As the so-called Brexit transition period nears its end, Canada has struck a transitional bilateral trade agreement with the U.K. - one of our country's largest trading partners. As Crystal Goomansigh explains, the deal was done in the nick of time.
As the so-called Brexit transition period nears its end, Canada has struck a transitional bilateral trade agreement with the U.K. - one of our country's largest trading partners. As Crystal Goomansigh explains, the deal was done in the nick of time.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Saudi Arabia and met its crown prince, an Israeli official said on Monday, in what would be the first publicly confirmed visit there by an Israeli leader as the countries close ranks against Iran. Earlier, Israeli media said Netanyahu had secretly flown on Sunday to Neom, on the Red Sea, for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Reports of the meeting between the crown prince and Netanyahu were denied by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
There could be a stand-off at a Whitehorse construction site this week over the issue of outside workers.A contractor building a downtown mixed-use apartment building for the Challenge Disability Resource Group plans to bring in workers from Manitoba.Under a Yukon government program the workers will self-isolate while they're on the job. Rob Babcock, who works as a site supervisor for a Whitehorse electrical sub-contractor at the Challenge building, said he's sceptical the outside workers and local crews will be able to completely avoid each other on the project."You know, from my perspective, I just don't see how having people on site with us accounts as self isolation," Babcock said."It goes against everything that we've been doing and I don't know how it's fair if I were to leave the territory to come back. I would have to self isolate, not work for 14 days."The outside workers are coming from Manitoba, a COVID-19 hotspot, he said, and he wonders who will enforce their self-isolation on the job and during their off hours.He said other contractors have told him they won't stay on the site if the Manitobans show up."I myself have told my boss that I will probably do the same, and I imagine most of my guys will also follow me on that, you know, the risk is too much," Babcock said.The executive director of Challenge, Jillian Hardie, said she's confident the self-isolation plan can protect the workers."We're all responsible during this pandemic for ourselves. So with these crews that are coming in on the alternative self-isolation plan, they are responsible to maintain this plan," Hardie said.She said they will not be working in the same areas of the building and will have their own lunchroom and washroom.The out-of-town workers will wear armbands to identify themselves, she said.Hardie said the local sub-contractors also have the right to work elsewhere for the two week self-isolation period.The contractor, Edmonton-based Johnston Builders, asked the Yukon government for permission to use the alternative self-isolation plan at the site and it was approved by Community Services Minister John Streicker, she said.Streicker was questioned by Yukon NDP leader MLA Kate White about that decision in the legislature Thursday."Can the minister explain why he would allow a company to bring in workers from Manitoba with the highest Covid[-19] rate per capita in the country to fly into Whitehorse to work on a construction project?" White asked.Streicker said there have been about 400 applications in Yukon so far this year for the alternative self-isolation plan, but not all have been approved."They can apply for an alternative self-isolation, indicating that they self-isolate, but they can do so on the job site if they prove and can carry that out in such a way as to keep it safe and separate," Streicker said.The government gets an opinion from the chief medical officer of health before the plans are approved, he added.
La gamme de produits Lanvert a connu une importante expansion, au cours des derniers jours. Le fabricant de produits régionaux ajoute à son offre une mayonnaise végane et deux nouvelles sauces. Nicolas Landry et Stéphanie Boisvert ont lancé les produits Lanvert il y a quelques mois. Un concentré de bouillon à fondue et une sauce du diable se retrouvent depuis mars 2020 sur les tablettes des épiceries du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean. Le couple a donc plus que doublé son offre de produits dans les dernières semaines, en y ajoutant une mayonnaise, une sauce curry et estragon, ainsi qu’une sauce érable et ail. Tous les produits ne contiennent aucun ingrédient de source animale, c’est-à-dire sans trace d’oeuf, sans protéines bovines et sans produits laitiers, une caractéristique qui est très importante pour les jeunes entrepreneurs. « Je voulais offrir des produits pour que les gens qui ont des allergies, des problèmes rénaux ou cardiaques, par exemple, puissent en profiter. Ils sont également faibles en sucre et en sel. » — Nicolas Landry Ce sont d’ailleurs les proches du couple, nombreux à souffrir d’allergies alimentaires, qui lui ont donné l’idée de créer cette marque de produits régionaux. « Des amis, ma filleule et ma conjointe sont intolérants aux produits laitiers et aux protéines bovines. Il a donc fallu que je trouve des recettes pour les accommoder et c’est comme ça que j’ai commencé à faire de la mayonnaise, des sauces. Puisque c’était quand même très bon, j’ai décidé de lancer les produits sur le marché », explique M. Landry, en riant. L’homme espère que le mot « végane » ne fasse pas reculer certains consommateurs. Il aurait aimé offrir des dégustations dans les épiceries, pour démontrer que cela ne change pas le goût du condiment, mais la pandémie l’en empêche. « Je ne veux pas que les gens pensent que parce qu’il n’y a pas de produits animaux, que ce n’est pas bon. Ce sont des produits qui peuvent vraiment plaire à tous et qui sont faits pour rejoindre le maximum de personnes possible », souligne l’entrepreneur. Une demande grandissante Nicolas Landry porte plusieurs chapeaux dans son entreprise. Entre autres titres, il représente lui-même sa marque, fait la livraison, brasse la mayonnaise à la main, au laboratoire LAFIB d’Alma, et bien plus, ce qui lui donne une charge de travail assez importante. Même si les produits sont tout de même récents, ils ont taillé leur place dans les commerces de la région. On les retrouve dans toutes les épiceries IGA du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Metro et Provigo, de même que dans des commerces spécialisés, comme Eugène Allard et Rose Bon Bon, et dans plusieurs boucheries. M. Landry aimerait que ses produits voyagent davantage. Bientôt, les entrepreneurs comptent mettre en vente des paniers de Noël de produits, pour les personnes qui souhaitent offrir des produits régionaux en cadeau. Des détails seront dévoilés sous peu. Pour les gens qui aimeraient obtenir plus d’information, il suffit de consulter le site Internet de l’entreprise, lanvert.ca, ou sa page Facebook.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Canada's largest working cattle ranch hopes to convince B.C.'s Court of Appeal to overturn a 2018 ruling that said the public should be allowed to access two lakes near Merritt, B.C.It's the latest development in a lengthy court battle between the Douglas Lake Cattle Company (DLCC) and a small recreation club in Merritt over who should be allowed access to public areas enclosed by private property.In December 2018 a justice of the Supreme Court of B.C. ruled that Minnie Lake and Stoney Lake in the Nicola Valley should be publicly accessible.The lakes and a local road are surrounded by private ranch lands owned by the company, which is owned by U.S. billionaire Stan Kroenke.For years, access to Minnie Lake and Stoney Lake had been blocked by fences and locked gates.The 2018 ruling ordered those gates to be removed so the public could access the lakes.The court said at the time it would be "nonsensical" for a government to retain rights to a lake if a single owner purchasing all land surrounding it could prohibit use.It also clarified that Stoney Lake Road, which the DLCC had previously closed to the public, was a public road because public money had been spent on it and it had previously been a historic trail from a traditional Indigenous village.The victory was a culmination of the advocacy from the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club, and most notably Merritt resident Rick McGowan, who for decades maintained that the DLCC had unlawfully prohibited access for anglers and other people seeking recreation there."We thought we would like to try to make a difference and try to see if we could possibly save the right for all future generations to access public property," he said."In the Nicola Valley there are locked gates everywhere and most of them are illegal."According to the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C., which has been allowed to intervene on behalf of the fish and game club for the appeal, the DLCC seeks an order declaring there is no public access to Stoney Lake and that access to Minnie Lake is only by way of Wasley Creek. "This case raises important questions about the extent of the public's right to cross private property to access public resources such as lakes, hiking trails and wilderness," said Morgan Blakley, a lawyer for the council, which represents 100,000 outdoor recreation users in the province."The decision could have implications for public access across the province and brings to bear hundreds of years of case law." The appeal is scheduled for two days, starting at 10 a.m. PT Monday.
PEERS Alliance in Charlottetown has received $2,100 from the Tegan and Sara Foundation for its work in the LGBTQ community. "That was a big moment for me, to get that notification that we've been awarded the funds," said Brittany Jakubiec, the executive director at PEERS Alliance. "I'm a little bit, like, excited that we get to put kinda their stamp on our project. That's just huge."PEERS Alliance is a charitable non-profit organization. It began as AIDS PEI and slowly evolved to offer programming and outreach for harm reduction for the LGBTQ community.This year, it is one of 13 organization across Canada to receive a Community Grant from the Tegan and Sara Foundation. Jakubiec said the plan is to use the money to keep the adult drop-in program running until June. "The adult drop-in is a low-barrier social group dedicated to fostering and growing 2SLGBTQ+ community in P.E.I.," said Jakubiec. (When using that term, Jakubiec means two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and/or questioning, with the plus representing other terms people may prefer to use for themselves.)"The drop-in program does help with the reduction of social isolation and an increase of feeling like you're connected to the community."'It's super important'Jakubiec said additional costs have come up this year due to the pandemic and the extra financial support is not only crucial to running the program but also ensuring it doesn't need to be cut early. "It's super important that the program is offered."For Islanders looking for supports, Jakubiec said PEERS Alliance can be reached by phone, email or on social media — contact information is posted on its website. And for those who do call, Jakubiec said extra precautions are taken — for example, asking if a message can be left on the caller's phone — to make sure people feel safe and supported. "We really try and just make sure that we're being inclusive and respectful of where people are in their journeys."More from CBC P.E.I.
Calgarians will have a chance Monday to speak their minds on the city's plan to cut $90 million in spending in order to bring in a tax freeze for 2021.Council has set aside a week for its annual budget debate and that includes a public hearing which allows residents to weigh in.The property tax picture for year three of the current four-year budget cycle is actually broken down by city officials this year in a somewhat complicated way.Administration is proposing an overall tax reduction of 1.66 per cent.That translates into an increase of 0.67 per cent for residential properties and a 0.55 per cent decrease for non-residential properties.To eliminate that small tax hike for homeowners, the city is asking council to approve a one-time rebate to bring about a tax freeze.Freeze means cutsMayor Naheed Nenshi said administration has followed council's direction to not raise taxes for 2021 instead of going with a previously approved 3.23 per cent increase.But that freeze would be achieved through $90 million in spending cuts.About $46.8 million in spending cuts are landing in administration, primarily by finding savings through more efficient ways of carrying out the business of government.But the cuts are also about axing the annual civic census (saving $1 million annually).The next biggest single savings will be to claw back a $10 million increase in the Calgary police budget for 2021. That money was to be used to hire 60 new officers.If the budget adjustments are approved, they would result in the loss of 162 city jobs. That would mean 574 city jobs will have been cut from the payroll since 2019.Nenshi said this would bring city staffing down to 2013 levels."Since 2013, we've added 200,000 people to Calgary. We've added two Red Deers and we are still having the same number of civil servants as we had then," said Nenshi."We have increased taxes by less than inflation plus growth in every year since the economic downturn and looking at a freeze this year."Some want to cut deeperSome councillors said in tough times, they want to cut deeper.Coun. Jeromy Farkas said Calgarians expect city hall to find more reductions."While this is a start, I think we need to be much, much more aggressive in terms of our spending reductions, to be able to respond to what every Calgary family and business has had to do: tighten their belts," said Farkas.He wants another $90 million cut from the budget and that could happen in what he calls non-essential areas that wouldn't affect Calgarians. He points to arts spending and communications as possible areas for further reductions.Coun. Ward Sutherland is also looking for additional cuts. But he said it is getting challenging to find significant areas to cut.The city has reduced spending by nearly three quarters of a billion dollars in recent years so the low-hanging fruit has already been picked."People need to be reminded that between police, fire, transit and roads, it's basically over 83 per cent of our entire operating budget. So the ability to cut big numbers is diminishing every year," said Sutherland.Balancing actNenshi is more blunt about the prospect of finding big cuts without affecting the services Calgarians expect from the city."We're already seeing concerns about roads maintenance, about parks maintenance," said Nenshi."You want the bigger cut to even below the lowest taxes in the country? Tell us where to cut and see if you can get eight votes."In past years, councillors have offered few specific ideas for additional reductions except for across the board cuts that administration would be forced to implement.Council has typically rejected those because of the impacts that would be felt in areas like transit, the police and the fire department.More rebates possibleOnce council settles the municipal tax rate and budget for 2021, it is expected to turn its attention to finding money for rebates to help property owners who will be adversely impacted by this year's land reassessments.Some downtown properties are expecting to see small drops in value while hotels and motels are projected to see a 30 per cent drop.Administration said those reductions will result in property taxes going up significantly for properties that have seen increases in values. These include some types of retail properties. Large warehouses are looking at a potential 25 per cent tax increase next year due to their higher assessments and that shift in the non-residential tax burden."I think that we're going to have to look at some sort of a rebate for those businesses in this year because you don't want to just pile on with what a difficult year they've had," said Nenshi. "But at some point, we actually have to let the market work."It's a line that's been used by several council members in recent years as one tax rebate after another have been handed out to blunt the impacts of what they call a broken tax and assessment system.The mayor said any changes to that system can only be made by the provincial government.
La palette de couleurs est vaste pour l’artiste Lucie Cormier (Lu), 44 ans, de Saint-Camille. Que ce soit sur des visages, des ventres bombés de femmes enceintes ou bien sur des toiles, le jeu des couleurs et des textures est pour elle un joyeux terrain de jeux ! Et elle aime partager son univers capable de métamorphoser le quotidien. « Déjà, toute petite, j’étais passionnée par le dessin. Je participais à des concours scolaires, et voilà qu’aujourd’hui je donne des cours dans les écoles. Auparavant, j’ai fait mille et une choses avant de revenir à ma passion pour les arts. Puis, en 2015, j’ai lancé NOUBA, mon entreprise de maquillage artistique. Faire la nouba signifie faire la fête ! Une fête particulièrement réussie. » L’an dernier, elle a réalisé une première exposition à Val-des-Sources intitulée En coulisse. « On y retrouve plusieurs clins d’œil à ma propre vie, précise-t-elle. Une autre exposition est prévue en 2021 à la Salle du Parvis, à Sherbrooke. La peinture intuitive fait partie de ma démarche. Sans idée préconçue, je jette mes tripes sur la toile et j’explore ! » L’art qui fait du bien ! L’impact des arts et de la couleur sur le bien-être et la santé, Lucie y croit dur comme fer. L’art est un fabuleux moyen d’égayer les bleus à l’âme. La diversité des ateliers qu’elle propose suggère fortement de l’art thérapie. « Le mot thérapeute est très normé au Québec. Je n’ai aucune prétention autre que celle de partager ma passion ! Si elle me fait du bien, forcément, elle en fait aussi à d’autres. Je reçois de beaux témoignages de parents qui voient les bénéfices sur leur enfant après une séance de dessin ! Prendre le temps d’observer la peinture qui s’épanche en jouant, ça détend ! » Ses ateliers s’offrent en formule individuelle, en duo, en couple, en famille, en groupe ou parents/enfants, etc. La pandémie fait mal. « Mes ateliers dans les écoles ont été annulés. Mes revenus provenaient principalement d’eux ainsi que de ma participation à divers festivals et événements. Je répète à mes enfants de ne pas s’endetter ! Il peut y avoir des pépins. J’ai la chance de ne pas avoir de grosses dépenses. Il n’empêche que depuis l’été dernier, j’ai recommencé à travailler à mi-temps pour un organisme communautaire. Autrement, j’en profite pour créer », conclut-elle. En ces temps fort déstabilisants, il faut bien continuer à voir le monde en couleurs ! lu-nouba.weebly.com facebook.com/LucieCormierArtisteMireille Fréjeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal L'Étincelle
Les premiers coups de pelle ont été donnés sur le site qui accueillera l’usine d’abattage, de traitement et de transformation La Bêlerie, à Cowansville. L’abattoir sera dédié uniquement à l’agneau et sera prêt à répondre aux plus hautes normes de santé et de sécurité, même en temps de pandémie. L’excavation a débuté la semaine dernière et l’objectif d’ouverture demeure au printemps 2021. Certains retards ont été occasionnés par quelques étapes plus longues que prévu, mais surtout par la complexification du projet. «C’est plus grand que ce qu’on avait prévu initialement et il a fallu qu’on change certains équipements. On a retravaillé les plans», explique la copropriétaire Myriam Langlois. Les installations seront construites de telle sorte que les employés pourront travailler à deux mètres ou plus de distance. Une préoccupation qui est née de la situation sanitaire actuelle. La nouvelle usine, de juridiction fédérale, aura une superficie de 22 000 pieds carrés et des équipements à la fine pointe de la technologie. Elle sera munie d’une salle de découpe et d’une ligne d’emballage. Avec les changements apportés, l’investissement a par conséquent augmenté, passant de 7 M$ à 9 M$. Seulement pour agneaux Au départ, le projet prévoyait des installations pour recevoir du bœuf en plus de l’agneau. «On a changé de cap là-dessus parce que faire du multiespèces nous amenait à avoir des protocoles plus élaborés qu’on devait faire chaque jour, même si on n’avait pas à faire de bœuf cette journée-là. On va se concentrer sur notre spécialité», relève-t-elle. La Bêlerie œuvre depuis deux ans dans la production ovine, avec 1800 agneaux lourds produits annuellement à la ferme, mais aussi dans la distribution et la transformation pour «rendre l’agneau du Québec accessible à tous». Elle ajoute une corde à son arc avec son usine d’abattage. Une viande plus accessible Non seulement la Bêlerie n’aura plus à transporter ses agneaux vers un abattoir de la Rive-Nord de Montréal, de Québec ou de la Beauce, ce qui diminuera le stress lié à de longs trajets en plus de sauver des frais, mais son statut lui permettra d’exporter la viande et de recevoir des agneaux d’autres éleveurs du Québec et des provinces voisines. Elle précise qu’il y a trois types d’abattoirs au Québec. Le type B n’est pas régi, ce sont des abattoirs de proximité pour de la viande qui ne sera pas revendue. Les abattoirs de juridiction provinciale permettent de traiter des animaux du Québec pour une revente au Québec, mais la viande n’a pas accès aux entrepôts des grandes chaînes d’alimentation. «Ensuite, il y a la juridiction fédérale avec une approche d’inspection différente. C’est un niveau supérieur et ça nous permet de faire du pancanadien et de l’importation et exportation. Et quand on veut travailler avec de grandes chaînes, le fédéral nous permet d’avoir accès à leurs entrepôts.» La viande du Québec devient alors plus accessible pour les consommateurs qui ne font leur épicerie que dans les grandes bannières. «Ça fait un gros parallèle avec l’autonomie alimentaire. On veut que les gens d’ici aient accès aux produits d’ici.» Mme Langlois, copropriétaire avec Jamie Schofield, espère qu’un abattoir de proximité permettra à l’industrie de l’agneau lourd - entre 16 et 30 kg et âgé de moins d’un an - de reprendre de la vigueur au Québec. Aide de la ville Le projet a pu voir le jour grâce à l’apport de la Ville de Cowansville, qui a vendu un terrain à l’entreprise sur le chemin Brosseau pour la somme de 105 000 $. En contrepartie, l’administration municipale a octroyé à l’Abattoir La Bêlerie une aide financière de 100 000 $ selon les critères du règlement sur les crédits de taxes et l’aide financière aux entreprises. Le montage financier a notamment été complété avec la collaboration d’Investissements Québec et des Services aux entreprises de Granby. Environ 80 emplois seront créés par cette future usine. Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
What should deafness sound like on film? For his debut feature “ Sound of Metal,” filmmaker Darius Marder wanted to create a sound experience that audiences had never heard before.The idea was to simulate the journey of his lead character, Ruben, a punk metal drummer with sudden severe hearing loss and eventually deafness. It wouldn’t be silence, but something more complex and nuanced. And it would take years of prep, experimental methods on set and 23 weeks of sound work to accomplish.“Sound of Metal,” now playing in limited release before it debuts on Amazon Prime Video on Dec. 4, not only delivers on that lofty goal but also features one of the best performances of the year from actor Riz Ahmed who was tasked with the challenge of bringing Ruben to life.Marder, who co-wrote “The Place Beyond the Pines” had spent years trying to “scare the crap out of” actors with the prospect of playing Ruben. It was important, too, that the actor be hearing since, he said Ruben starts out that way. Then he met Ahmed, the 37-year-old British actor of Pakistani decent known for the HBO miniseries “The Night Of,” for which he got an Emmy nomination, and films like “Nightcrawler,” “Rogue One” and “Venom,” and he knew he found the right actor for what he was asking.“He is a great talent and a great intellect, but I didn’t know what was behind that,” Marder said. “What I found was someone who was appropriately frightened, which is always a good sign, but also just intoxicatingly interested in being frightened and taking on that challenge.”Ahmed would have to really play the drums, learn American Sign Language (ASL) and essentially push himself to the limits playing this ex-heroin addict who with his hearing loss fears that he may lose everything: His livelihood, his girlfriend and bandmate (Olivia Cooke) and his identity.“We wanted to do something that was all in,” Ahmed said. “We just wanted to really connect to how overwhelming and invigorating and terrifying it can be to kind of throw yourself into the deep end of a creative endeavour.”To make matters even more complicated, Marder decided to shoot on 35mm film, which meant that takes would be limited. But even that was exciting for Ahmed.“I liked the idea of spending seven months learning the drums and sign language and then doing a four week shoot where you only get two takes of anything because we’re shooting on film,” Ahmed said.On set, Ahmed wore custom implants in his ears that emitted white noise and a high ringing to approximate tinnitus. He couldn’t even hear his own voice. On those days communicated with Marder on little bits of paper. In the final mix, a lot of the sounds you hear in the movie are, as Marder puts it, "the inside of Riz.” They recorded in his mouth, his throat and even his eyelids.For his part, Ahmed spent time with members of the deaf community in New York and got quite close with his sign instructor, who helped him navigate the new culture. He explained that as a late-deafened person, Ruben goes through stages where he thinks of his hearing loss as “a loss, a lack, a disability.” Later, during his stay in a sober, deaf community, he starts to realize it is a culture and a way of being, Ahmed said.Representation of disability in film is a complex topic and actors with disabilities continue to lobby for authentic portrayals. And just as Marder knew that he needed a hearing actor to embody Ruben’s journey, he also knew he wanted actors from deaf culture to populate the rehab facility, including the very significant part of Joe, the Vietnam veteran who runs the centre.Marder was encouraged to consider A-list actors, all of whom were hearing, for the meaty part, but he didn’t relent.“That was something I fought very hard for,” Marder said. “And it was a much harder fight than it should have been.”He ended up finding actor Paul Raci, a Vietnam veteran himself and a child of deaf adults. The film is also open captioned in English to make it more accessible for all audiences, except in scenes with ASL.“We have to experience what Ruben experiences,” Marder said. “He has to contend with being a minority and not being comfortable in a culture that isn’t his. And so do we as an audience.”Ahmed found it to be a transformative experience.“I really hope that when people watch the film, it kind of stays with them and maybe changes them a little bit as well,” he said. “It’s a film about reevaluating who you think you really are and realizing the things you think define us are not all we are.”—-Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahrLindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
Montrealers who plan to leave the house Monday morning might want to gear up with a tall pair of rain boots. It's a wet and slushy morning in Montreal, after the metropolitan region saw more than 10 centimetres of snow for the first time this year on Sunday. Rainfall that began overnight is expected to continue into the afternoon, Environment Canada says, with a high of 5 C. Several Quebec regions are under a snowfall warning Monday, including Quebec City, Lac-Saint-Jean, Mont-Tremblant and Saguenay."Be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions," the weather agency says. The provincial capital region is also under a freezing rain warning this morning. Environment Canada says highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery.
JERUSALEM — Israeli media reported Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Saudi Arabia for a clandestine meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which would mark the first known encounter between senior Israeli and Saudi officials.The reported meeting was the latest move by the Trump Administration to promote normalized ties between Israel and the broader Arab world and reflected the shared concern of all three nations about Iran.The Israeli news site Walla, followed quickly by other Hebrew-language media, cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying that Netanyahu and Yossi Cohen, head of Israel's Mossad spy agency, flew to the Saudi city of Neom on Sunday, where they met with the crown prince. The prince was there for talks with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.People travelling with Pompeo declined comment. Netanyahu, in a meeting with his Likud Party, also declined to explicitly confirm the visit.“I have not addressed such things for years and I will not start with that now. For years I have spared no effort to strengthen Israel and expand the circle of peace,” he said.The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, denied on Twitter that the meeting took place.“No such meeting occurred. The only officials present were American and Saudi,” he wrote. He did not elaborate.The flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.com showed a Gulfstream IV private jet took off from Tel Aviv on Sunday night and flew south along the edge of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula before turning toward Neom and landing. The flight took off from Neom over three hours later and followed the same route back to Tel Aviv.Pompeo, who was in Israel last week, travelled with a small group of American reporters on his trip throughout the Mideast, but left them at the Neom airport when he went into his visit with the crown prince.While Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates have reached deals under the Trump administration to normalize ties with Israel, Saudi Arabia so far has remained out of reach. The Trump administration, as well as Netanyahu, would love to add the Saudis to that list before it leaves office in January. In Sudan, a military official said an Israeli delegation was in the country on Monday to discuss the normalization efforts. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the visit with the media.King Salman long has supported the Palestinians in their effort to secure an independent state as a condition for recognizing Israel. However, analysts and insiders suggest his 35-year-old son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, likely is more open to the idea of normalizing relations without major progress in the moribund peace process.Israel and Saudi Arabia have a shared interest in countering archrival Iran, and they have welcomed the Trump administration's pressure campaign on the Iranians, which included withdrawing from the international nuclear deal with Iran and imposing tough economic sanctions on the Tehran government.The reported meeting puts even more pressure on Iran ahead of an incoming Biden administration that has signalled a potential willingness to return to the 2015 nuclear deal.“I think there's a message to Iran. Look, there's a front against you. There's two months to go to the new administration. Beware. We are on the same page,” said Yoel Guzansky, a senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, a prestigious Israeli think-tank .In an apparent message to President-elect Joe Biden, Netanyahu said in a speech Sunday evening, shortly before the reported trip to Saudi Arabia: “We must not return to the previous nuclear deal."In the same speech, Netanyahu also praised “trailblazing Arab leaders who understand the benefits of peace" and predicted “we will see other states that widen the circle of peace.”In another possible reference to the Saudi meeting, a Netanyahu aide, Topaz Luk, accused Netanyahu's rival and coalition partner, Defence Minister Benny Gantz, of “playing politics at the same time that the prime minister is making peace.” Gantz on Sunday launched an investigation into Israel's purchase of German submarines — a scandal that has turned several close Netanyahu confidants into criminal suspects. Netanyahu himself is not a suspect.The reported visit Sunday night to Neom, still a largely undeveloped desert region alongside the north end of the Red Sea, also reflected Prince Mohammed's ambitions.It brought two world leaders to Neom, which he hopes will become a futuristic, skyline-studded Saudi version of Dubai that will offer the kingdom jobs and cement a future beyond its vast crude oil reserves. It also would reframe a rule so far colored by the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and the kingdom’s grinding war in Yemen.It was unclear where the three men met, though the Saudi royal family has massive mansions along the turquoise waters of the Red Sea, with a major golf course.Netanyahu has long signalled back-channel relations with the Saudis, though the nations have never officially confirmed a meeting between their leaders. But Saudi Arabia appears to have given its blessing to the decisions of its Gulf neighbours, the UAE and Bahrain, to establish ties with Israel.The kingdom approved the use of Saudi airspace for Israeli flights to the UAE. Bahrain normalizing ties also suggest at least a Saudi acquiescence to the idea, as the island kingdom relies on Riyadh.___Associated Press writers Josef Federman in Jerusalem, Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed.Ilan Ben Zion, The Associated Press
Compare JLo's 2020 AMA performance with Beyoncé's 2014 Grammy show and you're in for a mighty shock.
MILAN — In a signal of rebirth, the Donizetti theatre in the northern Italian city of Bergamo, devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, reopened this weekend after three years of renovations.But the planned gala celebration had to be postponed, and new productions for an annual festival dedicated to the city's native composer Gaetano Donizetti had to be streamed online from an empty theatre.Festival musical director Riccardo Frizza said the autumn festival was envisioned as a life-affirming moment for the city and province, where 6,000 people died in a single month last spring. In the summer he conducted Donizett's Requiem, performed outside the city’s cemetery in tribute to the dead.“You have to know that in my festival orchestra and in the chorus there are people who lost two or three family members,’’ Frizza said. “We couldn’t do the festival without having done this tribute to those who aren’t with us anymore.”Plans for an audience had to be scrapped after the virus started to resurge in October, even if Bergamo itself is experiencing lighter contagion than the spring, when images of army trucks transporting the dead to other regions for cremation laid bare the pandemic's toll. The calendar was cut to three productions.All three weekend performances of Donizetti’s “Marino Faliero,” “Le Nozze in Villa” and “Belisario” are available online indefinitely for a subscription price of 59 euros ($70.) Frizza said the money is needed to help freelance singers and musicians recoup some income during a year in which classical music has been all but shutdown by the coronavirus.Italy shut all theatres in February, and there was a tentative reopening over the summer.While some other theatres are offering free online streaming of their archives, Frizza said few are offering new opera productions. The Donizetti theatre package includes extras like commentary, interviews and a virtual tour of the renovated theatre, its frescoed ceilings given a fresh vibrancy. Another Donizetti opera filmed last year, “L'Ange De Nisida," will be released on Wednesday.By comparison, Milan’s famed La Scala theatre will broadcast a Dec. 7 concert on state television, substituting its traditional gala season-opener.To ensure the health of the Donizetti Festival orchestra, singers and chorus, strict protocols were put into place, including weekly testing and separate rehearsals. During the weekend performances, the chorus, most of the orchestra and Frizza wore masks.At La Scala, more than 40 members of the chorus have tested positive for the virus, plus another 18 in the orchestra.Frizza, who suffered a mild bout with the virus during the March peak when Italy was in total lockdown, said no one in the festival contracted the virus during the rehearsals. That's critical to allowing the live performances to go ahead despite the partial lockdown in Lombardy.“No one can imagine the March lockdown without music, without books, without televised performances,” Frizza said. “The pandemic has taught those who hadn’t understood before, the importance of culture, arts and beauty in the world.”Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
À notre époque, des élans de solidarité s’expriment de part et d’autre face à la pandémie. On le sait, la crise actuelle bouleverse le paysage culturel ainsi que celui de la restauration. Julie Tessier, 44 ans du Café du Couvent et Marie-Ève Bourdage, 33 ans, du Centre d’art de Richmond, ont convenu d’un partenariat. À chacun ses gestes, ses initiatives, pour composer une large palette solidaire. (Cette entrevue devait se passer en période de zone orange. Mais voilà que l’Estrie repasse au rouge.) « Covid oblige, la salle à manger du Café du Couvent se voyait amputée de plusieurs places, en raison des mesures de distanciation. Tandis que les activités du Centre d’art sont également ralenties par la situation, nous avons choisi de faire équipe !, expliquent-elles. Les clients du Café du Couvent ont pu s’installer dans le réfectoire du Centre d’art, ce qui ajoutait une quinzaine de places. Un bel exemple de l’entraide qui existe entre les différents locataires du Couvent Mont Saint-Patrice ! » Qualité et créativité Nouveaux bilans, nouvelles mesures, les cartes doivent être de nouveau brassées. Nos entrepreneures ne cessent d’échafauder des scénarios réalistes pour traverser ce dur moment. « Durant la première vague, le Café a été fermé de la mi-mars à la mi-juillet, précise Julie. On a en profité pour bonifier nos équipements, notamment pour ce qui est des présentoirs réfrigérés. La capacité d’offrir des mets préparés ainsi que congelés est dorénavant enrichie. De plus, jusqu’à Noël, nous avons mis sur pied une boutique éphémère qui offre des produits d’artisans régionaux. Le tout en respectant les directives sanitaires. » « Du côté du Centre d’art, ça s’est passé un peu différemment, précise Marie-Ève. L’été, nous sommes fermés de toute façon. Le couvent est un vieux bâtiment de 1884 non climatisé pour l’instant. Avec le retour de l’automne, les activités sont au ralenti. Sauf pour les cours individuels de musique, car notre école roule en ce moment à pleine capacité. Les gens ont ressenti un réel engouement pour les activités qui les font sortir de chez eux. » Il faut savoir que huit personnes travaillent au Café et que sept autres contractuels œuvrent au Centre d’art. Tous unis et résolus à se réinventer afin de maintenir le cap. « Avec cette crise, conclut Marie-Ève, j’espère que l’on prendra tous conscience de l’importance de faire preuve de loyauté envers les organismes qu’on aime ! De plus, des partenariats ont été créés pour rester. » facebook.com/cafeducouvent facebook.com/centredartrichmondMireille Fréjeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal L'Étincelle
NASHVILLE — For Grammy-winning international star Angelique Kidjo, her artistry and her activism inform each other because music has the power to connect beyond skin colour, language or countries. “Music has that absolutely powerful side to it that sometimes when I finish a concert, I’m like, ’Why can’t we just live like this?'” said the singer-songwriter from the West African country of Benin. That sentiment is something that Skip Marley, a third-generation musician and grandson of reggae icon Bob Marley, has grown up knowing as well. “We’re talking to the people, so it’s all colours, all religions,” said Marley. “Music is music. That’s the beauty of it. It cuts through all of those barriers or borders.” These musicians are part of an online fundraising concert on Dec. 1 called Peace Through Music: A Global Event For Social Justice, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. The Facebook Live event will also feature performances by Annie Lennox, Becky G, Brandi Carlile and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Carlos Santana, Gary Clark Jr., Mavis Staples, Ringo Starr, Run The Jewels, Sheila E, Yo-Yo Ma and more. The event will raise money for the Playing for Change Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund, Sankofa, Silkroad and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. Kidjo, who is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, is an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and education for young women in Africa through her Batonga Foundation. Kidjo has travelled the world to encourage young people to be leaders in their own communities because she says that is the leverage needed to address systematic issues of poverty and climate change. “We’ve created a world with billions of people suffering and a minority of people are living on top of them. And if we want to live in a world of peace, we have to take care of Mother Nature and at the same time take care to get people out of poverty,” said Kidjo, from her home in Paris. For the online concert, Kidjo teamed up remotely with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Peter Gabriel to sing Gabriel's anti-apartheid anthem “Biko,” about a South African activist who was killed in detention in the 1970s. Kidjo said the song’s message directly connected to this year’s Black Lives Matter protests over police killings of Black men and women. “Racism is so linked to capitalism and we have failed to address that issue for so many, many, many years and centuries, I think from slavery all the way to today, that it becomes a cancer that is eating our societies,” said Kidjo. “Get Up, Stand Up,” a simple message that has become part of Bob Marley’s legacy to the world, was the obvious song choice for his grandson to sing for this online concert. “Wherever there is a fight, wherever there is oppression, wherever there is wrongdoing, there will always be that anthem,” said Marley, who performed with song with his mother Cedella Marley. It’s a spiritual experience to sing his grandfather’s songs, Marley said. “Those are the songs I first hear and the songs I first sing,” said Marley. “So when I’m singing it, I’m feeling my grandfather.” Kristin M. Hall, The Associated Press
This summer at Innisfil Beach Park was unlike any other because of the pandemic, and there might be some lessons there for the future. The Innisfil Beach Park ad hoc committee, which makes recommendations to council on park improvements, wants to see the town implement some of the methods used this summer to manage the park continue into 2021. The tow strategy, no visitor parking within one kilometre of the shoreline, and the boat launch app are among them. “This year, it was an opportunity to try out different things,” said Coun. Donna Orsatti, who chairs the committee. The pandemic required the town to do things differently to manage crowding in the interest of public safety. “It changes the way that you view everything,” she said. “Distancing and the way you use a park, the need for people to be able to walk, to get outdoors, to have space.” For James Roncone, citizen member and vice-chair of the committee, the pandemic was an opportunity to put into action ideas previously suggested, like the parking restrictions near the shoreline and the boat launch app. “We already had that in the works, so that's why they were able to launch very quickly,” he said. Looking back, Roncone said he thinks more technology and data will help the town manage the park even better. “Using technologies, you have control,” he said. “I've always said that you need to know how many people are in the park and how many parking spots you have available.” Roncone said he envisions an app where people can book their parking spot, boat launch time, and other amenities at the park. He said the committee has also asked council to look into parking technology to deal with congestion from people trying to enter the park. According to the Town of Innisfil, from the May long weekend to Sept. 20, a total of 32,514 resident vehicles were admitted to the park. Resident vehicles made up 73 per of all vehicles that attempted to enter the park during that time frame. Nicole Bowman, interim director of operations for the town, said better parking technology could help manage the park. “Is that the exact right solution for next summer? Well, that depends on what the COVID landscape looks like, but we still learned that there is a role for technology in there, in helping to provide balance at the park,” she said. One of the most effective strategies used this summer to manage the park was actually a low-tech one. “Our ‘beaches in motion’ concept was one of our biggest wins,” Bowman said. “We were able to have a safe place for people to visit.” Perhaps the biggest lesson from this summer is the importance of flexibility. “We were constantly adapting and we really learned this summer that sometimes we need to try something and then adjust and go forward again,” she said. If the pandemic continues next summer, Bowman said, the town is ready to use what it learned this year to ensure a safe place for residents. “We certainly have a playbook that's ready to open up again and pick up where we left off,” she said. Shane MacDonald, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Premier Dennis King has announced that P.E.I. is "suspending our participation in the Atlantic bubble," meaning those arriving on the Island from the other Atlantic provinces will now have to self-isolate for 14 days.The announcement was made during an unscheduled COVID-19 briefing Monday morning, after a weekend rise in cases in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.King said that starting 12:01 a.m. Tuesday — just after midnight Monday — P.E.I. is suspending all non-essential travel to and from Prince Edward Island for two weeks."This is an extra layer of caution," said King, who spoke on Sunday with his fellow Atlantic premiers. "It is our hope that we can break the transmission chain."He said there could be some flexibility for Islanders who are outside the province now trying to return, given the short notice.King said his government will re-evaluate the situation after the two-week period ends on Dec. 7.King's announcement came on the heels of word from Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey that he too "has made the tough decision to make a circuit break. People arriving from within the Atlantic bubble will have to self-isolate for 14 days." The new rules go into effect on Wednesday in Newfoundland and Labrador. Since July 3, residents of the four Atlantic provinces have been able to travel relatively freely across each other's borders without quarantining. That freedom ends with Monday's pair of announcements — at least for now. King said he hopes P.E.I.'s departure from the bubble is temporary, adding that when it was announced back in June, the goal was to eventually expand it to include people from other parts of Canada where community spread was low or non-existent. One new case confirmedAfter King spoke about P.E.I.'s new rules, Dr. Heather Morrison confirmed one new case of COVID-19 on the Island, a woman in her 40s who travelled from outside the Atlantic bubble.That person is self-isolating and contact tracing is underway. > It's actually likely that P.E.I. will have cases. — Dr. Heather Morrison"Over the last number of days, it has become apparent that our neighbours in Atlantic Canada, especially Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, are experiencing a second wave," said Morrison. "It's actually likely that P.E.I. will have cases."I'm concerned it may already be here with some people."Return to applying for entryMorrison said those coming to the province from the other three Atlantic provinces will now once again need to apply for entry and students who return to P.E.I. will need to self-isolate for two weeks.Any staff working in long-term care who leave the Island will not be eligible to work-isolate upon returning. In a news release issued late Monday, Morrison added: "Out of an abundance of caution, partners in care who have returned from out-of-province travel in the last week must not visit their loved one in long-term care or community care until they have been in PEI for 14 days."People may continue to travel off-Island for medical appointments, and compassionate and custody-related travel can continue. But there will no longer be any interprovincial sports tournaments. "I urge all Islanders to keep their social circles small," said Morrison. "We know that COVID-19 moves as we move."For anyone who has returned from Nova Scotia or New Brunswick in the past week, Morrison said contacts should be limited, testing should be arranged if symptoms appear, and a mask should be worn at all times — including when in the presence of other people outdoors.Students can attend schoolAs for children who are returning from those provinces, Morrison said while they can continue to go to school, they should not attend functions like sports events or birthday parties. "The changes announced today are not forever, just for the time being.… Together, we can do it," she said. On the Island, Morrison is reminding Islanders to stay home if they are sick and to continue following public health guidelines. Putting these new travel restrictions in place should allow people to continue to being able to go out fairly freely and shop locally leading up to Christmas, she added."This is our hope: that we can maintain things as best we can within this province. But certainly it's going to be a challenge," said Morrison.In a subsequent interview with CBC: News Compass host Louise Martin, King wouldn't rule out further restrictions if necessary to keep Islanders safe."I think we always have to look at the what-ifs, and we're prepared to make the decisions we need to make," he said."I hope today's decision indicates to Islanders how serious we are."More from CBC P.E.I.
The 74th annual Lions Children’s Christmas Telethon is going ahead despite not being able to host live acts. Canadore College’s media arts students are compiling highlights of the past three events to produce a four-hour virtual broadcast Sunday, Dec. 5 from 4 to 8 p.m. “We suspect there will be a lot more families in need,” said Gary Verge, telethon committee chairman. He’s with the Bonfield Lions but the fundraiser involves 11 clubs, including Mattawa, Callander, Powassan, Trout Creek, Sundridge, South River, Burk’s Falls, Kearney, Arnstein and Restoule. “We could use $30,000,” Verge said of their target to receive from pledges and donations to buy turkeys, hams and gifts for kids for close to 400 families overall. Each club also adds in boxes of food to go with the initial basket “to help make it last a few meals.” In Bonfield for example, he said about 20 families each year get a little extra support heading into a holiday season that often strains already thin household budgets. Usually, the long-standing telethon runs nine hours lives with artists corralled in line as the performances are rotate through the stages, something that couldn’t be done this year due to COVID-19 pandemic health protocols. “We’re also trying to put together some Christmas entertainment featuring local talent,” Verge said of the dual mandate of igniting the spirit of the season. “But all those acts hanging around up at the college is not a good idea this year.” It’s also “excellent experience” for the Canadore students, he said, hoping they can return to the live show next year. The 2020 telethon can be seen on YourTV Channels 12 and 700, through the www.lionschildrenstelethon.com website; www.canadoretv.com or listen on Country 600 CKAT Radio. To donate, call 705-472-4420 or 1-844-888-4420. You can also make a pledge online or use PayPal at www.lionschldrenstelethon.com Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. NoneDave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
PARIS — The trial of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy for corruption and influence peddling was suspended Monday less than two hours after it started, to allow a medical report on one of the defendants.Sarkozy is accused of having tried to illegally obtain information from a magistrate about an investigation involving him in 2014.This is the first trial for the 65-year-old politician, who has faced several other judicial investigations since leaving office in 2012.He stands trial in a Paris court along with his lawyer Thierry Herzog, 65, and the magistrate, Gilbert Azibert, 73. They face a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of 1 million euros ($1.2 million.) They deny any wrongdoing.Sarkozy and Herzog are suspected of promising Azibert a job in Monaco in exchange for leaking information about an investigation into suspected illegal financing of the 2007 presidential campaign by France’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.Sarkozy arrived at the court surrounded by his lawyers and bodyguards, in the presence of dozens of journalists. The Paris court has been placed under high security as hearings in the case, scheduled until Dec. 10, are taking place at the same time as another key trial — that of the 2015 attacks at the Charlie Hebdo offices and a kosher supermarket.The trial started Monday in the absence of Azibert, whose lawyer requested the hearings to be postponed. He argued his client's bad health makes it risky for him to travel and appear in court amid the coronavirus pandemic, leading the court to suspend proceedings pending an expert medical report. The trial will resume on Thursday.In 2014, Sarkozy and Herzog used secret mobile phones — registered to the alias name of “Paul Bismuth” — to be be able to have private talks as they feared their conversations were being tapped.Sarkozy and Herzog explained that they bought the phones to avoid being targeted by illegal phone tapping. Investigative judges, however, suspect they actually wanted to avoid being tapped by investigators.Judges have found that discussions between Sarkozy and his lawyer suggested they had knowledge that judicial investigators at the time tapped their conversations on their official phones — they mentioned “judges listening.”Sarkozy argued that he never intervened to help Azibert, who never got the job and retired in 2014.Investigative judges consider that as soon as a deal has been offered, it constitutes a criminal offence even if the promises haven't been fulfilled.Legal proceedings against Sarkozy have been dropped in the Bettencourt case.Sarkozy, a lawyer by training, pointed at judicial harassment, accusing judges of breaching lawyer-client privilege via wiretapping.“I don't want things that I didn't do to be held against me. The French need to know... that I'm not a rotten person,” he told BFM TV earlier this month.He said he was facing the trial in a “combative” mood.Sarkozy's predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty in 2011 of misuse of public money, breach of trust and conflict of interest and given a two-year suspended prison sentence for actions during his time as Paris mayor, before he was president from 1995 to 2007.Sarkozy’s name has appeared for years in several other judicial investigations.Allegations, which include illegal financing of his 2007 campaign by then-Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, cast a shadow over Sarkozy's comeback attempt for the 2017 presidential election.After failing to be chosen as candidate by his conservative party, he withdrew from active politics.Sarkozy remained the most popular figure amid French right-wing voters in recent years. His memoirs published this summer, “The Time of Storms,” was a bestseller for weeks.Sarkozy was handed preliminary charges including “illegal campaign financing” in the Libyan investigation, which has been underway since 2013 — and prompted the wiretapping of his phones.Earlier this month, French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine retracted his previous statements that he delivered suitcases from Libya containing 5 million euros ($5.9 million) in cash to Sarkozy and his former chief of staff, Claude Gueant.Instead, he told news broadcaster BFM and magazine Paris-Match that there were “no Libyan financing.”Sarkozy said that the truth “finally comes out.”Financial prosecutors said in a statement that charges in the Libyan case are based “on strong or corroborated evidence that are not limited to one person’s statement only.”Meanwhile, the former president will stand another trial in spring 2021 along with 13 other people on charges of illegal financing of his 2012 presidential campaign.His conservative party and a company named Bygmalion are accused of using a special invoice system to conceal unauthorized overspending.They are suspected of having spent 42.8 million euros ($50.7 million), almost twice the maximum authorized, to finance the campaign, which ended up in victory for Socialist rival Francois Hollande.Nicolas Vaux-Montagny And Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Taylor Swift won her third consecutive artist of the year prize at the American Music Awards, but she missed the show for a good reason: She said she's busy re-recording her early music after her catalogue was sold.In a video that aired during Sunday's awards show, the pop star said “the reason I’m not there tonight is I’m actually re-recording all of my old music in the studio where we originally recorded it. So it’s been amazing. And I can’t wait for you to hear it."Last year music manager Scooter Braun — who manages Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande — announced that his Ithaca Holdings company had acquired Big Machine Label Group, the home to Swift’s first six albums. This month Braun said he has sold the master rights to Swift’s first six albums to an investment company; Swift acknowledged the sale on social media and said she would not work with the new buyers because Braun was still involved.Instead, she headed back to the studio.Swift beat out Bieber, Post Malone and Roddy Ricch to win the top award. She also won favourite music video and favourite pop/rock female artist, winning three honours and tying Bieber, Dan + Shay and the Weeknd for most wins Sunday.The Weeknd lost artist of the year, but he still kicked off his all-star week as a big winner: Days before he’s expected to land multiple Grammy nominations, he won favourite soul/R&B male artist, favourite soul/R&B album for “After Hours" and favourite soul/R&B song for “Heartless” two days before the 2021 Grammy nominations are announced.“The last time I received this award it was given to me by the late, great Prince," he said after winning favourite soul/R&B album. “And, you know, he’s the reason I get to constantly challenge the genre of R&B and yeah, I’d like to dedicate this to him."The Weeknd didn’t break character throughout the three-hour show with his gauze-wrapped face, which matched the vibe of his recent album and music videos where he appears blooded and bruised. He accepted his awards and performed with his face wrapped in gauze.Kenny G joined the Weeknd for his performance, playing the sax in downtown Los Angeles as the Weeknd walked across a bridge singing “In Your Eyes.” He finished the performance singing “Save Your Tears.”The Weeknd was one of several artists who appeared live at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for the fan-voted awards show. Others recently taped their performances because of the coronavirus pandemic, though host Taraji P. Henson — who appeared live from the venue — said the few audience members sitting in the mezzanine practiced social distancing, wore masks and were tested for the virus.Henson joked that A-list celebrities were in the audience, including Beyoncé, though cardboard cut-out of the singer, Jay-Z and other stars appeared in seats.But a good number of chart-toppers were in the building. Breakthrough singer-rapper Doja Cat performed and won new artist of the year and favourite soul/R&B female artist. Grammy-winning country duo Dan + Shay beautifully performed “I Should Probably Go to Bed” and won favourite country duo or group, collaboration of the year and favourite country song for “10,000 Hours," the latter two shared with Bieber. And Megan Thee Stallion — won favourite rap/hip-hop songs for “WAP" with Cardi B — performed “Body" from her recently released debut album “Good News."Bieber and Shawn Mendes kicked off the AMAs with a pre-taped performance of their new duet “Monster," marking the first time they performed the song together. It began with a stripped-down Bieber singing his recent hit “Lonely," with songwriter-producer Benny Blanco on piano, and “Holy," where background dancers wearing masks joined him.Mendes, strumming his guitar, then appeared for “Monster," which featured the twentysomethings singing lyrics about about fame and growing up as celebrities who attracted massive public attention. Mendes later sang his song “Wonder" during the show, which aired on ABC.Katy Perry, in her first performance since giving birth to her first child, gave a strong performance of the emotional and hopeful song “Only Love,” which featured a surprise guest appearance from Darius Rucker, who sang and played guitar. With flaming red lights glaring behind her, Billie Eilish sang her new song “Therefore I Am,” as her brother-songwriter-producer Finneas backed her on guitar. Jennifer Lopez and Maluma teamed up to perform their new songs “Pa’ Ti” and “Lonely” from the film “Marry Me,” which both of them star in, while Dua Lipa — who won favourite pop/rock song — floated in the air during her performance of “Levitating.”24kGoldn and Iann Dior — who currently have the country's No. 1 song with the smash hit “Mood," also performed. The multi-genre track is the rare song that has reached No. 1 on both the rap and rock charts.Other performers included BTS, Lewis Capaldi, Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Baby, Bell Biv DeVoe and Nelly, who performed hits from his diamond-certified debut album “Country Grammar," which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.This year the AMAs, which typically awards one Latin honour, launched more categories in the genre. Becky G — who burst on the music scene in 2014 with the pop hit “Shower" but has recently had success singing in Spanish and launching hits on the Latin charts — won favourite Latin female artist.She used her speech to honour immigrant families.“I proudly wave both flags, Mexican and American. And like many, many children and grandchildren of immigrants, no matter where they’re from, we have learned from the ones before us what sacrifice and hard work looks like," she said. “And I dedicate this award to all of our immigrant workers in this pandemic; the students and immigrant families. It’s because of my family, my abuelitos, that I stand here today."Nominees for the AMAs were based on streaming, album and digital sales, radio airplay and social activity, and reflect the time period of Sept. 27, 2019, through Sept. 24, 2020.Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press