options New in 2021, producers growing tame hay will have additional options when insuring their hay acres. Crop Insurance customers now have the choice to insure their tame hay acres under the Forage Rainfall Insurance Program (FRIP) or the Multi-Peril Crop Insurance Program. Coverage options can be customized for each farming operation. Under FRIP, payments will be calculated based on rainfall levels, instead of overall yields. “Saskatchewan cattle producers face a lot of risks. It is good to see the programs they can access through SCIC continue to evolve,” Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association Chair Arnold Balicki said in a release. “Adding tame hay to the Forage Rainfall Insurance Program and extending the calf coverage deadline and hours of operation for Livestock Price Insurance are all positive. I encourage cattle producers to look into SCIC’s programs as there were many improvements in recent years.” “Forage producers will also see an increase in Native Forage Establishment Benefit coverage. The Native Forage Establishment Benefit provides coverage on newly seeded native forage acres. The coverage is increasing from $75 to $200. Other Forage Establishment Benefit prices seeing an increase includes tame hay to $90 per acre and sweetclover to $65 per acre,” Harpauer said. Forage producers are encouraged to review available coverage options through SCIC's Forage Option and Weather-Based Programs. Vegetable pilot program “In 2021, SCIC is also introducing coverage for large scale vegetable production. Commercial vegetable growers will now have access to the commercial vegetable pilot program, which will provide standalone coverage for damage to cabbage and pumpkin crops,” Harpauer said. SCIC has been working with the Saskatchewan Vegetable Growers' Association to develop programming for the growing commercial vegetable sector in Saskatchewan. The impact of a crop failure on vegetable operations could be significant as a relatively small number of acres has extremely high value. A minimum of eight acres is required to participate in the program. SCIC will continue to explore insurance coverage options for the Commercial Vegetable Program. Last summer, the Government of Saskatchewan made one of the largest announcements for agriculture in this province in years, laying out a plan for $4 billion in expansion of irrigation in central Saskatchewan, with an eye to growing different crops, including vegetables. Asked how this will impact Crop Insurance, Harpauer responded, “That’s a ways into the future. So I think it’s important that they’re doing the pilot this year. And we’ll see how that goes. As production increases in vegetables and other crops that benefit for irrigation, I think it’s been demonstrated, here in Saskatchewan, that Crop Insurance officials are very nimble in addressing the crops as they change. I know, myself, from when I was a producer, to today, the crops have changed significantly, and Crop Insurance had been there for all the changes.” Chickpeas Saskatchewan has also become a significant producer of chickpeas. SCIC is updating the base grade for large-seeded Kabuli chickpeas to reflect current production and marketing patterns. This increases the insured price and the quality coverage. Carl Potts, executive director of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, said, “I think the changes to the chickpeas base grade calculation just better reflects the size and the quality of the chickpeas that chickpea producers are producing these days. It’s simply a better reflection of the product the producers are producing, and should increase the overall level of coverage for producers.” Potts called it “a welcome development.” Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Board Chair Shaun Dyrland said, “This change should increase coverage levels for most of the 300 chickpea producers in the province.” Canola’s significance Asked if there were any trends with farmers moving towards a particular crop, or any move into a “Cinderella crop” in 2021, SCIC acting president and CEO Jeff Morrow responded, “One of the main crops in the province, and the main crops in terms of acres and liability for Crop Insurance programs is canola. That is certainly the most predominant crop. And I say our top three, other than canola, are wheat, duram and peas.” He said it’s up to producers to decide what they plant, but historically canola has been top. SARM reaction Ray Orb of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities said, “We're actually quite pleased about some of the enhancements, in particular, with the vegetable pilot program. We think that will be good to create more diversity into the province’s agriculture industry. “We're also pleased to be able to look at some of the things that they're also enhancing, Kabuli chickpeas in particular. “In general, we’re favorable, and always have been favorable, to uplifting and adjusting some of the weather based insurance programs. And we think that will help our livestock producers, as far as protecting their forage crops and things like that. “So generally, we're pleased. We see that there's an increase of about 22 per cent of the of the coverage, understanding at the same time, that will premiums will go up.” He said generally it has served the agriculture industry well to have more coverage. Deadline March 31, 2021, is the deadline to select insured crops and coverage levels or make additional changes to Crop Insurance contracts. Producers need to also apply, reinstate or cancel by this date. Crop Insurance is a business risk management program supported through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. Under Crop Insurance, premiums for most programs are shared 40 per cent by participating producers, 36 per cent by the Government of Canada and 24 per cent by the Government of Saskatchewan. Administrative expenses are fully funded by governments, 60 per cent by Canada and 40 per cent by Saskatchewan. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
WASHINGTON — She's guided the Senate through two impeachment trials, vexed Democrats and Republicans alike with parliamentary opinions and helped rescue Electoral College certificates from a pro-Trump mob ransacking the Capitol. She also does spot-on impersonations of senators including Bernie Sanders. Elizabeth MacDonough, an English literature major and the Senate's first woman parliamentarian, is about to demonstrate anew why she's one of Washington's most potent, respected yet obscure figures. Any day, she's expected to reveal if she thinks a federal minimum wage boost, progressives' most prized plank in Democrats' $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, should fall from the bill. Her decision, a political minefield likely to elicit groans from whichever side she disappoints, will play an outsized role in deciding the wage increase's fate. It may not be definitive — majority Democrats might try overriding an opinion they don't like. “Elizabeth has a soul-crushing job, to which she brings an enormous amount of soul," said her predecessor, Alan Frumin, whom she replaced when he retired in 2012. Part of MacDonough's job, in which she's supposed to be nonpartisan, is enduring high-stakes lobbying from both parties when she's making pivotal decisions. But she’s found a home in the Capitol, where she’s spent most of the past three decades after starting as an assistant Senate librarian in 1990. “She knows the names of every police officer and janitor,” Frumin said. Sometimes, the pressure can be extraordinary. Frumin said that when the Senate was enacting former President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law — which was opposed by Republicans and infuriated grassroots tea party conservatives — he had police protection at his home as a precaution. “And the political climate hasn’t gotten friendlier," he said. Even so, MacDonough, 55, has garnered high marks from both parties. Underscoring that, while she was initially appointed in 2012 by Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, Senate majority leader at the time, she was retained by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., when he became majority leader in 2015. “She’s very solid. She listens to all the evidence,” Sanders, the independent Vermont senator and chief sponsor of the minimum wage proposal, said in a recent interview. “She is a brilliant lawyer, a thorough and fair referee and a walking encyclopedia of Senate precedent and procedure,” McConnell spokesman David Popp said Tuesday. She's also used the time to hone an ability to replicate the voices and cadence of several senators including Sanders, associates say. MacDonough's earned her reputation for fairness while helping steer the Senate through some of its highest-profile moments. Rulings she issued striking anti-abortion and other provisions from numerous failed GOP attempts to repeal Obama's health care law weakened their bills. She helped Chief Justice John Roberts preside over then-President Donald Trump's 2020 Senate impeachment trial, and was beside Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., for Trump's second trial this month. Trump was acquitted both times. And as Trump supporters fought past police and into the Capitol last month in hopes of disrupting Congress' certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, MacDonough and other staffers rescued those ballots and hustled mahogany boxes containing them to safety. MacDonough's office, on the Capitol's first floor, was ransacked and declared a crime scene. Raised by a single mother in the comfortable Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland, MacDonough graduated with an English literature degree from George Washington University. She began her Senate career in its library before leaving to get a law degree at Vermont Law School. She worked briefly as a Justice Department trial attorney before returning to the Senate in 1999, this time as an assistant in the parliamentarian’s office. Less than two years later, she helped Vice-President Al Gore preside over Congress’ certification of electoral ballots that sealed his own 2000 election defeat to George W. Bush. “It was very exciting and humbling,” MacDonough said in a Vermont Law School alumni profile. As Democrats begin pushing Biden’s sweeping relief package through Congress, they’re using a special procedure that shields the bill from Senate Republican filibusters, which require 60 votes to thwart. That's out of reach for Democrats in a 50-50 chamber they control with Vice-President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote. But Senate rules require that items in such a bill must have a substantial budget impact that is not “merely incidental” to the language’s main intended purpose. MacDonough has been meeting with Democrats who've tried persuading her that their minimum wage provision meets that test, and Republicans who've told her it doesn't. Democrats want to raise the federal floor, fixed at $7.25 hourly since 2009, to $15 over five years. The Senate usually heeds the parliamentarian's advice, which is whispered to the senator presiding over the chamber. But the majority party will on rare occasion force a vote to overrule the parliamentarian. If MacDonough decides the minimum wage hike should remain in the bill, it would likely survive because GOP opponents would need an unachievable 60 votes to remove it. But at least two Democrats have expressed opposition to the $15 proposal, so it still could be amended or even dropped. If MacDonough says it should be stricken, Democrats would have no chance of garnering 60 votes to overrule her. But they might choose the rarely utilized, hardball tactic of having the presiding officer, presumably Harris, ignore her and announce that the minimum wage language meets the test to stay in the overall legislation. That would force Republicans to find 60 votes to strip the provision, which they'd fail to do. Such a tactic is called the nuclear option because Democrats would be using their majority to muscle through rules changes, enraging Republicans and inviting a future tit-for-tat retaliation. Majority Democrats overruled MacDonough in 2013, eliminating filibusters for executive branch and most judicial nominees. In 2017, Republicans extended that to Supreme Court picks. “It was a stinging defeat that I tried not to take personally,” she said during a 2018 commencement speech at her law school. Alan Fram, The Associated Press
Reverend Andreas Sigrist with the Jasper Anglican Church is delivering a free webinar about hope on Feb. 25 and said there are three key concepts to think about: reality, goal and movement. The webinar follows another about death and grief, which was offered through the Jasper Employment and Education Centre. Executive director Ginette Marcoux initiated the idea for the second webinar that is scheduled to run from 5 to 6 p.m. Sigrist hopes to see a lot of participation. “Hope is a capacity we have to move forward despite resistance,” he said. “For me, there are three key concepts. Reality: I think it’s crucial to remember that hope never denies reality. (Secondly), hope never exists in a vacuum. It’s always linked to a goal.” The third concept is to think about hope in terms of movement. “It’s not something we have or don’t have,” Sigrist said. “It’s more like a muscle that has to be cultivated, to be trained.” He noted how these concepts can be tied together into a story. “One of the examples I’ll be using is a show on Netflix called Away. It’s about a mission to Mars. There’s this wonderful commander, Emma Green. She leaves her teenage daughter behind. It takes three years to get to Mars and back.” Sigrist said the movie shows the strain between mother and daughter because of the distance between them but at the same time there’s a goal to get to Mars and establish life there. ”It’s that hope that allows them to move forward despite the despair the mom and daughter are feeling about being apart,” he said. He described how that framework “exemplifies the way things are, not the way things are supposed to be. The hope is all about working toward the way things are supposed to be. We exist in between those two things: the way things are and the way things are supposed to be.” Sigrist said feeling up and down is perfectly normal “in our emotional life and our inner life.” “It’s like standing in a river and the river is flowing toward a waterfall,” he said. “You’re far away from the waterfall and it’s easier to not be swept away by the current. But the closer you get, the more strong the current becomes. The key here is to become aware of where we are and learn to listen to our emotions, to our lives and to how we respond to circumstances.” While people can feel they are getting to their goal, other times they are overwhelmed, such as with the pandemic. “That’s why we need to talk about it – the reality,” Sigrist said. “It’s not just about individual experience. It’s about the strength of community.” Folks can register for the webinar through the Jasper Employment and Education Centre or by phoning or emailing Myles Berrington, adult education co-ordinator, at email@example.com. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
THUNDER BAY — A new website launched this week features various services and tools to support victims and survivors of local human trafficking, says the co-chair of the Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking. Thunder Bay has been identified as one of the top six hubs in Ontario for human trafficking says Kristal Carlson, human trafficking youth and transition worker at Thunder Bay Counselling and co-chair of the Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking. “This crime is rampant in Thunder Bay,” she said Monday, Feb. 22. The website was created to provide victims and survivors of human trafficking with access to free services and to also spread awareness and education in the community about the crime. “The Thunder Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking created the website to help community members, potential survivors and business people alike to be able to acknowledge, identify and potentially intervene if they should see human trafficking in young peoples’ lives,” Carlson said, adding the crime is often under-reported. For women, only one in 10 will report and for men only one in 20 will report to police, Carlson said. “It is such an under-reported crime so any sex-based crime we know that only six per cent will ever end in conviction so it is really hard to convince people to come forward when there is not the likelihood that something will happen,” she said. And while groups such as the Thunder Bay Coalition To End Human Trafficking exist to support victims of the crime, it is important to note they do not classify themselves as a “rescuing people” group, Carlson said. “We support individuals to move forward when they are ready in the way that is going to best suit them in their current situation,” she said. Last year alone, through various programs across the Coalition more than 60 people were successful in leaving their current situation, Carlson said. The creators of the new website also hope to address misconceptions around human traffickers that are often presented in media and movies. “Human trafficking, more times than not, is somebody being exploited by the person they identify as their boyfriend, their best friend or somebody that they know so that happens in more than 85 per cent of cases,” she said. The other most common form of trafficking is the exploitation of young people by family members, extended family members, caretakers or guardians. “More times than not it’s happening by the person they believe to be their boyfriend, girlfriend or best friend,” Carlson said. The website also teaches individuals how to identify signs and risk factors of human trafficking. “We also want to raise the education in the city of Thunder bay because we are identified as one of the top six hubs in the province of Ontario and Ontario makes up two-thirds of all human trafficking that takes place in our country,” Carlson said. Carlson also points out that coming forward doesn’t mean individuals have to report to the police. “The Thunder Bay Police have started to do some really amazing work in being able to meet survivors exactly where they are at and not needing to move forward with charges but to support them for when they are ready to do that if they are ever ready to do that,” she said. “We just want [survivors] to know they are not alone and that there are people to support you no matter where you are, whether you are currently at risk, entrenched, or you looking to exit, there are people here to support you.” For more information, visit Thunder Bay Coalition’s new website by clicking here. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
OTTAWA — Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem says the central bank is seeing early signs that people may be purchasing homes solely because they believe prices may go up. Macklem says rising prices in particular for single-family homes are still a long way from the heated market the country observed about five years ago. Fuelling the increase has been a combination of demand for more space as millions of workers do their jobs remotely, constrained supply and rock-bottom interest rates driven low by central bank actions. The bank's key policy rate has been at 0.25 per cent for about 11 months, and its quantitative easing program is trying to reduce the rates paid on things like mortgages to drive spending. Macklem says the central bank is surprised by the rebound in the housing market. He adds there are early signs of what he called "excess exuberance," with people maybe expecting the recent increases in prices to go on indefinitely. "What we get worried about is when we start to see extrapolated expectations, when we start to see people expecting the kind of unsustainable price increases we've seen recently go on indefinitely," Macklem said during a question-and-answer session with chambers of commerce in Edmonton and Calgary. "We are starting to see some early signs of excess exuberance, but we're a long way from where we were in 2016-2017 when things were really hot." The central bank plans to keep its key rate low until the economy recovers, expected sometime in 2023, and adjust its bond-buying program over time. Macklem says there is still a need for considerable monetary policy support to generate a complete recovery. In the meantime, the bank will keep an eye on debt levels, as mortgage debt rises as households pay down other debt like credit cards and personal loans, Macklem says. "We are acutely aware that in a world of very low interest rates, there is a risk that housing prices could get stretched, households could get stretched, and certainly that's a risk we want to guard against," Macklem told reporters following the speech. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
Community advocates assisting folks who are homeless are overjoyed a cold weather shelter has been established in the city of Parksville on Vancouver Island. “It’s just amazing,” said Rev. Christine Muise from OHEART — the Oceanside Homelessness Ecumenical Advocacy Response Team — which is running the new shelter. “It was definitely all boots on the ground last week,” Muise said of the quick, collaborative effort by a number of stakeholders to establish the shelter within a five-day window. BC Housing announced Friday the eight-bed shelter St. Edmund's Anglican Church will run nightly until the end of the winter season on March 31. The shelter, funded by the province, will provide a much-needed warm, safe and secure place to sleep for people who are experiencing homelessness in the community, BC Housing spokesperson Laura Mathews said in an email. “It will provide guests with a clean bed, food, access to a washroom and will ensure people are following pandemic health guidelines, including physical distancing,” Mathews said. OHEART and other community agencies have been calling for a cold weather shelter in Parksville or Qualicum Beach since last March when the previous one at St. Anne’s church was closed because the building wasn’t geared to meet COVID-19 protocols. The new initiative got rolling in earnest on the Family Day long weekend with the help of Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, Parksville-Qualicum MLA Adam Walker, BC Housing, the provincial public health service and the Anglican Diocese of Islands and Inlets, said Muise. “It’s pretty exciting that from Sunday to Thursday we went from having no cold weather shelter to one being up and running,” she said. BC Housing had already funded the establishment of 16 temporary beds at a Parksville hotel to shelter vulnerable individuals and prevent the spread of COVID-19, said Muise. But a low-barrier cold weather shelter is still needed to help people who find themselves out in the cold, she added. “The COVID-19 response hotel is not a nightly arrangement,” Muise said. “We have guests that have been there with us since March of last year, so the turnover or the opportunity to help people that are still living rough is limited.” Qualicum Beach town council recently passed a motion to identify a location for a temporary warming centre or cold weather shelter for up to 15 people. The council is expected to vote at its Wednesday meeting about whether to move ahead to locate the facility on land at the Qualicum Beach Airport. The new temporary shelter in Parksville is a good step to establish more permanent resources for the people who are homeless in the region, said Muise. “This will allow us to get things off the ground for the folks that have been living rough and provide them with nurturance, care and hope,” she said. “In the conversations we’ve been having with local, federal and provincial governments, we’ve certainly been discussing what are the next steps to create more long-term permanent structures.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Facebook Inc's oversight board has received a "user statement" for the case it is deciding about whether the social media company was right to indefinitely suspend former President Donald Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts, a board spokeswoman confirmed on Tuesday. Facebook handed the case to its independent board in January after it blocked Trump's access to his accounts over concerns of further violent unrest following the storming of the U.S. Capitol by the former president’s supporters. The board's process gave administrators of Trump's page the option to submit a statement challenging Facebook's decision.
Brooklyn’s organic licensed cannabis producer, Aqualitas, is partnering with Colorado-based Sana Packaging to bring ocean-sourced packaging to the recreational and medical markets. Aqualitas CEO Myrna Gillis described the arrangement as a significant step for the company. “We think, from a leadership perspective, this is really important to us as being in a coastal community. Obviously, taking garbage from our oceans is really important, and we’re just very happy that we were able to work with a forward-thinking company that had the same sort of ideas and visions about bringing it to fruition,” she said in an interview with LighthouseNOW. In a recent press release, Josh Adler, Aqualitas’s director of operations, suggested that while the facility is a low energy and low water consumer due to its LED lights and aquaponic systems, “we wanted to do more.” He added that it’s been two years in the making to source packaging material, connect with a manufacturer, get the product certified, conduct impact investigations and make the whole thing work during a pandemic. Sana Packaging is working with Oceanworks, a global marketplace for reclaimed ocean materials and products, to make its 100-per-cent reclaimed plastic packaging. “It’s basically packaging that is taken from our oceans, waterways and shorelines. It’s separated and graded, and the product we would use would be food-grade [food safe], reclaimed plastics. “It’s a way to effectively recycle waste that didn’t make its way into our recycling stream.” According to the release, the first order for packaging from Sana reclaimed 1.8 million tonnes of ocean plastic. The packaging will be used for the company’s flower products and exclusively in all its medical offerings, along with for some of its branded products and for lids on glass jars of other products. “We have a fully sustainable package line that consists of ocean-sourced packaging, including the ocean-sourced lids on glass jars, as well as omnidegradable and biodegradable bags and cardboard,” said Gillis. “We are now at the point where all of our products are in sustainable packaging.” Gillis said the changeover in packaging will not affect the cost of any of their products, despite a rise in cost for the company to introduce the sustainable packaging. She added that Sana Packaging has offered competitive pricing and they are able to absorb the extra cost. The new packaging will launch coast-to-coast via Aqualitas’s medical platform in five-gram jars, and in Nova Scotia in the recreational market, via its Reef Organic product line later this month. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
ROME — The Republic of San Marino finally can start its coronavirus vaccination drive after the first shots arrived Tuesday. But the city-state surrounded by Italy had to resort to its “Plan B” and buy Sputnik V jabs from Russia after plans to get European Union-approved doses from Italy got delayed. A pink and yellow truck escorted by police cars brought the first 7,500 Sputnik V vaccines into San Marino and delivered them at the main hospital. Officials said the Russia-made doses will eventually be enough to vaccinate some 15% of the microstate’s population of around 33,800. San Marino bought Sputnik V shots at the last minute after an agreement to have Italy send a proportion of the vaccines it received through the EU's vaccine procurement system got delayed. San Marino, located near Rimini on the Adriatic coast, isn’t an EU member, and as such was excluded from the deals the 27-nation bloc negotiated with pharmaceutical firms. The San Marino secretary of state, Luca Beccari, said during a news conference last weekend that the negotiations with Italy took a long time and that under an agreement signed Jan. 11, San Marino was to receive one dose for every 1,700 that Italy received from the EU. But the deal hit a snag as Italy and other EU countries faced delivery delays for the three EU-approved vaccines, the ones from: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Italy has administered some 3.7 million doses. “Unfortunately, the time required to define these procedures and the fact that San Marino is a country that has not yet started its vaccination campaign has forced us to seek alternative solutions,” Beccari said in explaining the Sputnik purchase. “As for all other countries, it is necessary to start the vaccination campaign as soon as possible in order to ensure the safety of its citizens,” he said. The European Medicines Agency has said the developers of Sputnik V recently asked for advice on what data they needed to submit for the vaccine to be licensed across the European Union. Hungarian health authorities have approved both Sputnik V and the vaccine developed by state-owned Chinese company Sinopharm. San Marino has had a proportionately devastating outbreak, with 3,538 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 73 deaths. Roberto Ciavatta, San Marino’s secretary of state for health, said Sputnik V was safe and effective. “It is not that it did not pass any controls. On the contrary, as all the research and data available show, it is a vaccine that is already administered in 30 countries, About 70 million people have been vaccinated with it. It has extremely high safety standards,” he said. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
FERGUS – The Township of Centre Wellington is seeking public input on design concepts for St. David Street in downtown Fergus. Colin Baker, managing director of infrastructure, said at a Monday meeting that a stretch of St. David Street, from St. Andrew Street to Edinburgh Avenue, is scheduled for a full reconstruction in 2023. He explained the town will be leveraging the province’s connecting links funding, which can cover up to 90 per cent of costs to repair a municipal road that connects two ends of a highway, in this case Highway 6. Beyond that, Baker said the township is taking that opportunity to look at how the road is designed to better meet the needs of the public and complete streets policy from the township’s transportation master plan. This could include widening sidewalks, streetscape visual improvements, reduction in parking spaces, bike lanes or any combination of these. “What we’re really looking at is what the future vision for this road is,” Baker said at the meeting. Council was presented four options for information purposes ahead of the public engagement period. The first option is to match the existing design which would maintain 14 highly used on-street parking spots, maintain the same traffic flow but not improve active transportation or the visual appeal. The second option would increase the sidewalk width which would provide a better visual look with new trees and lighting and increase vehicle width but all parking spots would be removed. Option three would keep on-street parking between St. Andrew and St. Patrick and then widen the sidewalk north of these streets bringing the benefits of both. Option four suggests separated cycling lanes from St. Andrew to Hill Street and an unseparated bike lane for the rest of the stretch. This would mean a reduction to four parking spaces and vehicle lane width. Adam Gilmore, manager of engineering, said option four is in-line with their complete streets policy and cycling lanes are justified given the average daily traffic volumes. Gilmore said, as noted in other municipalities, narrower lanes can have a traffic calming effect. Baker explained the next steps are to get these concepts out for public input through advisory committees, a landing page on connectCW, advertising and meetings with the Ministry of Transportation. They will then take the feedback and come to council with a recommendation at a later date. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
Downdetector, an outage tracking website, showed there were close to 26,000 incidents of people reporting issues with LinkedIn. Earlier in the day, LinkedIn said an issue across its platform was causing certain functional requests to take longer or fail unexpectedly and that it was working on a fix. California-based LinkedIn helps employers assess a candidate's suitability for a role and employees use the platform to find new job.
(Kate Dubinski/CBC News - image credit) Beginning March 1, second dose COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Yellowknife will be open to residents who received their first dose between Jan. 23 and 30. In a Tuesday email to media, the N.W.T. Health and Social Services Authority said it added appointments to the Yellowknife vaccine clinic to include this group. Until now, second doses had only been available to people who had received their dose between Jan. 7 and 22. "This now means that [Yellowknife] vaccination appointments are open to anyone who got their first shot before Jan. 30th and priority groups," the email said. The health authority is asking residents to book their appointment online and if they're unable to do so, they can call public health at 767-9120. Clinics schedule in remote communities finalized The email also said the health authority finalized a schedule for vaccine clinics in all of the territory's communities. The latest vaccine clinics in communities outside of Yellowknife are open to residents who are getting their second dose and to any resident who is 18 and older wishing to get their first dose. The communities that were included in the schedule Tuesday are: Fort Resolution, on March 4 and 5; Fort Liard, on March 4, 5 and 6 at the community hall; Norman Wells, on March 2, 3 and 4; Fort Good Hope, on March 8 and 9. "If anything changes it will be documented in it in the update notes," read the email. "[T]his ... should allow all residents who received a first dose to plan for their second and many residents in remote communities to get a second chance at a first dose."
The province prepares to open mass clinics while doing more in-depth testing for worrying variants. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. is expanding its pool of immunizers to include dentists, midwives and paramedics before 172 sites open up to eventually offer a vaccine to everyone aged 18 and up.