(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine safety: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations to the tune of 84 per cent," Sharma said. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902 ) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. An analysis of results from 2,000 adults older than 60 years suggested the vaccine was similarly effective and well tolerated in this age group. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
BEIJING — The thrills and chills of the big screen are back big-time in the world’s largest film market. With the coronavirus well under control in China and cinemas running at half capacity, moviegoers are smashing China's box office records, with domestic productions far outpacing their Hollywood competitors. February marked China’s all-time biggest month for movie ticket sales, which have so far totalled 11.2 billion yuan ($1.7 billion). China overtook the U.S. as the world’s biggest market for movie ticket sales last year as the American box office took a massive hit from the closure of cinemas because of the pandemic. Chinese theatres were able to reopen by midyear and have seen steady audience growth since then. Local movies have also benefited from periodic unofficial “blackout" periods, when only domestic productions are allowed to be screened. A dearth of major Hollywood blockbusters over recent months appears to have also boosted the market for Chinese films. “People were encouraged to stay in Beijing for the Lunar New Year, and so watching movies in the cinema became the top choice of entertainment,” said Chu Donglei, marketing manager at Poly Cinema’s Tiananmen branch in central Beijing. Mask wearing is mandatory and moviegoers must register with a cellphone app so they can be traced in the event of an outbreak. Only every other seat is allowed to be occupied, making it even harder to obtain tickets for the most popular films. According to the China Movie Data Information Network, 95% of ticket sales came from the seven top-grossing films timed for release around the Lunar New Year festival, which began this year on Feb. 12. “Hi, Mom,” a time-travelling comedy written and directed by and starring Jia Ling, was the top earner with 4.36 billion yuan, followed by action comedy “Detective Chinatown 3,” with 4.13 billion yuan. Wang Xiaoyu, 32, who works in the film industry, was only able to procure a ticket for “Hi, Mom” on Thursday and called the viewing experience “deeply moving." “I know there are some movies that are released and streamed online. But I think the experience of watching movies online is not as good as that of watching in a cinema,” Wang said. A lack of entertainment options helped pump up ticket sales during the pandemic, foretelling a bright future for the Chinese film industry, Wang said. Recent box office figures show the “great resiliency and powerful foundation of China’s film industry," said Fu Yalong, deputy general manager of the Solution Center at ENDATA, an analysis firm focusing on the entertainment industry. “During the Lunar New Year, there were films with a variety of genres and topics and the audiences were satisfied," Fu said. “Even with the impact of the pandemic and the increase in ticket prices, we were still able to score such achievements.” College student Zhang Jiazhi, 21, said the movie theatre experience was a welcome break from staying at home watching videos. Successful online film promotion also helped attract many viewers to brick-and-mortar cinemas, Zhang said. “I’m bored, and you can’t stay at home watching (streaming service) Douyin all the time, so I came to the cinema to watch a movie. There’s nothing to do,” said Zhang, who is on winter break and came to the cinema to see “A Writer’s Odyssey," a Chinese fantasy film which he said he didn’t quite understand. Last year, China sold an estimated $2.7 billion in tickets compared to $2.3 billion in the U.S., which saw an 80% drop in ticket sales. “The Eight Hundred," an action drama glorifying China's resistance to Japanese invaders in 1930s Shanghai, was the world's biggest hit, making $461.3 million at the box office, most of it within China. China's theatres also closed for a time during the height of COVID-19 in the country last spring, but gradually reopened over the summer. As of Friday, China has gone 11 days without reporting a single new case of local transmission of the virus. Since the outbreak was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019, China has reported a total of 89,877 cases, including 4,636 deaths. ___ Associated Press news assistant Caroline Chen contributed to this report. Andy Wong, The Associated Press
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson faces a long spell on the sidelines after undergoing an operation on the groin injury he sustained in last weekend’s Merseyside derby loss against Everton. Liverpool has not put a timescale on the midfielder's recovery but said he will be out until at least April in another blow to its fading Premier League title defence. “Henderson has successfully had a corrective procedure carried out on the adductor injury," Liverpool said in a statement on Friday. “He will begin a rehabilitation program immediately.” Liverpool is in sixth place, 19 points behind leader Manchester City but the six-time European champions remain in the Champions League. Henderson, who has been playing as an emergency centre back, joins a lengthy injury list. The three senior central defenders, Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, have all had their seasons ended prematurely while backup Fabinho is still out, having played just one of the last seven matches because of a muscle injury. James Milner is still sidelined by a hamstring problem and fellow midfielder Naby Keita only returned to the squad last weekend for the first time since mid-December. Forward Diogo Jota began full training this week after three months out with a knee problem. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
A new version of the first known on-screen kiss between two African-American actors has been discovered in the collections of the National Library of Norway. The 1898 film, directed by U.S. film industry pioneer William Selig, stars vaudeville actors Saint Suttle and Gertie Brown and shows them courting and kissing in front of a cloth backdrop. The only previously known copy of "Something Good - Negro Kiss" was acquired from a collector in Louisiana in 2017 and added to the U.S Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 2018 for its cultural value.
(Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit) Nova Scotia's information and privacy commissioner says Cape Breton Regional Municipality's estimated fee of nearly $43,000 to answer a freedom of information request in 2016 is likely the highest ever issued in the province and is "inflated and inaccurate." In a report issued this week, Tricia Ralph said CBRM's method for calculating the fee estimate was unfair and recommended the fee be waived entirely. Guy LaFosse, a Sydney lawyer whose anonymous client made the FOIPOP request, said the public has a right to know public information and shouldn't have to pay high fees to get it. "I wasn't overly surprised by the decision, but I was surprised with how strongly worded the decision was and how critical the commissioner was of CBRM," he said. "This is a very scathing report when one reads this, particularly when you realize that this is information that should have been disclosed way back in 2016." LaFosse said the ruling shows the province's freedom of information system needs teeth. 'Not acceptable' "The fact that you have to wait a little better than four years to get a report from the commissioner is not acceptable in my opinion and the kind of costs that in this instance the municipality was charging … raises various concerns about how business is conducted, particularly in CBRM." LaFosse said his client cannot afford the high fees CBRM says it needs to charge. His client, who LaFosse said remains unwilling to be identified, requested details four years ago on contracts and expenses related to former mayor Cecil Clarke and employees in his office and at the port. After LaFosse asked the information commissioner for a review, the provincial office worked with both sides to narrow the scope of the request. The commissioner's office also worked with CBRM to determine how it came to estimate the fee at $43,000. In her report, the commissioner said CBRM staff did not use a representative sample of all the document types to determine the estimate and it estimated the time required using higher rates than those that have been previously established. She said the provincial guide suggests it should take between 30 seconds and two minutes to review a single page, but CBRM estimated three minutes per page. In November, the commissioner said CBRM broke the law by withholding 900 pages of information on CBRM's port marketing contracts requested by Sydney journalist Mary Campbell. According to the report, after negotiations CBRM provided a second estimate that came in at just under $3,900, but the commissioner said that's still too high. Ralph said CBRM has not met its legal duty to assist the applicant in getting access to public information and it should waive the fee entirely. This is the second report from the commissioner critical of CBRM's handling of FOIPOP requests. In November, the commissioner said CBRM broke the law by withholding or failing to locate 900 pages of information on CBRM's port marketing contracts requested by Sydney journalist Mary Campbell of the Cape Breton Spectator. LaFosse, who was involved in the provincial PC Party's court case seeking details on the Yarmouth ferry management fee, says the FOIPOP system needs to be overhauled. That request was made five years ago and after the commissioner's critical report late last year, CBRM released most of the documents to Campbell. LaFosse said that may bode well for his client. "The new council and mayor have made indications that they are going to be very transparent and will be hopefully assessing as to how they will deal with FOIPOP applications in the future," he said. LaFosse, who was involved in the provincial Progressive Conservative Party's court case seeking details on the Yarmouth ferry management fee, said the FOIPOP system needs to be overhauled. "All of these cases really raise the issue about the way the legislation is worded and how government, whether it's the provincial government or municipal governments, can simply delay things and hope that people will forget that they've made an application, or make them so expensive and time-consuming that they will just fade away and that's not the way that government should be run." Clerk Deborah Campbell Ryan says CBRM has received 100 freedom-of-information requests in the last seven years and needs to hire a full-time FOIPOP administrator. In the meantime, CBRM council may be hiring a full-time FOIPOP administrator. During pre-budget discussions last week, clerk Deborah Campbell Ryan said the municipality has received 100 freedom-of-information requests in the last seven years and dealing with those is only one of her duties. "The applications are certainly growing in number and complexity," she said. "They're not just routine requests. There are a number of steps that have to be followed." During pre-budget discussions last week, CBRM Mayor Amanda McDougall said she sees the need for a full-time FOIPOP administrator. Deputy chief administrative officer John MacKinnon, who oversees CBRM's communications department, said the one full-time employee is already too busy. "She really doesn't have the ability to do FOIPOP as well as her current communications activities," he said. "We're struggling as it is to get information out to the public with one person." Mayor Amanda McDougall said she sees the need for a full-time FOIPOP administrator. "I think it's important to highlight how much work we might take from the corner of one desk and put to another in hopes that it is a fix that oftentimes it's just kind of prolonging the inevitable, that we do need to hire more people." MORE TOP STORIES
Hamilton police say they have arrested a man and woman after finding the body of a dead baby. Police say they were called early Wednesday morning with a tip about "suspicious circumstances" at a home. Investigators say that following that information they found a body of what appears to be a newborn child buried in the building's basement. A post-mortem examination will take place over the coming days to determine the cause of death. The 34-year-old man and 24-year-old woman were charged on Thursday with criminal negligence causing death and Interfering with a dead body. Police say they expect to be at the scene for several days. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Submitted by Ana Dujakovic - image credit) A Nova Scotia woman with cystic fibrosis says she has contemplated moving to Europe in a desperate attempt to gain access to a drug that is being hailed as a breakthrough. Ana Dujakovic, 31, is pleading with the federal and provincial governments to speed up approval, and publicly fund Trikafta. Trikafta has the ability to treat 90 per cent of cystic fibrosis patients. Dujakovic is a registered nurse who is closely following international results of the use of the drug around the world. She said Trikafta doesn't focus on treating symptoms, but instead the underlying cause. 'Literally been dying' "It's really important that Canadians understand that we've literally been dying while other CFers in other countries have been thriving," Dujakovic said. "Canadians with cystic fibrosis have had basically the worst access across a lot of countries." Dujakovic is so desperate for the drug she has contemplated leaving the country, calling herself a potential "medical refugee." But now Vertex Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer, has submitted Trikafta to Health Canada for approval. Health Canada says the review is on a priority path that aims to finish the approval process within 180 days. If it stays on track, Trikafta could be cleared for use in Canada in June. Dujakovic said this is a situation where every day counts "especially when we haven't been prioritized for a COVID-19 vaccine." Chantelle Lindsay died in February 2020 after being denied compassionate access to Trikafta. Dujakovic is joining a chorus of Canadians with cystic fibrosis who are advocating for urgent access to the medication. One year ago, Chantelle Lindsay, another young Nova Scotian with cystic fibrosis, died after being denied compassionate access to Trikafta. A recent study at Dalhousie University estimated the drug could reduce deaths by 15 per cent over a 10-year period. Dr. Sanja Stanojevic, who led the study, said many are comparing it to insulin for diabetes. Drug is expensive But Dujakovic is fearful that red tape will keep it out of reach even after Trikafta's approval. That's because it costs $300,000 a year per person. Dujakovic said unless provincial programs are prepared to cover the cost, no one will be able to afford it. "There's a lot of Nova Scotians with CF who don't have private insurance because a lot of us can't work full time to get the benefits or work at all because we're too sick." Trikafta is being hailed as a life-saving drug for people with cystic fibrosis. The drug is not yet available in Canada. Health Canada says the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health is doing what's called an aligned review. That means it is examining whether it will recommend Trikafta receive provincial funding at the same time as the formal drug approval, which could also potentially speed up access to the medication. In a statement, Nova Scotia's Department of Health and Wellness says it "welcomed" the fact that Trikafta was given priority review by Health Canada. "We recognize that the cystic fibrosis community is anxious for access to new effective treatments, such as Trikafta," it said. "When all the approval processes are complete, N.S. will be in a position to consider funding Trikafta." More than just cost to consider Dujakovic knows the drug is expensive. But she said it will save taxpayers far more in the long run because it can drastically reduce hospital stays and transplants. "I think too, when we think of the costs as well, we don't really think about what people can give back to their communities if they're able to go to work ... and reinvest in the economy." Dujakovic said drug trials for Trikafta included her specific mutation, and she's convinced it would be life-changing for her. "I have laryngitis right now because I coughed all night through my sleep. I just could not stop," she said of her current condition. "It's really an exhausting disease. And I think people don't talk about the mental health effect of cystic fibrosis." MORE TOP STORIES
(City of Fredericton - image credit) The City of Fredericton has established new terms for the role of its poet laureate in an effort to avoid controversy on council. The role has been in question since former poet laureate Jenna Lyn Albert read a poem about abortion rights at a council meeting in September, which some councillors said was too political. Since then, councillors have had several discussions about how often the poet should read, what the poet should read, and how much the poet should be paid. "I think from day one it was clear that everyone thought that the poet laureate was an important role for the city," said Henri Mallet, chair of the liveable communities committee, which voted unanimously to pass the new terms. Now the Poet Laureate will have to compose and present six original poems, regularly engage with the community through events, and propose and deliver a legacy project, which will be left up to the poet laureate. The pay for the position will also go $2,000 to $5,000 a year for two years, and there will be extra compensation for readings beyond the mandated number. Councillor Stephen Chase hopes the new measures will help to alleviate any contention. "Learning from the experience that we had with the last go round on a poet laureate, we don't need anything that's going to generate more controversy," he said. "I think the terms of reference will speak to that." The laureate will not have to read at every council meeting, but council may invite the poet laureate when appropriate. Jenna Lyn Albert said she welcomes the new terms for the role, but said not having the poet read at every meeting leaves a gap. "I felt like it really added something to council meetings, not everyone's voice can be heard on a city council, not everyone's represented. So having that poem, that ability to reflect on certain themes or issues was really valuable," Albert said. The terms of reference still need to be approved by council. The city estimates it will still take a few months before a new poet laureate is hired.
The European Union will consider potential lessons from the recent frenzied trading by retail investors on Wall Street in its broad review of consumer protection in markets, a senior European Commission official said on Friday. The rise of retail investors in share trading is a trend that cannot be prevented but it has to be managed, said John Berrigan, head of the EU executive's financial services unit. Online trading came to the fore last month after retail investors following the Reddit forum WallStreetBets piled into GameStop Corp share via the Robinhood platform, sending the retailer's stock rocketing more than 1,000% at the expense of prominent investors who had bet against the stock.
China is expected to reveal a robust increase in defence spending at the March 5 annual opening of parliament, as its economy rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic and military tensions rise, Chinese and Western security experts said. With the coronavirus hammering its economy, China last year announced a 6.6 per cent boost in defence spending to $178 billion, the lowest rate of increase in three decades. The new administration of President Joe Biden has moved quickly to remind Beijing that the United States intends to compete with China's growing influence and military strength in the Asia-Pacific.
(Walter Strong/CBC - image credit) Justice Louise Charbonneau sentenced Tariq St Croix Thursday to five years in jail and three years probation for "brutally" stabbing his ex-wife on New Year's Eve two years ago. St Croix pleaded guilty to breaking and entering and aggravated assault in N.W.T. Supreme Court. The Crown prosecutor and defence lawyers jointly recommended a five-year sentence. "It is luck that St Croix isn't facing a homicide trial," Charbonneau told the courtroom. Tariq St. Croix, covering his face with a garment, has been charged with aggravated assault and breaking and entering. Tariq has one year, nine months, and one week remaining in his sentence. Upon his release, he is required to leave the N.W.T. On the evening of the attack, Marina St Croix was with her kids on their balcony waiting for fireworks to begin, when Tariq St Croix appeared outside of their residence. Tariq was on probation for previously assaulting her and was legally prohibited from visiting Marina unless she permitted him. Marina, who was pregnant at the time, told Tariq to go away, but he broke into the house by smashing a window, then armed himself with a steak knife. Marina was holding her 18-month-old infant in her bedroom when Tariq stabbed her in the face, neck and torso in the presence of her two kids. The eldest child grabbed the infant for protection. Tariq repeatedly yelled "you don't love me" before the steak knife broke, lodged in her stomach. Marina tried to flee to the balcony to call for help when Tariq dragged her back in, kicked her face, then fled. Marina asked that the publication ban on her name be lifted, as she no longer wanted the violence perpetrated against Indigenous women and children to be hidden from sight. Mistrust of the system Marina gave a victim impact statement before sentencing. With her sister standing next to her, and Tariq merely meters away, she described how the crime has changed her life. "On the Sunday before the week of my fate, I watched a video on highway 16. Trudeau's words were that Canada failed Indigenous women and that the MMIWG report would not be shelved. Yet, I stand ready to flee, when my only protection between him and me is three years probation." "We live in a society that would rather have my race live in a boat that no longer floats," she continued. "Life is easy for those who fail to see, so society covers their eyes with coins to let the violence breathe. "I see too many dead women and children that the RCMP fail to find. So I must admit I cannot trust the broken system, this time. "Welcome to court in Canada when you are Indigenous," Marina concluded. Marina said she cannot trust a broken legal system that fails to protect Indigenous women and children from their abusers. Justice Charbonneau told the court she "can understand that a court order would not appear adequate, given the crime took place when two probation orders were in force." Judge 'bound' by joint submission Tariq St Croix was initially charged with attempted murder in addition to the crime he was convicted of, but the greater charge was withdrawn when he pleaded guilty to breaking and entering and aggravated assault. In a previous court appearance, Charbonneau acknowledged that the five-year sentence was on the "very, very low end." Judges are bound by a Supreme Court of Canada ruling to accept joint submissions unless they can prove that the sentence is "unhinged" from the circumstances of the crime. "The question I have to answer is not to see if a five year sentence is fit," but if the sentence would break down the administration of justice, she said Thursday. Despite her reservations,Charbonneau said she was certain that Crown and the defense lawyers gave careful consideration to their submission. Deportation possible Tariq has one year, nine months and one week remaining in his sentence. Upon his release, he is required to leave the N.W.T. The court heard that Tariq had been the victim of an "extremely" violent upbringing. As a child growing up in St Lucia, his father had abused his mother repeatedly. Tariq's mother assaulted him and his siblings, which was described as torture at times. "Miraculously," Tariq has rekindled his relationship with his mother, the judge told the court. However, the circumstances of his difficult upbringing "cannot excuse the extreme violence of the crime," Charbonneau said. He is likely to face deportation, given the severity of the crime along with his existing criminal record. Originally from St Lucia, Tariq has permanent residency in Canada. He is qualified as a protected person, which means an additional step is required for deportation. Whether he will be deported depends on if the danger he poses in Canada outweighs the risk he may face if he returns to his home country. However, he is likely to lose permanent residency status.
(Zach Goudie/CBC - image credit) Being able to get enough to eat has become a big problem during Newfoundland and Labrador's latest lockdown, but it's a challenge some community groups are rising to, finding ways to feed people under Alert Level 5. Since the COVID-19 outbreak ramped up in mid-February, a series of public health restrictions have created barriers to accessing food: residents have had to reduce their contacts down to single households, they've been asked to make fewer trips to the grocery store, and thousands of people have found themselves in self-isolation and unable to leave their properties at all. It echoes last winter's Snowmaggedon, when Cortney Barber took to Facebook and started the volunteer group Neighbours in Need Newfoundland, to help those who were stuck without food or supplies. That group has kept going throughout the pandemic, Barber said, and has been particularly busy during this round of lockdown. "Every day there's something to do, and the volunteers continue to step up every day," Barber told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show. "We've seen probably a doubling of the need for support for groceries and stuff like that." Barber said many people reaching out for help either can't leave their homes due to self-isolation, have small children or fall into a high-risk group. For those who rely on busses to get to and from stores, the biggest problem is cuts to public transportation — MetroBus has reduced both its hours of operation and the number of people who can ride at any one time. "The cost is a little bit higher when you can't use that public transportation," Barber said. "So people are just really stuck for groceries." Neighbours in Need Newfoundland began during Snowmaggedon, when volunteers helped people stuck in their homes due to the blizzard, but the group has continued to operate throughout the pandemic. Courier cooperation With the Neighbours in Need volunteers kept hopping, one St. John's-based courier service has stepped in to share the workload. Millennium Express partners with large companies like FedEx and Purolator, and its co-owner Becky Reddy said delivery services have been in high demand throughout the pandemic. "Business actually increased with the influx of online shopping and things like that," said Reddy. "So it's been a bit hectic." Despite a packed schedule, when the lockdown began Reddy took to social media and extended a call to seniors and other vulnerable members of the community to let them know they weren't alone. "There are people out there that are willing to help, and we really didn't want to see anybody go without during this lockdown," she said. To that end, when Barber went online looking for someone to help deliver a hamper of groceries, she found Millennium Express. "We were able to work together and deliver some hampers to people from grocery orders," Barber said, "I just reached out to Becky and we had it done in no time." Oftentimes, said Barber, the Neighbours in Need Newfoundland Facebook group has plenty of deliveries to make, but not enough volunteers to do the driving, particularly in the midst of the lockdown. "It's really a lot easier to be able to pass them over to somebody like a courier who can drop them all off in one run, rather than putting one grocery order in their car and then come back for another one," Barber said. For Reddy and Millennium Express, the opportunity to partner with the group and to give back to the community is an integral part of the business. "We're always trying to be involved in the community as much as we can, and I've seen it myself: some people are just down on their luck and they just need some help," said Reddy. "Whatever we can do to help is what we're going to do." During lockdown, the School Lunch Association has donated more than 20,000 lunch-sized cartons of milk to food banks and non-profit groups throughout the province. Others stepping up Reddy and Barber aren't the only community-minded individuals on delivery duty these days. Following the lockdown announcement earlier this month, the School Lunch Association, a charity which usually provides hot lunches for school children, took its perishables and distributed the food to those in need. With help from the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District and the School Milk Foundation, as well as the Community Food Sharing Association, the organizations helped to distribute over 20,000 lunch-sized cartons of milk. The cartons found their way to a slew of organizations, from food banks, to non-profits, and to frontline health workers at the Mount Pearl COVID-19 testing site. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundand and Labrador
U.S. regulators on Friday said they would work quickly to authorize Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use after a panel of outside advisers backed the one-shot immunization. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to decide on emergency use by Saturday for what would be the third vaccine available in the United States, and the only one that requires a single shot. The agency told J&J that "it will rapidly work toward finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization," the regulator said in a statement after the vote by advisers.
Protesters gathered in Tbilisi, Georgia over the arrest earlier in the week of opposition leader Nika Melia.View on euronews
(Colin Perkel/Canadian Press - image credit) Hydro One is in the process of planning for a new high-voltage power line that will connect a transmission station just outside Chatham with one being built just outside of Comber. But the proposed route would take it across Highway 77 between Comber and Hwy. 401. Mayor Tom Bain said that section is too close to a populated area. "You're looking at a lot of interference for TVs and computers and you're going to get objections to the unsightly mess," said Bain, who supports the construction of the line because it is being built to meet the needs of the growing greenhouse industry and development in general. Hydro One chose the line out of eight options because it best met a number of criteria that took into account the natural and socio-economic environments, technical considerations and cost and consultation with a number of stakeholders such as Indigenous groups. It will increase the power to the entire region by 400 megawatts. But Comber resident Jodi Langley wants to know more. "I don't feel like we're very informed about what's going on in our community for the power. I want to know what it's going to do for us or how it's going to affect what's going on around here," said Langley. But Hydro One's vice-president of stakeholder relations Daniel Levitan says there's still a lot of work to do to determine the exact pathway. "We will be circling back with Mayor Bain and the County of Essex and local mayors, councils and certainly local businesses to now take a look at the specific path and ensure that it's safe and impacts the local environment, local businesses as minimally as possible," said Levitan. Hydro One will hold an online information session on March 11.
(Mitch Cormier/CBC - image credit) The minimum price of a litre of regular, self-serve gasoline rose 3.5 cents overnight, a continuation of a steady increase that goes back to the end of last year. The price was set at $1.21, the highest since July of 2019. Gas prices crashed during the early months of the pandemic, but recovered to sit around $1 a litre at the pump for most of the last half of the year. The current upward trend started in December. On Jan. 1 the price was $1.05. Diesel and furnace oil prices have also been increasing. The minimum pump price of diesel was up 2.3 cents to $1.27. Furnace oil was up 2.1 cents to a maximum of $0.96. For the year, diesel prices are up 11.9 per cent and furnace oil 15.4 per cent. More from CBC P.E.I.
British actor Tom Holland, best known for playing Spider-Man, went through a physical transformation to play a drug addict war veteran suffering from PTSD in the new Russo brothers' movie "Cherry". Holland, who rose to global fame when he was cast by the Russo brothers as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the 2016 superhero movie "Captain America: Civil War", said he wasn't sure if he was ready to take on the title role in the new gritty crime drama. "Cherry" is inspired by Nico Walker's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name and tells the story of 23-year-old Ohio-native Cherry who, disenfranchised and heartbroken after believing he has lost the love of his life Emily (Ciara Bravo) enlists in the army and soon finds himself serving in Iraq.
La Convention des maires pour le climat et l’énergie du Canada (CMMC) a décerné à la Ville de Laval l’insigne de réussite pour avoir fait progresser ses objectifs en matière d’environnement. Cette reconnaissance n’est certainement pas étrangère à l’ambitieux plan de réduction des gaz à effet de serre adopté au conseil municipal de novembre dernier, qui vise à diminuer du tiers ses émissions de GES d’ici 2035 par rapport au niveau de 1990. L’administration Demer partage cet honneur avec 18 autres Municipalités canadiennes dont Candiac, Beaconsfield, Prévost et la MRC de Rivière-du-Loup au Québec. Rappelons qu’en 2019, Laval avait été sélectionnée pour faire partie de la première cohorte du projet Villes-vitrines dirigé par la CMMC au pays. Ce programme de 12 mois offrait aux Villes un accompagnement intensif pour les aider à réduire leur empreinte écologique et s'adapter aux changements climatiques. «[C’] est une belle récompense pour tous nos efforts déployés jusqu'à maintenant. Elle nous encourage à poursuivre notre travail et ainsi dépasser nos objectifs en matière d’environnement», s’est réjouie Virginie Dufour, responsable des dossiers en environnement au comité exécutif, le 25 février. Depuis son adhésion à la Convention mondiale des maires pour le climat et l’énergie en 2016, la Ville produit annuellement un inventaire des émissions lavalloises de GES, ce qui lui permet notamment de mesurer l’efficacité des mesures de réduction mises en place. Parmi les actions phares de la stratégie lavalloise à la lutte aux changements climatiques, notons le programme de compensation des GES. Il s’agit d’une initiative municipale novatrice en vertu de laquelle les promoteurs et développeurs immobiliers contribuent à un fonds vert qui permet de financer des initiatives de réduction des émissions, telle la collecte à domicile des appareils réfrigérants dont se débarrassent les Lavallois. L’automne prochain, la Ville lancera une campagne sur la lutte aux changements climatiques afin de sensibiliser ses citoyens, susciter leur engagement et les inciter à changer leurs habitudes quotidiennes. Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
LAGOS, Nigeria — Hundreds of girls are missing after a large group of gunmen raided a school in northern Nigeria early Friday morning, residents say. The Government Secondary Jangebe School in Zamfara state was the scene of the latest mass abduction of school children in northern Nigeria. Nasiru Abdullahi tells The Associated Press that school records show 300 girls are missing. His daughters, aged 10 and 13, are among them. Resident Musa Mustapha says the gunmen also attacked a nearby military camp and checkpoint. He says that prevented the military from interfering while the gunmen spent several hours at the school. It is unclear if there were any casualties during that attack. Several large groups of armed men operate in Zamfara state and are known to kidnap for money and for the release of their members from jail. Earlier this month, gunmen attacked a school in Nigeria's Niger state, killing at least one student and abducting 42 people including students, teachers and family members. It occurred more than two months after gunmen abducted over 300 boys from a secondary school in northwestern Nigeria’s Katsina State. Sam Olukoya, The Associated Press
From the United States to Germany and Australia, government borrowing costs on Friday were set to end February with their biggest monthly rises in years as expectations for a post-pandemic ignition of inflation gained a life of their own. Australia's 10-year bond yield and Britain's 30-year yields were set for their biggest monthly jump since the 2009 global financial crisis. Even after a Friday respite from this week's brutal drubbing, Australia's 10-year yield is up 70 basis points in February and New Zealand's 10-year yield is up almost 77 bps.