Canada is joining 13 other countries in a non-binding pledge to sustainably manage 100 per cent of its oceans by 2025, continuing the Trudeau government's international declarations on the environment.The undertaking commits — or, in some cases, recommits — Canada to a variety of measures, including protecting 30 per cent of marine waters by 2030, rebuilding fish stocks, reducing plastic in the ocean and creating a sustainability plan."Having the world's longest coastline, Canada recognizes that our economy and our well-being are deeply connected with the health of our oceans, and that we have a responsibility to protect them," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement accompanying the document."That is why we are committed to working with our international Ocean Panel leaders, and to developing a comprehensive blue economy strategy. We are also calling on more world leaders and other partners to join us in turning our goals into reality."Other countries supporting the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy include Norway, Australia, Japan, Ghana, Indonesia and Chile."Historically, the ocean agenda has never been focused and integrated on an international basis, and we're at the point, I think, in history where everybody recognizes the health of the ocean should be a concern," said Jean-Guy Forgeron, senior assistant deputy minister of strategic policy at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.Canada has made these promises beforeThe commitment to conserve 30 per cent of Canadian oceans by 2030 was announced in July when Canada joined the Global Ocean Alliance, led by the United Kingdom.Ottawa has so far reached 14 per cent of the target by creating marine protected areas and marine refuges.The process has met opposition from the fishing industry and some provincial governments in Atlantic Canada, which questioned the economic impact of closing areas to extraction activities."This is not easy," said Forgeron. "There is no low-hanging fruit in creating protected ocean space. And it's a very aggressive agenda."Fisheries and Oceans Canada is expected to introduce draft regulations this month to the Fisheries Act that will spell out how it intends to rebuild fish stocks that are being harmed by over-fishing.The federal government is also promising a discussion paper in the new year on "boat-to-plate traceability" to assure consumers they are getting what they are paying for and to help stamp out illegal fishing and human rights issues on board vessels elsewhere."I think we'll see in the next months, not years, whether this government is moving on this new strategy that they've signed on to," said Josh Laughren, executive director of the environmental group Oceana Canada."This isn't the first time governments have signed on to non-binding, long-term commitments, and people tend to get wary of more of those."Anya Waite of the Ocean Frontier Institute based at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said oceans are too important to the planet's future not to act to protect them."The ocean controls our climate, carries 100 times the heat of the atmosphere and 50 times the carbon," she said. "If we don't have the oceans front and centre, we can't understand climate change and we need development of the blue economy to include sustainability."A contrary view to a key commitmentWhile the steps are being welcomed by the environmental movement, there remains skepticism about the effectiveness of setting aside 30 per cent of the ocean by 2030 — known as 30 by 30.It has been proposed in the United States Congress and is under consideration by the incoming Biden administration.Ray Hilborn, from the University of Washington's school of aquatic and fisheries sciences, said it is misguided."All the 30 by 30 will do is move the fishing effort from one place to another," Hilborn told CBC News. "So if fishing effort is causing the problem, you're not solving it; you're simply moving the problem from one place to the other."He said countries like Canada and the United States have fishery regimes that can better protect species with specific measures like gear changes.'A lot left to do'Hilborn acknowledged some areas need to close, although not permanently. He cited the North Atlantic right whale, which moved away from critical habitat zones off southern Nova Scotia and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence in search of prey."If climate change is going to change where the problems are, we need dynamic management," he said.Laughren supports the measures coming from the High Level Panel and is giving the Trudeau government the benefit of the doubt."I think the government deserves some credit for making oceans and oceans conservation a priority over the last few years, with a lot left to do," he said.MORE TOP STORIES
A local pharmacist says his pharmacies are struggling to keep up with an 'astronomical' increase in demand for the yearly flu vaccine.Tim Brady owns Brady's Drug Store in Belle River and Essex, and he says the latter store has a wait list for the vaccine of several hundred people.CBC News spoke to Brady early last month, and he says if anything demand has only increased since then."Like I said a while ago, I've never seen so much interest in it. And overall, it just hasn't been abated," he said. "I probably did as many shots at the beginning of November than I did all last year."At the time, his Belle River pharmacy had administered about 250 shots, and his Essex pharmacy was at 500.Rexall pharmacies temporarily suspended flu shots last month because of shortages.Brady, who is also the vice-chair of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, says he's depending on daily vial deliveries from the province. A vial contains about 10 doses of the vaccine, and he's only getting about two vials per day."And so we basically go on the [wait] list, call the top 10 people and go from there," he said.While the province is trying to secure more doses of the vaccine, Brady says he may actually be getting the nasal spray substitute soon."At this point, we'll take whatever we can get," he said.While people looking for the vaccine are still welcome to call his pharmacies, Brady recommends that they contact the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit for direction or see if they can get it from their primary care provider.But while the increased demand has put a strain on the supply, Brady says it's still a welcome change from previous years — he says many are getting the flu shot for the first time."It's a good thing. I'm glad people are interested in it," he said. "I'm hoping this will carry on if we have any other outgoing vaccines that are coming up for any other possible health issues that are presently in society."
While 80-year-old Ron Rudoski and his 74-year-old wife Sandra have fans of all ages, their polkas, waltzes, and country tunes are particularly popular with an older crowd.Last year, the Rudoskis played nearly 60 shows. The couple have been playing together for more than 30 years and travelled all over southern Saskatchewan sharing their blend of accordion/guitar medleys guaranteed to keep your toes tapping. The couple would frequently play seniors centres and casino shows, and they developed a following of dedicated dancers. "I remember playing six nights in seven days and 75 per cent of the people were the same people every night, and most of these people are seniors," said Ron. Like so many things in the world, those dances came to a screeching halt when the pandemic hit in March. But unlike many musicians who turned to online shows or small, backyard concerts, their fans make up a segment of the population considered at higher risk for COVID-19. "It really wasn't the way we wanted to retire. We wanted to have a big gathering, you know, kind of a goodbye thing, and this just ended out of nowhere," said Sandra. > Some of them we have lost already, and it's really sad to think that maybe when we go back to playing, a lot of them will be gone. \- Sandra Rudoski Their dancers have become dear friends over the years. Sandra said she checks in with them by phone and she worries about what this isolation is doing to these once very active people. "It's got to be hard on a lot of them sitting at home. It's physical, it keeps you fit. Sometimes Ron plays his accordion and I just dance around the island for something to do. It makes me happy, music makes you happy, you know."Remembering happier timesRon's love of the accordion started when he was just a boy. He's been playing accordion for 66 years and he learned young that he liked performing in front of a crowd.His dad played fiddle in a band and used to tease him when his musical career started picking up steam. Back in the '60s, his band would charge $125 dollars for a dance. "Dad used to play for two dollars a night and he said he had to pay for lunch out of that as well," Ron said with a laugh. In the '80s, Ron was looking for a guitar player and singer for his band. He hired Sandra and ended up falling in love with more than just her voice. Sandra smiles when she talks about their courtship. "My father was German and he loved accordion music, and when I met Ron, to my dad's delight, every time we got together it was play accordion, play accordion."They started out playing in bars, but when Ron brought out his accordion, opportunities opened up. They were soon in high demand for anniversaries, weddings and cabarets.Melville and area was a hotspot for polka music, producing some of the best accordion players in Western Canada. The many German, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Polish, and Czechoslovakian descendents in the area made sure that their shows were always well attended, especially the annual Oktoberfest celebration. Ron is one of the few people left on the prairies who can repair accordions, so people from all over Canada send him their instruments. He has thousands of parts for accordions that he's collected in the more than 50 years of repairing the instruments.Ron says he'd like to pass on this skill and all his equipment to someone younger, so right now he is on the hunt for a young accordion player who wants to learn the craft. Lack of inspiration in isolationNot knowing when or if ever they'll be able to play in public again has been hard on the couple. Ron is also the treasurer of the local seniors hall and he wonders when they eventually do open again, if people will come back to the dances. "Some of them we have lost already, and it's really sad to think that maybe when we go back to playing, a lot of them will be gone," adds Sandra. The couple can play three dances without ever repeating a song, but they haven't learned anything since the pandemic started. "I have hardly touched my guitar since we quit playing," Sandra said. "I guess there's no incentive, but I guess I shouldn't think that way. I guess you should hope that there is hope."That hope includes looking forward to a day when they can end their long career on their own terms, surrounded safely by the people whose friendships have been forged over decades of performing. To hear the audio as it appeared on CBC's Morning Edition click here:CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
Christmas tree grower Milt Agate has worked in the Christmas tree business since 1990, but said this year will be his last.His 34-acre farm in Ilderton, about 30 minutes northwest of London, Ont., has been a staple for Christmas tree shoppers. For decades, families have been visiting to pick out their tree and enjoy a warm cup of hot cider and cookies.For the past several years, he has seen a decline in sales. To his surprise, demand was high this year — which caused the sales to skyrocket."It's been such a weird year, people are just itching to decorate," Agate said. "Families want to get together and this is what is bringing them together."Now, people are also expecting a lot more from "just a traditional Christmas tree farm", he said."They want the wagon rides, they want the petting zoo, the Christmas knickknacks."Agate said he simply cannot afford that, considering the amount of land, manpower and money he would need to operate. It's pushing him to leave the market."When you start adding the experience part of it, you've got to start looking at manpower," he said. "Which I don't have."Trees at the farm are marked down and selling for $35 apiece, as he is looking to close for good and needs everything to go. With the growing demand, Agate said he should have considered marking them up instead.The past weekend was a busy one, and most of the supply is gone."A lot of people are wanting to come out and get their trees before December," he said.Agate says he has even been receiving calls from people in Toronto wanting to make the drive down to pick up a tree but has to turn them away as he halted wagon rides and other activities due to COVID-19. This year, no wagon rides, hot cider or cookies are offered because of that reason.As a farmer, Agate said one of the biggest issues for him is mother nature.In the early 2000s the farm experienced two years of drought, which made Agate lose 25 per cent of his crop, he said.Another issue is the time it takes to grow the trees.Agate said it can take up to 10 years to grow a Christmas tree in "ideal conditions", making it impossible for farmers to increase their supply with this sudden surge that is largely being driven by the pandemic.Less travel, more customers"People are wanting to get out, wanting to get trees. They're staying home for Christmas as opposed to traveling — and so we are seeing the numbers on an increase," said Shirley Brennan, executive director of the Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario.Farms across the province have experienced tree shortages for the past couple of years, she said, but demand this year has increased substantially.Brennan told CBC London that COVID-19 increased the demand for trees in particular this season because of the isolation many have felt this year and a desire to get into the holiday spirit.She said the association has seen a 25 per cent increase in sales across the board.The tree with the highest demand is the fraser fir which Brennan says "everyone goes for" and is in short supply.> It's not even about the size or the species this year, [people] just want the experience. \- Shirley Brennan, Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario executive directorShe said younger generation couples in particular who have recently bought their homes are embracing this tradition as a way of bringing together their families during a trying time."This is just one more thing that adds to the family dynamics. Having that real Christmas tree and having that experience, people are really, really embracing that this year," Brennan said.However, Brennan said the Christmas tree industry is steadily increasing each year."Our industry across Canada went from a $53 million industry to a $100 million industry since 2015, so it has been steadily increasing over the years," Brennan said. "And because it takes 10 years to grow a tree, we just can't put more trees in the ground for next year and so it was just a forecast that we couldn't even speculate was going to happen."She said it's "alarming" that a number of farms have already sold out of the trees they had available for this year."I have spoken to farm owners who have said it has been a record-breaking year," she said. "But it's not even about the size or the species this year, [people] just want the experience."
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences moved the 73rd Academy Awards ceremony to April 25, 2021, so that theaters would be open again in the spring, which will allow more films to compete in the awards, the report said. "The Oscars in-person telecast will happen," Variety https://variety.com/2020/film/news/oscars-in-person-show-will-happen-2021-1234843255 reported on Tuesday, citing a representative from the Academy. The Academy Awards are traditionally held at the 3,400-seater Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.
WASHINGTON — Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said he's largely sticking with a partisan, scaled-back COVID-19 relief bill that has already failed twice this fall, even as Democratic leaders and a bipartisan group of moderates offered concessions in hopes of passing pandemic aid before Congress adjourns for the year. The Kentucky Republican made the announcement Tuesday after President-elect Joe Biden called upon lawmakers to pass a down payment relief bill now with more to come next year. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi resumed talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about a year-end spending package that could include COVID-19 relief provisions. Key Senate moderates rallied behind a scaled-back framework. It’s unclear whether the flurry of activity will lead to progress. Time is running out on Congress' lame-duck session and Donald Trump’s presidency, many Republicans won’t even acknowledge that Trump has lost the election and good faith between the two parties remains in short supply. McConnell said that his bill, which only modestly tweaks an earlier plan blocked by Democrats, would be signed by Trump and that additional legislation could pass next year. But his initiative fell flat with Democrats and a key GOP moderate. “If it's identical to what (McConnell) brought forth this summer then it's going to be a partisan bill that is not going to become law," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who joined moderates in unveiling a $908 billion bipartisan package only hours earlier. “And I want a bill that will become law." Democrats declined to release details of their concessions to McConnell. “Speaker Pelosi and I sent him the proposal in a good faith effort to start, to get him to negotiate in a bipartisan way," Schumer said. McConnell's response was to convene conversations with the Trump team and House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy of California. During the campaign, Trump appeared eager to sign a relief bill and urged lawmakers to “go big” but McConnell said Tuesday's modest measure is all he'll go for now. “We don't have time for messaging games. We don't have time for lengthy negotiations," McConnell said. “I would hope that this is something that could be signed into law by the president, be done quickly, deal with the things we can agree on now." He added that there would still be talks about “some additional package of some size." McConnell's reworked plan swiftly leaked. A summary ignores key demands of Democrats and moderates such as aid to states and local governments and additional unemployment benefits. In Wilmington, Delaware, Biden called on lawmakers to approve a down payment on COVID-19 relief, though he cautioned that “any package passed in lame-duck session is — at best -- just a start.” And a bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed a split-the-difference solution to the protracted impasse over COVID-19 relief in a last-gasp effort to ship overdue help to a hurting nation before Congress adjourns for the holidays. It was a sign that some lawmakers across the spectrum are reluctant to adjourn for the year without approving some COVID-19 aid. The group includes Senate centrists such as Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Collins, who hope to exert greater influence in a closely divided Congress during the incoming Biden administration. The proposal by the bipartisan group hit the scales at $908 billion, including $228 billion to extend and upgrade “paycheque protection” subsidies for businesses for a second round of relief to hard-hit businesses like restaurants. It would revive a special jobless benefit, but at a reduced level of $300 per week rather than the $600 benefit enacted in March. State and local governments would receive $160 billion, and there is also money for vaccines. Previous, larger versions of the proposal — a framework with only limited detail — were rejected by top leaders such as Pelosi, D-Calif., and McConnell. But pressure is building as lawmakers face the prospect of heading home for Christmas and New Year's without delivering aid to people in need. Lawmakers' bipartisan effort comes after a split-decision election delivered the White House to Democrats and gave Republicans down-ballot success. At less than $1 trillion, it is less costly than a proposal meshed together by McConnell this summer. He later abandoned that effort for a considerably less costly measure that failed to advance in two attempts this fall. “It's not a time for political brinkmanship," Manchin said. “Emergency relief is needed now more than ever before. The people need to know that we are not going to leave until we get something accomplished." Pelosi and Mnuchin were discussing COVID-19 relief and other end-of-session items, including a $1.4 trillion catchall government funding bill. Mnuchin told reporters as he arrived at a Senate Banking Committee hearing to assess earlier COVID-19 rescue efforts that he and Pelosi are focused primarily on the unfinished appropriations bills, however. “On COVID relief, we acknowledged the recent positive developments on vaccine development and the belief that it is essential to significantly fund distribution efforts to get us from vaccine to vaccination,” Pelosi said afterward. Pelosi and Mnuchin grappled over a relief bill for weeks before the November election, discussing legislation of up to $2 trillion. But Senate GOP conservatives opposed their efforts and Pelosi refused to yield on key points. The bipartisan compromise proposal is virtually free of detail, but includes a temporary shield against COVID-19-related lawsuits against businesses and other organizations that have reopened despite the pandemic. That's a priority for McConnell. But his warnings of a wave of destructive lawsuits haven't been borne out, and it is sure to incite opposition from the trial lawyers' lobby, which retains considerable influence with top Democratic leaders. The centrist lawmakers, both moderates and conservatives, billed their proposal as a temporary patch to hold things over until next year. It contains $45 billion for transportation, including aid to transit systems and Amtrak, $82 billion to reopen schools and universities, funding for vaccines and health care providers, and money for food stamps, rental assistance and the Postal Service. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
The City of Toronto's continued operation of homeless shelters with shared sleeping areas defies widespread acknowledgement that COVID-19 can effectively spread via airborne transmission, say health experts and advocates for people experiencing homelessness.There are concerns that shelter users sleeping in those environments face a heightened risk of transmitting or contracting the novel coronavirus."We should be deeply concerned that shelters are still being operated like this," said Zoe Dodd, who works with Toronto's homeless population through the Overdose Prevention Society.Aerosol transmission of COVID-19, in which the virus spreads through microscopic airborne particles, has been acknowledged as a threat by Toronto Public Health.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control notes in its guidelines that aerosols containing the virus can stay afloat for hours, in some cases leading to COVID-19 transmission even when people are more than two metres apart.Jeffrey Seigel, an engineering professor at the University of Toronto, called the prospect of aerosol COVID-19 transmission in homeless shelters "a critical issue" that the city should immediately address.He said similar congregate settings, such as the living quarters of farm workers and some long-term care facilities, indicate that aerosol transmission can be a dangerous driver of COVID-19 outbreaks."A substantial amount of transmission is happening in some spaces because of long range aerosol," Siegel told CBC Toronto.He identified three factors that can increase the risk of transmission when people gather indoors: crowding, the amount of time spent in a location, and ventilation.The environment in congregate homeless shelters, he said, "hits two, maybe three of the high-risk triggers for COVID-19 transmission."City says shelter precautions working well so farToronto has revamped its shelter system since the onset of the pandemic and now offers thousands of private rooms in hotels and motels. However, congregate spaces still make up a significant portion of the more than 6,000 beds offered by the city.As many as 2,874 spaces reserved for individual users are in congregate dorms, the city said, though it did not provide a specific figure.The city has introduced heightened physical distancing measures in those shelters, including a standard of two metres of lateral space between beds, among other precautionary measures.Mary-Anne Bedard, general manager of Toronto's Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, said those changes have contributed to the city's "relative success" at slowing the spread of the virus within its shelter system."While there is a certain amount of aerosol transmission … it is relatively limited," said Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa during a Monday news conference, before adding that close contact between people remains the primary source of transmission.But Siegel said people underestimate the risk of aerosol transmission in a shared, indoor environment. He said particles containing the virus have been demonstrated to travel more than 10 metres in some cases, and that dry winter air can help those particles travel more easily."I have to honestly say that, no, two metres is not enough. I often say that physical distancing indoors is fiction," he said.There have been 659 cases of COVID-19 among shelter users over the course of the pandemic, though it is unclear how many of those infections took place within shelters.Calls for more private rooms, or other mitigating solutionsSiegel said solutions such as increased ventilation, the use of portable air purifiers or germicidal ultraviolet lights could be introduced within shelters to mitigate the risk of transmission.He said those measures could be beneficial even after the COVID-19 pandemic, since infectious respiratory diseases are a long-standing issue within homeless shelters.Dodd and other homeless outreach workers are calling for a more substantial change, and say the city must open at least 2,000 new hotel rooms and stop operating shelters with shared sleeping areas and washrooms.Ginger Dean, an outreach worker with the Encampment Support Network, said a lack of private shelter spaces means people will choose to stay outdoors this winter rather than risk sleeping in a potentially unsafe shelter."Most people aren't interested," she said of the congregate dorms."It sounds harsh, but I feel like it just leaves residents feeling like the city doesn't really care about them."
The Rainbow District School Board reported a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the preschool room at the daycare at Algonquin Road Public School on Tuesday. All staff and the parents/guardians of children who are required to self-isolate have been notified, and Public Health Sudbury & Districts will follow up directly with close contacts. “Public Health has advised the service provider that there is no evidence of transmission at this time,” said the Rainbow District School Board in a letter to parents. “The daycare remains open and the before and after school programs continue to operate. Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting will take place throughout the school, including the daycare, before classes begin this morning.” Although the school does not operate the daycare, the school board wanted to inform parents/guardians of the situation. At this time, there has been no Public Health direction related to the school as a result of the confirmed case at the daycare. Parents/guardians are reminded to screen their children daily for symptoms of COVID-19 using the screening tool on the school board's website at www.rainbowschools.ca. Anyone who is sick must stay home. It is also important to continue to follow COVID-19 prevention measures. This includes washing your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoid touching your face, practice physical distancing, and wear a face covering, especially when physical distancing cannot be maintained. For more information about COVID-19 or the measures taken to address COVID-19, visit www.phsd.ca/COVID-19 or contact Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705-522-9200 ext. 524. “As always, we will monitor our school population closely for any signs of COVID-19, remain vigilant, and follow any guidance that we may receive from Public Health,” said the school board. “Thank you for working together to keep everyone safe.” Also Tuesday, Public Health Sudbury & Districts reported two new cases of COVID-19 in its service area on Tuesday. Both cases are located in Greater Sudbury, and the individuals are currently self-isolating. One of the individuals was a close contact of a confirmed case, and the other one’s exposure category was not specified because the information is either pending or missing. No other information about the confirmed cases was provided. Two more cases have now been resolved in Public Health’s service area, bringing the total number of active cases to 9. There are two active COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes in Sudbury. An outbreak was declared at Extendicare Falconbridge on Nov. 23 and Extendicare York on Nov. 24. Visit www.phsd.ca/COVID-19 for more information or call the health unit at 705-522-9200. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. email@example.com Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
It's not going to be a very merry Christmas this year for a handicraft workshop in Islamist-run Gaza that has been an unlikely source of gifts for the holiday. Coronavirus lockdowns have made it difficult for the Zeina Cooperative Association to export its hand-crafted Christmas gifts from Gaza to Europe and to the Palestinian town of Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. About 24 Palestinian Muslim women, many of them veiled, work at the facility, making miniature Christmas trees, red-and-white puppets and Santa Claus marionettes.
Halifax has awarded a $288-million tender to Harbour City Resources to build and operate a new composting facility over 25 years.The new plant will replace the two aging systems operating in Burnside and Goodwood."It will be a state-of-the-art facility, with advanced screening and odour mitigation," said Andrew Philopoulus, HRM's manager of solid waste. "It will incorporate what's known as an airlock on all shipping doors."The new plant will be constructed at the current Goodwood site and will be able to deal with 60,000 tonnes of organic waste a year. Harbour City Resources has built and operated facilities in Calgary, Hamilton and Guelph, Ont.The new system will increase Halifax's annual composting costs by 17.5 per cent or $2.2 million.Coun. Tim Outhit said he hopes a brand new plant will mean grass clippings will be allowed back into the green carts."We will be able to look at some program changes knowing that they can be accommodated in the new facility," said Outhit. "That's encouraging."Coun. Patty Cuttell, who represents Goodwood, is worried about the increased truck traffic on Prospect Road."This is also the road to Peggys Cove," said Cuttell. "So could a road be put through the Ragged Lake industrial park?"Cuttell plans to ask for a staff report to consider community compensation for the Goodwood area since it will be the host for the municipality's composting operation for another 25 years.MORE TOP STORIES
Israel handed over a backlog of billions of shekels in tax money to the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday, both sides said, in another sign of warming ties between the sides after the U.S. presidential election victory of Joe Biden. The taxes, managed by Israel under interim peace accords from the 1990s and usually handed over monthly, make up more than half of the budget of the Palestinian Authority (PA), whose economy has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The 3.77 billion shekels ($1.14 billion) transfer is the first since June, when the Palestinians snubbed the handover due to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans, currently suspended, to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
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A policing expert and a local advocacy group are raising questions after the Belleville, Ont., council approved funds for the city's police budget, which includes the purchase of a prisoner restraint chair.The Belleville Peaceful Streets Network (BPSN) were hoping councillors would reject the 2021 police budget until an item was removed, referring to it as the "devil's chair.""Imagine being in police custody, being overwhelmed by anxiety or depression and then being strapped into a chair and losing any and all agency of your body," said Britney Hope, a spokesperson for the group. "Nobody deserves that. But more importantly, experts believe it doesn't help – it actually hurts more."While city council couldn't vote on specific items on the budget on Tuesday — which was approved by the city's police services board in October — it approved the total amount of funds asked for by police.The chairs, which tie down a person's arms and legs, are meant to be used on individuals who become a danger to themselves or others. According to the 2021 capital budget, the Belleville Police Service have to deal with "30-40 prisoners a year attempting to kill themselves or cause themselves serious bodily harm by physically acting out of control.""Currently, there is no way officers can completely secure an out-of-control prisoner and we have had some serious injuries and prisoners needing to be transported to the hospital," the budget reads, citing the price of the chair at under $2,800. Dozens of prisoners try to harm themselves: policeBoth Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk, and the chair of the police services board Jack Miller, declined to comment and referred CBC News to the Belleville Police Service. No one from the service responded to CBC's multiple requests for an interview. BPSN points to a 2015 study funded by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services in Ontario, which reviewed 614 legal motions and cases — the vast majority of which were in the United States – that involved the chair.While the study approved the use of the chair, it found many issues stemmed from "inappropriate use." Robert Gordon, a former police officer and Simon Fraser University criminology professor, says he was surprised to hear the police force was looking to buy the item, which he says is primarily for transporting a person. He said the chairs are more commonly used in health-care and correctional facilities. In those settings, the chairs are seen as a "necessary evil," he said.According to Gordon, the standard is set by the Correctional Service of Canada, which uses the chair minimally."These chairs should never be used as a form of punishment or as a threat of punishment."Proper training keyGordon said the key is to properly train officers to ensure the equipment isn't misused or abused. Gordon said he's not certain why the police service would need a restraint chair when officers can use handcuffs, another piece of equipment he thinks is often misused.BPSN's Hope said people should be concerned councillors at Tuesday's meeting didn't question why a restraint chair is a proper response to 30 to 40 people trying to harm themselves.
With more and more people relying on food banks across Newfoundland and Labrador, Eg Walters hopes enough money can be raised in the next few weeks to carry them through a cold, COVID-19 winter.Walters is in his 28th year with the Community Food Association, and in this unprecedented year is counting on the kindness of citizens and corporations to help those in need — some of whom have never needed for anything before the pandemic wreaked havoc at home."Indications are that we are going to have a good Christmas season, donation-wise," Walters told CBC on Tuesday. "There's a much higher demand this year than there was in previous years, but we know that our fellow Newfoundlanders will come to our aid and help put the food on the table for those less fortunate throughout Newfoundland and Labrador."CBC N.L. is once again partnering with the association, with its Make the Season Kind Campaign. The fundraiser helps the association get through the winter, when demand goes up in the post-Christmas weeks and months.Walters is anticipating a 20 per cent increase in demand from the 54 food banks the Community Food Sharing Association stocks through the province, from St. John's to Port aux Basques to as far north as Nain.For every $10 donated to the campaign, the association can leverage it into $430 worth of food. Food bank usage went up at 59 per cent of food banks in 2019, and that number is expected to be even higher this year.Pandemic strugglesIn Carbonear, Kerri Abbott is seeing about a 35 per cent increase in users at the food bank where she works."We're seeing people we haven't seen in years. We're seeing first-time users who are unsure what sorts of services are out there, what programs are out there they can avail of. We're seeing people who used to work part-time jobs," she said.Abbott said some people who worked in hotels and restaurants are now out of work and have fallen on hard times. She said the first increase they saw was from people laid off from work who owned vehicles and were renting houses or apartments.She described the agony of seeing a parent come in to the food bank for the first time."You can almost feel that they feel like a failure. I always tell them, and so do the volunteers, that they are one of the strongest people we know," she said."You're coming in and making that decision in the best interest of your family and you're not alone."The Carbonear food bank typically sourced its own food through food drives and fundraising campaigns, but has been relying on the Community Food Sharing Association since the pandemic struck the province in March.Abbott said the food bank stopped accepting donations early in the pandemic because she was unsure if they should be taking food. That led to shortages."There's nothing worse than looking at someone who is coming in to avail of a service and you've just run out of food. There's nothing worse in this world than looking at someone and saying I'm sorry, you came to us for help and we don't have anything to give you."Walters is hoping this year's fundraiser can stop that from happening when the Christmas season is over."When we start getting into January, food bank shelves are going to be empty. We're like little hamsters on that wheel. The faster the wheel goes, the faster we have to go."Anyone looking to donate can visit www.cbc.ca/bekind. People who contributes or share a story about an act of kindness will be entered to win a prize.Prizes include five custom cartoons from artist Kate Fudge, five prints by Monika Rumbolt of Alianait Designs, and five prints from Kelly Bastow. Winners will be selected each Friday.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The Holiday Host volunteer program put on by the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada (PEIANC) will change to a more virtual format this year.For the past 15 years, the program would match up about 20 host families on P.E.I. with newcomer families. The two families would join together for a meal, seasonal activity or party.It was a way the families could build connections and share during the festive season.PEIANC decided it could be a challenge this year to have two families meet up so they decided to move the seasonal sharing online."I wouldn't say a little different — I would say it is a lot different," said Valerie Fitzpatrick, community connections program co-ordinator with PEIANC.Fitzpatrick said they are looking for people to send in their holiday traditions new and old."It's just a way for people to show a little bit about, you know, what's your Christmas tradition and you get to share it, not just with one family but with the whole world virtually," Fitzpatrick said.She said they will be reaching out to people through the association for other holidays they celebrate and traditions they may have."What new Christmas traditions have they adopted since they have been in Canada or what Christmas traditions or other holiday traditions did they do in their home country that maybe they brought with them."The submitted videos should be between 90 seconds and two minutes. Fitzpatrick said people looking to take part can share the videos with them online or reach out to the co-ordinators.They will also be posting holiday messages from staff on their social media platforms. Fitzpatrick said they wanted to do this to encourage people to still try to connect during the pandemic."We have volunteers that have taken part with a new family every year in the program so we hope that they look at this as an opportunity instead of another one of those things that we can't do because of COVID," Fitzpatrick said."It's something we wouldn't have done otherwise but I think that it is a really neat way to reach out to more people."More from CBC P.E.I.
It only took two days after its launch for the chess drama The Queen's Gambit to make it into Netflix's top 10 most-viewed series — and it hasn't budged since.It has since become the streaming giant's biggest scripted limited series to date, but the show's popularity isn't confined to the screen. Chess enthusiasts believe it's bringing more people to the game and making it more accessible to a group that, historically, has been largely shut out of it — women."After the series came out on Netflix, you could feel the buzz around the club," said Steve Sklenka, president of the Calgary Chess Club. Though COVID-19 restrictions have forced the club's physical location to temporarily close, that hasn't stopped the inquiries. "We have [people] buying memberships online even though we're closed."According to Sklenka, the interest is the most he's seen since 1972, when American chess champion Bobby Fischer played Russian grandmaster Boris Spassky in a match that became a worldwide sensation. Now, Sklenka is fielding daily calls and emails from people asking when the club will reopen. Sklenka isn't the only one to notice a resurgence in interest. According to marketing firm NPD Group, U.S. sales of chess sets rose by 87 per cent in the weeks following the show's debut in late October, while chess book sales jumped more than 600 per cent. An executive at a major U.S. games company told NPR their sales jumped 1,000 per cent as fans around the world connected with the series."It is an international show with an international cast that is dealing with one of the more universal, quote unquote, sports or pastimes or hobbies," said Daniel Feinberg, a TV critic for Hollywood Reporter.WATCH | 'I've made older boys cry' — chess stars on the world of The Queen's Gambit:While chess is played around the world, Feinberg argued other potential pastimes — like football, baseball or hockey — wouldn't connect with international audiences quite as successfully. "Chess really doesn't know any boundaries, so everybody gets to feel some level of connection and they get to understand it on whatever level they do." Sklenka said the show has had another benefit as well."It's a good thing for chess andit's a good thing for female players," Sklenka said, "because it adds a lot of exposure that just wasn't there before." Show's male players depicted as 'too nice'The Queen's Gambit follows the life of orphan and chess prodigy Beth Harmon (portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy) as she rises to become the greatest player in the world. In reality, there has never been a female chess world champion, although many have played at an extremely high level.That includes Judit Polgár, a Hungarian player and the sole woman to be ranked among the top 10 players in the world. In 2005, Polgár became the first woman to play for the world championship title. After watching Harmon's journey in The Queen's Gambit, Polgár had one reaction to the depiction of the male players."They were too nice to her," she told the New York Times.Polgár's experience echoes that of Canadian chess champion Qiyu Zhou. The 20-year-old University of Toronto economics and statistics major has been playing chess since she was four and currently holds the title of Woman Grandmaster. Zhou says she has faced male players who don't take her seriously. "I've made older boys cry because I beat them ... and they're like, 'How did I lose to, like, a six-year-old or a five-year-old?'"Growing up in Finland, Zhou played in "open" sections in tournaments, for all genders, as there simply weren't other girls to compete against. Though she was successful — becoming the youngest-ever winner at the Finnish National Chess Championship, at age five — Zhou said the isolation can push younger players away."If I was a really young girl playing chess but there is nobody around me to be friends with me, would I really want to keep playing the game? Not necessarily," she said. "We're all social people, I believe, especially when we're younger — making friends is a really key part."Earlier this year, Zhou signed with the U.S.-based esports organization Counter Logic Gaming after her popularity as a chess streamer grew on the video game streaming platform Twitch.Zhou said she continues to face sexism in the chess world. She frequently gets online comments about how she dresses or acts — comments she said would not be levelled at male counterparts. WATCH | The Queen's Gambit trailer:"I guess people just have an opinion of what a female chess player should be like, and they really want to push that on girls," Zhou said.'Most of the top streamers are male'Andrea Botez, another Canadian chess streamer, said that even now, gender is often an "obstacle" for women. "Most of the top streamers are male, and if there are females ... there's always people saying you only get attention because you're attractive, not because you're good at the game," Botez said.Like Polgár, Botez believes The Queen's Gambit "toned down" the sexism in the chess world, but said it has also strengthened the sport. Its popularity on Netflix and social media isn't just bringing more people to chess, she said — it's bringing younger people. "The most important audience is the teen audience," Botez said. "They're watching Netflix. On social media, it's very popular on TikTok and stuff. And I think that's very important for the growth [of] chess."For Zhou, the question of why The Queen's Gambit has drawn so much attention has an easy answer. "There's always been an intrigue about chess… but it always takes a little bit of pop culture and mainstream media to push it to that point where everybody is like, 'We can actually play this game, and have a lot of fun playing it,'" she said."I'm not fully surprised, but I've always thought that chess is, you know, an art, a science and a sport, all in one."
Mike Goodyear knew what he was getting into when he first plugged his Tesla Model S into the charger at his Grand Falls-Windsor home three years ago.Newfoundland and Labrador was "the last holdout" for high-speed chargers, he told CBC News recently — but that was fine with him."I understood that going in, and that was part of the thing that I accepted," he said.Goodyear has no regrets — "it's been absolutely delightful" owning an electric car, he said, adding it costs him about $8 for the journey from his driveway to St. John's. That may be a bargain and emissions-free, but with only a few places to charge his car along that route, it requires a lot of patience: a charging stop in Clarenville takes upwards of three hours, Goodyear says.But the province's distinct status as the only one in Canada without public high-speed electric vehicle chargers is ending.Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is installing 14 Level 3 charging stations along the Trans-Canada Highway from Port aux Basques to St. John's, plus one in Rocky Harbour. The chargers were tendered in October 2019, and as each charger is completed and tested, it will come online. NL Hydro expects all the work to be done by the end of this year."We want to be an enabler, to enable EV adoption in the province," said Jennifer Williams, the president of NL Hydro. Williams herself bought an electric vehicle this past summer."We believe the electric vehicles are coming, and we want to be ready for when those vehicle comes, so we're planning the system and getting ourselves ready," she told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.Williams estimates there are 200 electric vehicles in Newfoundland and Labrador, and 90 per cent of those are charged at home. But she said research suggests the lack of a charging network is a major impediment to increasing sales.Welcoming EVs from elsewhereEach station will have one Level 2 charger and one Level 3. The Level 3 chargers will cost $15 per hour, similar to chargers in the Maritimes, and can bill by the minute. Goodyear estimates they will shave hours off his St. John's trips, with a 20-minute stop enough of a boost to make it to the city. The network will make it far easier to sway people who have so far been on the fence about EVs, he said, particularly in rural areas that require longer trips."I know lots of people in the area who said, 'Oh, I wouldn't mind having an electric car, but I can't take it and drive to St. John's, I just don't have the range,'" he said.> Twenty years from now, you'll be hard-pressed to find a gasoline-powered car on the road. \- Mike GoodyearGoodyear has offered up his own home charger, even listing it on public charging apps, to EV drivers across the province, as well as tourists in need. He predicts the new network will attract even more people in search of a scenic, all-electric drive, across the island after the COVID-19 pandemic."This is for a very large community, and it'll open the island up to a lot of visitors from the mainland, that's another big thing. When our pandemic has come to an end, you'll see a lot more people coming and staying," he said.Network set to expandThose tourists might soon get a chance to explore further afield than the TCH.On the heels of the current network construction, NL Hydro and Newfoundland Power is also looking to install 19 other charging stations in Newfoundland communities from Robinsons to Roddickton to Port Rexton, and three in Labrador, with applications currently being accepted for most of them."We're certainly keeping an eye on where else we can expand," said Williams.Those extra stations are expected to be built by late 2021, depending on funding; the $2.1-million cost of the existing charging network is being split by the provincial and federal governments, along with NL Hydro.For Goodyear and many other drivers, the more chargers, the better to reduce range anxiety: the very real response EV owners have trying to stretch their batteries to make it to the next charge.That's usually not an issue for Goodyear, who does most of his driving around town. He's always had an eye on the future — he named his Tesla Galileo, after a Star Trek spaceship — and as he as idles in the drive-thru and sees exhaust pouring out of every other car, he can't help think of those younger than him."You know, all the driving I've done — I've just tipped over 91,000 kilometres in my car — and the car itself hasn't produced any noxious gases toward my kids and grandkids," he said.Quebec announced last week it would ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles in 2035. Goodyear would like to see more incentives in this province, as he's certain such change will soon come east."Right now you're hard-pressed to see an electric vehicle on the road. Twenty years from now, you'll be hard-pressed to find a gasoline-powered car on the road," he said.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Several P.E.I. appliance stores are dealing with a shortage of products to sell because COVID-19 is affecting the manufacturers of fridges, stoves, washers and dryers.P.E.I. is adding 55 new front-line positions to schools across the province to support students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.A program where Islanders share their Christmas traditions with newcomers has moved online.The collapse of the Atlantic bubble has left some Nova Scotia university students in a tough spot ahead of their end-of-semester exams and holiday break.Wednesday night's Santa Claus tour in Charlottetown was postponed to Sunday. Holiday shoppers are receiving their own gift from the City of Charlottetown this December: free parking downtown. The lack of activity at Charlottetown Airport is "surreal," the CEO says.P.E.I. has seen a total of 72 cases, with no deaths and no hospitalizations.Seventeen new cases of COVID-19 were identified in Nova Scotia on Wednesday, bringing its number of active cases to 127.In New Brunswick, six new cases were reported, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 119.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
It was inevitable that the federal government's handling of COVID-19 vaccines would become political. Politics has shaped public perceptions of the pandemic's severity since it began.But now the vaccines themselves are becoming politically polarized, with divisions emerging between those who want them and those who don't.Since the spring, polls have shown consistently that one of the major factors associated with how Canadians view the pandemic is how they vote. Supporters of the Liberals and New Democrats have been more likely to report concerns about the public health risks of COVID-19, while Conservative voters have been more likely to eschew precautions and oppose restrictions.Polling conducted by a number of firms in November — as cases across the country continued to rise — still showed signs of this split between left and right in Canada.The latest survey by Léger for the Association of Canadian Studies suggests that only 12 per cent of Liberal voters want to ease pandemic restrictions as soon as possible — even if another wave is possible early in the new year — while 31 per cent of Conservative voters say they want governments to ease up.The poll also found that 52 per cent of Conservative voters are very or somewhat afraid of contracting COVID-19, compared to 66 per cent of New Democratic voters and 74 per cent of Liberal supporters.A recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) found that between 87 and 89 per cent of Canadians who voted for the Liberals, NDP or Bloc Québécois in last year's election report regularly wearing masks indoors; 71 per cent of Canadians who voted for the Conservatives reported doing the same.WATCH | Erin O'Toole vs. Trudeau on vaccine planAnd Liberal, NDP and Bloc voters were about twice as likely as Conservative supporters to list COVID-19 as one of their top three issues of concern.When asked how governments should prioritize their responses to the pandemic, Conservatives were about twice as likely as Liberals to tell a recent survey for Abacus Data that there has been "too little emphasis on limiting the impact on jobs, income and the economy" — and more than three times as likely to say there has been "too much emphasis on limiting the health risk."We've seen proof of these political attitudes in how Canadians voted in October's provincial elections in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The New Democrats (the main left-of-centre party in both provinces) did significantly better among voters who cast ballots by mail — and avoided crowds by doing so — than among those who voted in person. Right-of-centre parties in both provinces did much better in the in-person voting.The polarization of immunizationSince attention has turned to vaccines, the Conservatives in Ottawa have focused their attacks on the federal government's plan to acquire and distribute the vaccines in this country. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has claimed that Canada will be "near the back of the line," though vaccines are expected to start arriving in early 2021.But this week's Léger poll suggests a minority of Canadians share O'Toole's concern. While the poll suggests 37 per cent of Canadians are worried Canada might not get the vaccine at the same time as the United States and the United Kingdom — where the vaccines are produced — 48 per cent said they are "not that concerned" and feel "a few months won't make much of a difference."It's hard not to see partisanship behind some of this, as the Léger poll suggests Conservative voters are the ones most likely to be concerned about delays — and the ones least likely to say they would take the first vaccine made available to the public.This is in part because many Canadians harbour doubts about potential COVID-19 vaccines.A recent Ipsos/Global News poll suggested that 71 per cent of Canadians feel nervous about a vaccine being created and approved so quickly. A similar share of those surveyed said they are concerned about long-term side-effects.On average, polls conducted by Abacus, ARI and Léger suggest only 34 per cent of Canadians would get immunized as soon as possible, while 41 per cent said they would wait a little before getting the needle. Between 11 and 15 per cent of those polled said they would not get vaccinated at all.Conservatives more likely to wait or avoid vaccinationThere is certainly a level of distrust among Conservative voters specific to the Trudeau government. According to Léger, about half of Conservative voters believe that the current federal government is withholding information about vaccines. Only 15 per cent of Liberal voters feel the same way.This trust (or lack of it) could have an impact on Canadians' willingness to get vaccinated. In the ARI, Abacus and Léger surveys, an average of just 27 per cent of Conservative voters said they would get vaccinated as soon as possible, compared to 43 per cent of Liberals and 39 per cent of New Democrats.WATCH | Procurement minister says government is 'putting the puzzle' together for vaccine distributionAn average of 84 per cent of Liberal voters and 79 per cent of New Democrats said they would get vaccinated either right away or eventually, compared to 69 per cent of Conservatives. The number who said they won't get vaccinated averaged just five per cent of the sample among Liberal supporters and nine per cent among New Democrats, but rises to 19 per cent among Conservative voters.The potential public health risk of this polarization could be mitigated if the federal government revealed a detailed plan for the acquisition and distribution of vaccines. Statements of support for such a plan from conservative premiers — some of whom have echoed O'Toole's attacks recently — also could help to reduce this partisan split before vaccine doses start arriving.Will that happen? The answer might depend on how much partisanship is running through Canadians' veins right now.
VAGANESH, Kosovo — Blagica Dicic, 92 and in failing health, is the only resident of a remote ethnic Serb minority village in the mountains of eastern Kosovo that's been abandoned by all its other inhabitants — including her own children. Djordje, the eldest son, has moved to Serbia's capital, Belgrade, and has no room for her. She can't remember when they last met. The younger son, Slobodan, lives in council-provided housing in nearby Kamenica town with his paralyzed wife. He rarely visits Dicic. But now, she feels she's got a new son. It's all the more remarkable because Fadil Rama, 54, comes from the other side of Kosovo's bitter ethnic divide, being a member of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority and a Muslim. “I have three sons, not two,” she says, lying in bed with two blankets to cover her in her tiny home in Vaganesh village, 45 kilometres (30 miles) east of the capital Pristina. “Fadil is the other one, bringing me food and taking care of me,” she says, leaning on one elbow as she caresses Rama, who lives less than a mile away in the ethnic Albanian village of Strezovce. Until early November, Dicic enjoyed good health but has now grown weaker and has difficulty standing. Still, she refuses to move out of her dilapidated two-storey home, surviving on a 60-euro ($71) monthly pension and no other official support. It's one of about 50 stone-and-wood-built houses that are slowly collapsing from neglect. Before the 1998-1999 war, more than 200 people lived there. Now they've gone, the last being Dicic' son Slobodan, when his wife fell ill three years ago. The war in the former Serbian province killed more than 10,000 — mostly ethnic Albanians — and ended after a NATO bombing campaign forced Serbia to withdraw its forces that were fighting an ethnic Albanian insurrection. The United Nations ran the territory for nine years before Kosovo in 2008 declared independence, which Serbia doesn’t recognize. Relations between Belgrade and Pristina remain tense. Rama, who owns a small grocery shop, has known Dicic since he was a boy and she always had a gift of sweets for Strezovce's children, even during the fighting. “She has been such a good woman before, during and after the war and has treated us like her children," he said. "When I learnt she remained alone I felt very sorry and thought of paying back her good deeds.” “Belgrade’s or even Pristina’s politics are of no interest to us because we have always supported each other,” Rama said. Since the coronavirus outbreak in March, Rama has visited her twice a week, bringing food. He cleans her room as best he can, lights the stove and settles down to cook for her. Rama said he saw nothing strange in helping an elderly, Orthodox Christian Serb. His fellow villagers agree. “Why? For assisting an old lady? A Serb? So what?” two men in Strezovce responded together. “Good for him.” Since the war, Vaganesh has had no drinking water. Dicic used to walk to Strezovce for water and essential supplies, but now she's too frail. Rama says local shepherds who heard he's helping her have followed his lead, visiting Dicic regularly "to see how she is and bring water or anything else.” He's given his word to Dicic' son, Slobodan, that he will “take care of her to the last minute of (her) life with all I have.” “I will never leave her on her own,” Rama said. ___ “One Good Thing” is a series that highlights individuals whose actions provide glimmers of joy in hard times — stories of people who find a way to make a difference, no matter how small. Read the collection of stories at https://apnews.com/hub/one-good-thing Llazar Semini, The Associated Press