Toronto residents finally got a snowfall worthy of cross-country skis.
Toronto residents finally got a snowfall worthy of cross-country skis.
(Leah Mills/Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters - image credit) Donald Trump's actions will take centre stage in a Vancouver courtroom this week as Meng Wanzhou's lawyers try to prove the former U.S. president poisoned extradition proceedings against the Huawei executive. The case should be tossed out because of alleged political interference, Meng's lawyers are expected to argue at the first of three sets of B.C. Supreme Court hearings scheduled to stretch into mid-May. A decision on the extradition request isn't expected until much later this year. The 49-year-old, who is Huawei's chief financial officer, is charged with fraud and conspiracy in New York in relation to allegations she lied to an HSBC banker in Hong Kong in 2013 about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. The arguments related to the former president concern a statement he made to a Reuters reporter in the weeks after Meng's arrest at Vancouver's airport on Dec. 1, 2018. At the time, Trump said he would "certainly intervene" if he thought it was necessary to help the U.S. reach a trade deal with China. Charter rights argument could be 'decider' The Crown — which represents the U.S. in the proceeding — contends there's no evidence Trump made good on his words and that any possible influence he could have had on the case ended along with his term in office. University of B.C. professor Michael Byers, an expert on international law, says he doubts the defence team will have much success convincing Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes the U.S. Department of Justice has been swayed by political considerations. Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the founder of the telecommunications giant. She is accused of fraud and conspiracy. But he does think they'll have a better shot in the coming weeks with claims Meng's rights were breached on her arrival when Canada Border Services Agency officers questioned her for three hours before RCMP executed a warrant calling for her "immediate arrest." "That three-hour period could well have constituted a violation of her Section 7 rights to security of the person under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. "And so if the extradition judge is to rule that Ms. Meng should be set free, my expectation is that it's that particular element of the case that will be the decider." Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, the man who became a billionaire by turning his global communications giant into a flagship business prized by the Chinese state. Meng's legal team includes lawyers from firms across Canada. And her case is being spearheaded by Vancouver's Richard Peck, of Peck and Company. Strategy to have case thrown out Along with arguments about Trump's role, the allegations related to Meng's treatment by the CBSA are part of a multi-pronged defence strategy to have the proceedings stayed. Meng's lawyers also claim the U.S. misled Canada about the strength of its case and that American prosecutors are reaching far beyond their jurisdiction by trying a Chinese citizen for a conversation that took place in Hong Kong with an executive for an English bank. Meng Wanzhou's lawyers are expected to claim her charter rights were violated during her first few hours in CBSA custody. Holmes will hear submissions about the events surrounding Meng's arrest during the second stretch of hearings, scheduled to begin in mid-March. The defence claims the CBSA conspired with the RCMP and CBSA to have border agents question Meng without a lawyer. They also seized her cellphones and later gave the passcodes to police, in contravention of policy. The defence has accused the RCMP of sending technical information from Meng's electronic devices to the Americans. A senior officer who was in touch with a legal attache for the FBI has refused to testify — and last month, Meng's lawyers announced their intention to try to force the Crown to disclose their communication with him about that decision. 'An irritant' in U.S.-China relationship In court documents filed in advance of this week's hearing, Meng's lawyers cited comments by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about a need to tie a trade deal between the U.S and China to the resolution of Meng's situation and the fate of two Canadians imprisoned in China. Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor have been accused of spying by the Chinese government in what most observers believe is retaliation for Meng's arrest. Michael Kovrig, left, and Michael Spavor, right, were arrested by China in the wake of charges against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. U.S. President Joe Biden has called for their release. The Crown doesn't make any mention of the so-called "two Michaels" in its submissions, but the defence claims the constellation of factors riding on the case has made it extremely difficult for Meng to defend herself without worrying about the impact on others. U.S. President Joe Biden called on China to release Kovrig and Spavor last week following a bilateral meeting with Trudeau, saying "human beings are not bartering chips." Byers believes Biden may decide to bring an end to efforts to extradite Meng in the coming months as he looks to improve the U.S. relationship with China. "It is in the hands of the Biden administration to end this case. And the Biden administration will be in the process now of resetting the relationship between the United States and China. That is a hugely important relationship, for economic reasons, for security reasons. "Those two superpowers need to get along. They need to get things done. And Ms. Meng's presence in Vancouver is an irritant in that relationship." To that end, reports by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters last December claimed Meng was in discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice to bring an end to the case through a deal that would see her admit to some wrongdoing in exchange for a deferred prosecution agreement. In an exclusive interview with CBC's chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton, newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any deal would have to be made free of geopolitical considerations. "We follow the law. We follow the facts. "And one of the things that we don't do is have politics or foreign policy interfere in the workings of the Justice Department."
NEW YORK — With homebound nominees appearing by remote video and hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on different sides of the country, a very socially distanced 78th Golden Globe Awards trudged on in the midst of the pandemic and amid a storm of criticism for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, with top awards going to “Nomadland,” “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “The Crown” and “Schitt's Creek.” The night's top award, best picture drama, went to Chloé Zhao's elegiac road movie “Nomadland," a Western set across economic upheaval and personal grief. Zhao, the China-born filmmaker of, became the first woman of Asian descent to win best director. She’s only the second woman in the history of the Globes to win, and the first since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl” in 1984. “'Nomadland at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” said Zhao, accepting the awards remotely. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, this is for you." With a cancelled red carpet and stars giving speeches from the couch, Sunday's Globes had little of their typically frothy flavour. But they went on, nevertheless, with winners in sweats and dogs in laps, in a pandemic that has sapped nearly all the glamour out of Hollywood. Facing scant traditional studio competition, streaming services dominated the Globes like never before — even if the top award went to a familiar if renamed source: Searchlight Pictures, formerly the Fox specialty label of “12 Years a Slave” and “The Shape of Water” now owned by the Walt Disney Co. Amazon's “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” — one of the few nominated films shot partly during the pandemic — won best film, comedy or musical. Its star guerilla comedian, Sacha Baron Cohen, also won best actor in a comedy. Referring to Rudy Giuliani's infamous cameo, Cohen thanked “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," said Cohen. Netflix, which came in with a commanding 42 nominations, won the top TV awards. “The Crown,” as expected, took best drama series, along with acting wins for Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles), Emma Corrin (Princess Diana) and Gillian Anderson (Margaret Thatcher). “The Queen's Gambit” won best limited series, and best actress in the category for Anya Taylor-Joy. “Schitt's Creek,” the Pop TV series that found a wider audience on Netflix, won best comedy series for its final season. Catherine O'Hara also took best actress in a comedy series. Chadwick Boseman, as expected, posthumously won best actor in a drama film for his final performance, in the August Wilson adaptation “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — a Netflix release. Boseman’s wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully, emotionally accepted the award. “He would thank God. He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices,” said Ledward. “He would say something beautiful, something inspiring.” Apple TV+ scored its first major award when a sweatshirt-clad Jason Sudeikis won best actor in a comedy series for the streamer's “Ted Lasso.” The NBC telecast began in split screen. Fey took the stage at New York's Rainbow Room while Poehler remained at the Globes' usual home at the Beverly Hilton. In their opening remarks, they managed their typically well-timed back-and-forth despite being almost 3,000 miles from each other. “I always knew my career would end with me wandering around the Rainbow Room pretending to talk to Amy," said Fey. “I just thought it would be later.” They appeared before masked attendees but no stars. Instead, the sparse tables — where Hollywood royalty are usually crammed together and plied with alcohol during the show — were occupied by “smoking-hot first responders and essential workers,” as Fey said. In a production nightmare but one that's become familiar during the pandemic, the night's first winner accepted his award while muted. Only after presenter Laura Dern apologized for the technical difficulties did Daniel Kaluuya, who won best supporting actor for his performance as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” get his speech in. When he finally came through, he waged his finger at the camera and said, “You're doing me dirty!" Pandemic improvising was only part of the damage control for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Globes. After The Los Angeles Times revealed that there are no Black members in the 87-person voting body of the HFPA, the press association came under mounting pressure to overhaul itself and better reflect the industry it holds sway in. This year, none of the most acclaimed Black-led films — “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “One Night in Miami,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Da 5 Bloods” — were nominated for the Globes’ best picture award. With the HFPA potentially fighting for its Hollywood life, Sunday's Globes were part apology tour. Fey and Poehler started in quickly on the issue. “Look, a lot of flashy garbage got nominated but that happens,” said Poehler. “That’s like their thing. But a number of Black actors and Black-led projects were overlooked.” Within the first half hour of the NBC telecast, members of the press association appeared on stage to pledge change. "We recognize we have our own work to do," said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” Whether those statements — along with a diverse group of winners — did enough to remedy anything remained unclear. The moment the show ended, Time's Up sent letters to both the HFPA and NBCUniveral demanding more than lip service. “The Globes are no longer golden. It’s time to act,” wrote Tina Tchen, the group's president. COVID-19 circumstances led to some award-show anomalies. Mark Ruffalo, appearing remotely, won best actor in a limited series for “I Know This Much Is True” with his kids celebrating behind him and his wife, Sunrise Coigney, sitting alongside. Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the tender Korean-American family drama “Minari" (a movie the HFPA was criticized for ruling ineligible for its top award because of its non-English dialogue), accepted the award for best foreign language film while his young daughter embraced him. “She's the reason I made this film,” said Chung. “'Minari' is about a family. It's a family trying to learn a language of its own. It goes deeper than any American language and any foreign language. It's a language of the heart," said Chung. “I'm trying to learn it myself and to pass it on." John Boyega, supporting actor winner for his performance in Steve McQueen's “Small Axe” anthology, raised his leg to show he was wearing track pants below his more elegant white jacket. Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") won one of the biggest surprise Globes, for best supporting actress in a film, while, sitting on the couch next her wife, Alexandra Hedison, and with her dog, Ziggy on her lap. Some speeches were pre-taped. The previously recorded speeches by Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the wining “Soul" score went without hiccup even though presenter Tracy Morgan first announced “Sal" as the winner. Even if speeches sometimes lacked drama without Hollywood gathered in one place, representation was a common refrain. Pointedly referring to the diversity of the HFPA, presenter and previous winner Sterling K. Brown began, “Thank you. It is great to be Black at the Golden Globes,” he said. “Back.” Jane Fonda, the Cecil B. DeMille Award honoree, spoke passionately about expanding the big tent of entertainment for all. “Art has always been not just in step in history but has lead the way,” said Fonda. “So let’s be leaders.” Other awards included Pixar's “Soul” for best animated film; Rosumund Pike took best actress in a comedy or musical film for “I Care a Lot"; Aaron Sorkin ("Trial of the Chicago 7") for best screenplay; and, in the night's biggest surprise, Andra Day ("The United States vs. Billie Holiday") for best actress in a drama, besting Carey Mulligan ("Promising Young Woman") and Frances McDormand ("Nomadland"). As showtime neared, the backlash over the HFPA threatened to overwhelm the Globes. Yet the Globes have persisted because of their popularity (the show ranks as the third most-watched award show, after the Oscars and Grammys), their profitability (NBC paid $60 million for broadcast rights in 2018) and because they serve as important marketing material for contending films and Oscar hopefuls. The Academy Awards will be held April 25. Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
(Submitted by Kacey Salter - image credit) A man accused in the death of a young mother is scheduled to appear in court Monday in Fort St. John, as the northern B.C. community struggles with her loss. Amanda Black, 22, died inside a townhouse in Fort St. John on Feb. 8, according to RCMP. "The community is absolutely horrified," said Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman, who burst into tears during an interview with CBC News. "We've lost a young mum and a young boy has lost his mom," the mayor said. Black's boyfriend Shane Sutherland is charged with second degree murder and remains in custody. Close friends remember Black as funny, outgoing and unique, a young woman who sported funky hair colours, lip piercings and a peace sign tattoo and was a dedicated mother to her one-year-old son. Black's friends remember her as happy and courageous, a woman who stood up to bullies. "She was such an amazing mom to her little boy, and loved him with her full heart," said Black's longtime friend, McKayla Ingram. Friends also remember her courage. 'She stood up to bullies' Kacey Salter, 22, said as a young teen, Black stepped in to protect her from an online bully and later went toe-to-toe with older teenage boys who harassed them on the street. "She stood up to bullies. She definitely wasn't scared of much," said Salter. Friends say Black loved music and had a beautiful voice. After she died, Salter discovered an old video of Black singing the country song, "If I die young." "It was very sad to see that,"said Salter, who remembers her friend as full of life and "almost always happy." Close friends remember Black as a strong woman who stood up to bullies. Salter said she and Black cemented their friendship as young teens racing around in a shopping cart at Zellers. She had recently helped Black dye her hair bright pink and blue. The very last time she saw her friend, she says, they dropped Black's young son off at daycare, then laughed out loud as they shared smiley face cookies. Salter has now adopted Black's cat, a tabby named Ash she believes may have been hurt the night her close friend died. Salter said Ash's eye was almost swollen shut and his nose was injured. "I don't know what happened that night, but Ash definitely took some kind of hit to the face," she said. Longtime friend Talus Skafte, remembers Black as extremely courageous. "She stuck up for everyone. She had no problem putting her foot down. She was strong." To mark what would have been Black's 23rd birthday, her friends and family released lanterns during vigils at Fort St. John's baseball fields and the beach on Gabriola Island. Days after Black died, friends and family marked what would have been her 23rd birthday, by launching lanterns from a rocky beach on Gabriola Island where family members live and from a baseball diamond in Fort St. John. Black honoured in Fort St. John In Fort St. John, civic officials illuminated the recreation centre with purple lights, in honour of Black's favourite colour. "It's like we were lowering the flag for someone who lost their life," said Ackerman. Fort St. John lit up its community centre in honor of Amanda Black. The city's mayor said it was a sign of respect, similar to lowering the flag. Amanda Trotter with the Fort St. John Women's Resource Centre, says Black's homicide has created a level of apprehension in the community. "There are a lot of young women in our community asking, gosh, could this happen to me, too?" In the small city of 20,000 people, Fort St. John RCMP respond to about 150 domestic violence calls each year, a number community leaders say is rising.
This kitty is captivated by the newborn chicks in the box. So sweet and gentle!
La MRC de Nicolet-Yamaska doit au cours des prochains mois cartographier sa résilience face aux changements climatiques. Les inondations, canicules, sécheresses et grands vents observés ces dernières années laissent des traces. Et la MRC cherche à les recenser. La MRC va faire le diagnostic de l’impact qu’a le climat sur l’ensemble de ses équipements, services et infrastructures. «On veut évaluer la vulnérabilité de notre territoire, voir en quoi elles sont impactées par ces différents événements climatiques. La MRC va tenter de classifier les risques et tenir compte de cette vulnérabilité dans la gestion future de ses actifs», explique Michel Côté, directeur général de la MRC. «Les changements climatiques constituent l’un des enjeux majeurs auxquels les municipalités sont confrontées. Leurs effets exigent des mesures d’adaptation fortes et innovantes. Cela nous conduira très certainement à revoir certaines de ces manières de faire, et à penser différemment nos modes de développement», soutient Geneviève Dubois, préfète de la MRC de Nicolet-Yamaska. L’ensemble des professionnels des différentes municipalités de la MRC de Nicolet-Yamaska sera mobilisé. Une conseillère en environnement a été embauchée par la MRC pour travailler le dossier. Le bureau de génie de la Fédération québécoise des municipalités va lui donner un coup de main avec le concours des différents départements de Travaux publics et d’urbanisme du territoire. Le gouvernement du Québec finance le projet à hauteur de 64 500$. La MRC assume quant à elle 35% de la facture. Ce diagnostic de vulnérabilité doit être complété d’ici 12 mois. Des sommes additionnelles seront requises lors de la phase de mise en oeuvre du Plan d’action qui en découlera. La MRC affirme rester à l’affût de nouvelles possibilités de financement. Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
BERLIN — Germans flocked to the salons Monday as hairdressers across the country reopened after a 2 1/2-month closure, another cautious step toward normality as the country balances a desire to loosen restrictions with concerns about more contagious virus variants. The move came after many German elementary students returned to school a week ago, following a decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany’s 16 state governors. They will confer again on Wednesday to decide how to proceed with the rest of Germany’s coronavirus restrictions, which at present run until Sunday. Some German states also allowed businesses such as florists and hardware stores to open on Monday. Most stores have been closed nationwide since Dec. 16. Restaurants, bars, sports and leisure facilities have been closed since Nov. 2 and hotels are allowed only to accommodate business travellers. There are increasing calls for restrictions to be further relaxed, but also a desire to remain cautious. A steady decline in daily new infections has stalled, and even been reversed in some areas, as a more contagious variant first discovered in Britain spreads. “This week will set the course for the coming months,” said Bavarian governor Markus Soeder, an advocate of a cautious approach. He called the virus situation “unstable” and said authorities must not “fly blind into a third wave.” “It's really important that we make smart decisions this week,” he said. “Smart decisions means that the mood must be taken on board — we must find the right balance between caution and opening, and we absolutely must not lose our nerves ... and simply fulfil all wishes.” Germany’s disease control centre reported 4,732 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours and another 60 deaths, bringing Germany's overall pandemic death toll to 70,105. Germany had given 4.7% of its population a first vaccine shot as of Friday, while 2.4% had received a second jab — relatively slow progress that has drawn sharp criticism. Bavaria and two neighbouring states, meanwhile, plan to give 15,000 vaccine doses to the neighbouring Czech Republic, which currently has the highest infection rate in the 27-nation European Union. Soeder said the “symbolic measure” ultimately helps Germany, because Czech authorities want to use it in high-risk areas near the border and vaccinate cross-border commuters. He also suggested that virus hotspots along the border should receive a greater share of available tests and vaccines to help contain the spread there. Most of the German counties with high infection rates are near the Czech border. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemichttps://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
Selon Marie-Ève Sigouin, directrice de la foresterie pour RYAM, le succès du projet ne se calcule pas en termes de mètres cubes ni en pourcentage de territoire sans perturbation. « Le succès, c’est d’avoir été capable d’établir un dialogue, de faire un plan ensemble, et d’avoir une démarche pour continuer le travail », dit-elle, fière du travail accompli par le comité formé avec le ministère de la Forêt de la Faune et des Parcs (MPPF), de la communauté de Pikogan, et de la Société pour la nature et les parcs (SNAP). Pier-Olivier Boudreault, biologiste pour la SNAP, abonde dans le même sens. « On s’entend sur 95 % des mesures et tout le monde travaille de bonne foi pour en arriver à une position conjointe, dit-il. Je crois que ça envoie un message positif parce qu’on est capable de s’asseoir ensemble et de franchir des étapes importantes ». Ce dernier estime que l’industrie forestière fait partie de la solution pour réduire notre empreinte carbone, mais que l’on doit trouver un équilibre entre les niveaux de récolte et les impacts sur la biodiversité. Benoit Croteau, directeur territoire et environnement, du Conseil de la Première Nation Abitibiwinni, se réjouit également du travail accompli jusqu’à présent, tout en ajoutant qu’il reste beaucoup à faire. D’emblée, le comité de travail a décidé de s’éloigner des extrêmes. Chaque groupe avait de bonnes raisons de ne pas s’asseoir à la table, remarque Marie-Ève Sigouin, mais tous les intervenants ont convenu qu’ils devraient faire des compromis. Par exemple, RYAM a accepté d’emblée qu’il y ait une perte de possibilité forestière, alors que Pikogan et la SNAP ont accepté la poursuite des opérations forestières. « On savait que la protection du caribou amènerait une baisse de la garantie d’approvisionnement, mais on préférait s’impliquer dans le processus pour minimiser les impacts », explique la directrice de la foresterie chez RYAM. En sachant que des mesures pour la protection du caribou étaient inévitables, RYAM a choisi d’investir dans ses scieries, plutôt que de s’apitoyer sur son sort en brandissant la menace de pertes d’emplois. « Ça nous force à mieux utiliser le bois qu’on récolte et c’est pourquoi on investit pour améliorer le rendement matière », ajoute cette dernière. De plus, la baisse de la possibilité forestière devrait mener à une baisse de la garantie d’approvisionnement pour l'équivalent de trois semaines de travail à l’usine de La Sarre. Cette diminution ne représente pas nécessairement une baisse de volume à transformer, car RYAM peut acheter des lots mis aux enchères ou encore acheter du bois aux producteurs privés pour compenser, dit-elle. Le résultat final est imparfait, admet Marie-Ève Sigouin, personne n’a atteint 100 % de ses objectifs, mais tout le monde se rallie derrière le plan de protection du caribou. Après deux ans de travail, le comité a réussi à réduire le taux de perturbation à 39 % dans les zones occupées par les caribous. « On doit continuer à travailler pour atteindre le 35 %, mais c’est le plus loin qu’on a pu en arriver après deux ans de travail », note cette dernière. Malgré le manque à gagner, FSC reconnaît le travail effectué et la démarche d’amélioration continue, ce qui permet à RYAM de conserver sa certification FSC. « On veut poursuivre le travail et éventuellement, on aimerait établir une aire protégée, souligne Benoit Croteau. Il faudra aussi s’arrimer avec l’Ontario parce que le caribou ne sait pas quand il traverse la frontière. » Malgré une demande média faite le 9 février dernier, ainsi que plusieurs relances depuis, le MFFP n’avait pas répondu au Progrès, au moment de mettre sous presse, pour définir l’importance d’un tel projet dans le cadre de la préparation du Plan de rétablissement du caribou forestier, qui devrait voir le jour en 2023. Bien que le MFFP ait été impliqué activement, et que son travail a été souligné par tous les intervenants du comité caribou, c’est Québec, en tant que propriétaire et gestionnaire des forêts publiques, qui détient le dernier mot pour entériner les mesures proposées par le comité de travail conjoint. None Guillaume Roy, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Top U.N. human rights experts said on Monday that Russia was to blame for attempting to kill Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, and called for an international investigation into his poisoning with a "signature compound" last year. The attempt to kill Navalny was part of a pattern of attacks on critics at home and abroad, and intended to send a "sinister warning" to quash dissent, Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on summary killings, and Irene Khan, U.N. expert on freedom of opinion and expression, said in a statement.
Le Moulin Michel de Gentilly est le tout premier commerce des MRC de Bécancour et de Nicolet-Yamaska à adhérer au réseau La Tasse. Le concept de La Tasse permet aux clients de différents commerces participants d’acheter une tasse consignée et réutilisable au coût de 5$ et de la rapporter par la suite dans une des antennes du réseau. Ces tasses seront sous peu mises à disposition de la clientèle du Moulin Michel qui compte rouvrir son comptoir de commandes pour emporter au cours des prochaines semaines. L’effort n’est pas inutile. Le Réseau affirme que « plus d’un million de gobelets à usage unique sont jetés chaque minute dans le monde » et la tasse réutilisable consignée offre « une alternative sanitaire, simple et abordable. Elle permet de réduire l’impact de notre consommation quotidienne sur l’environnement ». « Le meilleur déchet est celui qu’on ne produit pas », affirme Philippe Dumas, directeur général du Moulin Michel. « C’est quelque chose qu’on voulait mettre en place. Le réseau La Tasse prend de l’expansion. C’est un geste responsable pour la planète. C’est tellement simple d’y adhérer. Tu te présentes au Moulin Michel, tu as oublié ta tasse réutilisable? Le client peut ainsi en emprunter une et la ramener une autre fois pour récupérer son dépôt de 5$.» Le Moulin Michel avait déjà pris un virage plus vert. Tous les gobelets des commandes pour emporter du Moulin Michel sont aussi compostables. M. Dumas est convaincu que la meilleure tasse réutilisable est celle que l’on conserve avec soi. « La Tasse permet de combler - l’oubli de - et chez nous, à Bécancour-Gentilly » de conscientiser la population au gaspillage croissant des gobelets jetables non réutilisables. Philippe Dumas a déjà mis La Tasse consignée à l’épreuve au café La Distributrice de Montréal dont il est aussi copropriétaire. Ce café est depuis près d’un an membre du réseau. « Le seul enjeu, c’est la gestion des consignes et le côté sanitaire. Toutes les tasses qu’on remet en circulation doivent évidemment être lavées correctement », comme toutes les autres d’ailleurs. Le projet La Tasse est né en 2019 dans la métropole et a rapidement fait des petits. Une campagne de sociofinancement de La Tasse lancée en 2019 a récolté près de 60 000$. Le réseau est aujourd’hui présent dans près de 350 commerces des différentes régions du Québec. Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
PARIS — A Paris court on Monday found French former President Nicolas Sarkozy guilty of corruption and influence peddling and sentenced him to one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence. The 66-year-old politician, who was president from 2007 to 2012, was convicted for having tried to illegally obtain information from a senior magistrate in 2014 about a legal action in which he was involved. The court said Sarkozy will be entitled to request to be detained at home with an electronic bracelet. Sarkozy will face another trial later this month along with 13 other people on charges of illegal financing of his 2012 presidential campaign. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. The verdict is expected on Monday in a landmark corruption and influence-peddling trial that has put French former President Nicolas Sarkozy at risk of a prison sentence if he is convicted. Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, firmly denied all the allegations against him during the 10-day trial that took place at the end of last year. The 66-year-old politician is suspected of having tried to illegally obtain information from a senior magistrate in 2014 about a legal action in which he was involved. This is the first time in France’s modern history that a former president has gone on trial for corruption. Sarkozy’s predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty in 2011 of misuse of public money and given a two-year suspended prison sentence for actions during his time as Paris mayor. Sarkozy’s co-defendants — his lawyer and longtime friend Thierry Herzog, 65, and now-retired magistrate Gilbert Azibert, 74 — also deny wrongdoing. Prosecutors have requested two years of prison and a two-year suspended sentence for all three defendants over what they said was a “corruption pact.” “No pact has ever existed,” Sarkozy told the court. “Neither in my head, nor in reality.” “I want to be cleared of that infamy,” he added. The trial focused on phone conversations that took place in February 2014. At the time, investigative judges had launched an inquiry into the financing of the 2007 presidential campaign. During the investigation they incidentally discovered that Sarkozy and Herzog were communicating via secret mobile phones registered to the alias “Paul Bismuth.” Conversations wiretapped on these phones led prosecutors to suspect Sarkozy and Herzog of promising Azibert a job in Monaco in exchange for leaking information about another legal case, known by the name of France’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. In one of these phone calls with Herzog, Sarkozy said of Azibert : “I’ll make him move up ... I’ll help him.” In another, Herzog reminded Sarkozy to “say a word” for Azibert during a trip to Monaco. Legal proceedings against Sarkozy have been dropped in the Bettencourt case. Azibert never got the Monaco job. Prosecutors have concluded, however, that the “clearly stated promise” constitutes in itself a corruption offence under French law, even if the promise wasn't fulfilled. Sarkozy vigorously denies any malicious intention. He told the court that his political life was all about “giving (people) a little help. That all it is, a little help.” “I was 100 billion miles away from thinking we were doing something we did not have the right to do,” he said. Sarkozy said he did not get confidential information from Azibert. Prosecutors believe Sarkozy was at some point informed that the secret phones were being wiretapped and that it is the reason why he did not ultimately help Azibert get the job. The confidentiality of communications between a lawyer and his client has been a major point of contention in the trial. “You have in front of you a man of whom more that 3,700 private conversations have been wiretapped... What did I do to deserve that?” Sarkozy said. Sarkozy’s defence lawyer, Jacqueline Laffont, argued the whole case was based on “small talk” between a lawyer and his client. “You don’t have the beginning of a piece of evidence, not the slightness witness account, the slightness declaration,” she told the court. Sarkozy withdrew from active politics after failing to be chosen as his conservative party’s presidential candidate for France’s 2017 election, won by Emmanuel Macron. He remains very popular amid right-wing voters, however, and plays a major role behind the scenes, including through maintaining a relationship with Macron, whom he is said to advise on certain topics. His memoirs published this summer, “The Time of Storms,” was a bestseller for weeks. Sarkozy will face another trial later this month along with 13 other people on charges of illegal financing of his 2012 presidential campaign. His conservative party is suspected of having spent 42.8 million euros ($50.7 million), almost twice the maximum authorized, to finance the campaign, which ended in victory for Socialist rival Francois Hollande. In another investigation opened in 2013, Sarkozy is accused of having taken millions from then-Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to illegally finance his 2007 campaign. He was handed preliminary charges of passive corruption, illegal campaign financing, concealment of stolen assets from Libya and criminal association. He has denied wrongdoing. Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press
(Heather Gillis/CBC - image credit) Kayleigh Kennedy says she received the wrong voter declaration envelope in her voting kit. Elections NL provided her with a new one, saying it wouldn't have spoiled her ballot. As Elections NL begins the process of counting ballots on Monday, in the province's extended election, one St. John's woman is urging voters to double-check their mail-in ballots before returning them. When the election was first called Kayleigh Kennedy had planned to vote in-person, since she lives near a polling station in her Waterford Valley district. "We had zero cases for so long that I was comfortable just going to vote in-person," Kennedy said of the province's pandemic election. But when cases skyrocketed and the province went into an Alert Level 5 lockdown, Kennedy changed her mind. "There's no way on God's green earth that I am going into a public place right now," she said via FaceTime on Sunday. Kennedy said she applied for a mail-in ballot and marked an "x" for her candidate of choice. Elections NL says ballots returned in the wrong declaration envelope won't be spoiled. "I read all the instructions, I signed it, I put it in the green ballot envelope. And then when I went to put it in the blue one, like the declaration envelope you have to sign, I noticed my name was printed on it, but it said St. John's Centre underneath it instead of Waterford Valley," Kennedy said. Kennedy called Tom Osborne, the Liberal candidate in Waterford Valley, and asked him if she could return her ballot in the wrong envelope, fearing it could spoil her ballot. She says Osborne contacted Elections NL on her behalf, which then dropped off new envelopes with the correct district printed on it. "My first thought was how many other people around here has this happened to and are they going to notice? Because I was ready to just throw it in the envelope and stick it in the mail," said Kennedy, who lives on a street that borders the St. John's Centre district. Wrong envelope won't spoil ballot: Elections NL In a statement, a spokesperson for Elections NL said some people have received an incorrect ballot, but issues have not been "significant." "When we shifted from the in-person vote to strictly vote-by-mail process, we also switched from using the candidate ballots to the write-in ballots. Approximately 35,000 people will have received candidate ballots whereas the rest of the approximately 120,000 applicants are receiving blank, write-in ballots," reads part of the statement. Elections NL said anyone who has issues with a voting kit should contact them so the the problem can be fixed. "We have issued replacement voting kits to those who have needed them. The process of compiling the voting kits for the mail is a fully manual process. Human error is certainly a possibility." the statement said. Meanwhile, Elections NL said, ballots returned in the wrong declaration envelope won't be spoiled. "As long as the elector signs and dates the blue declaration envelope, we are able to look them up in our system to determine their correct electoral district." In the meantime, Kennedy, who believes voter turnout will be low, is reminding voters to double-check their kits "just in case, because every vote counts." "If there's mistakes along the way that aren't our fault, then I think people should be watching out for those," she said. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by March 12 in order to be counted. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
(Nicola MacLeod/CBC - image credit) Islanders who have lost their incomes or had their hours reduced by 12 hours a week between Feb. 28 and March 14 because of new COVID-19 restrictions are eligible for $500 in help from the provincial government, a P.E.I. cabinet minister said Monday. A 22-year-old P.E.I. woman has gone public with her COVID-19 diagnosis to warn others that even if you follow all the rules, you can still catch the virus. Marion Dowling, P.E.I.'s chief nurse, says staff stepped up in a big way in response to the surge in cases. Over 6,630 COVID-19 tests were completed on Saturday and Sunday and more than 3,000 on Monday. Officials at both the English and French school boards on P.E.I. say they are prepared to move to online learning if needed but are hopeful students can return to the classroom after the three-day shutdown. Taste of India in Charlottetown is part of a long list of potential exposure sites in Charlottetown and Summerside. Here is a list of sites of potential exposure to COVID-19. The Chief Public Health Office is asking people who have been in these places at these times to self-isolate and get tested as soon as possible. Island restaurants and retail owners are willing to tough it out once again as the province enters another shutdown, but warning signs are beginning to appear that some Island companies may not survive. A Charlottetown restaurateur, shut down again, is calling for harsher penalties for people who break self-isolation guidelines. Prince Edward Island now has 18 active cases of COVID-19, and has diagnosed a total of 132 cases since the pandemic hit P.E.I. almost a year ago. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. Also in the news Further resources Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
Pour en arriver à un plan de protection solide, RYAM a consenti à reporter, de 15 à 50 ans, ou ralentir la récolte dans plusieurs secteurs. Ces reports permettent de réduire la proportion de perturbation dans l’habitat essentiel du caribou et de tendre vers un taux de 35 %. L’entreprise a donc concentré la récolte dans les secteurs moins fréquentés, tout en assurant une connectivité entre les zones à forte valeur de conservation. La stratégie prévoit aussi la fermeture de chemins forestiers, un dossier épineux. Jusqu’à maintenant, un seul kilomètre de chemin a été fermé. Étant donné que plusieurs utilisateurs avaient d’énormes craintes, les intervenants ont commencé par faire la liste des intouchables, en précisant tout ce qui ne fermerait pas. De plus, il n’est pas possible de fermer un chemin où un utilisateur a des droits sur le territoire. Ces constats de base en ont rassuré plusieurs et la fermeture des chemins à venir est le prochain dossier complexe sur lequel se penchera l’équipe caribou. Guillaume Roy, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
(Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit) Flavoured vape and e-cigarette products are now banned on Prince Edward Island. The regulation changes are part of a private members bill from PC MLA Cory Deagle, which received unanimous support from the legislature in 2019. "The only flavour you'll be able to use would be tobacco flavoured so all those other flavours will be gone," Deagle said. "This is probably one of the biggest steps that we're going to see trying to get rid of, or at least reduce, the amount of youth that are vaping." 'Reverse the trend' P.E.I. has already made two other changes to the Tobacco and Electronic Smoking Devices Sales and Access Act as part of Deagle's bill. Effective March 2020, the age of access for tobacco and vaping products increased to 21, and the points of purchase became more regulated — with products only available through vape shops and tobacconists. "Obviously the age was big, and restricting the access to it was big as well. But the flavours are, I think, clearly what draws youth to it and keeps them on the product as well as being addicted to nicotine," Deagle said. "Really the flavours is what keeps them coming back." Manager J-K Thorne said Wild Impulse carries more than 45 flavours for vaping, but as of March 1st, they will only be able to sell ones that are tobacco flavoured, flavourless or labelled clear. Deagle received some online threats when the bill was being discussed in the legislature in November 2019. "With the flavour ban coming, I imagine that I'll probably receive a bit more criticism, that's to be expected, but hopefully it won't be what we saw when I first passed the bill," Deagle said. "I understand that some people might be upset. I believe this is the right thing to do. Despite that criticism, hopefully it stays respectful, and and it doesn't translate into threats or anything like that." Deagle's bill received unanimous support from the legislature in 2019, to crack down on nicotine use among young people. Six months notice Vendors were notified of the upcoming ban on flavoured products in August 2020, in a letter distributed by the Department of Health and Wellness. The letter said the department believed that with six month advance notice, "tobacconist shops have sufficient time to deplete their inventory of flavoured electronic smoking device products". Wild Impulse manager J-K Thorne said some customers stocked up on the flavours, but others will be turning elsewhere. At Wild Impulse in Charlottetown, the shelves were still full of flavoured products on Friday afternoon, with the ban just days away. Manager J-K Thorne said the store carries more than 45 flavours for vaping, but as of March 1st, they will only be able to sell ones that are tobacco flavoured, flavourless or labelled clear. "Customers are a little disappointed. They feel that they have something to lean on if they wanted to get off cigarettes," Thorne said. "They found that the tobacco flavour actually reminded them of cigarettes, but it wasn't good enough, and it actually brought them back to buying cigarettes, which is a little unfortunate." At Wild Impulse in Charlottetown, the shelves were still full of flavoured products on Friday afternoon, with the ban just days away. Thorne said some customers stocked up on the flavours, but others will be turning elsewhere. "They also said that they'll be looking online, to get it shipped here," Thorne said. "So it's taking some customers away as well, which is a little disappointing." Important step The co-ordinator of the P.E.I. Lung Association, Julia Hartley, called the ban on flavours a "really important step." According to the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey in 2018-2019, 39.3 per cent of Island teens in grades 10 to 12 had used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. The co-ordinator of the P.E.I. Lung Association, Julia Hartley, called the ban on flavours a 'really important step'. "We know that flavoured products are a huge driver for youth. We know that youth between the ages 12 and 20 are using these products in a huge way," Hartley said, referring to a survey conducted by the Lung Association and Heart and Stroke, of more than 800 youth across Canada. "We found that 95 percent of those youth prefer the flavoured product, and of those participants, 50 percent said that they would quit if the products were no longer available." "So we think that this is going to have a huge impact on our youth." According to the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey in 2018-2019, 39.3 per cent of Island teens in grades 10 to12 had used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days As a next step, Hartley would like to see the provincial government increase the prices of vaping products and e-cigarettes. "These products, although they do have the flavours removed, are still very, very cheap," Hartley said. "So what we would like to see is a 20 percent tax, at least, on vaping products, be implemented by the provincial government to ensure that these products are not affordable for youth, and to deter initiation, as well as encourage current smokers to quit." Lead the country Deagle said he hopes the changes on P.E.I. will inspire other provinces to take similar actions. "I think it went quite far, it'll be some of the strictest regulations in Canada," Deagle said. "I realize that this isn't going to eliminate youth vaping overnight, but hopefully over the next two, three, four years, that will start to be able to reverse the trend of the staggering increase of the amount of youth that are vaping." More P.E.I. news
(CBC News - image credit) The province recently passed legislation that limits the conservation authorities to only being able to levy municipalities for core services, such as flood protection and erosion control. But questions still remain as to how to separate what the province deems as non-mandatory services and mandatory. The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) can't levy municipalities for services such as tree planting on private property, but it's not clear whether that could still be considered in-directly part of the conservation authority's core mandate. ERCA could still offer camping at Holiday Beach, but the supervisor required to be on site isn't considered part of the core mandatory services ERCA is mandated to provide. CAO and secretary-treasurer Tim Byrne wants clarification from the province. "An act is only implemented through regulatory process. And those regulations, we're waiting for those to be given to us by the province," said Byrne. Tim Byrne is the CAO/Secretary-Treasurer of the Essex Region Conservation Authority. "There isn't perfect clarity at this point of what services would fall into the mandatory or non-mandatory basket," said ERCA Vice-Chair Kieran McKenzie. ERCA 's board recently passed a $3.4 million budget, of which it identified $940,415 as being for "non-mandatory" services. Byrne said they made the list based on what the province hasn't deemed mandatory, but that doesn't mean some of those items couldn't still be included in the levy to which each municipality pays ERCA. "We have attempted to budget going with a black and white interpretation of what it says. We're hoping that there's a bit of grey being applied and some reasonableness as it relates back to historic work of the conservation authority and how we're going to be able to live in the future," said Byrne. Byrne said the direction from the province will give them the framework to proceed with Memorandums of Agreement with each municipality covering what "non-mandatory" services the municipality wants to fund. Pushback from taxpayers, says Bondy Essex Coun. Sherry Bondy says they are already getting pushback from taxpayers over spending on a historic school, and they already committed $100,000 to naming rights for a new visitor centre at the John R. Park Homestead. "it's almost an expectation right now to have a zero percent increase. Residents are having a hard enough time," she said. Besides tree planting on private property, the province is also not counting educational programs for children at John R. Park Homestead as core mandated services. But McKenzie and Brian Hogan, the president of the Windsor and District Labour Council, feel all ERCA programs have benefits to the community at large. Hogan blames the province for making changes to the conservation authority's legislation to make it easier for developers to get what they want. Brian Hogan, president of the Windsor and District Labour Council is critical of legislative changes to the conservation authorities in Ontario. "If they're not happy, they can appeal directly to the minister, which certainly opens up for some political deals," said Hogan. "If we can help out some eight and 10 year olds learn by going out to the homestead, going onto our trails and learning about the environment...they're the next people who are going to be solving this problem [climate change]. They will be the next young kids that one day will be working for ERCA," he said. ERCA has been able to levy the municipalities for all services this year but next year it won't be able to impose the levy on the non-mandatory services.
Britain, France and Germany are pressing ahead with a U.S.-backed plan for a resolution by the U.N. nuclear watchdog's board criticising Iran for curbing cooperation with the agency, despite Russian and Iranian warnings of serious consequences. The International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation Board of Governors is holding a quarterly meeting this week against the backdrop of faltering efforts to revive Iran's nuclear deal with major powers now that U.S. President Joe Biden is in office. Iran has recently accelerated its violations of the 2015 deal in an apparent bid to raise pressure on Biden, as each side insists the other must move first.
Le conseil des maires de la MRC Haute-Yamaska a refusé de présenter et d’appuyer une résolution de l’Agence forestière de la Montérégie, préoccupée par les effets négatifs pour la foresterie si cette MRC et celle de Brome-Missisquoi étaient transférées en Estrie pour ce ministère. Une décision qui déçoit le préfet de la MRC Brome-Missisquoi, Patrick Melchior. La résolution de deux pages a été soumise à l’ensemble des MRC de la Montérégie. Elle liste tous les effets négatifs que pourrait avoir le transfert de la foresterie vers l’Estrie. L’Agence forestière de la Montérégie demande que son territoire ne soit pas amputé de la Haute-Yamaska et de Brome-Missisquoi et que son budget demeure le même. «Le préfet Paul Sarrazin a dit qu’il n’avait pas d’information comme quoi il pourrait y avoir des pertes si la Haute-Yamaska était transférée en Estrie. Moi, c’est un autre son de cloche que j’ai eu, affirme M. Melchior. J’ai parlé à Claudine Lajeunesse, la directrice générale de l’AFM. Selon les experts, il y a des effets négatifs à transférer la foresterie.» La Table des préfets de la Montérégie a été approchée également, mais les préfets ont préféré attendre que les deux MRC concernées se prononcent avant de passer au vote. «Ce qui me déçoit le plus, c’est que si ça n’a pas d’impact négatif pour eux, ils pourraient nous appuyer quand même puisque ça ne leur enlève rien», croit le préfet de Brome-Missisquoi. Préoccupée La moitié du budget que reçoit l’AFM est pour la mise en valeur des forêts dans Brome-Missisquoi, où on compte 400 producteurs forestiers, et dans la Haute-Yamaska, où se trouvent 150 producteurs forestiers, informe Claudine Lajeunesse. Ces producteurs forestiers sont notamment des producteurs acéricoles. La directrice générale de l’organisme de concertation est préoccupée par ce qui pourrait arriver à l’agence advenant un transfert de cette compétence à l’Estrie. La Montérégie est la seule région à avoir développé une entente sectorielle sur le développement des forêts privées. Le programme d’aménagement durable des forêts est aussi administré différemment en Estrie, alors que les chantiers forestiers sont plus imposants et mécanisés. Elle a rencontré, avec le président de l’agence, M. Sarrazin en décembre pour lui présenter la résolution et répondre à ses questions, s’il en avait. Elle avait été rassurée. Mais «à notre grande surprise, la résolution n’a pas fait l’objet d’un point à l’ordre du jour. Le président de l’agence a posé une question et c’est là que M. Sarrazin en a parlé. On était surpris de voir ça, d’autant plus que j’avais quand même envoyé à Johanne Gaouette [la directrice générale de la MRC], quelques jours avant la séance, toutes les lettres d’appuis et les lettres des conseillers forestiers qui desservent la Haute-Yamaska et qui détaillaient leurs préoccupations.» La résolution a été appuyée par cinq MRC montérégiennes jusqu’à présent ainsi que par l’UPA de la Montérégie, des producteurs acéricoles, le syndicat des producteurs forestiers du sud du Québec, et l’Agence de mise en valeur de la forêt privée de l’Estrie. Pour un transfert en totalité Paul Sarrazin ne considère pas que l’AFM a présenté des faits préoccupants et il avait été plutôt rassuré par le ministre responsable de l’Estrie, François Bonnardel, comme quoi les argents suivraient. «Le conseil des maires ne peut pas prendre de décision sur des informations incertaines, répond-il. Je comprends qu’il y a des gens qui peuvent être inquiets, mais quand on prend une décision, il faut se mettre au-dessus de la mêlée et regarder l’ensemble du portrait.» La MRC Haute-Yamaska souhaite un transfert complet en Estrie, et non un transfert à la pièce. La municipalité régionale de comté est divisée en deux, alors qu’elle doit se référer à l’Estrie pour la moitié des ministères et à la Montérégie pour la balance. «On a eu une rencontre complète dans Brome-Missisquoi où les élus des deux MRC étaient là avec des gens du gouvernement pour voir quels pouvaient être les impacts, ajoute-t-il. À date, personne ne m’a donné d’indication comme quoi il y aurait une perte de service, une perte de moyens.» Il assure toutefois qu’il défendra les intérêts des différents intervenants le moment venu. La résolution pourrait être appuyée par d’autres MRC dans la région et sera présentée de nouveau à la table des préfets. Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
BERLIN — Companies that sell refrigerators, washers, hairdryers or TVs in the European Union will need to ensure those appliances can be repaired for up to 10 years, to help reduce the vast mountain of electrical waste that piles up each year on the continent. The "right to repair," as it is sometimes called, comes into force across the 27-nation bloc Monday. It is part of a broader effort to cut the environmental footprint of manufactured goods by making them more durable and energy efficient. “This is a really big step in the right direction” said Daniel Affelt of the environmental group BUND-Berlin, which runs several "repair cafes" where people can bring in their broken appliances and get help fixing them up again. Modern appliances are often glued or riveted together, he said. “If you need specialist tools or have to break open the device, then you can’t repair it.” Lack of spare parts is another problem, campaigners say. Sometimes a single broken tooth on a tiny plastic sprocket can throw a proverbial wrench in the works. “People want to repair their appliances,” Affelt said. “When you tell them that there are no spare parts for a device that’s only a couple of years old then they are obviously really frustrated by that.” Under the new EU rules, manufacturers will have to ensure parts are available for up to a decade, though some will only be provided to professional repair companies to ensure they are installed correctly. New devices will also have to come with repair manuals and be made in such a way that they can be dismantled using conventional tools when they really can't be fixed anymore, to improve recycling. Each year, Europeans produce more than 16 kilograms (35 pounds) of electrical waste per person. About half of that junk is due to broken household appliances, and the EU recycles only about 40% of it, leaving behind huge amounts of potentially hazardous material. German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said that in a next step, manufacturers should have to state how long a product is expected to work for and repair it if it breaks down earlier. This would encourage companies to build more durable products, she said. “In the repair cafes we see a lot of devices that broke shortly after the warranty expired,” said Affelt — a phenomenon that has prompted some environmentalists to accuse manufacturers of designing their devices with planned obsolescence. Knowing an appliance will really last for a decade might prompt consumers to choose products that are more durable or can be easily fixed, he said. “For the vast majority of devices, repair is the right choice," said Affelt, adding that the exception might be old, inefficient refrigerators that can contain powerful greenhouse gases which fuel climate change. In a next step, environmentalists and consumer rights groups want the “right to repair” expanded to include smartphones, laptops and other small electrical devices. Responding to growing demand, Apple last year announced it would start providing training and spare parts to certified independent repair stores fixing Mac computers, not just iPhones. Right to repair bills have been introduced in several U.S. state legislatures, attracting bipartisan support, though as yet there is no nationwide measure in force. Sweden has gone further than most of the EU, making repairs and spare parts subject to lower value-added tax. The bloc's ecological design directive — of which the right to repair requirement is a part — will also revise existing energy labels that describe how much electricity washers and other household devices consume. The new seven-step scale from A to G will be complemented by a QR code that provides consumers with further information, such as how loud the devices are. Frank Jordans, The Associated Press
NEW DELHI — India is expanding its coronavirus vaccination drive beyond health care and front-line workers, offering the shots to older people and those with medical conditions that put them at risk. Among the first to receive a vaccine on Monday was Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Those now eligible include anyone older than 60, as well as those over 45 who have ailments such as heart disease or diabetes that make them vulnerable to serious COVID-19 illness. The shots will be given for free at government hospitals and will also be sold at over 10,000 private hospitals at a fixed price of 250 rupees, or $3.40, per shot. But the rollout of one of the world's largest vaccination drives has been sluggish. Amid signs of hesitancy among the first groups offered the vaccine, Modi, who is 70, got a shot at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Science. He received the vaccine produced by Indian vaccine maker Bharat Biotech — which has been met with particular skepticism. He appealed for all to get vaccinated, tweeting afterward, “together, let us make India COVID-19 free!” The drive, which began in January in the country of 1.4 billion people, has recently taken on even more urgency, since new infections have begun to increase again after months of consistent decline, and scientists have detected worrisome variants of the virus that they fear could hasten infections or render vaccines or treatments less useful. Scores of elderly people started lining up outside private hospitals on Monday morning. Sunita Kapoor was among them, waiting for a vaccine with her husband. She said that they had been staying at home and not meeting people for months to stay safe from the virus — and were looking forward to being able to socialize a bit more. “We are excited,” said Kapoor, 63. Many said that they had struggled with the online system for registering and then waited in line for hours before receiving the vaccine — problems that other countries have also experienced. Dr. Giridhar R. Babu, who studies epidemics at the Public Health Foundation of India, said that long waits for the elderly were a concern since they could pick up infections, including COVID-19, at hospitals. “The unintended effect might be that they get COVID when they go to get the vaccine,” he said. Even though India is home to the world’s largest vaccine makers and has one of the biggest immunization programs, things haven't gone according to plan. Of the 10 million health care workers that the government had initially wanted to immunize, only 6.6 million have gotten the first shot of the two-dose vaccines and 2.4 million have gotten both. Of its estimated 20 million front-line workers, such as police or sanitation workers, only 5.1 million have been vaccinated so far. Dr. Gagangdeep Kang, an infectious diseases expert at Christian Medical College Vellore in southern India, said the hesitancy by health workers highlights the paucity of information available about the vaccines. If health workers are reticent, “you seriously think that the common public is going to walk up for the vaccine?” she said. Vaccinating more people quickly is a major priority for India, especially now that infections are rising again. The country has recorded more than 11 million cases, second in the world behind the United States, and over 157,000 deaths. The government had set a target of immunizing 300 million people, nearly the total U.S. population, by August. The spike in infections in India is most pronounced in the western state of Maharashtra, where the number of active cases has nearly doubled to over 68,000 in the past two weeks. Lockdowns and other restrictions have been reimposed in some areas, and the state's chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray, has warned that another wave of cases is “knocking on our door.” Similar surges have been reported from states in all corners of the massive country: Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir in the north, Gujarat in the west, West Bengal in the east, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in central India, and Telangana in the south. Top federal officials have asked authorities in those states to increase the speed of vaccinations in districts where cases are surging, and to track clusters of infections and monitor variants. “There is a sense of urgency because of the mutants and because cases are going up,” said Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India. He said that the consistent dip in cases over months resulted in a “reduced threat perception,” leading to vaccine hesitancy. “The (vaccination) drive began when perception was that the worst was over, so people were more hesitant,” Reddy said. Others have also pointed out that the reticence to get vaccinated was amplified, at least in part, by the government's opaque decision making while greenlighting vaccines. But experts say that allowing private hospitals to administer the shots — which began with this new phase of the campaign — should improve access. India's health care system is patchy, and in many small cities people depend on private hospitals for their medical needs. Still, problems remain. India had rolled out online software to keep track of the shots and recipients, but the system was prone to glitches and delays. The federal government will decide which hospitals get which vaccine and people will not have a choice between the AstraZeneca vaccine or the Bharat Biotech one, confirmed Dr. Amar Fettle, the nodal COVID-19 officer for southern Indian state Kerala. The latter got the go-ahead by Indian regulators in January before trials testing the shot's effectiveness at preventing illness were completed. But opening up the campaign to private hospitals may allow the rich to “shop” around for places that are providing the AstraZeneca vaccine — an option that poorer people wouldn't have, said Dr. Anant Bhan, who studies medical ethics. India now hopes to quickly ramp up vaccinations. But the country will likely continue to see troughs and peaks of infections, and the key lesson is that the pandemic won't end until enough people have been vaccinated for the spread of the virus to slow, said Jishnu Das, a health economist at Georgetown University who advises West Bengal state on the virus response. “Don’t use a trough to declare success and say it's over,” he said. ___ Associated Press journalists Krutika Pathi and Rishabh Jain contributed to this report. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Aniruddha Ghosal, The Associated Press
(Submitted by Chip Taylor - image credit) A new report says monarch butterfly populations in Mexico have decreased, but according to one expert, the number of butterflies Canada will see this year depends on what happens this month as they embark on their migrations north. The presence of the monarch butterfly in the Mexican hibernation forests declined by 26 per cent due to a reduction of its habitat, according to the recent report by WWF-Telmex Telcel Foundation. According to the report, the species occupied 2.1 hectares in December 2020 compared to the 2.83 hectares in December 2019. These numbers are unsurprising to Chip Taylor, the director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas. "They were about as I expected," he said. "But that tells us that we are dealing with a population that fluctuates with the weather conditions, but it's also dependent on the amount of habitat available. Had there been a lot more habitat available last year in the form of nectar plants, then it's likely we would have seen a higher population," he said. Taylor said that monarchs need nectar plants and milkweed, which he said Canada provides a lot of. The presence of the monarch butterfly declined by 26% in the Mexican hibernation forests due to a reduction of its habitat, according to a recent report by WWF-Telmex Telcel Foundation. "As we get into Canada ... we get a lot more common milkweed. And one of the things that happens in Canada is that the monarchs who have reached Canada in May and June develop a population of common milkweed and that population tends to move along the lakes and eventually move through Point Pelee in fairly large numbers," he explains. Every fall, Point Pelee plays host to thousands of monarch butterflies on their migrations. The insects make their way across Lake Erie to the mountains of Mexico, roughly 3,000 kilometres south, for the winter. In late spring, their offspring return to Canada, and the cycle continues. According to Parks Canada, monarchs have a life span of about a month but the ones who emerge late in the summer are born to migrate and stay alive for over six months to make the journey. Taylor said it's hard to predict what the population of the monarch butterfly will be like this spring until he sees how conditions are like in Texas. "The Canadian situation is highly dependent on what happens in March in Texas. So if the returning butterflies are abundant and they have good conditions in Texas, there are good conditions as they move north in May and June and they encounter good conditions in Canada, the population does well," he said. "If they get off to a bad start in Texas. It's going to be a bad year in Canada." - Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch Taylor said the butterflies have already left the overwintering sites in Mexico and should reach Texas in about two weeks. "The question is, what are they going to find when they get there?" He asks, pointing to the massive winter freeze that took place just weeks ago. "The question I'm asking all my colleagues in Texas is that vegetation going to come back in time, so they're going to be milkweeds above ground and nectar plants for the butterflies to feed on," he said. Chip Taylor, the director of Monarch Watch, says how conditions will look in Canada is highly dependent on how conditions will be like in Texas in two weeks. Taylor said he's watching the weather and monitoring plant development carefully and can better predict how things will look in two weeks. "What we've learned in the past is that what happens in March in Texas has a big influence that that determines everything that happens, including what happens in Canada, on the rest of the year," he said. "So it's very important for the population to get off to a good start. If they don't, if the population doesn't get off to a good start, then it's very likely that it's never going to be able to recover. There just aren't enough generations," he said. What you can do Taylor says people can help preserve the monarch butterfly by creating a lot of habitat for the species. Point Pelee National Park also encourages local residents to plant a butterfly garden with native plants, milkweed for monarch butterflies and caterpillars. "Create a habitat and they will come, they will use it," Taylor said.