Black History Month is a time to celebrate the achievements made by Black Americans but it can also be a platform to discuss the historical inequalities faced by Black Americans and how to improve upon them for the future generations.
Black History Month is a time to celebrate the achievements made by Black Americans but it can also be a platform to discuss the historical inequalities faced by Black Americans and how to improve upon them for the future generations.
Emma Corrin just won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Princess Diana.
In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Spin Master Corp. recorded meteoric growth in its digital games business in the latest quarter as users of its Toca Life World app filmed themselves playing the game and shared the videos on social media, the company’s co-CEO said Tuesday. “There was a crazy amount of people that were actually filming themselves playing in the game and then uploading it to TikTok, and that exposure of the game really started to increase the amount of users,” Ronnen Harary told investors during a conference call. “When you have that many people seeing the product, playing with the product and telling their friends, there's a multiplier effect.” The Canadian toymaker’s digital games revenue increased by more than 400 per cent to $31.8 million in its fourth quarter, driven by the Toca Life World platform. The app, developed by Spin Master's Swedish app studio Toca Boca, lets players imagine stories for characters in the virtual game, including kids, babies, elders and creatures, and drag the characters around the screen with their finger and make them do activities. While it's free to download the app, Spin Master makes money through the in-game purchases and upgrades. The stronger digital games revenue, also driven in part by its Sago Mini kids app subscription user base, was revealed as the company said its revenue grew 3.6 per cent compared with a year ago for the three months ended Dec. 31. The Toronto-based company said revenue for the quarter was US$490.6 million, up from US$473.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. Spin Master's shares surged to a 52-week high and were up over 24 per cent, or $7.01, at $36.07 in midday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Yet its quarterly results also showed a decline in net sales to $434.3 million, from $441.6 million a year earlier. Mark Segal, Spin Master's chief financial officer, explained that the sales slump was in part due to retailers pulling promotions forward earlier in the fall as well as the company's decision to limit domestic inventory. "This affected our ability to fulfil some late-season replenishment and e-commerce orders, especially on hot items," he told analysts. "While this meant we did not maximize our sales, the position we took allowed us to achieve our best sell-through and cleanest retail and Spin Master inventory levels in many years." Meanwhile, the company will be releasing its feature-length Paw Patrol movie in August, expanding the reach of the company's popular kids entertainment franchise and opening up a new revenue stream. "In terms of increasing our output, you will see more films coming from Spin Master in the future and I think that gives us a whole new way to actually entertain kids," Harary told analysts. "It's really important for everybody to understand that we're actually producing the film, we didn't license the film out ... and take a royalty on it," he said. "Our team internally in Toronto produced the film, we hired the writers, we hired the directors, we did the whole casting with all that amazing voice talent." It's unclear whether there will be a theatrical release for the movie or a combination of theatrical and video on demand, Harary said. Meanwhile, although classic toys and game were a safe choice in 2020, he said consumers will "shift to newness" post-pandemic, he said. The company is preparing for this shift with a robust pipeline of new product development and the goal of greenlighting one to two new properties a year, Harary said. Harary and Anton Rabie, co-founders of the children's entertainment company, will step down from their co-chief executive roles next year. Max Rangel was appointed global president in January and adds the chief executive role to his title in April. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:TOY) Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press
Which Canadian political party has the best interests of Black people at heart?
City officials are warning residents to avoid contact with raccoons after an uptick in reported raccoon-related injuries. Between January 2020 and February 2021, Toronto Public Health saw a 62 per cent increase in reports of people bitten or scratched by raccoons compared to the two-year average between the years 2018 and 2019. Toronto Animal Services also received more service requests for sick and injured raccoons, the city said in a news release. In 2020, there were 13,712 requests compared to 4,172 requests in 2019. "This may be because residents are home more than usual or spending more time exercising outside in their neighbourhoods, thus encountering more raccoons in the city," Toronto Public Health said in a release. Brad Gates, the owner and president of AAA Gates' Wildlife Control, says his company received more calls in 2020 with residents spending more time at home. "If they were out of the house, they wouldn't hear the animal moving about during the daytime, but during COVID-19 they were hearing the animals at all times," he said. Gates said reports of other wild animals, such as coyotes and foxes, have also increased as more people see them in their backyards or parks. "Our call volume for non-service requests is through the roof," he said. "Prior to this past year they weren't around to see it and they didn't think to call." 'Homeowners should keep a safe distance' Raccoons can be infected with feline distemper, which affects their coordination and eyesight. "Those calls have certainly been up for us, people seeing animals during the day that have been acting peculiar," Gates said. He added that distemper can cause raccoons to become less afraid of people. In late stages of the disease, raccoons begin to stagger and can get blinded by a crusting over their eyes. "They're getting into situations they wouldn't normally get into." He said raccoons don't usually attack humans. "It's extremely rare that a raccoon without any provoking would come near a person or attack a person," he said. Gates said it could happen, though, if a homeowner tries to deal with a sick or injured raccoon on their own and put "their fingers somewhere they shouldn't." "Like with any wild animal, homeowners should keep a safe distance." Rabies is very rare but can be fatal if it is left untreated. Toronto Public Health said that residents should not pet or feed wild raccoons, and that anyone who has been bitten, scratched or exposed to a wild raccoon should see a health provider immediately to be assessed. There have been no reports of wildlife with rabies in Toronto since 1997, according to Toronto Public Health.
OTTAWA — The federal government is telling an appeal court it had to provide U.S. authorities with customer information from Canadian banks to avoid possibly "catastrophic effects" on Canada's economy. The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, known as FATCA, requires banks and other institutions in countries outside the United States to report information about accounts held by U.S. individuals, including Canadians with dual citizenship. Among the information from Canada being shared with the U.S. are the names and addresses of account holders, account numbers, account balances, and details such as interest, dividends and other income. In a newly filed submission to the Federal Court of Appeal, the Canadian government says failure to comply would have had serious effects on Canada's financial sector, its customers and the broader economy. Two U.S.-born women who now live in Canada, Gwendolyn Louise Deegan and Kazia Highton, challenged the constitutionality of Canadian provisions implementing the 2014 agreement between the countries that makes the information-sharing possible. The two unsuccessfully argued in Federal Court that the provisions breach the Charter of Rights guarantee preventing unreasonable seizure, and they now want the Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
A week after Dustin Duthie slit his girlfriend's throat and then tucked her body into bed as if she was sleeping, he fatally stabbed his mother and stepfather as police were planning to question the killer about his partner's disappearance. These are some of the details contained in an agreed statement of facts filed in Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Tuesday as part of Duthie's guilty plea, which came unexpectedly just days before the jury trial was set to take place. Duthie, 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his girlfriend, Taylor Toller, and mother, Shawn Boshuck, and one count of first-degree murder for the planned killing of his stepfather, Alan Pennylegion. Toller, 25, was killed in her apartment in the southeast Calgary neighbourhood of Applewood Park on July 25, 2018. Boschuk and Pennylegion were murdered a week later, on July 31, at their home in Calgary's northwest. Duthie lived in their basement. Domestic violence 'can happen to anyone' Toller's family released a statement Tuesday, expressing their grief and condemning domestic violence. "We loved Taylor very much," said the family. "The opportunity to see her grow and thrive was taken from her family, and we are heartbroken. "Domestic violence is insidious, and it can happen to anyone. If you have a friend or loved one at risk, know that it can take many attempts to leave, and the most dangerous time can be after that decision is made." According to the agreed statement of facts, the day before Boschuk and her husband were killed, she messaged Toller's grandmother expressing concern about how her son would react to police contacting him about the young woman's disappearance. Duthie stabbed his mother six times by the back door of her home and then dragged her across the room and covered her with a plastic sheet. Police determined Pennylegion had gotten out of bed to find Duthie cleaning up blood in the kitchen. It was then he was attacked. Duthie has admitted to killing his girlfriend of five years, Taylor Toller, 25, his mother, Shawn Boshuck, and his stepfather, Alan Pennylegion.(From left: Taylor Toller's Facebook page/Shawn Boshuck's Facebook page/Supplied) Duthie stabbed Pennylegion repeatedly and dragged him into the main floor bathroom with his dog, Odie, which he also killed. Over the years, Duthie had threatened violence against his stepfather, and the two had a tense relationship, the statement of facts said. Duthie called 911 just before 11 a.m. MT on July 31 and confessed to the murders. That's when police discovered the three bodies in the two homes. Toller was found in her bed. Duthie and Toller had been together for five years. Toller crying hours before death: video Security video from Toller's apartment building gathered as part of the investigation shows Toller and Duthie together the day before and morning of her death. The couple were seen coming and going from Toller's Applewood Park apartment, at times holding hands. Just after midnight, Duthie pulled a knife on Toller and took her cellphone away. Still images captured from the video show Toller crying. Between midnight and 4 a.m., the two were seen coming and going from the condo four times. At 5:14 a.m. on July 26, Duthie left the apartment alone, carrying a black bag and pulling a "bed in a box." He locked the door behind him. Police eventually found a blood-stained towel in the "bed in a box" in the trunk of Duthie's car. Toller was killed hours after this still image shows her crying in her apartment hallway after Duthie pulled a knife on her. (Court Exhibit) Boschuk's last communication with anyone was a text message sent to a friend at 5:53 a.m. on July 31. Duthie killed his mother and Pennylegion some time between 6 a.m. and 10:40 a.m., when he stopped to buy alcohol near Toller's apartment. At 10:50 a.m., Duthie called 911 and confessed to all three murders. When police arrived, it became clear Duthie was contemplating "suicide by cop." He was taken into custody about 30 minutes after officers arrived. Inside Duthie's black satchel, police seized a six-inch knife with white hockey tape on the handle. It was covered in Pennylegion's blood. A date for sentencing will be set on Friday.
A group of Black parents have taken the problem of anti-Black racism in Ontario schools into their own hands, launching an anonymous racism reporting tool for educators and staff, saying they can no longer wait for school boards to act. At a virtual news conference Tuesday, mothers with the group Parents of Black Children (POBC) announced its school-racism reporting tool, with a plan to release aggregated data on a quarterly basis. The move is a response to what they say is a lack of accountability at Ontario boards and inaction on the part of province to institute random equity audits to properly gauge the scale of anti-Black racism in schools. "Despite years of reports, committees and recommendations, school boards are saying that they are unable to properly track incidents of anti-Black racism. This is unacceptable so we are going to do it for them," said mother-of-two Kearie Daniel, a founding member of the group. Parents who advocate for change are often told to prove racism is happening, but without proper reporting tools, sound data simply doesn't exist, Daniel said. Educators are often reluctant to report about such incidents, fearing reprisals, lack of promotion, sabotage or lack of support from their administrators, she added. That allows school boards "to feign innocence and do nothing more to fight against anti-Black racism than to put nice-sounding statements on their websites or maybe hold a training or two," Daniel said 'I don't forget those stories' On Tuesday alone, another of the group's cofounders, Charline Grant, said she had heard from four families with stories of anti-Black racism in schools. "I don't forget those stories. I don't forget those names. They stay with me," said Grant. "I see myself. I see my children in those phone calls and those intakes that come in." Policies and procedure can go out the door and things can happen very quickly when governments are motivated to do it — when other lives are in danger. - Charline Grant Grant experienced anti-Black racism herself when a York Region school board trustee was overheard calling her the n-word. The trustee, Nancy Elgie, ultimately resigned from the board following months of public pressure. In 2017, following a human rights complaint, Grant received an apology from the York Region District School Board. The board also agreed to establish a human rights office to collect equity-related data and conduct mandatory racism and anti-Black racism training among other commitments. Since then, she has heard from countless families and from Black educators with children in Ontario school boards who say they're afraid to speak out. It's a problem she says the provincial government has had months to act on — noting the group has been calling for random equity audits at boards since August 2020 — but to-date, it hasn't. "If there's one thing I personally have learned throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, it's that policies and procedure can go out the door and things can happen very quickly when governments are motivated to do it — when other lives are in danger," she said. "But our Black student lives are in danger and its been in danger for a very long time. And it's hurtful and harmful and traumatizing." In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said he has "reaffirmed the mandate to all school boards to collect race-based data," though he did not respond to POBC's calls for random audits. "The Government will ensure school boards collect and publicize this data to create accountability, transparency and action to fix long-standing systemic barriers that hold back Black and other racialized children in Ontario," said spokesperson Caitlin Clark. The statement added "the status quo is indefensible," saying the government has moved to end discretionary suspensions for students Grade 3 and under, and end practices like "streaming" which saw Black students funnelled into applied programs below their ability. Province launching Black advocacy in schools program A day before the launch of the tool, the province also announced it will invest $6 million over the next three years to support Black students through a new program called the Student and Family Advocates Initiative in Ottawa, Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area. That support will include things like working with students to develop plans for achieving their goals and connecting students and families to resources like job-placements, scholarships and leadership opportunities, it said, as well as working alongside community partners to "amplify" the voices of Black students and families to make changes in the education system. "Since I started in the role of Advocate for Community Opportunities in December 2019, I've consistently heard from parents, youth, and grassroots community groups that we need to build community capacity to navigate the education system and hold schools accountable," said Jamil Jivani, Ontario's Advocate for Community Opportunities. The launch of the Black parent group's reporting tool comes on the heels of a first-of-its kind report by the Toronto District School Board's human rights office that found "a serious racism problem" within the board, with reports of anti-Black racism exceeding all other hate incidents documented there in the past year. The report found race-related complaints made up 69 per cent of all reported hate incidents in the 2019-2020 school year, with anti-Black racism making up the biggest share.(Toronto District School Board) That report followed an unanimous vote by Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustees in 2019, out of which the board developed a formal policy requiring employees report any such incidents that they encounter to managerial staff. 'This is what courage looks like' Speaking to CBC News, TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz said the TDSB welcomes all new tools to gather more details on racist and hate incidents within the school board and their schools, and are also open to perfect the tool they already have in place. Parents and members of the Peel District School Board, meanwhile, can direct complaints to the board's human rights office, which board spokesperson Tiffany Gooch describes as an "arm's length, independent and neutral office that will confidentially receive, resolve and where appropriate, investigate complaints of racism and discrimination in a fair, just an equitable manner." That board says it will be implementing the first phase of a mandatory reporting system for staff this week, which will include instances of anti-Black racism. It also says it is working on transforming and strengthening its human rights office to "rebuilt trust" that complaints are taken seriously. But speaking to reporters Tuesday, educator and POBC group member Claudette Rutherford pointed out that when it comes to boards' own human rights offices, staff may well be underreporting out of concern for backlash. "Teachers as well as parents are far less likely to go that route because they're not trusting of, 'Is it arm's length?'" said Rutherford, who has been teaching for nearly two decades. "Even me coming here now, I understand the risk that it puts me at but I feel like I don't have a choice anymore," she added. "This is what courage looks like," said Grant. "Being afraid and still doing it." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here. (CBC)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the decision to delay second doses of COVID-19 vaccine by four months is based on scientific evidence combined with real-world data from the province’s immunization campaign that began in late December.
Calgary’s Mount Royal University is once again offering free entrepreneur workshops aimed at various groups including Indigenous peoples. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s workshops, which will be held on the five Wednesdays in March, will be held online. The workshops will begin tomorrow (March 3) with a session titled Entrepreneurship & You. Besides being aimed at Indigenous entrepreneurs, the weekly webinars are also geared towards newcomers to Canada as well as women and youth. The workshops are part of the Alberta Inclusive Innovation Initiative, which will provide introductions into the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. This year’s workshops are being held in conjunction with the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University in Toronto. HSBC Bank Canada is funding the program. Mount Royal first offered these workshops in February of 2020. A total of 60 students, primarily from Calgary, registered for the in-person sessions. About 10 per cent of last year’s cohort self-identified as Indigenous. “There was quite a high demand for that training,” said Dimitra Fotopoulos, who is the director for the Faculty of Continuing Education at Mount Royal University. Fotopoulos said school officials were keen to present the workshops once again this year. “But because of COVID we were unable to offer in-person training,” she said. As a result, university officials decided to pivot and allow individuals to register for free online workshops. Fotopoulos said officials originally capped the number of participants at 40. When that maximum filled up quickly, it was increased slightly, to 45 registrants, which was once again quickly achieved. Fotopoulos added program officials are purposely trying to keep the number of online participants to a workable number. Because of demand and to accommodate some of those who were unable to sign up for this month’s workshops, Mount Royal will offer the same sessions at some point this spring. Dates for the these sessions will be announced soon. Follow Alberta Inclusive Innovation Initiative | MRU (mtroyal.ca) Fotopoulos said this year’s workshops have been updated to reflect the new realities of the pandemic. “We’ve significantly updated the content in the workshops with practical learning that participants can apply to their situation,” she said. “Adding skills and information relating to topics, such as e-commerce, means the workshops are relevant to today’s entrepreneurs.” This month’s workshops will all be two hours long and held Wednesday nights. The March 10 session is titled Business Model Canvas and will be followed on March 17 with a session titled Marketing & Sales. Karen Richards, who teaches digital marketing courses at Mount Royal University, will be the instructor of the March 17 session. Richards believes the workshops are vital to those who have either launched or are thinking of starting up their own business. “I really think it was important, even before the pandemic, to diversify the economy with entrepreneurs,” Richards said. She added these workshops are perhaps even more important now for those who are looking to start up a business out of necessity. “What I’ve seen since the pandemic, now that it’s been a year, there are so many people losing their jobs and businesses closing down,” she said. Richards praised Mount Royal and Ryerson for joining forces to offer the workshops. “I think it’s meant to be a community-building relationship,” she said. “It’s giving back to the community.” Last year’s in-person workshops were seven-hour affairs, all over the course of one day. As for this year, Richards said documents pertaining to each weekly session will be made available to those registered about a week beforehand. Plus, there will also be online discussion forums that will be open for seven days after each session where instructors will be available to address any issues. “Entrepreneurs always have a lot of questions,” Richards said. Following Richards’ session there will be a March 24 workshop on Excel. And the program will conclude on March 31 with a webinar titled Finance & Accounting for Entrepreneurs. “These topics were selected as they demonstrate the range of skills required by entrepreneurs,” Fotopoulos said. Despite the fact the webinars are online this year, Fotopoulos said the majority of those who did sign up are once again from the Calgary area. But there are also a few out-of-province participants. CJWE By Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CJWE
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is loosening many restrictions on stores, gyms, restaurants and household gatherings as its COVID-19 case numbers continue to drop. Starting Friday, maximum capacity at stores and restaurants will increase to 50 per cent from 25, although restaurants will still have to ensure that only members of the same household sit together. Indoor religious services will be able to run at 25 per cent capacity or 100 people — whichever is lower — up from 10 per cent. Licensed establishments will be able to reopen their video lottery terminals. People who want to hold gatherings in their home will have more options. Currently, people are allowed to designate up to two people from different households as visitors. On Friday, people will be able to choose between that option or designating one entire household to visit, in essence, creating two-home bubbles. Outdoors, a limit on public gatherings will jump to 10 people from five. "Manitoba's case numbers and test positivity rates continue to trend in the right direction," Dr. Brent Roussin, chief public health officer, said Tuesday. "That's why we're able to begin to look at other options to cautiously reopen services in Manitoba." The Opposition said the government should expand the two-households rule to restaurants. "I wonder why a grandparent couldn't sit with their grandkids at a restaurant, if, in fact, they are part of that same (two-) household bubble," NDP Leader Wab Kinew said. Health officials reported two additional COVID-19 deaths and 64 new cases Tuesday. However, eight cases from unspecified dates were removed due to data corrections for a net increase of 56. The percentage of people testing positive, which peaked near 13 per cent in the fall, was down to four per cent. Roussin said COVID-19 variants remain a concern. One new case involving a variant first seen in the United Kingdom was reported Tuesday, as were two cases involving a variant that first surfaced in South Africa. The looser rules to take effect Friday will also allow fitness facilities to restart group classes, although masks will be required. Casinos, bingo halls, theatres and concert venues must remain closed. "These changes, once again, are cautious changes to ensure we continue to protect and safeguard Manitoba lives," Premier Brian Pallister said. He also announced another round of grants to businesses and charities that have had to scale back due to public-health measures. Like the previous two rounds, the new one will offer each business up to $5,000 to make up for some lost revenue. The loosening of some restrictions is not a sign that life is returning to normal, Roussin said. People must remain cautious, wear a mask and stay home if they are ill. "We are getting closer ... but we still have more work to do." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
LINCOLN, Neb. — The Biden administration's plan to funnel more coronavirus aid into states with greater unemployment has irked governors with lower jobless rates, even though many have economies that weren't hit as hard by the pandemic. The $1.9 trillion relief bill working its way through Congress allocates extra money to larger, mostly Democratic-run states with higher unemployment rates, while rural Midwestern and Southern states that tend to have Republican governors and better jobless numbers would benefit less. “You're penalizing people who have done the right thing," said Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican whose state has reported the nation's lowest unemployment rate over the last several months. “That's not the way you want to approach any sort of government program.” Ricketts was one of 22 governors — 21 Republicans and one Democrat — who have criticized the change in the pandemic relief proposal. Under previous coronavirus packages signed by former President Donald Trump, aid was distributed by population. If the new funding formula is approved, states including California, New York and New Jersey would each see a boost of more than $2 billion, while Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio would all see aid reductions greater than $500 million. Georgia and Florida would see losses of more than $1.2 billion. Many of the Republican-led states have taken a more hands-off approach to the pandemic to try to keep businesses open, while Democratic states argued that tighter mandates were necessary to save lives and help their economies over the long term. The White House defended President Joe Biden's distribution plan, saying it targets money to areas where it will have the biggest impact. “President Biden's rescue plan is focused on quickly getting help to the people and communities that need it most,” said Michael Gwin, director of White House rapid response. Iowa State University economist David Swenson said the White House's approach makes some sense because the states with the highest unemployment rates are generally the ones that relied more on industries battered by the pandemic, such as tourism. “If proportionally more people are unemployed in Las Vegas and California and other places that are entertainment destinations, then it would make sense to send money to those places instead of Iowa and Nebraska,” Swenson said. Critics argued that many of the hardest-hit states had higher jobless rates even before the pandemic began. “Some states just have naturally lower unemployment rates,” said Ernie Goss, an economist at Creighton University in Omaha. “That's one of the problems with doing it that way.” Goss said it might make more sense to distribute aid to states that saw the biggest increases in unemployment during the pandemic. But he cautioned that the unemployment rate is still an incomplete measure of any state's economy, because it doesn't count people who have stopped looking for work. Ohio Republican Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said his state's jobless rate is likely unreliable because of massive unemployment fraud. He said Ohio has made multiple efforts to return people to work safely, but the new funding formula would cost his state about $800 million in federal aid. “Doing things that put people back to work actually are going to cost us relief dollars that the people who aren't back to work actually need,” Husted said Monday. “We don't feel that is a fair way to do this.” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, said the funding formula “punishes states that took a measured approach to the pandemic and entered the crisis with healthy state budgets and strong economies.” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who vice chairs the National Governors Association, last month raised concerns about using unemployment when he and other governors met with Biden. “That’s really a disincentive for economic growth and people working,” Hutchinson told The Associated Press after the meeting. ___ Contributing are Associated Press reporters Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio; Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas; Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Josh Boak in Washington; and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida. ___ Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte Grant Schulte, The Associated Press
Barrhead Victim Services has a new program manager. Kristina Kyllonen has been working closely with the outgoing program manager since the end of November to ensure a smooth transition. Originally from British Columbia, Kristina has lived in Stony Plain for 15 years and has worked with Victim Services in some capacity over the last five years. The Barrhead Victim Services Unit (VSU) provides services to both Swan Hills and Fort Assiniboine. They work closely with the Barrhead and Swan Hills RCMP detachments to offer assistance to people who have been affected by crime, trauma, or tragedy. The VSU is able to support its clients through the entire process of a police investigation, traumatic events or crises, and the criminal justice process. Their volunteer advocates provide information, referrals for further resources, and support for their clients with courtesy, compassion, and respect. The Barrhead VSU supports their clients through incidents such as: · Domestic Violence · Family Violence · Sexual Assault · Assault · Child Abuse · Sudden Deaths · Stalking and Harassment · Property Crimes · Other Traumatic Events The pandemic has affected some of the services offered by the VSU and how those services are delivered. COVID-19 protocols prevent the VSU’s volunteer advocates from responding to the scene of traumatic events in “crisis call-outs.” The usual training activities for the VSU’s workers have been disrupted as well. In addition, many court dates have been cancelled due to the pandemic, which in turn filters down through the experiences of many of the VSU’s clients. Some significant changes are coming to the Barrhead VSU and other VSUs around the province, but unfortunately, the specific details of these changes haven’t yet been announced. The Barrhead VSU is a non-profit organization that is partially funded through the Justice and Solicitor General Victims of Crime Fund. Some of the possible changes to come could see VSUs become provincial or municipal government entities or go to a zonal organizational structure. This uncertainty has been stressful for the people who work in the VSUs, mainly because these proposed changes would fundamentally change the VSUs themselves and how they operate. On a happier note, the Barrhead VSU has recently concluded an extremely successful fundraising campaign. After being overwhelmed with exceedingly generous donations from nearby municipalities, local businesses, and private donors, they put together ten themed gift baskets for a raffle, which then sold out completely. Beginning on March 1, 2021, the Barrhead VSU will draw the winners for 2 of the gift baskets live on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Barrhead-Victim-Services-1884640488298862) each day this week. The Grizzly Gazette would like to congratulate Barrhead Victim Services on a successful fundraising campaign and thank them for all that they do for the communities that they help and support. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 today and one more death attributed to the novel coronavirus.Health officials say the province's 28th COVID-19-related death involves a resident in their 80s of the Manoir Belle Vue long-term care home in Edmundston. The care facility has reported a total of eight deaths linked to the pandemic.The four new infections are all in the Miramichi region and bring to 36 the number of active reported cases in New Brunswick. Three patients are in hospital with the disease, all in intensive care. Officials say in a news release that a positive case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Miramichi High School, which is closed this week for March break. The release did not say when the case was identified.A recent infection reported in the Miramichi region has been identified as a presumptive case of the B.1.1.7 mutation, first detected in the United Kingdom. A previously reported case from the Edmundston area that had been identified as the U.K. variant has been found not to be that mutation.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Celebrities Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds are donating $250,000 to help launch a Canadian mentorship program for Indigenous post-secondary students, the program's chairperson announced on Tuesday. Colby Delorme, chair of the Calgary-based Influence Mentoring Society, said the celebrities' seed funding is an important step forward in cross-cultural understanding and support, which will help eliminate the education and employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians "Eliminating these gaps and ultimately increasing Indigenous representation in the private sector, including in management and executive positions, should be a shared journey," Delorme was quoted as saying in a news release. "This speaks not only to having the resources available to support Indigenous youth, but also is a signal of true reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians." Reynolds and Lively said they were happy to support the program, which seeks to teach Indigenous issues, culture and history to Indigenous youth across Canada and help them enter the job market after graduation. "We are so happy to support the Influence Mentoring program that will help Indigenous youth in Canada, who are trying to successfully complete their post-secondary pursuits and enter the job market for the first time," Reynolds said. "All too often, diverse groups are left behind in the things we take for granted. This program aims to rectify that imbalance." Lively and Reynolds have spent much of the past year in philanthropic pursuits. The couple donated $1 million to food non-profits Feeding America and Food Banks Canada at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, and followed that up with another donation of the same size in February of this year. They similarly donated $200,000 to an institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia to help promote Indigenous women's leadership in June 2020, and in November donated $250,000 to each Covenant House Toronto and Vancouver. Reynolds also spent much of 2020 on social media attempting to cheer up struggling fans, as well as giving smaller donations to individuals in need during the pandemic.
SAN FRANCISCO — Indoor dining, movie theatres and gyms can reopen within 24 hours in San Francisco, an upbeat Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday as the county officially moved into a less-restrictive tier as the rate of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths declines statewide in California. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties in the Bay Area join five other counties in moving to the second-most restrictive operating tier. Much of the state's population remains in the most restrictive purple tier, including Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. California on Tuesday reported an additional 2,533 confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the state's total known cases to nearly 3.5 million. Officials also announced an additional 303 deaths, raising that total to just under 52,500 fatalities in the state of nearly 40 million. “This is the beginning of a new day in San Francisco,” Breed said from Pier 39, an area popular with tourists in picturesque Fisherman’s Wharf. But she warned residents to wear masks and maintain proper social distance even as she encouraged them to explore the city. “When your waiter walks up to your table, put your mask on. When you go to the restroom put your mask on," she said. Several counties in the San Francisco Bay Area issued a strict-stay-at-home order nearly a year ago, in advance of a statewide shutdown. Public health officials for the most part have been more cautious than peers in southern California and in other states about reopening the economy. Business activity in San Francisco shut down in early December after several Bay Area counties pre-emptively went into lockdown as the positivity rate surged and the rate of cases climbed. Outdoor dining, outdoor museums and some indoor and outdoor personal services reopened in late January after the state called off its regional stay-home order, but the economic toll has been grim. Rents for apartments and commercial space plummeted as tech workers who could work from anywhere did just that, fleeing for other parts of the state and county that were cheaper and had more elbow room. Downtown eateries that once fed throngs of hungry office-workers and tourists at lunch struggled. Tourism is also struggling, with airline ticket purchases to San Francisco in the late October and November period down 80% from the previous year — much worse than the U.S. average — city fiscal analysts said in a January report. Residents’ own cautious behaviour may have further contributed to economic weakness, fiscal analysts said, with data showing that San Francisco residents stayed home more than residents of other California cities and even other Bay Area counties. San Francisco's landmark cable cars have been out of operation for a year and there's no timeline on when they might return. The mayor on Tuesday said on social media that they will return this year. “Cable cars are a part of the fabric of San Francisco. They draw tourists, they help our economy, and I’m not going to let them just disappear," she said. San Francisco, a city and county of roughly 900,000 before the pandemic, has among the lowest case and death rates in the country. It reported 34,000 new cases of the coronavirus and 422 deaths on Tuesday. Most of California's 58 counties remain in the state's most restricted tier. Besides San Francisco and Santa Clara, the counties of El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Napa and San Luis Obispo also moved up one spot, The Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday. For counties in the red tier, indoor restaurant dining rooms and movie theatres can reopen at 25% capacity or up to 100 people, whichever is fewer. Gyms and dance and yoga studios can open at 10% capacity. Museums, zoos and aquariums can open indoor activities at 25% capacity. Wineries can open outdoors with modifications, though bars and distilleries that do not serve food may not. Other retail businesses like clothing stores and florists can go from 25% capacity to 50%. ___ AP reporter Kathleen Ronayne contributed from Sacramento, Calif. Janie Har, The Associated Press
The Biden administration sanctioned seven mid- and senior-level Russian officials on Tuesday, along with more than a dozen businesses and other entities, over a nearly fatal nerve-agent attack on opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his subsequent jailing. The measures, emphasizing the use of the Russian nerve agent as a banned chemical weapon, marked the Biden administration's first sanctions against associates of President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader was an intimate and favourite of President Donald Trump even amid covert Russian hacking and social media campaigns aimed at destabilizing the U.S. The government officials included at least four whom Navalny's supporters had directly asked the West to penalize, saying they were most involved in targeting him and other dissidents and journalists. However, the U.S. list did not include any of Russia's most powerful businesspeople and bankers, oligarchs whom Navalny has long said the West would have to sanction to get the attention of Putin. Tuesday's step “was not meant to be a silver bullet or an end date to what has been a difficult relationship with Russia,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “We expect the relationship to continue to be a challenge. We’re prepared for that.” The Biden administration also announced sanctions under the U.S. Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act for businesses and other enterprises, most of which it said were involved in the production of biological and chemical agents. The U.S. intelligence community concluded with high confidence that Russia's Federal Security Service used the Russian nerve agent Novichok on Navalny last August, a senior administration official said. Russia critic Bill Browder, a London-based investor, tweeted that he feared the new U.S. sanctions would be “way too little and not touch Putin’s billionaire cronies.” Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, called the U.S. move overdue. Working with U.S. allies, “we must use an array of tools, including sanctions, to meaningfully deter, repel, and punish Moscow’s transgressions,” Schiff said in a statement. The Biden administration has pledged to confront Putin in alleged attacks on Russian opposition figures and in alleged malign actions abroad, including the hacking of U.S. government agencies and U.S. businesses. Trump spoke admiringly of Putin and resisted criticism of Putin's government. That included dismissing U.S. intelligence findings that Russia had backed Trump in its covert campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The administration co-ordinated the sanctions with the European Union, which added to its own sanctions Tuesday over the attack on Navalny. The U.S. and European shared concerns about “Russia’s deepening authoritarianism,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “The U.S. government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights have severe consequences,” Blinken said in a statement. The individuals sanctioned by the U.S. included the head of Russia's Federal Security Service, the head of prisons, Kremlin and defence figures, and Russia's prosecutor general. The Biden administration had forecast for weeks actions against Russia. Besides the Navalny sanctions, officials have said the administration plans to respond soon to the massive Russian hack of federal government agencies and private corporations that laid bare vulnerabilities in the cyber supply chain and exposed potentially sensitive secrets to elite Kremlin spies. Navalny, 44, was sickened by the Russian nerve agent in an attack that the United States and others linked to Putin’s security services. After months of recuperation in Germany, Navalny flew home to Moscow in January and was arrested on arrival for an alleged parole violation. His detention sparked street protests across Russia. Police arrested thousands of demonstrators. Authorities have transferred the opposition leader to a penal colony to begin serving a sentence, after what rights groups said was a show trial. Long a target in Russian government attempts to shut down dissent, Navalny has repeatedly appealed to the West to start targeting the most powerful business and financial oligarchs of his country, saying only then would Russian leaders take international sanctions seriously. The U.S. government has previously censured behaviour by Russia that American officials saw as having violated international norms. In 2016, for instance, the Obama administration responded to interference by the Kremlin in the presidential election by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats who officials said were actually spies and by shuttering two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York. Trump's administration also took a handful of actions adverse to Moscow, including through the closure of Russian consulates on the West Coast and the suspension of a nuclear arms treaty. ___ Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Aamer Madhani in Washington and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report. Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press
The federal government says the door is open to help producers affected by the closure of a central Alberta pork plant where an outbreak of COVID-19 has infected hundreds of workers and resulted in three deaths. Olymel temporarily closed its plant in Red Deer more than two weeks ago. The company is moving its own pigs that would normally be slaughtered at the plant to its operations in the United States to free up capacity for independent producers in Canada. It estimates there's a backlog of 80,000 to 90,000 animals that should be cleared within four to five weeks once the plant reopens. Cabinet minister Jim Carr held a virtual news conference from his home in Winnipeg on Tuesday to provide an update on an emergency fund for meat-processing companies and to address the situation at Olymel. "Last spring, when outbreaks caused plants to slow down or close, we moved quickly to help livestock producers manage the growing backlog of animals on their farms," said Carr, who is the government's special representative to the Prairies. "Our government stands ready to help producers affected by the temporary closure of the Olymel plant in Red Deer, Alberta. If needed, federal funding will be there to assist pork producers with extraordinary herd management costs such as additional feed costs." Carr was vague when asked for details on what the assistance would look like. "We'll have to see what the needs are moving forward. The point we wanted to make is that the door is open for assistance if required." The federal government set up a $77.5 million emergency fund in September to help food processors deal with COVID-19 by adapting new safety protocols, including acquiring more protective equipment for workers. Another $10 million has been added since. The fund is also supposed to help upgrade and reopen meat facilities shuttered due to outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. Carr said the program has provided more than $7.8 million to 24 meat-processing companies across the Prairies, but is no longer taking applications. "We were out of the gate quickly. We adjusted as we learned what elements of programs were working and what elements were working less well," he said. "The same thing is true now as we move forward into the next phase of the pandemic." The meat-packing sector has been hard hit by the health crisis. Cargill temporarily shut down plants in High River, Alta., and Chambly, Que., last year after COVID-19 outbreaks. Olymel shut down its hog slaughter and processing plant in Yamachiche, Que., and the JBS beef plant in Brooks, Alta., temporarily went down to one shift daily from two. Cargill and JBS operations in Alberta account for 70 per cent of Canada's beef production. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 — Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah girl whose football skills won her fame online has lost her court bid to have school districts create football teams for girls. A federal judge ruled against Sam Gordon on Monday, finding that Utah school districts aren't legally required to create a separate team because girls who want to play football can play with the teams traditionally filled with boys. U.S. District Court Judge Howard Nielson acknowledged that schools and coaches could do more to encourage girls to play. But he also acknowledged concerns that without Gordon's star power there might not be enough girls to keep a league running that would have to be built from the ground up since no other high school in the U.S. has a similar program. Gordon's playing videos have racked up millions of views on YouTube since she was 9, but she and other female players argued they were worried about playing with physically larger boys as teenagers. The case also included testimony about the harassment girls have endured while playing with all-boy teams. Gordon argued plenty of girls were interested in playing, pointing to an all-female league she started with her father six years ago that’s drawn hundreds of girls from the Salt Lake City area. Those numbers show girls want to play and could fill a roster, her lawyers argued. But U.S. District Court Judge Howard Nielson disagreed. He found that no district policy had discouraged girls from playing, and that any harassment would violate athletic association rules. While schools and coaches could do more to accommodate girls, “the court is not convinced that it is required by the Constitution," he wrote. He also found the districts raised significant questions about whether there would truly be enough girls within the district boundaries to build up a large enough team without Gordon, who is now 17 and has appeared at the ESPN awards and in Super Bowl commercials. A smaller team could increase the risk of injury, he found. The districts were represented by Assistant Utah Attorney General Rachel Terry, who said she was pleased by the ruling and the finding that they did not violate the Equal Protection clause or Title IX. “The districts will continue to strive to expand opportunities for all students and to ensure equal opportunities for male and female students in athletics and activities," she said in a statement. Brent Gordon, Sam Gordon’s father who is also an attorney, said he and his daughter will continue their own work to expand football opportunities for girls in Utah. “We appreciate the Judge’s efforts to have this trial during the pandemic so that the girls’ stories could be told and voices heard,” Gordon wrote in a statement. “Those voices will continue until equality in athletics is reached in Utah and across the country.” ___ Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Lindsay Whitehurst And Sophia Eppolito, The Associated Press