Britney Spears on Tuesday made rare comments about her life following the release of a new documentary that magnified interest in her career, mental health and conservatorship.
Britney Spears on Tuesday made rare comments about her life following the release of a new documentary that magnified interest in her career, mental health and conservatorship.
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
Brad Gushue won his first Canadian men's curling championship in a sold-out hometown venue that erupted in joy after his game-winning throw. The three-time champion will try to win another Tim Hortons Brier title in an arena setting that will be the complete opposite. Play begins Friday night in a spectator-free Markin MacPhail Centre as elite men's domestic curling returns after a long absence due to the pandemic. The Scotties Tournament of Hearts provided a successful kickoff to a run of six straight bonspiels at Canada Olympic Park. Now the Brier takes centre stage as 18 teams — many of them competing for the first time in months — square off for the right to hoist the Tankard. "It's going to be interesting and really I have no idea what to expect," Gushue said. "I think once we get through the first weekend, you'll probably settle in and know the level (everyone) is at and then you just kind of accept it and battle it out." The preliminary round will continue through March 11. The top eight teams will qualify for the two-day championship round. The top three teams will advance the playoffs on March 14. The second- and third-place teams will meet in an afternoon semifinal with the winner to face the first-place side in the evening final. It has been four years since Gushue won his first Brier in front of a euphoric crowd in St. John's, N.L. He beat Alberta's Brendan Bottcher last year in Kingston, Ont. The Canada skip is listed as an early 2.35-to-1 favourite to repeat by online sports book Coolbet Canada, just ahead of Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs, wild-card entry Kevin Koe and Bottcher. "I think the fact that there have been so few games and the practice time hasn't been there for a lot of teams, it's a bit of a crapshoot to be honest," Gushue said. "I think this could go a lot of different ways than what it would if we had all had our regular run-up to the Brier." Like many rinks at the recent Scotties Tournament of Hearts, most Brier teams were invited by their respective associations to play after the cancellation of annual playdowns due to the pandemic. "I think we'll probably be as patient as we can because I think everybody is going to make some mistakes," Gushue said. "It's the teams that don't compound those mistakes that are going to be successful." There is no play-in game this year. Ontario's Glenn Howard, Koe's Alberta-based team and Mike McEwen's rink from Manitoba are the wild-card entries. Koe will attempt to win a record fifth Brier title as a skip, a mark he shares with Ernie Richardson, Randy Ferbey and Kevin Martin. Koe is a headliner in Pool B along with Gushue, Ontario's John Epping and Saskatchewan's Matt Dunstone, who finished third last year in Kingston. They're joined by Quebec's Mike Fournier, Greg Smith of Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I.'s Eddie MacKenzie, Nunavut's Peter Mackey and Jamie Murphy's Nova Scotia team that will be skipped by Scott McDonald. Bottcher, McEwen and Howard are in Pool A along with Jacobs, Manitoba's Jason Gunnlaugson, B.C.'s Steve Laycock, New Brunswick's James Grattan, Greg Skauge of the Northwest Territories and Yukon's Dustin Mikkelsen. The Brier winner will represent Canada at the April 2-11 world men's curling championship in the Calgary bubble. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — A driver has been killed and her passenger was badly hurt in a head-on crash in North Vancouver. RCMP say the collision occurred late Tuesday night on Low Level Road. Police say a vehicle with a lone male inside crossed the centre line, hitting the vehicle with the woman and her passenger. By the time emergency services arrived, the man's vehicle was on fire, although he had been removed before the fire sparked. All three were taken to hospital, where police say the female driver was declared dead, her passenger remains in critical condition and the male has serious injuries. Police say alcohol may have been a factor in the crash. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — A psychologist who treated Lionel Desmond less than a year before he killed three family members and himself told an inquiry today that the former soldier made little progress during an intensive 11-week program. Isabelle Gagnon, who in 2016 worked at Ste. Anne's Hospital in Montreal, says the former corporal from Nova Scotia had persistent problems managing his PTSD symptoms, trusting others and regulating his emotions — especially anger. The clinical psychologist says about 10 people were involved in his care, which involved a stabilization phase followed by an in-patient residential phase that included group therapy with other veterans. Gagnon was also concerned that the former infantryman, who served in Afghanistan, may have had cognitive issues because he had trouble integrating information, staying focused and initiating actions. The psychologist confirmed Desmond often avoided talking about traumatic events in Afghanistan and instead focused on his troubled relationship with his wife and young daughter. On Jan. 3, 2017, Desmond bought a rifle and killed his 31-year-old wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, before turning the gun on himself inside the family's home in rural Nova Scotia. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Collège Boréal’s practical nursing program will be available in Hearst and Kapuskasing earlier than expected. The two-year program is currently available in Sudbury, Timmins and Toronto. Feb.16, the college announced the expansion of the program to all of its seven campuses including Hearst, Kapuskasing, Nipissing and Windsor. Originally, the program was supposed to be available starting September 2022. The decision to advance the program in Hearst, Nipissing and Kapuskasing to September 2021 was made taking into account the ongoing pandemic and the dire need for healthcare professionals in northern communities, said Collège Boréal’s director of Nipissing campus Rachel Quesnel. “We’re answering the call from our communities. Our communities spoke loudly, so we’re just making sure we can help with the dire need for healthcare professionals right now,” she said. “We already had a need for professionals before COVID, so we can understand that with COVID it has precipitated that need.” The program in Windsor will go ahead as initially planned in 2022 in order to undertake renovations and get the labs prepared, Quesnel said. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick government has ordered a review of mental health crisis care following the suicide of a teenager who waited eight hours at a hospital emergency room without being helped. Health Minister Dorothy Shepard says she has asked Norm Bosse, the province's child, youth and seniors' advocate, to conduct a review, although the terms have not been set. Lexi Daken, 16, took her own life on Feb. 24, less than a week after seeking help at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton. Shephard says the regional health authority has also been asked to identify possible improvements and report back by the end of the month. Green Leader David Coon was seeking a public inquiry into the care Lexi received and says urgent action is needed. Chris Daken, Lexi's father, says he hopes her death is not in vain and that it prompts government to make changes that will help others in the future. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
A capsule look at the 18 teams competing in the March 5-14 Canadian men's curling championship in Calgary (team members listed skip to lead along with home club location). Teams listed in alphabetical order in their pools: POOL A ALBERTA Brendan Bottcher, Darren Moulding, Brad Thiessen, Karrick Martin; Edmonton. Bottcher is looking to end a streak of three straight second-place finishes at the Brier. Don Bartlett will handle coaching duties. He won in Calgary in 1997 with Kevin Martin — Karrick's father — at skip. BRITISH COLUMBIA Steve Laycock, Jim Cotter, Andrew Nerpin, Rick Sawatsky; Vernon The veteran team will hit a milestone in its opener as Laycock, Cotter and Sawatsky will all reach the plateau of 100 Brier games played. Tyler Tardi, a two-time world junior champion, is team alternate. MANITOBA Jason Gunnlaugson, Adam Casey, Matt Wozniak, Connor Njegovan; Morris. Gunnlaugson lost the play-in game in 2018 before reaching the main draw last year. Casey has previously played for three other provinces at the Brier (N.L., Saskatchewan and P.E.I.). NEW BRUNSWICK James Grattan, Jonathan Beuk, Andy McCann, Jamie Brannen; Oromocto. Beuk will replace Paul Dobson at vice-skip for this event. Grattan made his first career Brier appearance in Calgary in 1997. NORTHERN ONTARIO Brad Jacobs, Marc Kennedy, E.J. Harnden, Ryan Harnden, Sault Ste. Marie. Jacobs and the Harnden brothers won Olympic gold in 2014 with Ryan Fry. They enter play as the top-ranked team in the country. NORTHWEST TERRITORIES Greg Skauge, Tom Naugler, Brad Patzer, Robert Borden; Yellowknife. Longtime territorial rep Jamie Koe didn't participate in this year's N.W.T. championship. Skauge, a Brier alternate for Koe on three previous occasions, won a two-team playdown for the berth. WILD CARD NO. 1 Mike McEwen, Reid Carruthers, Derek Samagalski, Colin Hodgson; West St. Paul, Man. One of three wild-card entries in the field, McEwen earned the first spot based on his No. 5 national ranking. He won the play-in game last year but didn't make the four-team Page playoffs. WILD CARD NO. 3 Glenn Howard, Scott Howard, David Mathers, Tim March; Penetanguishene, Ont. Howard recently hurt his ribs while snowmobiling and will likely turn to alternate Wayne Middaugh more than originally planned. They won a world title together in 2012 with a different lineup. YUKON Dustin Mikkelsen, Alexx Peech, Brandon Hagen, Robert Mckinnon; Whitehorse. Mikkelsen was acclaimed for the spot after the team skipped by 2020 Yukon champ Thomas Scoffin was ruled ineligible to compete in the territorial playdown. POOL B CANADA Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, Geoff Walker; St. John’s. Gushue won his third title in four years last season in Kingston, Ont. The team won two bonspiels in Halifax last fall. This will be the first time this season that they've played with the Alberta-based Walker. NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR Greg Smith, Greg Blyde, Alex McDonah, Evan McDonah; St. John’s. With an average age of 22.25 years, Smith will skip the youngest team in the field. He's the only one in the foursome with Brier experience. NOVA SCOTIA Scott McDonald, Paul Flemming, Scott Saccary, Phil Crowell; Halifax. McDonald will be skipping the Bluenosers as a replacement for Jamie Murphy, who declined to make the trip west. McDonald reached the championship pool in his lone Brier appearance in 2019 with Ontario. NUNAVUT Peter Mackey, Jeff Nadeau, Greg Howard, Jeff Chown; Iqaluit. Mackey beat Wade Kingdon in a two-team territorial playdown last January that went the five-game distance. ONTARIO John Epping, Ryan Fry, Mat Camm, Brent Laing; Toronto. Epping holds the No. 2 position in the Canadian rankings and is looking for his first Brier title. Laing leads all players in the field with a .759 career winning percentage at this event. PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND Eddie MacKenzie, Tyler Smith, Sean Ledgerwood, Ryan Lowery; Crapaud/Montague. MacKenzie returns for the sixth Brier appearance of his career. He made his debut in 1994 at Red Deer. QUEBEC Mike Fournier, Martin Crete, Felix Asselin, Jean-Francois Trepanier; Glenmore/Etchemin/Valleyfield. Crete is the experienced Brier hand of this foursome with eight career appearances at the national championship. Fournier, Asselin and Trepanier return for the first time since they debuted in 2018. SASKATCHEWAN Matt Dunstone, Braeden Moskowy, Kirk Muyres, Dustin Kidby; Wadena. Dunstone broke through at the Brier last season with a third-place finish. The two-time Canadian junior champion is looking for Saskatchewan's first Brier title since Rick Folk's victory in 1980. WILD CARD NO. 2 Kevin Koe, B.J. Neufeld, John Morris, Ben Hebert; Calgary. Koe leads all players in the field with an .824 career winning percentage in the Brier playoffs (14-3). John Morris replaced Colton Flasch at second last March. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
SALEM, N.H. — Police have made an arrest following a 15-month-long investigation into vandalism at a group of rock configurations in New Hampshire called “America's Stonehenge." Mark Russo, 51, of Swedesboro, New Jersey, has been charged with one count of felony criminal mischief, accused of defacing the stone in Salem in September 2019. A lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf Tuesday. Police said the rock tablet appeared to have been damaged by a power tool. It was carved with “WWG1WGA” and “IAMMARK." Police said the first stands for “Where We Go One, We Go All," a motto affiliated with the QAnon conspiracy theory. An 18-inch (45-centimetre) tall wooden cross was found suspended between two trees, and attached to the cross were several photographs and hand-drawn images. Police arrested Russo after finding images of the stone and Russo online and linking to him an “iammark" Twitter account with a reference to “a few improvements" made to the site. Images on the cross also were linked to Russo. Bail was set at $3,000 cash for Russo, who is scheduled for a hearing on April 21. An email seeking comment from Russo's lawyer was sent Tuesday. America’s Stonehenge, which features cave-like, granite enclosures, has drawn believers who say it’s 1,000 or more years old, and skeptics who say the evidence suggests it was the work of a 19th century shoemaker. The Associated Press
By Jamie Mountain Local Journalism Initiative Reporter HILLIARDTON – A young Kerns Township girl has been named Ducks Unlimited Canada’s newest Wetland Hero. Lucy Harrison, 10, has been volunteering at the Hilliardton Marsh Research and Education Centre for roughly the last three years and was nominated for the program by research and education coordinator Bruce Murphy. Harrison said that after learning Murphy had nominated her for the program, she contemplated what she should do. “I decided to write a letter to the government about saving wetlands and I sent that letter and I’m hoping to get a response,” she explained in a telephone interview. “For the marsh I’m hoping to plant more trees, trying to make more wetlands and getting more people involved with nature and everything. People in the cities, they come up here and all of a sudden it’s this big change and I want people to see that the marsh is important, and everywhere else with the wetlands, and if we don’t show that then the government might say it’s not important anymore and cut it down and I want to save that.” According to the Ducks Unlimited Canada website, Wetland Heroes are young people under the age of 25 “who make a difference by taking action to conserve and protect Canada’s wetlands. They can be individuals, classes, schools or community youth clubs or groups.” Murphy said that Harrison is the first person the Hilliardton Marsh has ever nominated for the program and she would likely be the only one in Ontario named to it this year. “Basically it’s a program to encourage kids to become involved in their communities,” he explained in a telephone interview. “I’m not that totally familiar with it but it sounds pretty exciting, and to have someone from our own community getting it. She’s the only one from our community that has that designation.” There are many ways that Wetland Heroes can take action against wetland loss, including writing letters, talking to politicians, raising money, enhancing habitat or increasing awareness. A NATURAL Murphy noted that Harrison has been helping on and off at the marsh over the last three years. When Harrison started at the marsh, she helped enter data into the popular citizen science app e-Bird. Soon after that she started helping with other tasks around the marsh, including checking nets and banding birds. Murphy said that bird banding isn’t normally taught to kids younger than 10, but Harrison showed a natural ability that she could handle it. “She was more of an observer at the beginning and then really it’s in the last year that she really started to get some skills that she was able to help out a bit more,” he noted. “When we’re doing the banding, the nets are really tricky. It’s kind of a fussy little skill to take birds out of the net. It’s not that it’s that difficult, it just takes patience and you really do have to have a fairly good finger dexterity, which most of the time young kids don’t have. But Lucy, she was just a natural. I know she does a lot of sewing and stuff like that, so maybe that’s accounted for it.” Murphy said often the marsh has adults who struggle with getting birds out of the nets, so to have a 10-year-old who was able to do it so efficiently was “quite remarkable.” “We’ve had a couple of kids over the years that were kind of a natural at doing it but the other thing is you also have to have kids that have enough maturity, which is odd to say for a 10-year-old. The kids just have to have the right temperament and willingness to be teachable, really. So that’s what we found with Lucy, she was just kind of a natural and she’s really patient, so all of the attributes that you need for that to happen she possesses.” Over the past three years, Harrison has spent over a thousand hours at the marsh. She’s extracted hundreds of birds from nets and banded them. As her confidence has grown, so too has her love of the natural world. “When I first met her, she was so quiet,” said Murphy. “She’s become much more confident since coming here. It’s been a real joy to see.” Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says extra vaccine shipments could make it possible to vaccinate all willing Canadian adults before September. The United States has an earlier target at the end of May, but Trudeau cautions against using the U.S., with its worse record of infections and deaths, as a guide for what Canada does.
Training was hosted by Mastec Canada, which provided funding and expert instructors, alongside Enbridge. Students worked to qualify as pipeliners, receiving all required certifications. “It’s a fantastic training program, they’re picking up a lot in a very short period of time,” said Blueberry Elder Clarence Apsassin. “But with the amount of effort that’s being put into this, the students say they’ve learned a lot.” Mastec program instructor John Telford said he’s proud of the students. “It’s a dangerous industry if you’re not trained properly, not thinking about it,” Telford said. "I appreciate [them] getting in there, being attentive, and giving 100%." Deanne McLeod, executive director for the North East Native Advancing Society, is looking forward to future opportunities to work with industry stakeholders. “This was a perfect example of how our First Nations communities, NENAS, industry partners and employers can work together to provide relevant hands on training to prepare our students to actively participate in the current labour market,” said McLeod. email@example.com Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
PRAGUE, Czech Republic — The political crisis in Slovakia deepened on Wednesday after a member of the ruling coalition demanded a reconstruction of the Cabinet. The crisis was triggered by a secret deal to acquire Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine orchestrated by the country’s prime minister despite disagreement among his coalition partners. Richard Sulik, head of the Freedom and Solidarity party, said the situation in the coalition is so serious that “we can hardly continue this way.” “It’s evident we haven’t succeeded in the fight against the pandemic,” Sulik said. His party said unspecified changes in the government are needed for the coalition to continue. Sulik has often clashed with Prime Minister Igor Matovic over how to tackle the pandemic but the current crisis is the most serious problem the coalition has faced. Matovic has defended the deal to acquire 2 million Sputnik V vaccines, saying it will speed up the vaccination program in one of the European Union's countries hit hardest by the pandemic. But it was condemned by Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok, who was nominated to the post by Sulik’s party and who said the vaccine was a tool in Russia’s hybrid war against the West. Korcok said the purchase cast doubts on his country’s clear pro-Western orientation. Another coalition partner, the For People party, didn’t rule out an option to leave the coalition. The head of that party, Deputy Prime Minister Veronika Remisova, said any vaccine needs approval from the EU’s drug regulator. Matovic acknowledged on Wednesday that he acquired the Russian vaccine against the will of his partners but urged them not to use the conflict to destroy their coalition. “As the prime minister, I think it's my duty to do the maximum to save the lives and health of people in Slovakia,” he said in a video message. Remisova met Sulik and other leaders — including another critic of the Sputnik V deal, President Zuzana Caputova — over the crisis Wednesday. After the meeting, Sulik said his party was “by no means” in favour of early elections. Parliament speaker Boris Kollar, the leader of the fourth coalition party, We Are Family, called on his partners to put aside their disputes and negotiate a way to move forward. Kollar invited representatives of all the four coalition parties to meet later Wednesday. Pro-Western Matovic struck a deal last year to govern with the pro-business Freedom and Solidarity party; the conservative For People, a party established by former President Andrej Kiska; and We Are Family, a populist right-wing group that is allied with France’s far-right National Rally party. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Karel Janicek, The Associated Press
CARDINAL – The fastest growing hockey league in Eastern Ontario has added another team to the league, this time in Cardinal. The South Grenville Sr. Rangers announced it was accepted into the Eastern Ontario Super Hockey League early last week. “We are excited to build on the hockey traditions in our community and continue to showcase local talent of all ages,” the team said in its February 23rd announcement. The EOSHL began play as a four-team league in the 2019-20 season and is for hockey players age 20 and older still looking to play hockey after their junior eligibility is over. The Sr. Rangers’ announcement comes a week after a franchise was announced in Gananoque and four weeks after the North Dundas Sr. Rockets announced it was joining the league. Team officials said they are hoping to build on local rivalries with other communities, and that the makeup of the league is a positive step in that direction. The Sr. Rangers have not announced a general manager or head coach for the 2021-22 season but are actively recruiting those positions. Unlike minor and junior hockey levels, the EOSHL does not have restrictions on territories or team rights to worry about in signing players. This means former Jr. A, B, or C level players, along with those who have experience in the OHL, NCAA, or U SPORTS leagues can play for teams in the league. League president Mitch Gagne said that the EOSHL is looking to add one more team to balance the league to 12 teams total. “We have a few more areas interested and we hope to have all 12 settled by May 1st so we can enjoy an exciting summer of preparing for the fall for a hopeful start to our league,” Gagne said. One area that will not be joining the EOSHL is Morrisburg. Morrisburg Jr. C Lions. Team general manager Kevin Casselman told The Leader that he is not looking at a team for Morrisburg at this time. “I wish the best of luck to the Rangers and Rockets,” Casselman said. The league plans a 24-game regular season beginning this fall. Other teams in the league include Maxville, Alexandria, West Carleton, Frontenac, Smiths Falls, Pontiac (QC), and Cornwall. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
MOSCOW — The Kremlin on Wednesday shrugged off new Western sanctions over the poisoning and arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny as unfounded and pointless — but warned that Moscow will retaliate. U.S. President Joe Biden's administration sanctioned seven Russian officials on Tuesday, along with more than a dozen government entities, over the nerve-agent attack on Navalny and his subsequent jailing. It co-ordinated the move with the European Union, which expanded its own sanctions Tuesday. Commenting on the U.S. and the EU decisions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the sanctions against top Russian officials that include a freeze on their bank accounts duplicate Russia's own law that bans them from having financial and other assets abroad. “These people don't make foreign trips anyway and they don't have the right to open accounts in foreign banks or have any other foreign assets,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters. At the same time, he added that the U.S. and EU restrictions “represent meddling in Russia's internal affairs” and are “absolutely unacceptable, inflicting significant damage to the already poor ties." Peskov warned that Russia will now choose a “response that would best serve our own interests,” adding that the relevant state agencies would draft their proposals and submit them to the Kremlin. “The principle of reciprocity in relations between states can't be abandoned,” he said. Navalny, the most prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, fell sick on Aug. 20 during a domestic flight in Russia and was flown while still in a coma to Berlin for treatment two days later. Labs in Germany, France and Sweden, and tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established that he was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent. Russian authorities have denied any involvement in the poisoning. Navalny was arrested on Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from the poisoning. His arrest triggered massive protests, to which the Russian authorities responded with a sweeping crackdown. Last month, Navalny was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating the terms of his probation while convalescing in Germany. The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated — and which the European Court of Human Rights has ruled to be unlawful. Last week, Navalny was sent to serve his sentence to a prison outside Moscow, despite the European Court of Human Rights' demand for his release which cited concerns for his safety. In a statement put on his Instagram account Wednesday, Navalny said he was sent to a prison in Kolchugino, a town 130 kilometres (about 80 miles) east of Moscow. He added that he wasn't getting any letters or given access to a prison library and joked about his fellow inmates offering competing advice on how to dry bread using heating radiators in their cell. Navalny's lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, said on Twitter that he was being held in a quarantine cell with two other inmates. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
The Healthy School Foods Program has adjusted its menu this term to offer items more familiar to Island students. “Some families loved the old menu,” said Katelyn McLean, the registered dietitian who has been leading the program. “But maybe the menu items were a bit too unfamiliar, especially in rural areas.” As a food literacy initiative, last semester’s pay-what-you-can lunch menu included items intended to introduce students to new ingredients and foods such as butter chicken, hummus or taco bowls. Some of the lesser known items discouraged some students from ordering the meals rather than trying new foods, according to Ms MacLean. Through talking with parents and students, she has witnessed, the definition of familiar food varies greatly in the province. “When we were developing the new menu and asking some students what they thought, we tried chili with a roll. One of the students had never heard of chili before. This student was in Grade 6.” Ms MacLean explained that the menu will continue to offer foods that are new to some. Providing hot, healthy foods daily even if they are familiar is still a component of food literacy. The pay-what-you-can model continues to ensure equitable access to healthy food for all students. This may be even more crucial as families deal with economic fallout from the pandemic. Ms MacLean didn’t have specific numbers but families paying the full price of $5 for a meal is less than projected. “There are a lot of factors going into that. One being we launched this program in the middle of a pandemic,” she said. Overall the program has been well received. Local vendors had served more than 235,000 meals to Island students by the program’s 24th week running in February. Jayme Brown, Marlee Howlett and Lauren Howlett, Grade 7 students at Souris Regional School have all tried the lunches. They say the program is something that should definitely continue. “It’s great to have a reasonable price for lunches that are good quality,” said Marlee who knows not everyone in her school can afford a cafeteria meal every day. “Some of it is amazing; for the most part it is really good,” Lauren said. Occasionally Lauren has skipped items that didn’t personally appeal to her. “There was a stir-fry I just wouldn’t eat,” she said. The group, however, loves items such as pulled pork and potatoes or spaghetti. They all noted the menu appears to have improved over time. Ms MacLean said that could be attributed to vendors getting used to the flow of things or to the work necessary to come up with a new menu and with Canada’s Smartest Kitchen. Canada’s Smartest Kitchen helped Ms MacLean and her team to thoroughly review what students would like and helped to refine recipe instructions right down to the weights of each ingredient. Jack Kristinsin is in Grade 3 at Souris Regional. After finishing a meal he approved of (carrots, mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy) he said he likes the lunches most of the time because he gets a nice hot meal rather than a sandwich that gets “squished” in his lunch box. Just as his peers said, Jack doesn’t like all of the meals. Chloe LaBrech, in Grade 12, says she likes the convenience of pre-ordering online. She doesn’t have to rush in the morning to make a lunch and cafeteria food can be expensive. Ms MacLean sees improving food literacy and maximizing the program’s potential as a marathon of work rather than a sprint. “It’s something that will evolve.” Ms MacLean looks forward to reviewing Island schools’ curriculum and identifying gaps that could be filled. Right now Food Literacy items are learned in science, health, home economics and cooking classes. “I think we’ve already done a good job of incorporating nutrition information and the Canada Food Guide information into the curriculum,” she said. Other areas of Food Literacy could likely use some attention, Ms MacLean said. “Where does our food come from, how do you grow it? How do you prepare it? How does a potato get from the ground to our plate?” She expects Island students could gain a better understanding of answers to these questions. Right now various local food vendors make and deliver the hot meals to most Island schools. However a non-profit has been developed and its board is looking to hire and organize staff to prepare and deliver the meals possibly by September. Ms MacLean said a variety of models may work in tandem next year. Some vendors may continue to provide the meals alongside the non-profits. Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
Toronto's housing market soared to new heights in February even as the average home price surpassed $1 million for the first time and the recent buying frenzy intensified. The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board said Wednesday there were more than 10,000 home sales for the month, a 52.5-per-cent jump from February 2020. The average selling price for all home types was up 14.9 per cent to $1,045,488, an increase from $910,142 in 2020 that was largely attributed to rising prices in the suburban 905 area code that surrounds Toronto. Just last month, the board predicted by the time 2021 ends the average selling price in the region will be $1.025 million, up from an average $929,692 in 2020. Realtors and the board say surpassing that expectation so soon indicates how undeterred buyers and sellers have been by the COVID-19 pandemic and is a sign of how heated conditions have become. "When I get a call from a friend or brand new buyer just about to step into the waters, I say 'Warning: it's not for the faint of heart,'" said Terry Parkinson, an agent with Royal LePage Signature Realty in Toronto. "No one seems to be worrying about the details. They're just going in and buying and bidding and losing their head." Parkinson said she knew of a property described as a "total dump" in south Ajax, listed at $550,000 but sold for more than $751,000. She recently listed an entry-level home that was "a complete fixer-upper" on the low side; it received 17 offers. While she pushes her clients to make offers conditional on a home inspection and bank approvals, Parkinson said buyers insisting on these measures are being pushed to the bottom of the bid pile. People are so eager to take advantage of low interest rates that they're dropping their standards to make a quick sale, she said. "There's a sense of urgency that I don't understand and that's the part that scares because buyers think … 'If I don't get in now I won't ever get in,'" Parkinson said. Part of the market's problems lie in the fact that sales are outpacing supply, even as more homes are put up for sale, Parkinson and TRREB said. The number of new listings surged 44.6 per cent in February, but active listings were down one per cent to 8,727. “It’s clear that the historic demand for housing experienced in the second half of last year has carried forward into the first quarter of this year with some similar themes, including the continued popularity of suburban low-rise properties," TRREB president Lisa Patel said in a news release. She warned that trouble was on Toronto's horizon because of disparities between supply and demand that are already shifting conditions to favour sellers and challenging markets elsewhere -- including Vancouver, previously the country's hottest market . "The supply of listings is not keeping up with demand, which could present an even larger problem once population growth picks up following widespread vaccinations later this year and into 2022," she said. Purchases were up across most housing types in February, but condominiums led the way. That category's sales volume increased 64.3 per cent, but average prices dropped 3.7 per cent to $642,346. Townhouse sales climbed 62.5 per cent and prices increased 17.3 per cent to $858,025. Semi-detached sales increased 53.1 per cent and prices grew 20.3 per cent to $1,050,820. Detached sales increased 43.8 per cent to 4,943 and prices rose 23.1 per cent to $1,371,791. Parkinson believes spring may bring more supply to the market, but she's unsure how fast supply needs to increase before it starts to cool the market and prices. "There will be a rainbow at the end of this, but I don't know when." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
Housing Minister David Eby says he's willing to wade into city council decisions on homeless shelters — even if that means angering local politicians along the way. "I was doing things entirely backwards: It's much better to provide information to councils before the vote, so they're making a fully informed vote, rather than after the vote," said Eby, hours before the City of Penticton unanimously rejected an application by B.C. Housing to extend its permit for a homeless shelter located in the centre of the Okanagan city. That was despite council previously assuring him it would grant the extension, according to Eby. The minister said a follow-up phone call with Mayor John Vassilaki went poorly. "I asked the mayor what's the plan, and he told me there'd be no more meetings and he hung up on me," Eby said Wednesday morning. Eby argued there's no current alternative for shelter residents once the permit expires at the end of the month, and said not extending it could create an indefinite homeless encampment similar to ones in Vancouver and Victoria. "There's simply no debate about what we need to do here. We need to get people inside, we need to get them the support they need," he said. "Even leaving them in the emergency shelter is not an acceptable outcome, but emptying out the shelter into the park is bizarre to me." Penticton city council wants to close a 42-bed emergency winter shelter at 352 Winnipeg St. at the end of March, citing the location as 'inappropriate' and too close to seniors' housing.(Google maps) Eby vs. Cranbrook mayor It isn't the first time in recent weeks Eby has waded into a debate over a homeless shelter in a B.C. community. In early February, he asked Cranbrook council to vote in favour of rezoning a property for a 40-bed shelter, which faced plenty of controversy in the city. Council did approve the rezoning 5-2, but Mayor Lee Pratt was critical of Eby's influence. "That was totally an abuse of his position," said Pratt. "He's using his position of trying to influence a decision on this council, sitting around here trying to make a decision for the municipality and the citizens of our city … that was totally uncalled for." Pratt said he didn't want to comment further on his statement, saying he was in discussions with the province. But Eby defended proactively lobbying municipalities before their vote, saying it was preferable to the time lost in finding alternatives if councils voted against B.C. Housing proposals. "I would suggest as minister responsible for housing, I would be incredibly negligent in not [speaking] to municipal leaders that are voting on vitally important projects to prevent entrenched encampments in their communities," he said. "Please, save yourself the resources, the time, the headache, the heartache of an encampment. Save the provincial government time, and let's work together." Eby said Tuesday he will do everything in his power to compel Penticton to keep the city's shelter open, including using a procedure called paramountcy, which allows the provincial government to circumvent the city's wishes. Slow progress housing tent city residents The "entrenched encampments" Eby referred to still remain in B.C.'s largest city and its capital. Victoria is now petitioning the B.C. Supreme Court for a long-term ruling on whether Beacon Hill Park can ever be used to house people in temporary structures, even with a self-imposed March 31 deadline to house everyone currently in the park. In Vancouver, where a homeless camp has moved between three different locations over the past 30 months, it was announced Monday the city had purchased another facility to convert into a shelter, a motel on Kingsway. However, unlike the facilities announced last week, the motel won't be ready until November, and Coun. Jean Swanson worries that all the additional units won't make up for what's been lost in recent years. "A lot of homeless people are coming from [shuttered] SROs ... they're coming from the Regent and the Balmoral, that's about 300 units, but they're also coming because we don't have vacancy controls," she said. "I just think a lot of this is from senior levels of government. By refusing to fund social housing adequately, by refusing to have adequate welfare rates, the issue of homelessness is basically placed onto the city."
The Paradise Warriors Minor Hockey Association may be formidable foes on the ice, but they’ve been doing plenty of good off the ice. In mid-February, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, who has become a household name during the pandemic, asked residents to consider donating to local food banks and charities, rather than sending her personal gifts. Groups, businesses, residents, and sports leagues across the province, including the Warriors, took Fitzgerald’s request to heart. The Warriors hosted a virtual fundraiser which ran from February 19 to February 28. In just that short amount of time, the association raised $5,540. “As an association, we are extremely proud of our members for being able to help out the community during this latest lockdown,” said Paradise Warriors Minor Hockey President Greg Barton. “It is a testament to how lucky we are to have so many great people involved with our association.” Barton said the virtual food drive helped meet a community need while keeping players, who are currently unable to play due to the pandemic restrictions, active in the association. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is sharing a quarantine cell in central Russia, allies said on Wednesday, revealing his location for the first time since he was moved from jail in Moscow last week to serve a 2-1/2 year sentence in a penal colony. The whereabouts of Navalny, 44, had been a mystery since he left jail in Moscow. His lawyer Vadim Kobzev told Reuters he had met Navalny at the Kolchugino jail in the Vladimir region northeast of Moscow.
JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy's office and a political blogger have agreed to settle a lawsuit over access to Dunleavy's news conferences. Under terms of the agreement, the governor's office agreed to pay $65,000 in attorneys' fees and costs. Jeff Landfield, who owns The Alaska Landmine website, said his attorneys will receive the full amount. Landfield sued in December, alleging he was improperly excluded from Dunleavy media events. Settlement terms were disclosed Tuesday along with a filing by state attorneys seeking to dismiss the case, the Anchorage Daily News reported. The dismissal request also was signed by an attorney for Landfield. Under the agreement, Landfield would get “the same access” at gubernatorial press conferences as other members of the media. There was no admission of liability or wrongdoing, and Dunleavy's office and Landfield will work to "issue a joint public statement regarding the amicable nature of this settlement.” U.S. District Court Judge Joshua Kindred in January granted an injunction requiring Dunleavy to invite Landfield to news conferences. The state appealed, but the settlement would render that moot. The parties have asked Kindred to sign off on the dismissal request. Dunleavy's press office in a tweet said the matter had been "settled to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. We are happy to say this amicable settlement will put this dispute behind us.” The Associated Press