Boys in the bucket
Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Herald
Boys in the bucket
Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Herald
(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."
The European Commission will propose this month an EU-wide digital certificate providing proof of a COVID-19 vaccination that could allow Europeans to travel more freely over the summer. The EU executive aims to present its plans for a "digital green pass" on March 17 and to cooperate with international organisations to ensure that its system also works beyond the European Union. "The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad - for work or tourism," Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet on Monday.
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
ISLAMABAD — The United States wasted billions of dollars in war-torn Afghanistan on buildings and vehicles that were either abandoned or destroyed, according to a report released Monday by a U.S. government watchdog. The agency said it reviewed $7.8 billion spent since 2008 on buildings and vehicles. Only $343.2 million worth of buildings and vehicles “were maintained in good condition,” said the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, which oversees American taxpayer money spent on the protracted conflict. The report said that just $1.2 billion of the $7.8 billion went to pay for buildings and vehicles that were used as intended. “The fact that so many capital assets wound up not used, deteriorated or abandoned should have been a major cause of concern for the agencies financing these projects," John F. Sopko, the special inspector general, said in his report. The U.S. public is weary of the nearly 20-year-old war and President Joe Biden is reviewing a peace deal his predecessor, Donald Trump, signed with the Taliban a year ago. He must decide whether to withdraw all troops by May 1, as promised in the deal, or stay and possibly prolong the war. Officials say no decision has been made but on Monday, Washington's peace envoy and the American who brokered the U.S.-Taliban deal, Zalmay Khalilzad, was back in the Afghan capital for a tour of the region. Taliban insurgents and the Afghan government have been holding on-again-off-again talks in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar but a deal that could bring peace to Afghanistan after 40 years of relentless war seems far off. After Kabul, Khalilzad will travel to Qatar's capital of Doha and neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, to push anew for progress in the Doha talks and a cease-fire to end the relentless violence. Analyst Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal said the findings by SIGAR are not surprising. The reasons for the financial losses include Taliban attacks, corruption and “throwing money at the problem without considering the implications,” he said. “It is one thing to build a clinic and school, it is another to operate, maintain, and in many cases defend this infrastructure from Taliban attacks,” said Roggio. "Additionally, the West has wildly underestimated the impact of Afghan corruption and in many cases incompetence. It was always a recipe for failure.” U.S. agencies responsible for construction didn't even ask the Afghans if they wanted or needed the buildings they ordered built, or if they had the technical ability to keep them running, Sopko said in his report. The waste occurred in violation of “multiple laws stating that U.S. agencies should not construct or procure capital assets until they can show that the benefiting country has the financial and technical resources and capability to use and maintain those assets effectively,” he said. Torek Farhadi, a former adviser to the Afghan government, said a "donor-knows-best” mentality often prevailed and it routinely meant little to no consultation with the Afghan government on projects. He said a lack of co-ordination among the many international donors aided the wastefulness. For example, he said schools were on occasion built alongside other newly constructed schools financed by other donors. The construction went ahead because once the decision was made — contract awarded and money allocated — the school was built regardless of the need, said Farhadi. The injection of billions of dollars, largely unmonitored, fueled runaway corruption among both Afghans and international contractors. But experts say that despite the waste, the need for assistance is real, given the Afghan governments heavy dependence on international money. The worsening security situation in Afghanistan also greatly impeded the monitoring of projects, with shoddy construction going undetected, said Farhadi, the former Afghan government adviser. “Consult with the locals about their needs and sustainability of the project once the project is complete,” he urged U.S. funding agencies looking to future projects. “Supervise, supervise, supervise project progress and implementation and audit every single layer of expenditure.” Going forward, Roggio said smaller, more manageable projects should be the order of the day. To build big unmanageable projects that Afghanistan has neither the capacity nor technical expertise for after 40 years of relentless war “feeds into the Taliban narrative that the government is corrupt, incompetent, and incapable of providing for the Afghan people,” he said. Kathy Gannon, The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Alaska Department of Health and Human Services has reported fewer than 100 influenza cases in the state during this flu season, down from close to 400 cases at this time last year. While 13 state residents died with the flu last season, so far this season, only two flu deaths have been recorded in Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News reported on Sunday. The 2018-19 flu season yielded almost 12 times more flu cases in the state compared to the ongoing 2020-21 season, said Carrie Edmonson, a state nurse epidemiologist who compiles the state’s weekly “flu snapshot” report. Flu death data for the entire U.S. population is hard to compile quickly, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials maintain a count on how many children die from influenza. One pediatric flu death has been reported so far this season compared to 195 deaths in the 2019-20 season. During the 2019-2020 influenza season, the CDC estimated that influenza was associated with 38 million illnesses, 18 million medical visits, 405,000 hospitalizations, and 22,000 deaths across the country. “This is the lowest flu season we’ve had on record,” according to a surveillance system that is about 25 years old, said Lynnette Brammer of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials such as Edmonson have said that public health orders aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus have also prevented the flu from spreading. Officials also attribute the flu's decline to less influenza testing and increased flu vaccinations, the newspaper reported. The Associated Press
Being innovative and doing things differently isn’t new for SmartICE — since the social enterprise began in a basement at Memorial University in 2013, it has to come up with new technologies and found ways to integrate into the northern communities it works in, while bringing traditional Indigenous knowledge into what it does. What SmartICE does is provide data on sea-ice thickness and local ice conditions to 23 Inuit communities in Labrador and the Arctic. The company has a production facility in Nain where it teaches Inuit youth how to build the technology it uses, which has been a great success so far. Now, thanks to a US$500,000 grant from the Climate Change Resilience Fund, SmartICE is developing a new holistic program to provide Inuit youth with the skills to create ice travel safety maps using satellite imagery and Inuit sea-ice terminology. Trevor Bell, the founding director of SmartICE, said the need for the maps had been identified by the communities and will address what is seen by residents as a gap in service and knowledge. Bell said there currently are sea-ice charts created by the federal government for shipping purposes in the Arctic, but they don’t meet the needs of people travelling on sea ice for a number of reasons, so that’s where these maps will come in. The Sikumik Qaujimajjuti (which roughly translates to "tool to know how the ice is") project will train the company’s community operators to make maps at the right temporal and spatial scale using Inuktitut terminology and traditional knowledge of the ice, combined with SmartICE observations and satellite imagery. The satellite imagery already exists, Bell said, and SmartICE will use the same source material as the government, but through a different lens. While it would be possible to train the federal ice analysts to make maps at the right scale for communities, he said, in reality many of those analysts have never been on community sea ice before. “They probably have no idea what it’s like to travel on the ice and therefore it’s not appropriate. The community wouldn’t trust those maps made by somebody else,” Bell said. “When it’s made by one of their own, using their own knowledge, using their own language, using their own observations, that’s something that’s really useful for communities.” Rex Holwell, the SmartICE Northern Production Centre and regional operations lead for Nunatsiavut, will run the program in Nain, and is learning how to make the maps. Holwell said people out on sea ice are using topographical maps on their GPS devices, and these new ice travel safety maps will be a significant improvement. Holwell said the technical skills the youths will learn in the community will be transferable to other work, similar to the program offered at the northern production centre in Nain, and will help them gain more traditional knowledge. “The ice knowledge my grandfather had isn’t necessarily as embedded as it should be in my son, for example,” he said. “I have freezers full of food, we have food storage here in Nain, so that ability, that need, of travelling on the sea ice is not there for the younger generation.” Bell said that gap in knowledge was highlighted by Inuit elders and was part of the impetus for this project. Using Inuit terminology on the maps will also help in that regard, he said, as well as add more nuanced descriptions. In western science there are about 15 words that describe different types of ice, he said, and the terms are designed with the idea of informing a ship captain the easiest route through the ice. In Inuktitut there are up over 75 different terms for ice, depending on the region. “There’s different terminology for different seasons, for freeze up, the dark season, break up, and those words may be a single Inuktitut word but to the people who hear or read it, it describes a feature, tells them what season it’s in, probably tells you what the weather was likely recently or tells you about safety,” he said. “Terminology is so rich and it’s so crucial to strengthen that traditional knowledge and terminology because as Inuit say, when you’re out on the ice that’s what keeps us safe.” Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
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
(Shutterstock / ehrlif - image credit) Three Fraser Valley churches will be in court Monday seeking to overturn provincial health orders barring in-person religious gatherings. The orders were put in place by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry last year as a way to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and were last extended on Feb.10. In January, pastors with Langley's Riverside Calvary Chapel, Abbotsford's Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack filed a petition claiming Henry had violated their guaranteed constitutional right to expression and religious worship by shutting down all in-person religious gatherings and worship services while allowing restaurants and businesses to remain open. A response filed by the provincial government said even though there is "no question that restrictions on gatherings to avoid transmission of [COVID-19] limit rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms," the limits were justified. "Rights and freedoms under the charter are not absolute," the response reads. "Protection of the vulnerable from death or severe illness and protection of the health-care system from being swamped by an out-of-control pandemic is also clearly of constitutional importance." Last month the government went to court asking for an interlocutory injunction to stop the churches from flouting the health orders in the period leading up to the March hearing. But the chief justice of British Columbia's Supreme Court dismissed the application, saying there were other remedies available to enforce the orders without the court getting involved. "To be clear, I am not condoning the petitioners' conduct in contravention of the orders that they challenge, but find that the injunctive relief sought by the respondents should not be granted," wrote Justice Christopher Hinkson.
LOS ANGELES — Chloé Zhao became the second woman to win best director at the Golden Globes and the first female winner of Asian descent on a night in which her film “Nomadland” was crowned the top drama film. Zhao, who was among three women nominated in the directing category, was honoured for her work on “Nomadland,” about people who take to the road and move from place to place seeking work for usually low wages. It stars two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand and includes nonprofessional actors. “I especially want to thank the nomads who shared their stories with us,” Zhao said, accepting the directing honour virtually on Sunday night. She singled out real-life nomad Bob Wells, who appears in the movie, for help with her remarks. “This is what he said about compassion,” Zhao said. “Compassion is the breakdown of all the barriers between us. A heart to heart pounding. Your pain is my pain. It’s mingled and shared between us.” The 38-year-old director who lives in Los Angeles is a leading Oscar contender for “Nomadland,” which is in select theatres and streaming on Hulu. “Now this is why I fell in love with making movies and telling stories because it gives us a chance to laugh and cry together and it gives us a chance to learn from each other and to have more compassion for each other,” Zhao said in her acceptance remarks. “So thank you everyone who made it possible to do what I love.” She joins Barbra Streisand, who won in 1984 for “Yentl,” as the only women to win directing honours at the Globes. Until this year, just five women had been nominated in the category. “Sometimes a first feels like a long time coming. You feel like, it’s about time,” Zhao said in virtual backstage comments. “I’m sure there’s many others before me that deserve the same recognition. If this means more people like me get to live their dreams and do what I do, I’m happy.” Regina King ("One Night in Miami...") and Emerald Fennell ("Promising Young Woman") were the other female director nominees. Zhao also was nominated for best motion picture screenplay and lost to Aaron Sorkin. McDormand received a nod for actress in a motion picture drama, but lost. Born in China, Zhao made her feature directing debut in 2015 with “Songs My Brother Taught Me.” She broke out in 2017 with “The Rider.” Next up for her is the big-budget Marvel film “Eternals,” set for release this fall. Beth Harris, The Associated Press
CROTONE, Italy — Crotone fired coach Giovanni Stroppa on Monday, with the Serie A club bottom of the standings and eight points from safety. The 53-year-old Stroppa had been in charge since 2018 and led Crotone to promotion from Serie B last season. Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at home to Cagliari was Crotone’s sixth straight loss and its 18th in 24 matches this campaign. “So ends a beautiful and intense journey, that lasted almost three years, and that wasn’t without difficult moments but that culminated in the extraordinary survival in Serie B and furthermore in the second, historic, promotion to Serie A,” Crotone said in a statement. Stroppa took charge of Crotone in June 2018, with the team in the second division, but was fired in October of that year after collecting just 11 points from nine matches. He was rehired two months later and steered the team to safety before guiding it to a second-place finish in Serie B the following season and promotion to the top flight. It is the sixth coaching change in Serie A this season. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary's right-wing prime minister has threatened to pull his party out of its group in the European Union's legislature as the conservative group edges closer to excluding its largest Hungarian delegation. In a letter on Sunday to chairman of the European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament Manfred Weber, Prime Minister Viktor Orban condemned a group proposal agreed to on Friday that would allow for entire parties to be excluded from the centre-right EPP, rather than just individual MEPs as currently allowed. Orban wrote that the proposed rules, which are expected to pass with a two-thirds vote at an EPP group meeting on Wednesday, were “tailor-made" to sanction his Fidesz party, and that “if Fidesz is not welcome, we do not feel compelled to stay in the Group.” It is the latest in a series of ongoing clashes between the right-wing Fidesz and the EPP, the largest political family in Europe, and marks the closest Orban's party has come to losing its place in the group's ranks. The EPP suspended Fidesz’s membership in 2019 over concerns that it was eroding the rule of law in Hungary, engaging in anti-Brussels rhetoric and attacking the EPP leadership. The EPP's new rules would allow for suspended member parties to be expelled with a simple majority rather than a two-thirds vote, opening the way for Fidesz's 11 delegates to lose their place in the group. Some of the EPP's more moderate national delegations have pushed for Fidesz's expulsion, arguing it no longer represents the group's values. In a statement in December, the EPP Group wrote that “the frequent attacks by Fidesz’ representatives towards the European Union and its values are not in line with the core beliefs of the EPP.” Also in December, the EPP voted to suspend Tamas Deutsch, the head of Fidesz’s delegation, stripping him of his rights to speaking time in plenary sessions and removing him from his positions in the Group. The decision, which allowed Deutsch to remain an EPP member, came after the lawmaker compared EPP Group leader Weber to the Gestapo and Hungary's communist-era secret police. In his letter, Orban wrote that he would pull his party out of the EPP Group if the new rules are adopted, signalling he will not wait to see whether the EPP votes his party out at a later time. A spokesman for the EPP Group in the European Parliament said that the changes to the rules “have nothing to do with the situation of Fidesz,” and that the vote will go forward as planned on Wednesday despite Orban's letter. “There is a broad majority support for the new rules,” Pedro Lopez de Pablo told The Associated Press in an email. “If once they are approved, some MEPs would like to initiate the procedure of suspending or expelling Fidesz, they will need to do it following the new rules. ... We are not changing the rules of procedure of the EPP Group because of Fidesz.” Othmar Karas, an Austrian EPP lawmaker and vice-president of the European Parliament, tweeted Monday that the vote on the procedural changes would go forward as planned. “I am not going to let Orban succeed with blackmail again,” Karas wrote. Justin Spike, The Associated Press
(Heidi Atter/CBC - image credit) The Regina Police Service is seeking help from the public after a man was robbed at gunpoint in northeast Regina, Sunday. The incident happened at around 1:40 a.m. in the 400 block of Broad Street North. Police say a man walked up to a driver and pointed a black handgun at him, instructing him to get out of the car. The suspect then got in the car and drove south on Broad Street, police said. The stolen car is a 2012 black Honda Accord, with damage to the front passenger fender. Police describe the suspect as five-foot-10, wearing a black and white bandanna, a black hoodie and several rings. Anyone with information is asked to contact police at (306) 777-6500 or Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 222-8477.
On retrouve seulement 5 % de l’aire de répartition de la harde Détour-Kesagami au Québec, alors que la majeure partie se trouve en Ontario. À cheval sur deux provinces, il est encore plus difficile de coordonner les efforts de protection. « À l’heure actuelle, on ne sait même pas exactement combien il y a de caribous dans la harde », soutien Benoit Croteau, de Pikogan, notamment parce que les inventaires ne sont pas coordonnés. Le travail entamé par RYAM au Québec n’est donc qu’une partie de la tâche à réaliser à l’échelle de la population. De plus, l’implication des entreprises minières de la région sera nécessaire pour limiter l’impact sur le territoire. None Guillaume Roy, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
This kitty is captivated by the newborn chicks in the box. So sweet and gentle!
Tina Fey asked the tough question 10 minutes into the three-hour Golden Globes broadcast Sunday: Could this whole night have been an email? Well, maybe. We wouldn’t have gotten to see the awkwardness of Daniel Kaluuya’s acceptance speech (almost) cut before it began, Don Cheadle giving a tie-dyed sweatshirt clad Jason Sudeikis the wrap-up signal, or Catherine O’Hara’s husband playing her off with his iPhone — a funny bit hampered by bad sound. But we also wouldn’t have gotten to tear up along with Chadwick Boseman’s widow Taylor Simone Ledward or see the sweetness of Mark Ruffalo’s kids standing proudly behind him when he won, or Ethan Hawke’s sitting with him when he didn’t. We also wouldn’t have gotten swept away by Norman Lear’s heartfelt remarks. It helped that Lear’s setup looked professionally produced. Many did not. Celebrities, we’ve all learned over the past year, have bad lighting and shoddy internet connections too, even on an awards show night. The 78th Annual Golden Globes came in limping Sunday, not just because of the strangeness of producing a live, bicoastal show a year into a pandemic, but because in the week leading up to the event, the 87-person organization behind the endeavour, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, was given an unflattering spotlight in a series of exposes in The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. The most stinging revelation was that there are zero Black members in their ranks. Whether or not they would address it was perhaps the biggest question going into the night. Hosts Fey and Amy Poehler said they needed to change. And three members of the HFPA came out on stage to say they intended to. The remoteness of it all allowed them to control the controversy on their own terms, or at least manage it. For the show, it was a silver lining. For the audience, it felt like a punt. In a normal year, every nominee and guest would have been asked about it on the red carpet. All the celebrities who posted that Time’s Up message on their socials would have had to say something. Sunday, there was no one to ask. The HFPA may have just bought themselves another year to get their act together. Although their nominations are occasionally absurd, the ultimate winners often aren’t. “Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao became the first woman to win best director since Barbra Streisand in 1984. Boseman won too. As did “Minari” and Lee Isaac Chung (who also shared an especially sweet moment with his young daughter), even if it was relegated to the foreign language category. Kate Hudson, who proved to be a trouper despite all the fun made of her nomination and film, did not. Unfortunately, as the night wore on, more and more winners found themselves played off by the show, including most of “The Crown.” Worse, the cut off music was bad. The evening had its inspired comedic moments too, most of which came from hosts Fey and Poehler who in their fourth time leading the show seamlessly played off of one another with almost 3,000 miles between them. Though it was easy to forget that they were on different coasts, they were always ready with a well-timed gag acknowledging that they weren’t. They also mocked the weirdness of it all, about halfway through exhaustedly recapping the meagre GIF and meme moments thus far — Cheadle, Tracy Morgan mispronouncing “Soul” as sal and Sudeikis’ hoodie. “Those are the messy things we love about the Globes,” Poehler said. The show has always been touted as a party, boozy, glamourous and unruly with hosts who are welcome to poke fun and occasionally even cross the line. The booziness perhaps has been overstated of late — most are far too savvy to get drunk on camera before their category. Besides, that’s what the after parties are for. But there was a lot lost here, even as the show tried to manufacture moments between the nominees with awkward semi-public five-way conversations before commercial breaks. “This is so weird,” said Lily Collins, to the heads on the five disconnected screens around her. She could have been speaking for all of us. Cutting away to the nominees after a joke or a related win was rarely successful and often stilted, although the later categories seemed to learn from the mistakes of the earlier ones. But it made it even more frustrating that the show failed to use their in-person talent more creatively. Yes, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo got a fun “Barb and Star” moment, as did Maya Rudolph and Kenan Thompson. But they also got Tiffany Haddish to show up and all she got was one quip about Eddie Murphy’s mansions. The NBC tie-ins, too, seemed more shameless than usual. The Golden Globes have in years past been a frivolity that's still a pretty watchable, star-studded show. It occasionally even captured the zeitgeist in surprisingly meaningful ways. Audiences expect the worst and sometimes find it. But there are also grace notes in all the silliness— remember the sea of black to support the newly formed Time’s Up a few years ago and that Oprah speech? And maybe it’s that tension that has kept the Globes audience relatively stable. Whether or not this year will hold up when the numbers come in remains to be seen, but it would be a surprise. And does it matter? It’s not as though anyone involved is planning to relive this experience. “We all know that awards shows are stupid,” Fey said early on. Yes, they are. But maybe it’s just the stupidity we all need after a very tough year. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
“Later,” by Stephen King (Hard Case Crime) Stephen King gets a lot of credit for creating the monsters under kids’ beds (here’s looking at you, Pennywise), but not enough for this simple fact: The guy gets kids. Their fears, certainly, but also their voices, the way they see the world differently than adults. To a long list that includes Danny Torrance from “The Shining” and Gordie Lachance from “The Body,” we can now add Jamie Conklin, the star of King’s most recent novel, “Later.” Published under the Hard Case Crime imprint, which also distributed “The Colorado Kid” (2005) and “Joyland” (2013) — “Later” is narrated by 22-year-old Jamie, looking back on his formative years. He begins his story at age 6, when he first figured out he could see and talk to the dead. It’s that gift which propels the plot of this slim novel. Encouraged by his mother’s NYPD girlfriend, Liz, Jamie gets tied up in the pursuit of a serial bomber in New York. It’s not giving too much away to say he helps crack the case, but to say what happens after that would spoil all the fun. There’s classic King here for fans. Imagine the carnage on any given day in the Big Apple and then imagine being a young man seeing the mangled dead walking around in the afterlife, with holes in their heads “as big as a dessert plate and surrounded by irregular fangs of bone.” But even amid the gore and escalating tension, King finds moments to make Jamie relatable. As Liz and his mom argue at the scene of a crime, we pop inside Jamie’s head before he screams at them. “One of the worst things about being a kid, maybe the very worst, is how grownups ignore you when they get going" on their own issues, writes King. In the end, the story Jamie narrates to readers climaxes in a thrilling whodunit, while uncovering truths about Jamie’s life that might have been better left buried. For as the novel’s cover declares: “Only the dead have no secrets.” Rob Merrill, The Associated Press
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
(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) Melanie Whitlow says she and her family had only recently started to get ahead financially when a complication with their immigration forms caused her husband to be fired from his job. "We're down at least half our income," said Whitlow, 39. "We've had to stop being able to save money for future endeavours and our future life plans." Whitlow and her husband, Steve Whitlow, 43, moved their family of four to Vancouver in August 2019 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as part of British Columbia's provincial nominee program, which offers a path to permanent residency for skilled and semi-skilled workers in high-demand occupations. It was a plan eight years in the making. Whitlow is a registered nurse and had to complete the B.C. licensing process before finding an employer willing to nominate her. She eventually secured a position with Vancouver General Hospital, giving the family a path to permanent residency. Steve, 43, did not have a job waiting for him, but accompanied his wife and found a job in July of last year with a steel company in Richmond. The pair says things were going "pretty good," until a few weeks ago when, on Family Day, an oversight in their work permit renewal forms resulted in Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada denying their extension. Melanie Whitlow has since had her work permit restored, allowing her to work until 2023. Her husband, Steve, is still waiting for a decision from IRCC. Whitlow says she completed the IRCC forms well in advance of the Feb. 4 deadline, but failed to include the necessary Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemption number from her employer. She says it was an "oversight," given her employer had paid the corresponding fee and had the number, but that she was still able to submit the paperwork without this crucial bit of information. Documents shared with CBC show IRCC followed up with them on a separate issue, regarding a different $100 fee from her employer, but never mentioned the missing LMIA number. An email to IRCC about the outstanding $100 balance shows the couple requested a follow-up phone call with IRCC staff. Eleven days later their permits were denied, making it illegal for the couple to work. But while Melanie says VGH chose to "keep an eye" on the situation, Steve's employer opted to terminate him. Legal experts say that while IRCC had the right to reject the couple's application over the missing number, their case reflects the sometimes impersonal touch of a department tasked with approving complicated forms — ones capable of throwing lives into turmoil if completed incorrectly. "A human had to have read my note where I was clearly confused," said Melanie. "I don't know why they would deny a work permit instead of reaching out." In its response to CBC's inquiry about the Whitlow file, IRCC acknowledged that both permits had been refused due to the missing LMIA exemption number "as well as the employer compliance fee." "Mrs. Whitlow was advised by IRCC of her eligibility to apply for restoration and she reapplied," writes the department. "Her work permit has since been approved and is valid until February 18, 2023 ... Mr. Whitlow also applied for a restoration of his temporary status and this application is in progress." Immigration officers quick to 'move on' One immigration lawyer tells CBC that IRCC officers will reject applications that are missing information in order to "move on to their next task." "Normally folks would hope that an officer would pick up the phone and call them," said Joshua Slayen of Larlee Rosenberg, Barristers & Solicitors. "It's very disheartening to see someone so negatively impacted by it." Immigration lawyer Joshua Slayen says IRCC forms are not necessarily designed for easy use, and that applicants should review their details closely. Slayen says applicants have three options when their paperwork is refused or rejected, including restoration, reconsideration, or an appeal in Federal Court. "There has to be some smarter way to do this," said Melanie Whitlow, acknowledging that many of those who interact with the IRCC may not speak English and therefore require more assistance. While the couple is confident Steve's work permit will be restored, the couple says it's unlikely he will get his old job back. "The IRCC doesn't pick the dominos up," said Steve Whitlow. "They only let them fall."
(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.