Brooke Baldwin is leaving CNN after more than a decade. The CNN Newsroom anchor, who became one of the network's most prominent faces in its afternoon lineup, made the surprising announcement on-air on Tuesday.
Brooke Baldwin is leaving CNN after more than a decade. The CNN Newsroom anchor, who became one of the network's most prominent faces in its afternoon lineup, made the surprising announcement on-air on Tuesday.
In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Biden administration sanctioned seven mid- and senior-level Russian officials on Tuesday, along with more than a dozen businesses and other entities, over a nearly fatal nerve-agent attack on opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his subsequent jailing. The measures, emphasizing the use of the Russian nerve agent as a banned chemical weapon, marked the Biden administration's first sanctions against associates of President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader was an intimate and favourite of President Donald Trump even amid covert Russian hacking and social media campaigns aimed at destabilizing the U.S. The government officials included at least four whom Navalny's supporters had directly asked the West to penalize, saying they were most involved in targeting him and other dissidents and journalists. However, the U.S. list did not include any of Russia's most powerful businesspeople and bankers, oligarchs whom Navalny has long said the West would have to sanction to get the attention of Putin. Tuesday's step “was not meant to be a silver bullet or an end date to what has been a difficult relationship with Russia,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “We expect the relationship to continue to be a challenge. We’re prepared for that.” The Biden administration also announced sanctions under the U.S. Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act for businesses and other enterprises, most of which it said were involved in the production of biological and chemical agents. The U.S. intelligence community concluded with high confidence that Russia's Federal Security Service used the Russian nerve agent Novichok on Navalny last August, a senior administration official said. Russia critic Bill Browder, a London-based investor, tweeted that he feared the new U.S. sanctions would be “way too little and not touch Putin’s billionaire cronies.” Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, called the U.S. move overdue. Working with U.S. allies, “we must use an array of tools, including sanctions, to meaningfully deter, repel, and punish Moscow’s transgressions,” Schiff said in a statement. The Biden administration has pledged to confront Putin in alleged attacks on Russian opposition figures and in alleged malign actions abroad, including the hacking of U.S. government agencies and U.S. businesses. Trump spoke admiringly of Putin and resisted criticism of Putin's government. That included dismissing U.S. intelligence findings that Russia had backed Trump in its covert campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The administration co-ordinated the sanctions with the European Union, which added to its own sanctions Tuesday over the attack on Navalny. The U.S. and European shared concerns about “Russia’s deepening authoritarianism,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “The U.S. government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights have severe consequences,” Blinken said in a statement. The individuals sanctioned by the U.S. included the head of Russia's Federal Security Service, the head of prisons, Kremlin and defence figures, and Russia's prosecutor general. The Biden administration had forecast for weeks actions against Russia. Besides the Navalny sanctions, officials have said the administration plans to respond soon to the massive Russian hack of federal government agencies and private corporations that laid bare vulnerabilities in the cyber supply chain and exposed potentially sensitive secrets to elite Kremlin spies. Navalny, 44, was sickened by the Russian nerve agent in an attack that the United States and others linked to Putin’s security services. After months of recuperation in Germany, Navalny flew home to Moscow in January and was arrested on arrival for an alleged parole violation. His detention sparked street protests across Russia. Police arrested thousands of demonstrators. Authorities have transferred the opposition leader to a penal colony to begin serving a sentence, after what rights groups said was a show trial. Long a target in Russian government attempts to shut down dissent, Navalny has repeatedly appealed to the West to start targeting the most powerful business and financial oligarchs of his country, saying only then would Russian leaders take international sanctions seriously. The U.S. government has previously censured behaviour by Russia that American officials saw as having violated international norms. In 2016, for instance, the Obama administration responded to interference by the Kremlin in the presidential election by expelling dozens of Russian diplomats who officials said were actually spies and by shuttering two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York. Trump's administration also took a handful of actions adverse to Moscow, including through the closure of Russian consulates on the West Coast and the suspension of a nuclear arms treaty. ___ Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Aamer Madhani in Washington and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report. Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press
An officer with the Queens District RCMP has been awarded with the prestigious Commanding Officer’s Commendation for Bravery. Cpl. Robert Frizzell was recognized for his courageous rescue of a woman from the Mersey River on the morning of May 10, 2020, after an accident landed her vehicle submerged in water. In a social media announcement of the award on February 25, the RCMP described how, when Frizzell arrived on scene, the vehicle was fully submerged in the Mersey. “An occupant of the vehicle was able to get out of the car but was floating downstream and unable to make it to shore. “Knowing that a water recovery unit would take time to arrive, Cpl. Frizzell chose to get in the water. He grabbed a PFD and a paddleboard, then tied a rope around himself harness style, with another member and volunteer firefighter remaining on shore to hold the other end of the rope. “He swam into the river, grabbed hold of the woman and continued to hold onto her while the on-shore member and firefighter pulled them to safety,” the post continued. It ended with, “Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition, Cpl. Frizzell.” RCMP Commanding Officer for Nova Scotia, Lee Bergerman, presented Frizzell with the award February 11. Frizzell declined to be interviewed by LighthouseNOW, preferring to deflect praise to all of the responders that were on the scene that day. In an email to the newspaper, he commented that he was “truly thankful” for being recognized for the award. Nonetheless, he added, although he was the one who went into the water, “there was a whole team of others that were instrumental in rescuing the woman. “From all the onlookers who provided support and the paddleboard, the other emergency personal both police and fire, who held the rope, and everyone who provided medical care after the woman was brought out of the water, it really was a team effort. It was really great to see a community come together and help someone in need,” said Frizzell. Staff Sergeant Daniel Archibald of the Queens District RCMP echoed the praise given to the officer. “We are all very proud of the actions of Cpl. Frizzell as well as actions of the other officers and firefighters that day. We are, of course, most happy with the fact that the victim in this incident was able to ‘walk away’ with no long-term injuries,” Archibald commented to LighthouseNOW in an email. “All too often, as first responders, we often see things go the other way, unfortunately. It’s great to see Cpl. Frizzell and others get recognized for single incidences like this one, as all too often these acts of bravery happen every day across this country and no one hears about it,” Archibald added. Hailing from Prince Edward Island, Frizzell has served in Airdrie, Alberta and in three communities in the Northwest Territories: Behchoko, Tuktoyaktuk and Aklavik. He arrived in Liverpool in September 2019. In an article that appeared in LighthouseNOW following the event, Captain John Long of the Liverpool Fire Department, who was on the scene, was quoted saying he hoped there’s recognition in the future for the officer who jumped into action that morning. “He deserves kudos for that because that took guts, I’ll tell you,” said Long. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
When the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools last spring, crosswalk guard and recent graduate Danny Thomson was encouraged by the Ottawa Safety Council to apply for the new COVID-19 emergency benefits. But after returning $3,000 in Canada Emergency Response Benefits last year after realizing he was ineligible, he was told by the Canada Revenue Agency that $2,000 has not been repaid and is being considered taxable income for 2020. The Canada Revenue Agency confirmed this week that some taxpayers who repaid COVID-19 related benefits in 2020 have received incorrect tax slips that wrongly list portions of the repaid benefits as taxable income.The CRA had previously informed CERB recipients that they must repay the benefit if they earned more income than expected during the four-week payment period, or if they applied and later realized they were ineligible. It also said duplicate CERB payments should be repaid — if recipients applied for and got the CERB from both the CRA and Employment Insurance or Service Canada for the same eligibility period.CERB recipients who repaid before Dec. 31, 2020, should not have to pay tax on those amounts on 2020 tax returns, the revenue agency's website notes, with the repaid amounts subtracted from the individual's benefit amount on T4A slips.But the tax agency said there is a rare error in which the repayments are credited to a taxpayer's T1 instalment account instead of their emergency benefits account. "These repayments can be properly and easily credited to the correct account," CRA spokesperson Etienne Biram said in a statement.The CRA said taxpayers should call 1-800-959-8281 to fix incorrect tax slips. It added that it is being proactive and moving the payments to the correct accounts, and that amended tax slips will be issued.Thomson said three calls to the CRA so far have been unsuccessful as all the agents have been busy each time he called. Edward Rajaratnam, executive director at EY Canada’s people advisory services, said a phone call to the CRA — preferably in the morning before a queue starts forming on the hotline — is still a better route than a letter, since the error might be difficult to dispute in an online portal."My first rule of thumb is, please reach out to the CRA — because if it was a genuine error, they would correct it," Rajaratnam said. "(A phone call is ) more personal in nature. Everybody's situation is different."Rajaratnam said he has seen the tax slip issues cropping up across his network, from friends to LinkedIn connections. The first question, he said, is whether the repayment of the emergency benefit was made before Dec. 31. If a taxpayer repaid the benefits in January or February, they'll have to wait until this time next year to get the adjustment in their 2021 tax filing. Before filing a complaint, Rajaratnam said it's also worth checking with your bank to ensure the repayment left your account and the relevant agency received it.He suggested anyone who repaid benefits before the new year check for errors as soon as the T-slip arrives, rather than leaving it until closer to the tax-filing deadline to catch a miscalculation. That way, Rajaratnam said, there will be time to get a corrected tax slip."I wouldn't suggest anybody to file your tax return without having that (amended T4 slip)," Rajaratnam said. Rajaratnam said that he's hopeful the CRA will provide detailed guidance on this issue before the end of April, so people know when to expect their corrected tax slips. If for some reason, someone notices the error right before the tax-filing deadline and cannot get through to the CRA, Rajaratnam said there is a last resort: Putting the correct amount on the tax filing and including a letter to the CRA explaining why the T4A doesn't match the tax filing.But Rajaratnam stressed that it is best not to wait, since the CRA has not yet said if it will offer extensions to deal with these issues."This has been a very fluid situation with all their the wage subsidies and CERB benefits," Rajaratnam said. "I think the CRA is, similar to all other governments, trying to do the best they can."The CRA could also be clearer in its instructions and on its website, Thomson says, noting that Reddit message boards on CERB and Employment Insurance are filled with similar anecdotes. "I know I'm not the only one who's had this issue, and it's scary getting a big government letter in the mail," Thomson said."I don't think I should have to pay taxes on this. Hopefully I can get through to someone to get this fixed."This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press
SAN FRANCISCO — Indoor dining, movie theatres and gyms can reopen within 24 hours in San Francisco, an upbeat Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday as the county officially moved into a less-restrictive tier as the rate of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths declines statewide in California. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties in the Bay Area join five other counties in moving to the second-most restrictive operating tier. Much of the state's population remains in the most restrictive purple tier, including Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. California on Tuesday reported an additional 2,533 confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the state's total known cases to nearly 3.5 million. Officials also announced an additional 303 deaths, raising that total to just under 52,500 fatalities in the state of nearly 40 million. “This is the beginning of a new day in San Francisco,” Breed said from Pier 39, an area popular with tourists in picturesque Fisherman’s Wharf. But she warned residents to wear masks and maintain proper social distance even as she encouraged them to explore the city. “When your waiter walks up to your table, put your mask on. When you go to the restroom put your mask on," she said. Several counties in the San Francisco Bay Area issued a strict-stay-at-home order nearly a year ago, in advance of a statewide shutdown. Public health officials for the most part have been more cautious than peers in southern California and in other states about reopening the economy. Business activity in San Francisco shut down in early December after several Bay Area counties pre-emptively went into lockdown as the positivity rate surged and the rate of cases climbed. Outdoor dining, outdoor museums and some indoor and outdoor personal services reopened in late January after the state called off its regional stay-home order, but the economic toll has been grim. Rents for apartments and commercial space plummeted as tech workers who could work from anywhere did just that, fleeing for other parts of the state and county that were cheaper and had more elbow room. Downtown eateries that once fed throngs of hungry office-workers and tourists at lunch struggled. Tourism is also struggling, with airline ticket purchases to San Francisco in the late October and November period down 80% from the previous year — much worse than the U.S. average — city fiscal analysts said in a January report. Residents’ own cautious behaviour may have further contributed to economic weakness, fiscal analysts said, with data showing that San Francisco residents stayed home more than residents of other California cities and even other Bay Area counties. San Francisco's landmark cable cars have been out of operation for a year and there's no timeline on when they might return. The mayor on Tuesday said on social media that they will return this year. “Cable cars are a part of the fabric of San Francisco. They draw tourists, they help our economy, and I’m not going to let them just disappear," she said. San Francisco, a city and county of roughly 900,000 before the pandemic, has among the lowest case and death rates in the country. It reported 34,000 new cases of the coronavirus and 422 deaths on Tuesday. Most of California's 58 counties remain in the state's most restricted tier. Besides San Francisco and Santa Clara, the counties of El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Napa and San Luis Obispo also moved up one spot, The Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday. For counties in the red tier, indoor restaurant dining rooms and movie theatres can reopen at 25% capacity or up to 100 people, whichever is fewer. Gyms and dance and yoga studios can open at 10% capacity. Museums, zoos and aquariums can open indoor activities at 25% capacity. Wineries can open outdoors with modifications, though bars and distilleries that do not serve food may not. Other retail businesses like clothing stores and florists can go from 25% capacity to 50%. ___ AP reporter Kathleen Ronayne contributed from Sacramento, Calif. Janie Har, The Associated Press
Regina– SaskTel continues to roll out its expansion of rural cellular towers across thinly-populated areas of rural Saskatchewan, with the announcement on March 2 that a further 15 new macro cell towers had been activated. These additional towers bring 4G LTE wireless service to previously underserved rural parts of the province. You’d be forgiven if you had to look up some of these places on a map. The list of new locations with towers near them includes Burnham, east of Swift Current; Clayridge, northeast of Whitewood; Crescent Lake, East of Melville; Duncairn, southwest of Swift Current; Filion Lake, east of Debden; Frenchman Butte, northwest of Paradise Hill; Great Deer, west of Hepburn; Keppel, west of Perdue; Kessock, east of Yorkton; Main Centre, northwest of Morse; Meacham – East, northeast of Colonsay; Murphy Creek, southwest of Nipawin; Parkerview, southwest of Theodore; Sokal, northwest of Wakaw; and Worcester, north of Weyburn. Greg Jacobs, communications manager with SaskTel, said by the end of the summer, SaskTel will have about 1,000 cell towers, total, throughout the province. Over 700 of those are, or will be, located in rural parts of the province. “Our government understands how important communication services have become in the modern world, especially in rural and remote areas,” said Don Morgan, Minister Responsible for SaskTel in a release. “Through the Wireless Saskatchewan initiative, and thanks to the efforts of SaskTel, we’re raising the level of connectivity in rural and remote parts of the province so that our residents are better equipped to compete and succeed in the modern world.” “As illustrated by a recent report from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Saskatchewan already has the best wireless coverage in Western Canada, with over 99 per cent of the population and 98 per cent of the major roadways and highways being covered with LTE wireless service,” said Doug Burnett, SaskTel President and CEO. “And, with the addition of these new towers, wireless coverage in Saskatchewan is getting even better.” These towers are part of the final phase of the Wireless Saskatchewan initiative, which will see SaskTel invest over $70 million to construct 74 macro cell towers in rural parts of the province. SaskTel anticipates that all of the cell towers to be constructed as part of the Wireless Saskatchewan initiative will be complete by early Summer 2021. Added Burnett, “We’re firmly committed to be the best at connecting the people of Saskatchewan, and it’s this commitment that drives us to continue to invest in our networks so that our customers have access to the services they need to stay in touch with what matters most to them from almost anywhere in the province.” Fibre optic speeds upgraded Additionally, SaskTel’s fibre optic internet service, known as infiNET, saw substantial upgrades across most of its plans as of the end of February. While the highest tier, infiNET 300, which stands for download speeds of 300 megabits per second (Mbps), saw its download speed remain the same, its upload speed was increased to 150 Mbps. The mid-level tier saw the largest gains, especially when it came to upload speeds. Formerly called infiNET 80, with 80 Mbps download speeds, the newly dubbed infiNET 150 was increased to 150 Mbps, nearly doubling its former speed. That same plan saw its upload speeds quintuple, from 15 Mbps to 75 Mbps. Lower tier plans also saw significant upgrades, and all for the same price point they were at before. Asked about this, Jacobs said further upgrading higher speeds are being considered. “That's something that we're looking at, and we are planning on upgrading the top-end speeds on our fibre network on infiNET. We plan and get that getting that done in 2021. Right now, I don't have an exact timeframe to share, though, but that is certainly something that is coming. “The beauty of the fibre network, is that, really, with the technologies that are out there today, we're just kind of scratching the surface with the capabilities of what we can do with fibre. We expect that we'll be able to continuously upgrade the level of speed that we can offer over fibre, as the supporting technologies required for that network starts catching up with the ability of that actual strand of fibre.” Satellite internet Several companies worldwide are starting to build out satellite-based internet service using thousands of small, low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. The most well-known is Starlink, headed by Elon Musk, who also heads up Tesla and SpaceX. It is currently beta-testing its service, and there are people in Saskatchewan signing up for it. Older satellite networks relied on satellites in geosynchronous orbits, 35,786 kilometres above the equator. Due to the restrictions of the speed of light and distance, bandwidth is low and latency is high, making for slow internet connections. Because LEO satellite constellations are so much closer to earth, at 550 kilometres, and use thousands of satellites, it means LEO constellations can nearly rival connection speeds and latency of wired and fibre optic networks. Asked if the improvements to infiNET were in response to the introduction of Starlink, Jacobs said that infiNET is currently available in 16 urban centres, and will eventually be rolled out in a total of 40. He pointed out that Starlink is more of a solution for people living on farms, acreages, and in small communities, where it doesn’t make a lot of financial sense to install fibre optic. He noted that Canadian company Telesat is developing its own LEO network which is doing very much the same thing as Starlink. Telesat’s service is known as “Lightspeed.” “They're planning on putting up essentially a mesh network of low earth orbit satellites to bring faster, better broadband. Now the difference though, between Starlink and Telesat is, from what we know today, Starlink is very much going after the retail market. They're very much going after the farmer, himself, or the person who owns the acreage, or the small hamlet community. They’re looking to be that end-to-end solution, versus Telesat. They’re more of a wholesale model. So, they could be working with something like a SaskTel, or another communications provider. Other enterprises resell their product.” Is SaskTel working with Telesat? Jacobs responded, “We reached out to them, and we are having ongoing conversations with them. There's nothing imminent, yet. They haven't rolled out a product yet. We would expect that they're having exploratory conversations with a number of enterprises and providers all across the country, depending on the solutions. But beyond that, as far as LEO satellite technology is concerned, we're keeping a close eye on it, and we will investigate opportunities to utilize that technology to improve broadband in rural Saskatchewan if we can.” “If there's an opportunity to partner with any of those LEO providers that makes sense, both for us and them, it's something that we would explore,” he said, pointing out that Starlink is still in the beta testing phase. Additionally, when these networks start to see large number of customers, it may affect how much bandwidth individual customers will actually be able to take advantage of. For wi-fi, for instance, when you have a lot of users on the same network, it slows down for everyone. He added SaskTel is looing at upgrading its Fusion fixed-wireless internet service in the relatively short term. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
LINCOLN, Neb. — The Biden administration's plan to funnel more coronavirus aid into states with greater unemployment has irked governors with lower jobless rates, even though many have economies that weren't hit as hard by the pandemic. The $1.9 trillion relief bill working its way through Congress allocates extra money to larger, mostly Democratic-run states with higher unemployment rates, while rural Midwestern and Southern states that tend to have Republican governors and better jobless numbers would benefit less. “You're penalizing people who have done the right thing," said Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican whose state has reported the nation's lowest unemployment rate over the last several months. “That's not the way you want to approach any sort of government program.” Ricketts was one of 22 governors — 21 Republicans and one Democrat — who have criticized the change in the pandemic relief proposal. Under previous coronavirus packages signed by former President Donald Trump, aid was distributed by population. If the new funding formula is approved, states including California, New York and New Jersey would each see a boost of more than $2 billion, while Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio would all see aid reductions greater than $500 million. Georgia and Florida would see losses of more than $1.2 billion. Many of the Republican-led states have taken a more hands-off approach to the pandemic to try to keep businesses open, while Democratic states argued that tighter mandates were necessary to save lives and help their economies over the long term. The White House defended President Joe Biden's distribution plan, saying it targets money to areas where it will have the biggest impact. “President Biden's rescue plan is focused on quickly getting help to the people and communities that need it most,” said Michael Gwin, director of White House rapid response. Iowa State University economist David Swenson said the White House's approach makes some sense because the states with the highest unemployment rates are generally the ones that relied more on industries battered by the pandemic, such as tourism. “If proportionally more people are unemployed in Las Vegas and California and other places that are entertainment destinations, then it would make sense to send money to those places instead of Iowa and Nebraska,” Swenson said. Critics argued that many of the hardest-hit states had higher jobless rates even before the pandemic began. “Some states just have naturally lower unemployment rates,” said Ernie Goss, an economist at Creighton University in Omaha. “That's one of the problems with doing it that way.” Goss said it might make more sense to distribute aid to states that saw the biggest increases in unemployment during the pandemic. But he cautioned that the unemployment rate is still an incomplete measure of any state's economy, because it doesn't count people who have stopped looking for work. Ohio Republican Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said his state's jobless rate is likely unreliable because of massive unemployment fraud. He said Ohio has made multiple efforts to return people to work safely, but the new funding formula would cost his state about $800 million in federal aid. “Doing things that put people back to work actually are going to cost us relief dollars that the people who aren't back to work actually need,” Husted said Monday. “We don't feel that is a fair way to do this.” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, said the funding formula “punishes states that took a measured approach to the pandemic and entered the crisis with healthy state budgets and strong economies.” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who vice chairs the National Governors Association, last month raised concerns about using unemployment when he and other governors met with Biden. “That’s really a disincentive for economic growth and people working,” Hutchinson told The Associated Press after the meeting. ___ Contributing are Associated Press reporters Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio; Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas; Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Josh Boak in Washington; and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida. ___ Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte Grant Schulte, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — Alberta’s health minister says the province is considering whether to follow British Columbia in extending the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses. Tyler Shandro says a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision is coming. The B.C. government announced Monday that it will extend the wait between first and second doses to four months to get more people vaccinated overall in a shorter time period. B.C. based its decision on data coming from the United Kingdom, Israel and Quebec that showst the first dose of vaccines is 90 per cent effective. When Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech began distributing their vaccines late last year, it was recommended the first and second shots be completed within about six weeks maximum to be fully effective. The Oxford-AstraZeneca has also been approved for use in Canada, but a national panel of vaccine experts is recommending it only be given to people under 65 – a guideline Shandro says Alberta will follow. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 The Canadian Press
Geotechnical engineers will begin drilling boreholes in the Drumheller Valley to help determine possible future berm alignments for ongoing flood mitigation efforts. Approximately 20 boreholes were drilled on publicly accessible land in fall 2020 to help engineers fill in gaps in historic records, and to provide initial information for proposals. “When designing dikes and berms, we need to get an idea of the foundation soil condition and soil type-whether it is silt, sand, or clay,” said Mark Brotherton, geotechnical engineer with Red Deer firm Parkland Geotechnical Consulting Ltd. Brotherton is one of the main consultants on the project, with 40 years experience as a geotechnical engineer, and the company is very familiar with the Red Deer River. He explained the boreholes will typically be drilled down to bedrock, which can range from only a few metres to 20 metres throughout the Drumheller Valley. The procedure will help provide data on the types of soils throughout the valley and determine whether a dike would be feasible based on whether the soil in the proposed alignment area will support the berm structure. The data will also help with completing detailed berm designs, such as determining stable side slope angles. Parkland Geotechnical is not the only company involved in this phase of the project, with most planning to conduct drilling beginning in March; drilling is anticipated to take place over the next three to four weeks. Some of the drilling may need to be conducted on privately owned land, and Scott Land and Lease will be in consultation with landowners to arrange for drilling on private properties. The berm designs will help protect residents from overland flooding. However, Brotherton notes seepage is a topic which often comes up when discussing flood mitigation efforts. While overland flooding can have worse impacts, seepage is still a cause for concern as responsibility falls onto the homeowner. Brotherton notes a good weeping tile system is the “first line of defence” against seepage in the basements of houses. “The purpose of dikes is to stop the overland flow,” he said. “We know, for the short flood period, the water rises on the river side of the dikes. If the berms are on permeable material (such as gravel or sand) it will likely have an impact on seepage in the protected area behind the dike.” He adds building berms on less permeable soils, such as clays, silt clay, and bedrock can reduce the impact of floods on the local groundwater table and seepage. Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail
TORONTO — Restricting towing zones on some highways and licensing tow truck drivers are some of the measures Ontario will be introducing later this year in its efforts to crack down on an industry rocked by allegations of violent turf wars.Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney announced a pilot project on Tuesday that she said would cut down on dangerous practices like so-called "accident chasing," where multiple tow trucks race to be the first to a crash site to get business.Under the new rules, some of the 400 series highways will have restricted towing zones, which means only a single company can operate within that zone. Mulroney said the "tow zones" are the first step towards introducing broader regulation in the sector, which could later include licensing tow truck drivers."Ending the accident-chasing regime means people can take comfort in knowing that a reputable tow operator will get there to help them get to a safe place," she said. "It will ensure that tow operators who arrive on the scene in the tow zones will be equipped to handle any situation and get the scene cleared quickly and safely."Mulroney said the two-year project will also establish standard prices for customers and target times for response and to clear a crash site.The towing industry has been rocked by allegations of violent turf wars between organized criminal groups within the sector.Last summer, Premier Doug Ford announced Ontario was forming a task force to examine both enforcement and safety in response to an increase in violence and crime associated with the towing sector.Solicitor Genera Sylvia Jones said the zones will be accompanied by the establishment of a new joint task force to investigate criminal activity within the tow businesses involving the Ontario Provincial Police and municipal police services."Tow truck drivers are a vital part of keeping Ontario moving," she said. "But they are operating in an industry that lacks oversight structure, and where too many criminals are making their own rules."Police in the Greater Toronto Area have alleged that competition for control of the towing market has led to murders, attempted murders, assaults, arsons and property damage.In recent months, four OPP officers have been charged after a two-year long probe into alleged crimes in the tow truck industry. OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said Tuesday that the force has conducted three "complex, major" investigations into the sector over the last year alone, and more resources would be dedicated to those probes."You have a commitment from the police leaders that are part of this joint force operation that any indications of corruption will be dealt with with the same level of seriousness that you have seen over the last 12 months," he said. "We are committed to rooting it out, and we'll accept nothing less."NDP Leader Andrea Horwath accused the government of dragging its feet when it comes to responding to the escalating violence in the towing industry."People's livelihoods, and their lives, have been lost," she said. "They've been taking their sweet time. ... when it's about saving people's lives and cleaning up an industry."This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press
Spin Master Corp. recorded meteoric growth in its digital games business in the latest quarter as users of its Toca Life World app filmed themselves playing the game and shared the videos on social media, the company’s co-CEO said Tuesday. “There was a crazy amount of people that were actually filming themselves playing in the game and then uploading it to TikTok, and that exposure of the game really started to increase the amount of users,” Ronnen Harary told investors during a conference call. “When you have that many people seeing the product, playing with the product and telling their friends, there's a multiplier effect.” The Canadian toymaker’s digital games revenue increased by more than 400 per cent to $31.8 million in its fourth quarter, driven by the Toca Life World platform. The app, developed by Spin Master's Swedish app studio Toca Boca, lets players imagine stories for characters in the virtual game, including kids, babies, elders and creatures, and drag the characters around the screen with their finger and make them do activities. While it's free to download the app, Spin Master makes money through the in-game purchases and upgrades. The stronger digital games revenue, also driven in part by its Sago Mini kids app subscription user base, was revealed as the company said its revenue grew 3.6 per cent compared with a year ago for the three months ended Dec. 31. The Toronto-based company said revenue for the quarter was US$490.6 million, up from US$473.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. Spin Master's shares surged to a 52-week high and were up over 24 per cent, or $7.01, at $36.07 in midday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Yet its quarterly results also showed a decline in net sales to $434.3 million, from $441.6 million a year earlier. Mark Segal, Spin Master's chief financial officer, explained that the sales slump was in part due to retailers pulling promotions forward earlier in the fall as well as the company's decision to limit domestic inventory. "This affected our ability to fulfil some late-season replenishment and e-commerce orders, especially on hot items," he told analysts. "While this meant we did not maximize our sales, the position we took allowed us to achieve our best sell-through and cleanest retail and Spin Master inventory levels in many years." Meanwhile, the company will be releasing its feature-length Paw Patrol movie in August, expanding the reach of the company's popular kids entertainment franchise and opening up a new revenue stream. "In terms of increasing our output, you will see more films coming from Spin Master in the future and I think that gives us a whole new way to actually entertain kids," Harary told analysts. "It's really important for everybody to understand that we're actually producing the film, we didn't license the film out ... and take a royalty on it," he said. "Our team internally in Toronto produced the film, we hired the writers, we hired the directors, we did the whole casting with all that amazing voice talent." It's unclear whether there will be a theatrical release for the movie or a combination of theatrical and video on demand, Harary said. Meanwhile, although classic toys and game were a safe choice in 2020, he said consumers will "shift to newness" post-pandemic, he said. The company is preparing for this shift with a robust pipeline of new product development and the goal of greenlighting one to two new properties a year, Harary said. Harary and Anton Rabie, co-founders of the children's entertainment company, will step down from their co-chief executive roles next year. Max Rangel was appointed global president in January and adds the chief executive role to his title in April. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:TOY) Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press
The territorial government has extended its pandemic wage top-up program that sees eligible employees make $18 an hour opposed to the territory’s normal minimum wage of $13.46. The program was set to expire on February 28 but will now run until August 31. As of March 1, individuals over the age of 15 who had wanted to participate in the program in the past financial year, but whose employer declined, can apply directly for the wage top-up to be retroactively applied. That would cover the April 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021 period. The application process for individuals in the same situation who want to access the top-up between March 1, 2021 until August 31, 2021 will be announced at a later date. According to the territory, 96 businesses have participated in the program with 2,337 individuals benefitting from the subsidy since it began in April 2020. It has cost over $2.6 million to run the program thus far. Talks about the minimum wage, and whether or not it will be raised, are still being held at the territorial level. In the Legislative Assembly on February 9, Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly said he believes rolling back the minimum wage once the program expires would be “completely unfair.” “The need for this program is a clear sign that our minimum wage is too low, far too low,” O’Reilly said. Employment minister R.J. Simpson said the long-term future of the minimum wage was still being decided. “The minister is currently reviewing the report from the Minimum Wage Committee,” the Department of Education, Culture and Employment said in an email to Cabin Radio. “He intends to make a decision on the minimum wage in the near future.” Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Last August, Christine Mickeloff’s mother left her retirement home in Jarvis with her walker. Before anyone knew it, she was wandering down the highway. Fortunately, an off-duty worker from the home was driving nearby when she recognized the Leisure Living resident who has dementia. She alerted the home and staff walked her back to safety. Mickeloff says the incident shows how people with dementia — especially those living in retirement homes that are not equipped to offer the same level of care as a long-term-care facility — are falling through the cracks. “There are people like my mom who are ... stuck in a facility that is not meant to look after (them),” says the Caledonia resident. Her mother, who Mickeloff didn’t want to name, was already showing signs of dementia when she moved into Leisure Living three years ago. A year later, she was diagnosed and the disease continued to progress. Though she was on the wait list for long-term care, delays from the pandemic meant she wasn’t getting a bed any time soon. “Mom was forgotten,” Mickeloff said of the wait. The home says staff tried their best to care for her mother, but were caught in the middle of the resident’s worsening dementia and an absence of supports. When Leisure Living restricted access during the pandemic, Mickeloff mother’s symptoms worsened. Mickeloff couldn’t visit and there were no group activities to keep her mother engaged. She began to wander more and woke up in the middle of the night to look for her husband. After the “dangerous” and “scary” highway incident, Kristina Kasza, the home’s director of care, said she immediately contacted Mickeloff and members of the resident’s care team. “Multiple times, we were told to admit her (to hospital),” said Kasza, but the hospital “kept sending her back.” “We were put in a rock and a hard place,” she said. Jane Meadus, staff lawyer at the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, says the government has left more and more people relying on retirement homes to provide health care in the pandemic. “They are treating retirement homes almost as quasi-long-term-care homes and as a way for seniors to get care without the government having to pay anything,” she said. Unlike long-term care, a retirement home doesn’t fall under the health-care sector. Instead, residents pay rent to stay in a home and can purchase care options on top. Mickeloff looked into hiring private care, but says at $37 per hour for 12 hours a day, it was too costly. “You can’t say to somebody, ‘Well, yeah, you could go to long-term care but there’s no bed, so you’re going to have to pay privately,’ because we have a publicly funded health-care system,” Meadus added, noting that even before COVID-19, hospitals often pressured patients to go to a retirement home instead of waiting for long-term care in order to clear up beds. While home care can help supplement care in a retirement home, Meadus says it can be “spotty” because there aren’t enough workers. That means people who can’t afford private care, like Mickeloff’s mother, are left with inadequate care while waiting for a long-term-care bed. Kasza says the LHIN requested more care for Mickeloff’s mother, but didn’t have enough staff to provide it since COVID-19 prevented workers from going into multiple homes. “It was just a hot mess,” she said. Kasza noted the whole home rallied to care for Mickeloff’s mother by alerting staff when they spotted her wandering or helping redirect her. “Everybody took care of her to the best of their abilities,” she said. By September, Mickeloff’s mother was on the crisis list, which prioritizes patients for long-term care. But COVID-19 outbreaks and precautions continued to cause delays. On top of that, she was competing with hospital patients also waiting in line. By January, she was accepted for a bed. She got a COVID-19 test before her move, but days later, the long-term-care home declared an outbreak, postponing her entry for two weeks. Another COVID-19 case was later suspected in the home, again delaying her move. In February, Mickeloff’s mother finally moved into long-term care, and her daughter says she seems happier. She has access to 24-7 care and staff to keep her stimulated. Mickeloff says more needs to be done for others in her mother’s shoes, especially with dementia increasing. “The government’s just not moving fast enough,” she says. “(My mom) got left behind and wasted away while she was waiting.” Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the decision to delay second doses of COVID-19 vaccine by four months is based on scientific evidence combined with real-world data from the province’s immunization campaign that began in late December.
OTTAWA — The federal government is telling an appeal court it had to provide U.S. authorities with customer information from Canadian banks to avoid possibly "catastrophic effects" on Canada's economy. The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, known as FATCA, requires banks and other institutions in countries outside the United States to report information about accounts held by U.S. individuals, including Canadians with dual citizenship. Among the information from Canada being shared with the U.S. are the names and addresses of account holders, account numbers, account balances, and details such as interest, dividends and other income. In a newly filed submission to the Federal Court of Appeal, the Canadian government says failure to comply would have had serious effects on Canada's financial sector, its customers and the broader economy. Two U.S.-born women who now live in Canada, Gwendolyn Louise Deegan and Kazia Highton, challenged the constitutionality of Canadian provisions implementing the 2014 agreement between the countries that makes the information-sharing possible. The two unsuccessfully argued in Federal Court that the provisions breach the Charter of Rights guarantee preventing unreasonable seizure, and they now want the Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Chipmakers like Samsung Electronics Co Ltd will need a couple of weeks to resume production in Texas after shutdowns caused by severe weather, and customers could face knock-on effects in several months' time, a representative of a trade body said. Samsung, NXP Semiconductors NV and Infineon Technologies AG were ordered to shut factories in Texas last month after a winter storm killed at least 21 people and left millions of Texans without power. The shutdown threatens chip supplies as the industry is scrambling to meet demand, which is rising especially from the auto sector, but also for laptops and other products as economies recover from the impact of the pandemic.
It started as a small outlet for a few students at Dr. John C. Wickwire in Liverpool, but it’s grown into a school-wide passion. Staff members of the Queens County elementary school, including Chris Kaulback, Isaac Rafuse and Adam Leuschner, introduced the sport of skateboarding three years ago to a select group of students as a way for them to burn off a bit of stress and get ready for the day. “Students that I work with generally would be labelled as having behavioural challenges and they may struggle within the core confines of the walls of the classroom,” said Kaulback, who works in the school’s Connect Centre. Skateboarding is giving the students a “sense of belonging, the sense of community and really giving them that opportunity to see that they can excel in other parts of the school. It doesn’t have to be just academics,” he added. The students skateboarded in the gym in the mornings, and at other times periodically during the week. “It’s been a huge success for my kids,” said Kaulback, noting that it gives the students experiential-based learning opportunities. Soon, other students began asking to join in, prompting the instructors to launch a noon-hour club. The interest was such that skateboarding now has become part of the physical education curriculum. The program follows the Making Tracks - Skate Pass Training, which was developed by Halifax’s Ecology Action Center, and skateboarding guidelines within the Nova Scotia physical education curriculum. According to Leuschner, the program has given them new opportunities as educators. “There is a lot of research surrounding skateboarding and its ability to regulate students and help them find their calm,” he said. “We tell kids to calm down, but at the elementary level they don’t know what it feels like. We are trying to support them in understanding how your body feels when you’re actually in a calm state and skateboarding is a real good tool to do that.” Grade 5 student Devilyn Moore agreed. “It feels relaxing and fun and we get to socialize,” he said. Currently, the program is only open to students in Grades 3 to 5 because of safety regulations. However, the teachers are working on plans to introduce the younger students to the activity as well. Leuschner suggested that while students have played a lot of intramural games, and been a part of different programs, the skateboard program stands out. “It’s really quite something. When you walk into the gym when the skate program is going on, you really see a lot of pro-social behaviour,” he said. “You see a lot of smiles, a lot of kids joking about and you see kids helping each other out.” The school’s program has received support from companies and groups across Canada, including Landyachtz in Vancouver, Surf Ontario and Rollin Boardshop in Montreal. “They have given us a lot of great deals. They know how important a program like this is for the youth,” said Rafuse. “With the support we’ve had, we’ve been able to really push the program as far as we could.” The school has acquired 30 skateboards for the kids to use along with 50 sets of safety gear. The students are using Carver skateboards. Although a bit more expensive, “we knew they would be the most conducive to small bodies,” said Rafuse. “It was going to be the quickest board for them to learn on.” The boards aren’t cheap, running about $400 each, but, according to Kaulback, the board is well suited to the task. It uses a truck system that mimics surfing and snowboarding by getting speed up through pumping (shifting your weight from your heels to your toes in rhythm). Kaulback noted that this rhythm is one piece that ties into the self-regulation aspect of the program. Program modifications are ongoing, and plans are to purchase some ramps and obstacles in the future. “We are trying not only to support our students in their need to regulate, but also to have some fun and learn new skills,” said Leuschner. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
WASHINGTON — The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to confirm Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to serve as President Joe Biden’s commerce secretary and help guide the economy's recovery during and after the coronavirus pandemic. The vote was 84-15. Raimondo, 49, was the first woman elected governor of Rhode Island and is serving her second term. She is a Rhodes Scholar and a graduate of Yale Law School who went on to become a venture capitalist before turning to politics. Raimondo will be responsible for promoting the nation's economic growth domestically and overseas. Republican opposition to her confirmation focused on concerns that she would not be forceful enough in confronting the Chinese government's efforts to gain an economic and technological edge through espionage. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in particular said he was concerned that she declined during her confirmation hearing to commit to keeping Chinese telecom giant Huawei on the department’s Entity List. U.S. companies need to get a license to sell sophisticated technology to companies on the list. She subsequently told senators she had no reason to believe that companies on the list should not be there. But that answer failed to satisfy Cruz. He said it would have been a simple matter for Raimondo to commit to keeping Huawei and others on the Entity List. “She refused to do so, repeatedly," Cruz said before the vote. “This appears to be part of a pattern of a systemic decision to embrace communist China." Biden has said China is in for “extreme competition” from the U.S. under his administration, but that the new relationship he wants to forge need not be one of conflict. The COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in China, has also strained the relationship between the two countries with members of both U.S. political parties working to highlight any accommodations they see the other side making toward China. Much of Raimondo's work will be focused on regional economic issues. Lawmakers from coastal states want help protecting valuable fishing industries. Lawmakers from rural states want greater investment in broadband. She confirmed her interest in working with them on those issues during her confirmation hearing and emphasized the need to tackle climate change. She noted as governor that she oversaw construction of the nation’s first offshore wind farm. “We’re looking for someone who can come in and help, with private sector experience, to really move the agenda of this administration forward. So, for me, Gov. Raimondo’s private sector experience really means a lot," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. “She knows how to invest in new technologies and things that are going to help us grow jobs for the future, and she knows how to match up a workforce with those job opportunities." The Commerce Department comprises a dozen bureaus and agencies, including the National Weather Service, the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Raimondo would oversee the work of more than 40,000 employees. Kevin Freking, The Associated Press
Members of the Queens District RCMP reached out for help from the public concerning two incidents that happened on the weekend of February 19-21. On February 21, at about 9:48 p.m., RCMP responded to a report of a motor vehicle collision in Summerville, Queens County, involving two vehicles and a pedestrian. The initial investigation appeared to show that the pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on Highway 3, and that the same vehicle then went on to sideswipe a second vehicle that was travelling in the opposite direction. The suspect vehicle then fled the scene. Emergency Health Services (EHS) transported the injured pedestrian to hospital and she subsequently was released. The second vehicle that was involved in the incident had minor damage to the driver’s side. Police viewed video footage from a nearby business and conducted inquiries, but initially the only description of the vehicle available was that it’s a dark coloured car. Based on the injuries and damage to the second vehicle, the RCMP is asking the public to be on the lookout for a dark car that likely has damage to the driver’s side. Single motor vehicle collision results in arrest Two days earlier, on February 19 at about 6:45 p.m., Queens District RCMP responded to a single motor vehicle collision that occurred in Caledonia. The RCMP received a report that the driver of a van had been travelling down Hibernia Road and struck multiple mailboxes before ending up in a ditch. Members of EHS and the North Queens Fire Department also responded to the call. The driver declined treatment by EHS and was transported by police to a hospital for assessment and released shortly thereafter. He was then transported to the Queens RCMP detachment where it is alleged he declined to provide a breath sample, according to an RCMP news release issued February 23. He was subsequently arrested and charged for refusing to provide a breath sample as well as operating a motor vehicle while impaired. Police are not releasing the driver’s identity at this time. Anyone who may have witnessed either of these incidents or has any information is asked to contact Liverpool RCMP Detachment at 902-354-5721. Those wishing to remain anonymous, can also contact Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or text TIP202 + a message to ‘CRIMES’ (274637), or submit tips by Secure Web Tips at www.crimestoppers.ns.ca. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin