RuPaul’s Drag Race queens Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea, Vinegar Strokes are joined by special guest Peppermint to talk about the highs and lows of Pride and why the LGBTQ+ community around the world need it more than ever.
RuPaul’s Drag Race queens Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea, Vinegar Strokes are joined by special guest Peppermint to talk about the highs and lows of Pride and why the LGBTQ+ community around the world need it more than ever.
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday made it harder for longtime immigrants who have been convicted of a crime to avoid deportation. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for a 5-3 conservative majority that ruled against a Mexican citizen who entered the U.S. illegally and has lived in the country for 25 years. The man, Clemente Avelino Pereida, had been charged in Nebraska with using a fraudulent Social Security card to get a job and convicted under a state law against criminal impersonation. Not all criminal convictions inevitability lead to deportation, but Gorsuch wrote for the court that Pereida failed to prove he was not convicted of a serious crime. Under immigration law, “certain nonpermanent aliens seeking to cancel a lawful removal order must prove that they have not been convicted of a disqualifying crime,” Gorsuch wrote. In a dissent for the three liberal justices, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the court instead should have ruled for Pereida because he was convicted under a law that includes serious offences, falling into the category of crimes of moral turpitude, and less serious ones. “The relevant documents in this case do not show that the previous conviction at issue necessarily was for a crime involving moral turpitude," Breyer wrote. Immigrants with criminal convictions who are facing deportation can ask the attorney general to allow them to remain in the country, if the conviction wasn't for a serious crime and they have lived here at least 10 years, among other criteria. Based on Thursday's ruling, Pereida can't seek that relief. Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not take part in the case because she had not yet joined the court when the case was argued in October. The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — Financial technology company Square, Inc. said Thursday that it has reached an agreement to acquire majority ownership of Tidal, the music streaming service partly owned by Jay-Z. Under the deal, Square will pay $297 million in cash and stock for Tidal, Jay-Z will be named to Square's board of directors, and he and other artists who currently own shares in Tidal will remain stakeholders. Tidal will operate as a distinct entity alongside the point-of-sale hardware and software offerings of San Francisco-based Square, the payments company founded by CEO Jack Dorsey, who is also co-founder and chief executive of Twitter. Tidal has presented itself as the artist-friendly alternative to other music streamers, and Square says it will take that phenomenon further for musicians just as it has for businesses with its financial systems. “It comes down to one simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work,” Dorsey said in the statement announcing the deal. . Jay-Z said in the statement that the “partnership will be a game-changer for many.” I look forward to all this new chapter has to offer!" The Associated Press
To anyone looking into Kim Switzer’s backyard last week, they might have seen what looked to be Switzer playing with her son, Memphis. But despite the singing, the dancing, the laughter, and the pure joy on their faces, the pair were actually working; tromping around in snowshoes in a very particular way to create a 12-foot-wide flat circle in the snow that would serve as the starting point for a backyard igloo. The joy was much needed for Switzer, who thrives when she is outside but has found it difficult to do so this winter in the way she needs for optimum mental health. “For me, it’s pure joy,” she said. “I love nature, it’s rejuvenating for me. It’s uplifting.” Being a single mom of three, homeschooling her kids, experiencing the death of a parent and the loss of a business, all while living through the pandemic and experiencing a lack of winter camping left Switzer feeling discouraged. “My whole winter has been [hard], I haven’t been out, I haven’t been out anywhere,” she said. Then, the kindness of a stranger and the connection made available through social media turned Switzer’s winter around. An avid outdoorsperson herself, she follows like-minded people on social media for ideas, inspiration and friendship. When she saw Martin Pine, who is from Huntsville, share about igloos he was making, she quickly sent him a message asking if he might come to her house and build one in her yard. “The next thing I know, I get a message in my inbox that says, ‘you’re like the third person who’s asked me about building an igloo in their yard, and you’re the only one that’s actually close enough that could actually make it possible,’” she said. Switzer was exuberant with excitement, in the manner, she said, of “a little kid in a candy shop.” “And I still am,” she said, the week after the igloo was built. After she and Memphis had created the starting point in the yard for the igloo, Pine visited the backyard and helped to teach Switzer the technique he has perfected using a contraption called, fittingly, an Icebox Igloo Tool. “He pops open this little itty, bitty, tiny, square box that I would say is definitely less than six inches thick, and maybe a foot wide by 18 inches long,” she said. “It folds all up and it’s meant to strap on your back so you can take it anywhere.” With the Icebox Igloo Tool, Switzer said Pine can generally build an igloo in about four or five hours but she said it took them more time as she was asking questions and learning the process of packing the snow, following the angle guide and creating an igloo that can hold the weight of a person leaning against it. “There were plenty of times where he was like, ‘you’re so concentrated,’” she said. “I was just soaking it all in. I learned so much about snow, and even going around the circle I learned how snow changes state ever so slightly. In the shade, it packs this way, but as you come around and you’re in the sun, it becomes a little more wet, and a little bit more sticky … How different snow packs and moves and blends, it’s pretty wild, actually.” When it was finished, Switzer said she was able to get her much-needed outdoor time, sleeping overnight in the igloo, spending time in it with her ukulele, even eating a take-out meal from the Mill Pond restaurant in the shelter. Pine’s unmonetized YouTube channel has almost 10,000 subscribers and his instructional videos of canoe camping, winter camping, bushcraft, meal preparation and igloo construction have accumulated thousands of views. “I love backcountry camping and I have always lamented that so few people avail themselves of the opportunities we have here in Ontario for getting out into nature and camping in the backcountry,” he told the Times. “I determined many years ago that what keeps people from camping in the backcountry – as opposed to say, car camping in a serviced site in a park – is a simple lack of practical knowledge about how to go about [it].” He shares his knowledge online and was happy to help Switzer learn how to make her own igloo in her backyard – for the price of a cup of coffee or two. “As a boy, growing up in rural Quebec, I loved making and camping in snow shelters called quinzhees, which is essentially a large pile of shovelled snow which one then hollows out to resemble a crude igloo-like shelter,” said Pine. Pine said he knew that igloos were sturdier shelters that could remain standing longer and would not result in the builder getting soaked in their creation. “But the Inuit built their igloos out of a type of snow that is not found in this part of the country, namely hard-sintered, wind-packed snow, which can then be shaped during the building process.” Pine purchased the Icebox Igloo Tool, an invention created by an American mountaineer in Colorado, “Igloo Ed,” that allows him to make snow bricks regardless of the snow conditions. While Switzer’s igloo has suffered in recent weather conditions, she sees the resulting hole in the top of the igloo as an opportunity – one to provide a chance to look up at the stars, and also, to learn about how to fix the problem in her own backyard igloo as experience for if she builds one at another time in backcountry. “I’ve got to learn, and you learn from trial and error, mistakes, whatever it might be,” she said. “It’s been four or five days of just an abundance of information.” The igloo in the backyard of her Carnarvon home has lifted her spirits tremendously. “This is the highlight of my winter,” said Switzer. “That right there made my entire winter.” For more information, visit Pine’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/PineMartyn. Sue Tiffin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Minden Times
The dining room in Katie Rioux's Quebec City restaurant has been closed since the fall, and she expected her business would remain a takeout-only operation for weeks to come, if not longer. On Wednesday, though, the owner of Café Krieghoff received some unexpected good news. Premier François Legault announced he was scaling back health restrictions in several regions, allowing Rioux and countless other restaurant owners to serve customers sitting inside for the first time in five months. "Honestly, we could not have gotten better news than this," said Rioux, who also promised to do her part to ensure Quebec City does not go back to being a red zone. "As restaurant owners, we will do everything we can. I think the population is also on our side." Café Krieghoff owner Katie Rioux can't wait to serve sitting customers at her Quebec City restaurant for the first time in five months. (Radio-Canada) However, some public health experts say the Quebec government's decision to roll back restrictions to this extent is too hasty. Following March break, the Quebec City region will be joined by the Eastern Townships, Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec and Chaudières-Appalaches as the latest to be downgraded from red to orange zones. In these regions, gyms and show venues will be allowed to reopen, houses of worship will be able to take in as many as 100 people at a time. The government is also dropping the requirement that all primary school students must wear a medical grade mask. The nightly curfew remains, but will kick in at 9:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. "I would have preferred to wait until at least one week after the holiday week, because then we would be able to see the impact of the vacation on the increase of cases everywhere in Quebec," said Dr. Cécile Tremblay, a microbiologist and infectious diseases specialist at the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal. "We know that people from Montreal travel to other regions, and we won't know the result of that until two weeks from now." The race between variants and vaccines Legault's announcement came a day after Health Minister Christian Dubé and Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda held a news conference of their own, during which they warned Quebecers about the growing spread of coronavirus variants. "The ocean is calm at the moment ... but underneath there are sharks," Arruda said, "and I'll tell you what those sharks are: they're the variants." The decision to remove restrictions in places outside of the greater Montreal area seems to reflect data showing that variants are gaining more ground in Montreal than elsewhere in the province. On Wednesday, Legault said spikes in cases and hospitalizations were expected in and around Montreal, and those projections played a major role in the government's most recent announcement. But Prativa Baral, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the province is squandering a golden opportunity to deal a crushing blow to the virus. Seniors arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic in the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) With more and more Quebecers set to get vaccinated, Baral says the government should focus on its inoculation campaign while limiting contacts as much as possible, in an effort to keep the spread of variants under control. "For us to be loosening restrictions now, is too premature. We don't want to be reactive, we want to be proactive for once," Baral said. "At this point, it's more of a virus versus vaccine race, and we really want to make sure that we're pushing the vaccine segment to win, as opposed the variant segment." The province's latest projections for the spread COVID-19 appear to reinforce the importance of winning that race. According to the mathematical modelling published by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) on Thursday, lowering the province's collective guard could provoke a rapid spike in new infections that could reach between 3,000 and 4,000 cases per day. It also seems possible, perhaps even likely given the presence of infectious variants, that Quebec will experience a third wave. Sticking with the low-socialization and low-contact measures that were in place from January and February might not entirely prevent another peak this spring in terms of daily infections, but it could keep hospitalization numbers and fatalities low. Marc Brisson, the director of the Université Laval mathematical modelling group that conducts the INSPQ's COVID-19 forecasts, said the model doesn't account for the government's latest announcement, but does include increased inter-regional travel and social contacts from March break. "If we can accelerate vaccination ... and follow public health guidelines, then at that point our model is saying we could stay at a number of cases that would be relatively stable. However, if vaccination slows down and there's more contact, then a third wave is predicted," he said. There is some good news in the projections, however. The model supports the government's contention that there are two distinct epidemiological realities in Quebec: greater Montreal, and the rest of the province. The fact there is lower community spread outside the province's largest urban agglomeration means it's less likely the variant strains will spread. "The race is how many vulnerable people we can protect with vaccination and ... can that variant infect the most vulnerable among us?" he said. The key, Brisson concluded, is continued adherence to public health measures, which "would buy time for the vaccine to take its effect."
OTTAWA — Health Canada says it won't require new clinical trial data from vaccine makers on booster shots being developed to target new variants of COVID-19. Instead, the regulator will rely more heavily on lab tests on blood samples, which can show how many antibodies develop following vaccination. Those antibodies are a good indicator of how well the human body will fight off an infection. The decision should help the regulator authorize the boosters for use in Canada much quicker and is in line with the process used to approve new flu vaccines each year. At least three variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating in Canada and are believed to spread more easily and possibly cause more serious illness. Having vaccines adjusted to target those new strains is a critical part of managing the COVID-19 pandemic. But Health Canada's chief medical adviser, Dr. Supriya Sharma, said there won't be corners cut on safety in evaluating new boosters. "They still need to demonstrate that the vaccine that comes out is still safe, effective and high quality," she said in an interview with The Canadian Press earlier this week. Canada has authorized three vaccines, from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca, and all are working on various boosters against variants. The documents supporting Thursday's decision note that demanding full clinical trials, as was the case for authorizing the original vaccines, would create a serious delay. "This may also be problematic from a public health perspective since delay in updating a vaccine, where needed, bears the risk that the virus is evolving even further, potentially making a new vaccine version outdated at the time of approval again," the document says. Coronaviruses don't mutate as quickly as flu viruses, but do change as they spread among people and the more they spread, the more they change. "So a virus is not going to mutate as much when it can't replicate," Sharma said. The existing vaccines have shown reduced effectiveness against the variants of concern, though Sharma cautions the vaccines are still useful even against the variants. The vaccines Canada has authorized are performing well in countries like the United Kingdom and Israel, where the B.1.1.7 variant is now dominant. That variant is thus far the most common of the three variants of concern in Canada, accounting for more than 90 per cent of about 1,430 variant cases confirmed so far. Many provinces are now screening all confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the variants of concern, and as many as 10 per cent of all confirmed cases are fully sequenced to look for any mutations to the original virus. The B.1.351 variant that first arose in South Africa is the most concerning to date in its potential to evade existing vaccines. As of Wednesday, there were 103 confirmed cases of it in Canada. South Africa stopped using AstraZeneca's vaccine altogether after lab tests suggested it wouldn't be very effective against mild illness for B.1.351, which is dominant in that country. That decision has contributed to growing concerns that AstraZeneca's vaccine is less desirable but Sharma said the details aren't that simple. "Now, if you look at severe disease, or more severe cases, it actually looked like it was still quite protective," she said. "But in a country where that is your dominant circulating stream, and in a country where they had potentially had access to another vaccine shortly, they made the decision that maybe they weren't going to go ahead with that," she said. If B.1.351 becomes a dominant strain here, and current vaccines don't show effectiveness against it, they'll be pulled, Sharma said. "We wouldn't leave a vaccine on the market if we think that it wouldn't be effective for the overall population." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
A Prince County man opted to go to trial on disturbance and weapons charges. Adam Joseph Pitre, 43, pleaded not guilty in Summerside provincial court recently to charges of causing a disturbance and possession of a weapon - a knife - for a dangerous purpose. The charges stem from an incident on Sept. 13. Pitre then failed to appear in court on Nov. 18 resulting in a third charge, to which he also pleaded not guilty. A trial is scheduled for April 30. A Prince County man was high on methamphetamines when officers pulled him over back in June. Colin Alexander McAssey, 24, pleaded guilty in Summerside provincial court recently to possession of illegal drugs and driving while impaired. In Rosebank on June 10, RCMP saw a pickup truck driving on the shoulder of the road for several kilometres. Officers pulled the vehicle over and found McAsssey at the wheel, he was shaking and sweating. The officer asked if he was on any medications and McAssey said he wasn’t. McAssey passed a roadside screening test for alcohol and officers asked him to perform a field sobriety test, which he failed. He was then arrested for impaired driving. While under caution, he told officers he had consumed methamphetamine. Officers seized three grams of crystal meth as well as pills and paraphernalia at the scene. A blood test was sent to the national lab and came back positive for methamphetamines. McAssey had no previous record and hasn’t used drugs since the incident back in June. For driving impaired, Judge Krista MacKay sentenced McAssey to three days in custody and a $1,500 fine. For possession of meth, he was sentenced to one day, to be served concurrently as well as $100 in victim surcharges. McAssey must also pay $450 in victim surcharges and will be under a driving prohibition for 12 months. A Wellington woman told Summerside provincial court recently that she drove drunk because there were no taxis to get her home. Annik Vaillancourt, 36, pleaded guilty to failing to provide a breath sample after police arrested her for impaired operation of a vehicle. At 1:25 a.m. on Dec. 5, police on patrol in New Annan saw a vehicle travelling very slowly in a 90 km/hr zone. The vehicle weaved into the shoulder and then across the centre line several times. Officers then pulled over the vehicle and found Vaillancourt at the wheel. She appeared intoxicated and the officer could smell alcohol. Vaillancourt, who is a francophone, became resistant when officers tried to get a breath sample, saying she didn’t understand what was going on. Officers tried to find someone to communicate with her in French, and got someone on the phone from New Brunswick, but Vaillancourt continued to resist providing a sample. Police kept her in custody overnight. Judge Krista MacKay sentenced her to one day in custody which was served the night of the offence. Vaillancourt was also fined $2,000. She’ll be prohibited from driving for 12 months and must pay $600 in victim surcharges. A Charlottetown man under a driving prohibition was fined after officers discovered him behind the wheel. Derrick Kasirye, 24, pleaded guilty in Summerside provincial court recently to driving while prohibited. On Nov. 21, Kasirye drove into the checkpoint at the Confederation Bridge. He had no identification on him, but officers were able to determine who he was and that he was under a driving ban from Oct. 13. Judge Krista Mackay fined Kasirye $1,000 and handed down a further one-year driving prohibition. He must also pay $300 in victim surcharges. Alison Jenkins, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Journal-Pioneer
County council agreed to support a movement for improvements at long-term care (LTC) homes, though disagreed with local advocates’ desire to end for-profit homes. Council voted to write a letter of support for the Haliburton-CKL (City of Kawartha Lakes) Long-Term Care Coalition. The advocacy group is joining with others across the province to push for improvements, including amending the Canada Health Act to include LTC, guaranteeing four hours of direct care per day for residents, stronger enforcement and a culture change. Councillors spoke in favour of those ideas. But the coalition’s desire to end private LTC did not garner support and was specifically excluded in the resolution. “The first four points that you have, I think, are a bold initiative and a great start,” Coun. Brent Devolin said. “The supply going forward, will public initiatives alone be enough to look after all of us?” Coalition co-chair, Bonnie Roe, cited the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide organization also calling for the end to for-profit long-term care. Its May 2020 analysis found COVID-19 deaths in homes with outbreaks were higher in private (nine per cent) versus non-profit (5.25 per cent) or publicly-owned (3.62 per cent). The Canadian military also released a report about terrible conditions at homes it intervened in last May, which prompted the province to start an independent commission. Four of those homes were privately-owned. “There are some for-profits that are excellent, but generally speaking, they do not follow the standards,” Roe said. “People are asking, ‘why are there private profits attached to us as a society caring for our elders’?” co-chair, Mike Perry, said. “Why was that ever seen as a profit-making venture?” Warden Liz Danielsen said the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus has identified LTC as a priority. But she added the caucus is not yet in favour of ending private facilities. Coun. Carol Moffatt said she can attest to the challenges of eldercare and there is a drastic need for better support for health workers. “More people to do the job,” Moffatt said. “We also maybe need to be careful of what you wish for in terms of potential downloading. How do we all as a province push for the changes that are required, without it going off the cliff and then landing in the laps of municipalities for increased costs?” Perry thanked council for the support. “There’s so much common room and so much common ground for this moving forward,” he said. “That’s where we find hope in all this tragedy recently." Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
TEMAGAMI - Through a Ministry of Ontario Seniors Community Grant, Living Temagami – Arts and Culture is offering the community free digital programming for seniors throughout March and April. The main purpose of the program is to “highlight senior artists and engage seniors and elders with interesting digital programming during the pandemic,” explained Living Temagami – Arts and Culture artistic director Chandel Gambles. “Although many may have had an opportunity to explore digital tools during this pandemic, not everyone is comfortable with new technology and online programs,” she said in an email message to The Speaker. “With everyone spending more time at home this year, many members of our community will feel isolated and disconnected with their families, friends, and community supporters. This emotion is often exacerbated for those who are not familiar with new digital technologies available to them. This winter, together, we will help break down communication barriers in our region by inviting everyone to share their skills and knowledge.” Gambles explained that the grant funding will specifically go back into the hands of the community’s artists, creators, and wellness workers to provide the regional community with programming that is accessible for everyone. Throughout March and April, Living Temagami is hosting over 25 free arts workshops, performances, and wellness sessions in which everyone can participate. With the support of the Municipality of Temagami, Gambles said some of the April events may even take place in-person at COVID-safe outdoor and indoor community spaces, depending on health and safety restrictions at that time. “Not only are the events free, but we also have free art supplies and workshop kits available for our hands-on digital arts workshops, for those who may not have art supplies at home,” she noted. “We look forward to ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in the fun.” Each event will link to one of five focuses, including seniors’ digital concerns, health and wellness, intergenerational learning, sharing and mentorship, First Nations culture and skill sharing, professional arts and culture performances and arts, crafts and culture workshops. Gambles said that some of Living Temagami’s free programming planned for Zoom technology and Facebook Live this month includes the Northern Voices Professional Play Reading series this week and next. “This includes family friendly shows next week, co-presented with Pied Piper Kidshows,” she said. Other events on tap this month include Jerry the Majicman – a magic show and magic workshop co-presented with Temiskaming Art Gallery’s Open Studio Libre, a free music performance by Wayne Potts through the Raven’s Nest series, Girl’s Night Out Goes Virtual- a music event hosted by Mary Laronde, a writing workshop with northern professional playwright Matthew Heiti, and a number of free art drawing, painting, cellphone photography, and traditional craft workshops. As well, in honour of Women’s History Month, Living Temagami also will host a pre-International Women’s Day online event on March 7, to align with celebrations for women all around the world. “We also encourage folks to connect with a number of other amazing community offerings, like the Cyber Seniors hotline at 1-844-217-3057, to receive free digital tech support through one-on-one mentorships,” said Gambles. “The volunteer digital mentors will happily help seniors setup video calls with friends and attend digital community events. We also hope folks will enjoy the free Senior Centre Without Walls program at this time, which has over-the-phone social activities for those without internet access.” Gambles added that in unison with the support of many local and regional organizations, Living Temagami is working to bring joy, art, and community back into everyone’s homes during an unprecedented time in history. “We hope those of all ages will join us online over the coming months,” she said. For more information on Living Temagami’s free seniors digital programming, you can check out their Facebook page. To get involved as a volunteer or workshop presenter, or to receive some technical assistance to help you attend the free online events, you can send an email to email@example.com or call 705-650-1191. Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
NEW YORK — Even in a crazy year with so many ups and downs, consider the last 12 months of Aaron Tveit. The Broadway star was wowing fans in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” when it was suddenly shuttered by the coronavirus. Then he contracted COVID-19 himself. He recovered to lend his voice to relief efforts, got a few high-profile acting gigs and then landed his first Tony nomination. “It’s hard to have perspective,” he said. “I just think that’s going to need a little bit of time and a little bit of a 25,000-foot view to see what actually happened in the last year.” Two back-to-back blows came within weeks last March when his show was shuttered and then Tveit became one of the first Broadway actors to speak publicly about contracting COVID-19. "I wanted to kind of say, ‘Look, I’m somebody that really takes care of my health and I’d like to think I’m in good shape.’ I was basically trying to say, ‘This can affect anyone. Please take this seriously,’” he said. Tveit, 37, says he now suspects he was sicker than he thought at the time. For several weeks, he slept 13 hours a day but thankfully, his lungs weren't affected. “It was like a terrible, terrible sinus infection.” A few weeks later, he had a flare-up. “In terms of lasting effects, I think I’ve been OK,” he said. “I know a lot of people that really, really suffered. So I consider myself very lucky that I got by with as mild a case as I did.” Tveit summoned the strength to lend his support for out-of-work actors — joining stars like Sutton Foster and Jeremy Jordan for a benefit concert hosted by Rosie O’Donnell and later singing “Marry Me a Little” for a Stephen Sondheim birthday celebration. “It felt so meaningful to me to be included but also the message behind it: We can still be a community, we can still learn how to come together even under these circumstances," he said. With “Moulin Rouge!” grounded, Tveit found work elsewhere. Over the summer, he shot a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie with Laura Osnes and flew to Vancouver to work on the Apple TV+ series “Schmigadoon!” “Gratitude doesn’t even describe how I feel,” he said of the employment. “I think about it every day because I know so many people who have not been able to work at all. The question of paying rent, of being able to support families and pay bills — it’s it’s truly devastating.” Tveit's first big gig was in a “Rent” tour and he made his Broadway debut as a replacement in “Hairspray” and then “Wicked.” He then had three starring roles in “Next to Normal,” “Catch Me If You Can” and now “Moulin Rouge!” His film work includes the adaptation of "Les Misérables" and on TV he was in “Graceland,” “BrainDead” and “Grease Live!” A bright spot in a dark year was when “Moulin Rouge!” earned more than a dozen Tony nominations, which the company celebrated with a Zoom toast. “I’d like to think that our show would have done as well in any year. So I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done,” he said. Tveit was the only actor nominated in the category of best leading actor in a musical for his role as Christian and it marks his first nomination. Unopposed, he’s poised to win, as long as 60% of Tony voters vote for him in the category. “It’s the most wild thing that it just worked out that way. But I’m just so grateful and I take it as nothing but as a recognition of the hard work that I put into the show,” he said. Producer Carmen Pavlovic calls Tveit a unique musical theatre actor whose vocal talent “just blows you away,” spanning ballads and all-out rock numbers. "I’m thrilled he’s received his first Tony nomination for his performance, which reflects not only his work on ‘Moulin Rouge!’ but also Aaron’s vast body of work that brings his career journey to this special moment,“ she said. Tveit sees something of a silver lining in the Broadway shutdown: Long unaddressed social issues are being examined, top among them racial representation on both sides of the curtain. While urging donations to the national services group The Actor's Fund, he also champions Black Lives Matter groups, anti-racism organizations, bail relief and transgender resources. “I’ve done a lot of listening,” he said. “I've tried to just shut my mouth and listen to everything around me and what people need and what people feel and then look at how personally I may or may not be helping.” When Broadway restarts, he hopes the hard work can continue of ensuring all people have equal access to theatre work, not just friends or those recommended. “I think that if that means for a while making a concentrated effort to look beyond the norm, then maybe five or 10 years from now hopefully we'll be in a much better place,” he said. ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress are jamming their agenda forward with a sense of urgency, an unapologetically partisan approach based on the calculation that it’s better to advance the giant COVID-19 rescue package and other priorities than waste time courting Republicans who may never compromise. The pandemic is driving the crush of legislative action, but so are the still-raw emotions from the U.S. Capitol siege as well as the hard lessons of the last time Democrats had the sweep of party control of Washington. Republicans are mounting blockades of Biden’s agenda just as they did during the devastating 2009 financial crisis with Barack Obama. Democrats, in turn, are showing little patience for the GOP objections and entertaining few overtures toward compromise, claiming the majority of the country supports their agenda. With fragile majorities in the House and Senate, and a liberal base of voters demanding action, Democrats are operating as if they are on borrowed time. For many lawmakers, it's personal. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., led the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to House passage Wednesday on the 30th anniversary of the Rodney King beating by police in Los Angeles that she thought at the time would spur policing reforms. Instead, more Black Americans and others have died in police violence, even after Floyd's death at the hands of law enforcement last summer. “It’s examples like that that lead to the urgency,” Bass said Wednesday. The start of the first congressional session of the Biden administration was supposed to be a new era of bipartisan deal-making. The Senate evenly split, 50-50, and the House resting on a slim majority for Democrats set prime conditions for Biden to swoop in and forge across-the-aisle compromises. But the rush through Biden's first 100 days is shaping up as an urgent era of hardball politics, with Democrats prepared to go it alone, even if that means that changes to the Senate filibuster rules are needed to work around Republican roadblocks to legislation that many Americans support. “We said we’re going to do X, Y and Z, but we didn’t say we were going to be magicians,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “We can’t magically make the Republicans be for what the people are for.” Days before Biden entered office, White House chief of staff Ron Klain highlighted the urgency with which the incoming administration would seek to act. “We face four overlapping and compounding crises: the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis,” he wrote in a memo. “All of these crises demand urgent action.” From his first hours in office, Biden sought to take deliberate steps to deliver relief, but also to raise awareness about those and other priorities on the theory that moving urgently would increase public support and raise pressure on Republican lawmakers who might stand in the way. And within the White House there's another kind of urgency: Biden has staffed his administration with veterans of government service who are not looking to stick around that long. Some aides are open about their commitments to help Biden for just a year before returning to private-sector jobs. Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is coursing ahead on party-line votes under budget rules that will allow Senate passage by a simple 51-vote threshold, denying Republicans the ability to block the bill with a filibuster that would take 60 votes to overcome. House leaders have reworked this month’s schedule for legislation to include voting rights, gun background checks and immigration in the queue — many of them do-overs of bills blocked last session by President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans. They still face a long haul to becoming law without GOP support in the Senate. But lawmakers and advocates are racing to capitalize on House rules that allow any bill to bypass lengthy committee hearings if brought forward by April 1. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer often hark back to the lessons of 2009, when Obama took office during the financial crisis and Democrats cut back the recovery package to win a few Republican votes only to face an onslaught of attacks against the bill. Many of the same Democrats in leadership today are unwilling to risk a repeat, especially as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other economists now say that paring back the 2009 rescue package stunted the recovery. “One of the biggest lessons that Republicans learned in the '09 and '10 era is they could basically obstruct everything and not suffer at the ballot box,” said Tre Easton, a senior adviser at the liberal Battle Born Collective. The strategy is on display again. House Republicans used procedural objections to stall the COVID-19 package until well past midnight late last week after a marathon rules session spilled voting into early Saturday. Senate Republicans are now threatening similar delays. “We’ll be fighting this in every way that we can,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said about the COVID-19 package. McConnell wants Senate Republicans to vote in lockstep against the virus aid, calling it a bloated liberal wish list, following the lead of House Republicans who gave it zero support. That leaves Democrats negotiating with themselves on the COVID-19 package, with Biden warning they won’t like every aspect as he courts centrists. Progressives are being forced to abandon, for now, a provision to lift the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. On Wednesday, Democrats decided to more narrowly target $1,400 direct payments to households. Yet Democrats are holding together, so far, because there’s also the urgency that was not readily apparent until Biden was sworn into office. Perhaps nothing has stiffened the Democratic resolve like the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol, which carved new fault lines between those who confirmed the presidential election results and those willing to side with the mob seeking to overturn Trump’s defeat to Biden. Democratic lawmakers who arrive at the fenced-in Capitol under the watchful protection of armed National Guard troops appear to have “zero” patience, as one aide put it, for engaging with Republicans — some of whom still question the election results. A new threat of violence sent lawmakers to wrap up work for the week late Wednesday. Republicans are protesting the partisan start, even though they relied on a similar budget mechanism to try to pass Trump-era priorities. They set out to repeal “Obamacare,” an effort that shockingly failed when Sen. John McCain gave it a thumbs-down vote. Later they passed $2 trillion in tax cuts on a party-line vote. The third-ranking Republican, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, said Biden should go back to his campaign and inauguration themes of bipartisanship “and try to live up to it.” Bass and others are still hopeful working to find bipartisan Senate support for the policing bill. But a generation of House leaders who have served decades with Biden and are nearing retirement are increasingly pushing for Senate filibuster rules changes to counter broader Republican opposition. Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., the majority whip, said of Republican obstruction: "If that’s what they're going to do, then they're going to have to live with it, because we’re going to serve it up.” Lisa Mascaro And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Heart inflammation is uncommon in pro athletes who’ve had mostly mild COVID-19 and most don’t need to be sidelined, a study conducted by major professional sports leagues suggests. The results are not definitive, outside experts say, and more independent research is needed. But the study published Thursday in JAMA Cardiology is the largest to examine the potential problem. The coronavirus can cause inflammation in many organs, including the heart. The research involved professional athletes who play football, hockey, soccer, baseball and men's and women's basketball. All tested positive for COVID-19 before October and were given guideline-recommended heart tests, nearly 800 total. None had severe COVID-19 and 40% had few or no symptoms — what might be expected from a group of healthy elite athletes with an average age of 25. Severe COVID-19 is more common in older people and those with chronic health conditions. Almost 4% had abnormal results on heart tests done after they recovered but subsequent MRI exams found heart inflammation in less than 1% of the athletes. These five athletes all had COVID-19 symptoms. Whether their heart problems were caused by the virus is unknown although the researchers think that is likely. They were sidelined for about three months and returned to play without any problems, said Dr. Mathew Martinez of Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey. He's the study’s lead author and team cardiologist for football's New York Jets. Two previous smaller studies in college athletes recovering from the virus suggested heart inflammation might be more common. The question is of key interest to athletes, who put extra stress on their hearts during play, and undetected heart inflammation has been linked with sudden death. Whether mild COVID-19 can cause heart damage ‘’is the million-dollar question,’’ said Dr. Richard Kovacs, co-founder of the American College of Cardiology’s Sports & Exercise Council. And whether severe COVID-19 symptoms increase the chances of having fleeting or long-lasting heart damage ‘’is part of the puzzle,’’ he said. Kovacs said the study has several weaknesses. Testing was done at centres affiliated or selected by each team, and results were interpreted by team-affiliated cardiologists, increasing the chances of bias. More rigorous research would have had standardized testing done at a central location and more objective specialists interpret the results, he said. Also, many of the athletes had no previous imaging exams to compare the results with, so there is no way to know for certain if abnormalities found during the study were related to the virus. ’’There is clearly more work to do but I think it is very helpful additional evidence,” said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, president-elect of the American Heart Association. Dr. Dial Hewlett, a member of a COVID-19 task force at the National Medical Association, which represents Black physicians, said the study ‘’is extremely timely.’’ Hewlett is a deputy health commissioner for New York's Westchester County and advises high schools and colleges on when to allow young athletes to return to play after COVID-19 infections. ‘’I’m grateful that we are starting to get some data to help guide us in some of our decisions,’’ Hewlett said. ___ Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press
Two projects at Queen’s University have received close to $10 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to significantly advance their research. This funding is part of an announcement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday, Mar. 3, 2021, stating that more than $518 million in research infrastructure funding will support 102 projects at 35 post-secondary institutions and research hospitals across Canada. Queen’s is also a collaborator on a third project, led by Carleton University. According to a release from Queen’s University, dated Thursday, Mar. 4, 2021, the funding will be used for infrastructure that will help to combat climate change, treat cancer, and understand the fabric of the universe. The Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) and Queen’s researcher Annette Hay (Medicine) and Jonathan Bramson, of McMaster University, have received CFI support of more than $5 million for their project to develop a national cellular therapy translational research platform, the first of its kind globally, Queen’s said in the release. ExCELLirate Canada: Expanding CELL-based Immunotherapy Research Acceleration for Translation and Evaluation is a collaboration between Queen’s, McMaster University, University of Calgary, University of Ottawa, Université de Montréal, and Canadian Blood Services. CFI funds will support research activities from novel cell therapy development to point-of-care cell manufacturing and multi-centre clinical trial testing for cancer treatment. Queen’s says this project aims to develop cell therapies as safe and viable treatment options through identifying biological mechanisms affecting safety and designing cost-effective methods for the harvest, expansion, manipulation, purification, and delivery of the cells. The second project, which received close to $4.5 million in funding from CFI, has Queen’s civil engineering researchers Andy Take, Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical Engineering, and Ian Moore, Canada Research Chair in Infrastructure Engineering, aiming to improve the future resiliency of Canada’s civil engineering infrastructure in the face of climate change with their project CASTLE. The Climate Adaptive infraStructure Testing and Longevity Evaluation (CASTLE) Innovation Cluster is a collaboration between Queen’s and the Royal Military College of Canada. As Canada’s landmass spans diverse geographic regions, current and future infrastructure must be made resilient against the unique impacts of climate change affecting remote northern regions to southern urban centres, according to the release. Queen’s says the objectives for CASTLE are to improve storage of mine waste, ensure safety and improve resilience of transportation infrastructure, such as roads, railways, and pipes, and coastal defense structures, as well as ports and harbours, against the direct and triggered geotechnical hazards of climate change. In furthering Canada’s leadership in the field of dark matter, Queen’s is also a collaborator on a project to develop the next generation liquid argon dark matter detector and an underground argon storage facility at SNOLAB. Understanding the nature of dark matter, which makes up 85 per cent of the universe, is one of science’s unsolved mysteries, according to Queen’s. This project will include upgrades to the DEAP-3600 experiment, contributions to the Darkside-20k experiment, and the development of the ultimate ARGO detector at SNOLAB. By enabling further scientific discovery at SNOLAB, the location where Queen’s researcher Arthur McDonald conducted his Nobel Prize winning research, this project has the potential to develop technical and commercial innovations in digital light sensors and offer training opportunities to junior researchers and students, Queen’s said in the release. “This support will allow Queen’s to build on exceptional international strengths and have a direct impact on how we live and understand the world around us,” said Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice Principal (Research) at Queen’s University. “Thank you to the Government of Canada for investing in the tools that advance research.” For more information on projects funded through the Innovation Fund 2020, visit the CFI website. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
There are now seven more cases at the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC). The cases are still contained to the same unit where the initial 14 were identified over the weekend, said Richard Dionne, president of the CNCC Local 369. The corrections officer said he could not share the total number of inmates in that wing, but noted that the area remains isolated. "I don't know the full count and I can't give it to you anyway for security reasons," said Dionne, speaking to MidlandToday. He said he was thankful that no staff cases have been identified at this time. "Hopefully, it stays that way," said Dionne. "The health unit came in the other day to offer voluntary staff testing. I don't know how many staff got tested, but none of those that did, to my knowledge, have come back positive." He said the same safety protocols are being followed with staff wearing increased PPE when interacting with inmates and those incarcerated being provided with masks if needed. "There haven't been any additional measures put into place right now," said Dionne. As for the virus possibly spreading in the air, he said, every unit functions independently in terms of ventilation. "I'm very hopeful we can contain it to the one unit and not have it spread to the entire institution," Dionne said, adding the stress level among staff remains high. "The workload has increased just based on the way that the operation changes because we're limiting day-room use and following protocol around higher use of PPE. And it's also the same for inmates, he added. "They just get more and more frustrated being locked down," Dionne said. "Increased cell time is never good for anyone. That's been put out there by a number of professionals that time locked in the cell by yourself or with one other person isn't beneficial." A request for comment from the province was not received by publication time. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
Any Nova Scotian who wants a COVID-19 vaccine may be able to get their first shot by the end of June, Premier Iain Rankin said Thursday. The news comes after Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization said Wednesday the maximum interval between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. Rankin said given this new span of time, "logic would follow" that Nova Scotia could end its practice of holding back the second dose of vaccines. Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, is expected to give more details in a Friday press conference. 3 new cases Thursday Three new cases of the virus were reported in the province on Thursday, bringing the active total to 29 cases. All of the three new cases are in the central zone. Two are close contacts of previously reported cases, and the other case is under investigation. Five people are currently in hospital with the virus, including two in intensive care. East Coast Varsity School, a small private school in Dartmouth, N.S., said in a letter to families that a student had tested positive for COVID-19. The school said any close contacts of the student have been notified and are following public health protocols. Halifax-area restrictions lifting Nova Scotia is also lifting restrictions on the Halifax area, less than a week after they were put in place, as COVID-19 cases remain low. Many of the restrictions that came into effect last Saturday, Feb. 27, around restaurant hours, sport competitions, performances and non-essential travel, will end Friday at 8 a.m. "Last week we were worried about increased case numbers in Halifax but what we are seeing this week warrants lifting some restrictions early," Rankin said in a release. Nova Scotia saw 10 new cases of COVID-19 last Friday, the highest number the province has seen since Jan. 6, when 12 new cases were reported. But cases remained below 10 throughout the past week. "I know that restrictions can have a significant impact on businesses but safety is always the first priority, and I want to thank Nova Scotians for following public health advice as that has allowed us to ease them earlier," Rankin said. Spike in tests 'critical' to making changes: Strang The Nova Scotia health authority's labs completed 6,551 Nova Scotia tests on Wednesday. Strang specifically thanked all the Nova Scotians who turned out for COVID-19 testing over the past week. "These record numbers helped give us a bigger picture of the virus in HRM and elsewhere in the province. It was critical to this decision," he said in a release. The following activities will be allowed as of Friday: Restaurants and bars will return to previous dine-in service requirements, which means stopping service by 10 p.m. and closing by 11 p.m. Participants and officials in performing arts and sports (recreational, amateur and professional) can gather in groups of up to 60 people without social distancing for rehearsals, performances, practices and regular competitive schedules. Spectators can attend performing arts and sports events, as long as the host facilities have a gathering plan. Public school gyms will reopen for after-school use on Saturday. Weddings and funerals in a faith facility or funeral homes can have 150 people outdoors, or 50 per cent of a space's capacity to a maximum of 100 people indoors. Receptions and visitations are still not permitted in HRM and the surrounding municipalities. Restrictions remain in long-term care Rankin and Strang will address the easing of restrictions in more detail at Friday's COVID-19 briefing. Affected by the restrictions were the suburban and urban areas of Halifax, including Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford, Sackville, Cole Harbour, Eastern Passage, Middle Porters Lake, Fall River, Enfield, Lantz, Hammonds Plains, Herring Cove, the Prestons, Lake Echo, Timberlea, Tantallon, Mount Uniacke and St. Margarets Bay. Restrictions in long-term care facilities are unchanged. Residents can still only have visits from their two designated caregivers, and can only leave the facility for medical appointments or for a drive with a designated caregiver. This long-term care restriction will remain in effect until March 27 in HRM and certain surrounding municipalities. As of Wednesday, 37,590 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 14,219 Nova Scotians have received their second dose. Potential COVID-19 exposure Late Thursday night, the health authority announced a potential COVID-19 exposure on Air Canada Flight 7560 departing from Montreal on Feb. 24 (6:59 p.m.) and arriving in Halifax (9:42 p.m.) for passengers in rows 20-26, seats C, D and F. Anyone exposed may develop symptoms up to, and including, March 10. People seated in the specified rows and seats should book a COVID-19 test on the self-assessment website or contact 811, regardless of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms. A full list of active potential exposures can be found here. More appointments available next week Rankin said some changes have been made in order to avoid a repeat of Monday, when residents age 80 and up could book their COVID-19 vaccination but the booking webpage had to be disabled for several hours due to high traffic numbers. Moving forward, people will be organized by birth months to limit the number trying to book at once. There is also a larger list of appointments available on Monday. "Hopefully we're going to be able to streamline the process more and more as we keep moving forward," Rankin said. A health-care worker displays a vial of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on March 1, 2021.(Luc Gnago/REUTERS) Rankin also talked about the plan for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. It will be administered through Doctors Nova Scotia and the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia to Nova Scotians age 50 to 64 on a first-come, first-served voluntary basis, starting the week of March 15. The premier said the doctor and pharmacy associations will handle the booking platforms and processes for the upcoming AstraZeneca rollout. The shipment must be used by April 2, and the province said all 13,000 doses will be administered at 26 locations across the province, but those locations have yet to be announced. Rankin said the math works out to about 500 doses per location. When asked about how the province will avoid a stampede of people showing up to be vaccinated, Rankin said Nova Scotia will establish a plan, and look at what other provinces are doing and what it is receiving from the federal government. Atlantic Canada case numbers MORE TOP STORIES
The temporary pandemic shelter Tipinawâw at the Edmonton Convention Centre on Jasper Avenue will remain open until the end of April, city council agreed unanimously at a meeting Thursday. The extended operations will cost $2.2 million, an amount available in a COVID-19-specific fund set aside in the city's stabilization reserve. This is in addition to the $8 million the city invested in the shelter last fall. The 24/7 shelter accommodates 300 people a night, with meals, laundry, shower facilities, as well as counselling and housing services. Three agencies have been contracted to run the shelter since October: Boyle Street Community Services, the Bissell Centre and the Mustard Seed Society. The Bent Arrow Society helps with cultural programming and counselling. Mayor Don Iveson said there's a clear need to continue the operations through the end of the spring. "I don't regret at all establishing this facility," Iveson said. Indigenous elders gave the facility the name Tipinawâw, a Cree wording meaning shelter from outside elements. From October 2020 to mid-February, nearly 4,200 different people accessed daytime services at the facility, and about 2,300 people used the overnight shelter, says a city report. At the beginning of the meeting, Coun. Scott McKeen asked about security at the shelter — saying he's received emails from residents concerned about what's happening in the area. Rob Smyth, deputy manager of citizen services, said there were some "significant challenges" early on and the city has been working with police and private security to increase presence around the facility. Temporary encampments have cropped up around the shelter, Smyth noted. "It's not perfect, but we certainly have tried to increase our activity to make it as safe and secure as we possibly can," Smyth said. A second temporary 24/7 shelter at Commonwealth Stadium is being run by Hope Mission, while a third near 99th Street in the Ritchie neighbourhood is operated by the Mustard Seed. @natashariebe
Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre seeks to help bridge the gaps between people with its first-ever online exhibition launched Feb. 27. Titled “Connection,” the show presents submissions from its members, featuring a wide array of mediums. Besides a physical gallery still viewable at the centre under additional public protocols, it is also available on the centre’s website, with a guided virtual tour. Curator Laurie Jones said she learned about the format from the Ontario Society of Artists and it was a way to improve access. “Not everybody’s comfortable yet with being around, especially in public spaces,” Jones said. The exhibition is an annual salon show, drawing from local talent, Jones said. The pandemic prompted the move to an online addition – and the theme for the show itself. “It came up out of my own cravings for connections and missing people,” Jones said. “In many ways, we’re looking for alternate ways to connect.” Artist Rosanna Dewey’s exhibition piece depicts one of those ways. It is an oil painting entitled “Zoom Room” depicting a call on the online meeting platform. She said the show’s theme was poignant. “It’s so hard to be connected,” Dewey said. “It really made me think about what was going on and what my connections were.” She said she had some skepticism about the online concept but found it turned out appealing. “You want to be able to get up close to the artwork and you get more of a sense of the piece,” Dewey said. “But I found that people were still interested. People still needed to go and experience art, even if it was through a Zoom format.” Arts and Crafts Festival on pause But the community will miss one big way to connect with art in the summer. The Haliburton Art and Craft Festival – the gallery’s flagship event and fundraiser – is cancelled for the second straight year due to the pandemic, Jones said. She said it would be too logistically challenging to ensure safety amidst the pandemic. “We don’t want to introduce any risk to our volunteers or staff or vendors or patrons,” Jones said. “Maintaining sanitary conditions would be impossible.” Jones said the centre needs to decide early to inform artists and give them time to plan. She said there might be alternate programming, but that is being worked out. For now, the Rails End is still putting on exhibitions and bringing arts to the community. “We’re not trying to sell anything. We’re trying to provide an experience,” Jones said. “Hopefully, they feel the connection with the creative arts.” “Connection” runs until April 17 and is available at the centre itself or railsendgallery.com. Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will review a decision to order a new trial for an Alberta man convicted of murder. Russell Steven Tessier was charged with first-degree murder in 2015, eight years after Allan Gerald Berdahl's body was found in a ditch near Carstairs. Berdahl died from gunshot wounds to the head, and there were tire tracks, footprints and two cigarette butts near the scene. Tessier was convicted in 2018 but Alberta's Court of Appeal later ordered a new trial. The appeal court said the trial judge made legal errors concerning the voluntariness of statements Tessier made to police. As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for agreeing to hear the case. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Highlands East plans to work alongside the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) in its consultation to dispose of the provincial Crown Reserve on Centre Lake. Council passed a resolution March 2 to take part in the ministry’s process. It comes as the province considers two applications for development at Centre Lake that seek to use its 200-foot Crown reserve, including a 60-suite resort called Granite Shores. Planner Chris Jones said the MNRF will want municipal input – and whether council supports the Crown land disposition. “If council is ultimately going to be tasked with rendering some decision of support or non-support,” Jones said. “Take the bull by the horns and as far as a consultation process, create an opportunity for people and stakeholders to provide comments directly to the municipality.” The motion indicates consultation will include notice by direct mail to landowners within two kilometres of Centre Lake, Cardiff shoreline associations and Indigenous groups. The municipality will also notify local trail and recreational organizations such as the Paudash Trail Blazers Snowmobile Club by direct mail or email. In addition, the municipality is proposing a virtual open house as a special meeting to provide an opportunity for public comment. There will be further notification in local print media and on the municipal website. “Pick a date and schedule a special meeting of council for the sole purpose of allowing for public input,” Jones said. “That becomes the salient aspect of this disposition that council can use to inform themselves.” Granite Shores launched its own website in February detailing its project and soliciting feedback, but it is separate from any government consultation to come. “We aim to provide all the information on this exciting development in Haliburton Highlands in an open and transparent fashion,” the development said on its website. No timeline has yet been set for the meeting or the MNRF’s consultation process. Regional planner Pauline Capelle said it is difficult to predict but could be posted for input in the coming months. Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander