That change in the air isn't just the coming of spring: there's a shift happening in the political dynamic surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. After weeks of the federal Liberal government taking heat for the slow arrival of vaccines in Canada, it's provincial premiers who must now answer to jittery, impatient voters hoping to be immunized as soon as possible. New Brunswick's Liberal opposition is now pushing Premier Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservative government for more details about the provincial vaccination plan — details they say other provinces have been providing to their citizens. "We're not trying to play politics with this, but there's certainly not a lot of information being given out to New Brunswickers, and New Brunswickers are asking questions to their MLAs," says Liberal Leader Roger Melanson. Opposition Liberal leader Roger Melanson (CBC News) In January, Higgs said many more New Brunswickers could be vaccinated each week, if only there were enough vaccine. Now those supplies are ramping up fast. New Brunswick received 11,760 doses last week and a similar number is expected this week. Melanson says those doses should be administered as quickly as they arrive. "We're seeing deliveries, much bigger deliveries than what we had been getting since January, so now the onus has shifted onto the provincial governments," says political scientist Stéphanie Chouinard of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. Deputy minister of Health Gérald Richard told the legislature's public accounts committee Feb. 24 that New Brunswick would be ready for what he called "a flood" of vaccines, including those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. "We are very confident that we have a good plan in New Brunswick," Richard said. "It was approved by the COVID cabinet and ratified by cabinet a few months ago." Department of Health deputy minister Gérald Richard, left(Jacques Poitras/CBC) But the only detail the province provided during Monday's vaccine update was that 2,400 more long-term care residents would be done this week, accounting for about a quarter of the doses expected to arrive. And officials have given varying estimates of how many people can be vaccinated per week. In January, when deliveries to the province were still a trickle, Premier Blaine Higgs said 45,000 could be done, if only the province had enough vaccine. On Thursday he told reporters the province could do 40,000, then added it might be possible to double that to 80,000. Last Saturday, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told CBC's The House that New Brunswick could vaccinate "up to 4,000 people a day," which works out to a maximum of 28,000 per week — below Higgs's estimate. Meanwhile, other provinces are moving faster, or at least providing more detail, on their rollouts. This week, Nova Scotia announced its plan for 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the third to be approved in Canada. A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press) The doses arrive next week and Nova Scotia doctors and pharmacists will administer the doses to people aged 50-64 in 26 locations around the province starting March 15. New Brunswick has provided no such detail on what it will do with the approximately 10,000 doses it will receive. Higgs says that will be discussed by the all-party COVID cabinet committee next Tuesday and spokesperson Shawn Berry said the province will probably use it for some of the groups identified for early vaccination. Berry said 3,200 people were scheduled to be vaccinated this week but some clinics were delayed because of winter weather. He said doses listed as "available" by the province — more than 13,000 as of Thursday — are earmarked for clinics. "To prevent the risk of disruption of clinics, we don't plan to use them the same week they are scheduled to arrive in case there is a delay," he said. As an example, he said the province received more than 11,000 doses last week and a similar amount will be used at First Nations clinics that started this week. Berry also said Higgs's figure of 80,000 vaccinations per week being possible is correct. Higgs said last Friday one reason for the lack of detail is the uncertainty of supply that plagued the provinces for the first two months of the year. "When we schedule appointments, we will have a vaccine to put with it," he said during last week's CBC political panel on Information Morning Fredericton. "I would like to see a map out over the next two or three or four months of a fixed quantity so that we can plan well." Not when, but how Melanson said he's satisfied with the "who" and "when" so far but wants to know about the "how" — how people will contact, or hear from, the province to arrange their shots. At the Feb. 24 public accounts committee meeting, Liberal MLA Jean-Claude d'Amours also pointed to a Brunswick News report that the province was "urgently" calling for help in long-term care homes from anyone qualified to administer vaccines — another sign of lack of preparedness, he said. Whether New Brunswick's plan is really behind other provinces remains to be seen. The fluctuations in vaccine deliveries to Canada caused short-term alarm and a lot of political finger-pointing but in the end did not endanger the overall vaccine delivery target for the first three months of 2021. Still, Chouinard points out that even those temporary delays probably led to more illness and deaths. D'Amours noted at the public accounts committee that the percentage of COVID-19 doses the province was administering was slipping. Liberal health critic Jean-Claude d'Amours(CBC) The week before the hearing, 21 per cent of all doses received in New Brunswick hadn't been used. It rose to 25 per cent last week and 28 per cent this week. "Supply is not the issue right now," Melanson says. "The issue is capacity to roll it out." The province has been holding back a lot of vaccine for second doses. But with the recent announcement that second doses will be delayed to maximize first doses, those hold-back numbers should now diminish. On Thursday the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island governments said the delay to second doses will allow everyone in those provinces who wants to be vaccinated to get their first dose by June. Higgs told reporters that's his target as well. He said more details on how delayed second doses and new vaccine approvals will change the province's rollout plan should be coming next week. Berry said 7,503 of 11,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of vaccine and first-dose clinics for all long-term care facilities will be finished over the next two weeks.
The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has once again put out a national call for grant applications for funds to assist internet projects across the country. Preference will be given to projects that not only benefit students but also those geared to assist Indigenous communities and those in rural and northern locations. CIRA has been providing more than $1 million in funding to various projects each year since 2014. For the past few years, including this year, it has offered $1.25 million in grants. Registered charities, non-profit organizations and researchers and academics affiliated with a post-secondary school in Canada are encouraged to submit funding applications for projects before the April 14 deadline. Traditionally, CIRA officials receive more than 100 applications for funding annually. “We usually fund 15- 20- per cent of the applications that come in,” said Maureen James, who manages CIRA’s Community Investment Program. “It’s very competitive.” During the past seven years CIRA has provided a total of $7.95 million in funding for 171 projects across the country. The funding program is looking to specifically fund projects in four areas this year. The Infrastructure category includes research or projects that boost internet speed, access and affordability. Digital Literacy ventures include research, training programs and tools to develop digital skills. The Cybersecurity category includes research and projects that advocate for users’ online safety. And Community Leadership Initiatives includes research or events that assist Canadians in domestic internet policy issues. “It used to be a lot more broad,” James said of projects CIRA previously provided grants for. “This is the second year now with these particular focuses.” CIRA’s funding will include one grant up to a maximum of $250,000. Others can apply for up to $100,000 in funding. “We used to do smaller projects and then as people became more interested it turned into more substantial projects,” James said. “I think the most we’ve funded in a year is 28 or 29 projects.” James anticipates CIRA officials could potentially see the highest number of funding applications this year. And she attributes this to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think we expect a lot more people to apply this year,” she said. “COVID has certainly increased the demand for internet access like overnight.” The need in Indigenous communities across the country is especially great. In its Communication Monitoring report issued last year the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) discovered that just over one-third (34 per cent) of First Nations households in the country had access to basic internet only. More information on CIRA’s grants is available here https://www.cira.ca/improving-canadas-internet/grants CIRA will also be hosting informational webinars on its funding grants in both English and French next week. The English webinar is set for March. 9 at 1 p.m. EST. And the French webinar is scheduled for March 10 at 2 p.m. EST CIRA’s call for applications was sent out Tuesday of this week. By yesterday more than 100 people had registered for next week’s English webinar. “It tells us there’s a lot of interest, which is good,” James said. “CIRA’s name has been getting out a little bit more.” James said those looking to submit funding applications are not required to attend the informational webinars. “It’s an opportunity for us to highlight key aspects that sometimes people might miss with their application,” she said. CIRA welcomes applications from groups that have received funding from them in the past. “We have had repeat recipients,” James said, adding a funded project must be complete before another grant can be secured. “The project has to be finished and signed off in order to do another one.” Several Indigenous projects have been among those in recent years that have received funding. For example, the Mamawapowin Technology Society received a grant in 2019. This non-profit was keen to upgrade and expand wireless infrastructure to all 600 homes on Samson Cree First Nation, located in Maskwacis, Alta. Funding recipients in 2020 included I-STEAM and Siksika Health Services. I-STEAM is a research and design project delivering STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) programming to Indigenous youth at Antler River Elementary School in Chippewas of the Thames First Nation in southwestern Ontario. As for Siksika Health Services, it received funding for its southern Alberta project to upgrade the internet infrastructure in five community buildings. These upgrades provide high-speed internet for not only staff in the facilities but also for youth, Elders and community members who utilize the buildings. Windspeaker.com By Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
The rollercoster ride in bitcoin since the start of the year has not dampened wealth manager Jim Paulsen's enthusiasm for the cryptocurrency. Yet Paulsen, chief investment officer for Leuthold Group, which manages $1 billion, cannot own bitcoin in client portfolios due to regulatory constraints. The promise of an asset class that behaves differently than stocks or bonds is leaving portfolio and wealth managers scrambling own cryptocurrencies if they can.
The Pope's three-day visit will include a meeting with Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.View on euronews
BEIJING — A senior Chinese official says the largely pro-Beijing committee that currently elects the Hong Kong's leader will also elect some members of the city's legislature, as part of Beijing's planned revamp of Hong Kong's electoral system. "The election committee will be entrusted with the new function of electing a relatively large share of Legco members and directly participating in the nomination of all candidates for the Legco,” Wang Chen, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said Friday during the annual session in Beijing. Wang added that the size, composition and formation method of the current election committee will also be adjusted, and that the chief executive will continue to be elected by the election committee. The Associated Press
Thursday's Games NHL N.Y. Islanders 5 Buffalo 2 Winnipeg 4 Montreal 3 (OT) Philadelphia 4 Pittsburgh 3 N.Y. Rangers 6 New Jersey 1 Carolina 5 Detroit 2 Tampa Bay 3 Chicago 2 (OT) Florida 5 Nashville 4 Columbus 3 Dallas 2 Calgary 7 Ottawa 3 Vancouver 3 Toronto 1 --- AHL Providence 4 Bridgeport 1 --- NBA Boston 132 Toronto 125 Washington 119 L.A. Clippers 117 New York 114 Detroit 104 Denver 113 Indiana 103 Milwaukee 112 Memphis 111 Miami 103 New Orleans 93 Oklahoma City 107 San Antonio 102 Phoenix 120 Golden State 98 Portland 123 Sacramento 119 --- MLB Spring Training Baltimore 6 Boston 3 Detroit 8 Toronto 2 Tampa Bay 5 Minnesota 2 Pittsburgh 6 Atlanta 1 Philadelphia 15 N.Y. Yankees 0 N.Y. Mets 8 Washington 4 Texas 5 San Diego 3 San Francisco 3 Chicago White Sox 1 Colorado 9 Seattle 9 Cleveland 5 Milwaukee 1 Arizona 9 L.A. Angels 2 Houston 14 St. Louis 0 Kansas City 5 Cincinnati 3 Chicago Cubs 7 L.A. Dodgers 0 --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
If you weren't born in 1941 or before you probably shouldn't be trying to book a spot for a COVID vaccine right now, but here's a guide for those who qualify or are helping a loved one. First, a disclaimer: This is perhaps the most complex period of the vaccine rollout, with health officials scrambling to get limited quantities of vaccine into the arms of those deemed at highest risk of getting seriously ill. This article is the best picture CBC Toronto can provide of vaccine distribution in the Greater Toronto Area as of Friday, with the caveat that the current landscape will almost certainly look different by this time next week (it's unclear, for example, how the newly-approved AstraZeneca vaccine will fit into the rollout). Here are the key takeaways everyone should know: You should only be vaccinated in the city you live in. Remember, the overarching goal is still to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, which means staying close to home as much as possible. One more note: this guide is intended for the general public, and doesn't capture those who will be vaccinated by specialized teams — for example, mobile teams distributing vaccines in homeless shelters or other congregate settings. Now that that's clear, here's where you should go to book a vaccination spot if you qualify. Toronto Toronto Public Health will eventually run mass vaccination sites across the city but isn't at this time due to a lack of vaccine, according to its website. You can try to pre-register at some Toronto hospitals, including North York General, Michael Garron and Sunnybrook, but expect a broader rollout of vaccination clinics in the coming weeks. Peel Peel Public Health is directing residents to vaccination clinics in Brampton and Mississauga. You can book at Brampton's William Osler Health System, or Mississauga's Trillium Health Partners. York York Region is running five appointment-only vaccination clinics and its website features a handy tool to help you find the closest one to you. Note: You must book online. Durham Durham's vaccine plan will launch on March 8 with two clinics set to operate at recreation centres in Clarington and Pickering. In addition to those aged 80-plus and health-care workers, the region will offer vaccines to all Indigenous adults and adults who rely on home care. Halton Halton is running appointment-only vaccination clinics in Oakville, Burlington, Georgetown and Milton. You can book online here. The public health unit is also offering free transportation to its clinics, though that travel must be booked 48 hours in advance.
A jury has found a B.C. man guilty of the second-degree murder of his wife in 2018, according to police. Rizig Bona, 47, now faces a mandatory life sentence for the murder of 42-year-old Anida Magaya. The jury handed down its verdict in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said in a news release. "Anida Magaya's murder is a tragic example of the extreme consequences of domestic violence," IHIT Sgt. Frank Jang said in the release. Magaya was found dead in a Surrey home on Oct. 5, 2018, and Bona was arrested soon after. He is scheduled to make his next appearance in court on Friday.
Imagine being trapped in the confines of your own neighbourhood, losing a sense of the outside world — and of yourself — with each passing day. Things are seeming kind of flat lately, and sometimes downright colorless. Everything looks reasonably placid, but something’s not quite right with reality. The days feel … episodic. Does the world taper off at the end of the block? Does life loop back on itself? Are your neighbours with you, or against you? This has been the premise of “WandaVision,” Marvel’s latest foray into the intricate, immersive universe first cobbled together in the comics by Stan Lee six decades ago. Not incidentally, it’s also an apt description of life in many corners of America during this pandemic micromoment. In an era when meticulously crafted fictional universes are entertainment’s billion-dollar baby, “WandaVision,” whose inaugural and probably only season concludes Friday, took it all a step further, turning the seven-decade tradition of the American sitcom into a decade-hopping suburban prison. Episode by TV-homage episode, it pinballed through unsettling sendups of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Bewitched,” “The Brady Bunch,” “Family Ties,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Modern Family,” swallowing an entire New Jersey town and its people and, along the way, serving up a darker version of Marvel’s already dysfunctional funhouse mirror. The pitch-perfect result: a distorted reflection not merely of America, but of the way it has seen itself through its broadly drawn television comedy across three generations. How did this show manage (inadvertently, of course, since it was conceived before the virus arrived) to match the tenor of its comfort-craving moment? Because it reached so lovingly into the mannered, structured lore of sitcoms, which were comfort food for the American TV watcher’s brain long before the word “streaming” ever tumbled into the lexicon. The television scholar Robert Thompson once described the contentment that people find in old sitcoms as “the esthetic of the anesthetic” — a style of narrative that reset itself every week, making sure society’s norms were reinforced by presenting nonthreatening communities populated with nonthreatening characters doing nonthreatening things. “WandaVision” coopted that vision and upended it. It used, as foils, those landscapes of assuagement and the way they morphed over the decades to match the times. Their surface tranquility and amiable conflict were backdrops for a slowly unfolding Marvel plot that, in its wink-nudge bubblegum darkness, was pure 21st century. There’s irony, too, in the fact that Marvel has been owned for the past 12 years by Disney, a conglomerate built by self-described “imagineers” who were instrumental in stamping the sensibility of immersive fantasy onto more than a half century’s worth of American children — and onto the landscape itself. Wanda Maximoff, the world-building witch at the show’s nucleus, is a stand-in for Walt Disney himself, who built his gauzy childhood memories of early 20th-century Midwestern life into theme parks and an entertainment empire. Like the world of “WandaVision,” Disney’s creations reflected not quite reality but its saccharine stepsibling, recognizable and appealing but hardly real life. By the time “WandaVision” got to its take on 1980s television, the gentle opening credits of that “very special episode” sang this to us, revealing the theme of the show (and of pandemic life too): “We’re making it up as we go along.” Yet like those 1980s horror movies in which the dreamer of the nightmare awakens, only to find out that he or she is still asleep, in “WandaVision” the “real” world is still the fantastic one of the Marvel Universe. The “Inception” model is at play: You’re still in the layered matrix, still separated from actual reality by several strata of Marvel and a robust layer of Disney. In one of its later episodes, “WandaVision” offers its take on the “Malcolm in the Middle” opening credits of the early 2000s. This theme song, more aggressive and insolent than its predecessors, offers up the following lyrics: “What if it’s all illusion? Sit back. Enjoy the show." As the first storyline of its astonishingly extensive streaming lineup of shows concludes, that could be Marvel’s overall tagline. Because — first in comic books, then in theatres, now on all our assorted screens — Marvel IS the universe. It is comics and movies and video games, TV and toys and collectibles, cosplayers and party favours and an entire pantheon of secular gods. You could even argue that its seamlessly cross-marketed cosmos is the new American suburb — a completely immersive neighbourhood, interconnected and self-perpetuating, privileged and complex and, sometimes, brimming with the emptiness of the industrially manufactured Technicolor narrative. It is us, but amplified. “Thousands of people under your thumb, all interacting with each other, according to complex storylines?” one character, who will remain nameless for spoiler-avoidance purposes, says to Wanda as her magic-powered dream microverse begins to fray. “Well, that’s something special, baby.” Does life imitate Marvel, then? Maybe just a little. One day, after the blip that was the pandemic finally ends, we’ll all be back — well, most of us. We’ll re-emerge into the real world, blink hard, look around, reconnect with our neighbours and take stock of what we all missed. We’ll say to each other: What a weird and all-encompassing dream this was. And then we’ll dream again. Roll credits. Rinse. Repeat. ___ Ted Anthony, director of digital innovation for The Associated Press, has been writing about American culture since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/anthonyted Ted Anthony, The Associated Press
BEIJING — China’s No. 2 leader set a healthy economic growth target Friday and vowed to make this nation self-reliant in technology amid tension with Washington and Europe over trade and human rights. Another official announced plans to tighten control over Hong Kong by reducing the public's role in government. The ruling Communist Party aims for growth “over 6%” as the world's second-largest economy rebounds from the coronavirus, Premier Li Keqiang said in a speech to China’s ceremonial legislature. Some 3,000 delegates gathered for its annual two-week meeting, the year’s highest-profile political event, under intense security and anti-virus controls. The party is shifting back to its longer-term goal of becoming a global competitor in telecoms, electric cars and other profitable technology. That is inflaming trade tension with Washington and Europe, which complain Beijing's tactics violate its market-opening commitments and hurt foreign competitors. Li promised progress in reining in climate-changing carbon emissions, a step toward keeping President Xi Jinping's pledge last year to become carbon-neutral by 2060. But he avoided aggressive targets that might weigh on economic growth. The NPC meeting focuses on domestic issues but is overshadowed by geopolitics as Xi’s government pursues more assertive trade and strategic policies and faces criticism over its treatment of Hong Kong and ethnic minorities. The ruling party has doubled down on crushing dissent as Xi tries to cement his image as a history making leader reclaiming China’s rightful place as a global power. An NPC deputy chairman, Wang Chen, said a Hong Kong election committee controlled by businesspeople and other pro-Beijing figures will be given a bigger role in choosing the territory’s leader. Wang said the Election Committee will be allowed to reject candidates for the 35-member Legislative Council. That came after a spokesman for the legislature on Thursday said Beijing wants “patriots ruling Hong Kong,” fueling fears opposition voices will be shut out of the political process. Li, the premier, said Beijing wants to “safeguard national security” in Hong Kong. At last year’s legislative session the party imposed a national security law on Hong Kong following pro-democracy protests. Dozens of activists have been arrested under the law. Also Friday, the government announced a 6.8% rise in military spending to 1.4 trillion yuan ($217 billion) amid territorial disputes with India and other neighbours and ambitions to match the United States and Russia in missile, stealth fighter and other weapons technology. That is less than the double-digit increases of earlier years but a marked rise in real terms when inflation is close to zero. Foreign analysts say total military spending is up to 40% more than the reported figure, the world's second-highest after the United States. China became the only major economy to grow last year, eking out a multi-decade low 2.3% expansion after shutting down industries to fight the virus. Growth accelerated to 6.5% over a year earlier in the final quarter of 2020 while the United States, Europe and Japan struggled with renewed virus outbreaks. The 6% target is higher than expectations for the United States and other major economies but less than the 7%-8% forecasters expected Li to announce. That suggests Beijing is “shifting focus from quantity to quality of economic growth,” said Chaoping Zhu of J.P. Morgan Asset Management in a report. Beijing might allocate resources to environmental protection and other initiatives "to boost China’s long-term growth potential," Zhu said. Li vowed to “work faster" to develop tech capabilities seen by communist leaders as a path to prosperity, strategic autonomy and global influence. Those plans are threatened by conflicts with Washington over technology and security that prompted then-President Donald Trump to slap sanctions on companies including telecom equipment giant Huawei, China's first global tech brand. The ruling party’s latest five-year development blueprint says efforts to make China a self-reliant “technology power” are this year’s top economic priority. The party sees "technological self-reliance as a strategic support for national development,” Li said. Li promised to pursue “green development” following Xi's pledge last year to ensure China’s carbon emissions peak by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. That will require sharp increases in clean energy in an economy that gets 60% of its power from coal and is the world's biggest source of climate-changing industrial pollution. He promised to reduce carbon emissions per unit of economic output by 18% over the next five years. That is in line with the previous five-year period's goal, but environmentalists say Beijing needs to do more. “It defers some of the most important questions to the future,” said Li Shuo of Greenpeace. Li repeated official promises to promote “peaceful growth of relations" with Taiwan but announced no initiatives toward the self-ruled island that split with the mainland in 1949 after a civil war. Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory and has threatened to invade if it tries to make its de facto independence official. Li said the mainland will “resolutely deter” any activity “seeking ‘Taiwan independence.’” This year's legislative meeting is being held mostly by video links to keep Chinese leaders, delegates and reports separate as an anti-virus measure. Last year's meeting was postponed from March to May due to the outbreak. The official Xinhua News Agency said the decision to stick to this year's political calendar shows life is "returning to normal.” The ruling party earlier announced it achieved its goal of doubling economic output from 2010 levels by last year, which required annual growth of 7%. Xi has talked about doubling output again by 2035, which would imply annual growth of about 5%, still among the highest for any major economy. As Xi has sought to cement his image as a history-making leader who is reclaiming his country’s rightful place as a global power, China has doubled down on repression of dissent in ways that could stifle innovation. The ruling party’s desire for the prosperity produced by free-market competition also clashes with its insistence on playing a dominant role in the economy and strategic goals of reducing dependence on other countries. Beijing will promote “domestic circulation,” Li said, a reference to official pressure on industries to use more Chinese-supplied components and technology and rely less on foreign inputs, even if that increases costs. That emphasis on self-reliance and the conflict with Washington has fueled fears the world might split into separate U.S., Chinese and other industrial spheres with incompatible technologies, less competition and higher costs. The goal of “decoupling them from foreign technology” is “more likely to harm productivity than help it,” Mark Williams of Capital Economics said in a report this week. ___ AP Writer Huizhong Wu in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed. Joe McDonald, The Associated Press
CALGARY — The Calgary Flames have fired Geoff Ward and brought Darryl Sutter back as head coach. The team made the announcement Thursday night after Ward coached the Flames to a 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. The Flames went 11-11-2 under Ward. Sutter coached the Flames from 2002 to 2006, and served as the team's general manager from 2003 to 2010. The 62-year-old from Viking, Alta., guided Calgary to the Stanley Cup final in 2004 when the Flames lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Sutter coached the Los Angeles Kings from 2011 to 2017 and won Stanley Cups in both 2012 and 2014. He has 18 seasons of head-coaching experience in the NHL with Chicago, San Jose, Calgary and Los Angeles. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Indian farmers who have been protesting for months against deregulation of produce markets plan to block a major expressway outside New Delhi on Saturday, the 100th day of their campaign, they said. Tens of thousands have been camped outside Delhi since December, demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeal three farm laws that open up the country's agriculture markets to private companies, which the farmers say will make them vulnerable. Farmers from the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh plan to stop all traffic on the six-lane Western Peripheral Expressway that forms a ring outside New Delhi for up to five hours, union leaders said on Friday.
Britain's financial regulators on Friday called a formal halt to nearly all Libor rates from the end of this year, as expected, piling pressure on markets to speed the switch in interest rates used in $260 trillion of contracts around the world. Libor, or London Interbank Offered Rate, is being replaced with rates compiled by central banks after lenders were fined billions of dollars for trying to rig what was once dubbed the world's most important number, used for pricing a wide range of debt from home and company loans to credit cards. "Today’s announcements mark the final chapter in the process that began in 2017, to remove reliance on unsustainable Libor rates and build a more robust foundation for the financial system," Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said in a statement.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has faced political pressure and angry constituents over her state’s mask order during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the 76-year-old governor of the deeply red state has resisted calls to drop the requirement as Republican governors across the South either shunned mask mandates altogether or lifted them in late winter. “Maybe they don’t have access to the same information I have. We want to be abundantly clear and abundantly safe before we drop the mask mandate,” Ivey said when asked about fellow Republicans — including the Alabama Senate and the lieutenant governor — who urged her to end the order. Ivey issued Alabama’s mask order in July and announced on Thursday that she would extend it five more weeks until April 9. “We need to get past Easter and hopefully allow more Alabamians to get their first shot before we take a step some other states have taken to remove the mask order altogether and lift other restrictions. Folks, we are not there yet, but goodness knows we’re getting closer,” Ivey said at a Thursday news conference. GOP governors from Texas to South Carolina have resisted, or ended, statewide mask orders. Florida, South Carolina and Georgia never had a statewide order. Ivey’s announcement came days after Mississippi and Texas dropped their mandates, decisions President Joe Biden called “Neanderthal thinking.” Mississippi's governor took issue with the criticism. “Mississippians don’t need handlers. As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them,” Gov. Tate Reeves responded on Twitter. On social media, Ivey’s decision drew a mix of rage and gratitude. “Meemaw you gotta go.... I ain’t wearing it and whoever runs against you in 2022 has got my vote,” one person tweeted at Ivey using the phrase for a Southern grandmother. Another thanked her and wrote, “you are the only Southern governor doing the right thing.” A few questioned if a five-week extension was long enough. In extending the order, Ivey threaded a political needle — following medical advice while letting people know a firm end date is in sight. The governor said wearing a mask will be a personal responsibility after the order expires. “Let me be abundantly clear: After April 9, I will not keep the mask order in effect,” she said. Early in the pandemic, the governor closed dine-in restaurants, beaches and nonessential businesses — all orders that have been lifted. Alabama’s State Health Officer Scott Harris said he presented the governor with information and options, but she made the final decision. “I really appreciate her being willing to do that. I understand it’s a very difficult decision for her. I think the science on masks is very clear that they prevent disease,” Harris said. Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease specialist who contracted COVID-19 early in the pandemic and now treats patients with the illness, said Ivey deserves credit for standing up to calls to lift the order from fellow Republicans. “I think it was a bold step forward considering the pressure she was under,” he said. But rather than setting a firm deadline for the requirement to expire, Saag said, it would be better to see where both caseloads and vaccinations totals are next month and then make a decision. Comparing Alabama’s hospitalization trend with those from states that are lifting mask orders could be illuminating, he said. “My only plea at this point is to keep an open mind, to watch the data,” Saag said. “Keep an eye on where Alabama is as compared to where Mississippi and Texas are.” Ivey, known for her folksy demeanour, in December made a tongue-in-cheek quip about the heaping doses of criticism she has received from some over masks. “Y’all, I’m not trying to be Governor Mee-Maw as some on social media have called me. I’m just trying to urge you to use the common sense the good Lord gave each of us to be smart and considerate of others,” she said. Kim Chandler, The Associated Press
Pope Francis began his most risky foreign trip on Friday, flying into Iraq amid the tightest security ever seen for a papal visit to appeal to the country's leaders and people to end militant violence and religious strife. The country has deployed thousands of security personnel to protect him during the visit, which comes after a spate of rocket and suicide bomb attacks and a spike in COVID-19 cases. Even before he landed, Francis told reporters on his plane that he felt duty-bound to make what he called an "emblematic" trip despite the difficulties because the country "has been martyred for so many years".
Australian broadcaster SBS said on Friday it would suspend its broadcasts of news bulletins from Chinese state television news services CGTN and CCTV after receiving a human rights complaint. An SBS spokesman told Reuters that programmes from CCTV and CGTN would not air on Saturday and that SBS was reviewing a complaint from a human rights organisation. "Given the serious concerns it raises, and the complexity of the material involved, we have made the decision to suspend the broadcast of the overseas-sourced CGTN and CCTV news bulletins while we undertake an assessment of these services," SBS said in a statement.
VANCOUVER — When Sheldon Keefe was cutting his teeth as a coach in the junior ranks in Pembroke, Ont., the world's most famous hockey dad paid a memorable visit. Walter Gretzky, the Toronto Maple Leafs coach recalled, sat around for “what seemed like hours” during a trip with NHL old-timers, talking to anyone who wanted to talk, signing autographs and taking photos. Memories of that day came back to Keefe on Thursday, after Walter's death was announced by Wayne Gretzky on Twitter. “It was pretty cool to see someone of his stature, what he means to the game, what he’s brought to the game, all the way out in Pembrooke, Ontario, taking part in an event like that with people who might not usually get a chance," Keefe, who coached in Pembroke from 2006 to 2013, said after the visiting Leafs lost to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. Keefe said Walter Gretzky's impact on the game looms large. “It’s a terrible loss of a great man who gave so many terrific things to our game, to our sport. Certainly he leaves a legacy behind that we’ll never forget," he said. Leafs forward John Tavares remembers meeting Walter when he was a kid in Mississauga, Ont. “He was always around the rinks and was obviously very involved in the game and around the hockey community," he said. "Just his graciousness, his big smile and obviously passion for the game. Just a very gracious man, from what I remember as a kid.” The Edmonton Oilers, Wayne Gretzky's first NHL team, released statements on Walter after the death. "The fabric of our franchise has been woven by some of the most influential players, coaches and executives the game has known and included in that too, are the loved ones that make our team a family," Oilers chairman Bob Nicholson said. "From his development and constant influence on one of the greatest players our game has known, to the tremendous impact he had on Canada's gold medal-winning team in 2002, Walter was truly everyone’s hockey dad. He will be missed by all of us, but the memories created by his tremendous character and passion for our game will remain with us forever.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Blockchain payments firm Ripple has not experienced any fallout in its Asia Pacific business after being sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company's chief executive officer said on Friday. In late December, the SEC charged Ripple, which is associated with cryptocurrency XRP, with conducting a $1.3 billion unregistered securities offering. After that, the top U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase shut down trading in XRP, which is the world's seventh-largest cryptocurrency by market value.
Les élus de Tadoussac ont octroyé un mandat à la Fédération québécoise des municipalités (FQM) afin d’accompagner la municipalité dans le projet Destination Tadoussac phase 2. « La chargée de projets actuelle qui travaille sur le dossier va nous quitter dans deux semaines et on va travailler avec la FQM pour cheminer la dernière étape de ce projet », a expliqué la directrice générale Marie-Claude Guérin lors de l’assemblée extraordinaire le 24 février. « On n’a pas vraiment le droit à l’erreur avec le calendrier serré », d’ajouter le maire Charles Breton. Rappelons que la première phase de Destination Tadoussac s'est réalisée en 2020. Les travaux, dont les coûts ont été évalués à 1,8 M$, prévoyaient le réaménagement de l’espace situé devant l’église Sainte-Croix. Une place publique adjacente à l’église a été érigée ainsi que des voies piétonnières pour y accéder via la rue du Bord-de-l’Eau. Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
Le conseil municipal de Tadoussac a décidé de ne pas adopter le Schéma de couverture de risques en sécurité incendie 2e génération tel que demandé par la MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord et s’allie donc à la municipalité de Sacré-Cœur. Il demande plutôt à la MRC de conclure des ententes entre le service incendie de Forestville et celui de Tadoussac et Sacré-Cœur « puisque le temps de réponse pour ce dernier est beaucoup plus court pour intervenir sur certaines parties du territoire des Bergeronnes ». L’adoption a donc été reportée à une date ultérieure par les élus tadoussaciens. Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord