Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had confirmed with Moderna that Canada is still on track to get 2 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine delivered by the end of March.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had confirmed with Moderna that Canada is still on track to get 2 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine delivered by the end of March.
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.
Most of us are familiar with the three Rs associated with limiting our waste: reduce, reuse and recycle. As it turns out, there’s a fourth R: renew the recycling licence. During the Feb. 22 regular council meeting for the Town of Pincher Creek, Coun. Scott Korbett formally announced the town would not be renewing its recycling contract with KJ Cameron Service Industries. Come June 30, only empty beverage containers will be accepted at the bottle depot. “The Town of Pincher Creek intends to continue to offer a recycling program,” the town’s official statement reads. “We are currently working with our regional partners to have a smooth transition to a new program by the end of June.” While understanding the town is obligated to make economic decisions when it comes to contracts, Weston Whitfield, owner and manager of KJ Cameron, worries consolidating services on a regional basis might result in an inefficient service to taxpayers. The process of gathering, transporting, then re-sorting material, Mr. Whitfield adds, might decrease the price recycling facilities are willing to pay. “My concern is in the past, places that have done collaborations like that end up with a little bit of contamination and it can affect the resale of the product,” he says. Although no official details have been released, the plan for future recycling appears to involve the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill Association. Discussion recorded in the minutes of the Jan. 20, 2021, regular meeting of the landfill association includes “Recycling Update” as an agenda item. The minutes describe proposals being sent to each of the municipalities and note that, despite no reply being received, each of the municipal representatives — Coun. Dean Ward from Crowsnest Pass, Coun. Brian McGillivray from Pincher Creek and Reeve Brian Hammond from the MD of Pincher Creek — indicated their respective councils are still considering or interested in the landfill’s recycling proposal. Recycling was also a topic during last week’s council meetings for both the MD of Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass. During the MD of Pincher Creek’s Feb. 23 council meeting, chief administrative officer Troy MacCulloch updated council on plans to move collection bins from outside the MD office to a site off Bighorn Avenue and Highway 507, near the Co-op lumberyard. The site will cover recycling needs for residents from both the MD and town. “This will be a site that the MD will build,” said CAO MacCulloch. “We will cost-share it with the town, and then going forward it would be operated and manned by the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill.” Plans for the new recycling site are still tentative as the MD is working with the current landowner to develop a lease that would permit the property to be used as a transfer station for garbage and recyclables. The garbage bins by the MD office, he added, could also be removed. This will allow for further development and easier access of the standpipe, which will remain at the location. Meetings with Pincher Creek administration have discussed the possibility of the MD taking over the composting facility, which would be included on the site. Crowsnest Pass council also voted Feb. 23 to direct administration to find a location for their own recycling bin. Ease of access, along with being sheltered from the weather and from travellers’ field of vision, were identified as main priorities. Administration was asked to present a location at the March 16 council meeting with hopes that users could begin dropping off recycling by the end of the month. The goal is to eventually have three sites in the municipality to gather recycling. Beginning with one, said CAO Patrick Thomas, was a good place to “at least start and see what the challenges are,” especially to “see how [building] the fencing and screening goes.” The Town of Pincher Creek’s full official statement regarding the recycling licence can be found online at http://bit.ly/PC-Recycle. More information on Pincher Creek Bottle Depot and Recycling can be found at www.facebook.com/pcbottledepot. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s prime minister said Thursday he will seek a vote of confidence from the National Assembly this weekend to prove that he still has the support of majority lawmakers in the house despite the surprising and politically embarrassing defeat of his ruling party’s key candidate in Senate elections. Prime Minister Imran Khan made the announcement in a televised address to the nation, alleging that some lawmakers from his ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf party had been bribed by the opposition to vote for former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in the Senate elections on Wednesday. Gilani defeated Hafeez Sheikh, the finance minister in Khan's Cabinet, in the vote, which was seen as a test for Khan who came to power in the 2018 parliamentary elections. Sheikh lost the hotly contested seat in the Senate, or upper house of parliament. The vote went 169-164 in Gilani's favour. Though Khan improved his standing in the 100-member Senate, Sheikh’s defeat was a setback for his government and the ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf party. Votes for the Senate are cast by members of the National Assembly, or the lower house of parliament, and four provincial assemblies. Gilani’s success in the Senate indicates that some of the ruling party’s lawmakers had rebelled and did not vote for Sheikh. Pakistan’s opposition has asked that Khan step down over Sheikh’s defeat, a demand ejected by Khan’s party, which insists he still has the backing of majority lawmakers. “I have decided to seek the vote of confidence” from the lower house of parliament on Saturday, Khan said. He said it was the democratic right of lawmakers from his own party to vote against him if they oppose his policies. “You can say you are not with me, I will (still) respect you,” Khan said. He accused the country’s election authorities of failing to ensure a free and fair vote for the Senate and claimed that 15 or 16 lawmakers from his party “sold" their vote in the Senate elections but that they could not be identified because the vote was a secret ballot. Khan also chastised the Election Commission for opposing his proposal last month to hold Senate elections in an open ballot, instead of having lawmakers secretly cast their vote for a candidate of their choice. Khan insisted the confidence vote in the National Assembly on Saturday be open and while he said lawmakers from his party had the democratic right to vote for or against him, in line with their conscience, but that they should do it openly. Khan needs 172 votes in the 342-seat assembly to retain the confidence of the house. If no one revolts against him, he is expected to win as many as 180 votes in his favour, with the help of allies from other parties. If if he fails to win the vote of confidence, his government automatically falls — something that could usher in another phase of political turmoil for Pakistan. Khan pledged to sit on the opposition if that happens and promised he would continue to fight against corruption. Earlier Thursday, Pakistan’s minister for science and technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said that senators are also expected to vote in the coming days on a new chairman of the Senate. He said the incumbent, Sadiq Sanjrani, is to be the ruling party’s candidate again. Gilani is likely to contest the vote for the chairman. He served as prime minister from 2008 to 2012 when the Supreme Court disqualified him in a contempt case. Khan said Gilani was disqualified for failing to demand Swiss authorities bring back money deposited in banks of Switzerland by his party’s leadership. Munir Ahmed, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — U.S. productivity fell at an annual rate of 4.2% in the fourth quarter, the largest quarterly decline in nearly four decades. The revised figure released by the Labor Department Thursday was slightly smaller than the 4.7% decline estimated a month ago. But it was still the biggest drop since the second quarter of 1981, when productivity fell at a rate of 5.1%. Labour costs rose at a 6% rate in the fourth quarter, slightly lower than the 6.8% first estimated. Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work. The revisions reflected the fact that the government made changes to its estimate gross domestic product, the country's total output of goods and services, to show an increase of 4.1% at an annual rate in the fourth quarter, slightly higher than its initial estimate of 4% growth. For all of 2020, productivity rose 2.5%, up from an annual gain of 1.8% in 2019. In recent years, productivity growth has been exceptionally weak and economists are uncertain about the cause. Analysts say that finding ways to boost productivity in coming years will be critical to raising living standards. In the short term, productivity is likely to continue swinging wildly due to disruptions from the pandemic. “The data have been distorted by the impact of COVID-19 on output, hours and compensation, a trend that is likely to continue in the near term,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. Some economists believe that once the country emerges from the pandemic, there may be a sustained and elevated levels of productivity, in part from workplace efficiencies gained from businesses finding ways to deal with the a year of related restrictions. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
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
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."
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
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
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
A mechanical whir fills the room as a sling slowly lifts a patient out of her hospital bed. "Wow, it's fun to see you like that," says nurse Caroline Brochu, as the woman is lowered into a chair. After spending nearly two weeks on a ventilator, severely sick with COVID-19, the patient had been extubated a few days earlier. She's slowly being weaned off the oxygen and has regained enough strength to start physiotherapy. In her early 70s, the woman was admitted to the intensive care unit at Cité-de-la-Santé hospital in Laval in early February. Like many of the patients the hospital has treated, she was generally healthy before she contracted the virus. "No comorbidities," said Dr. Joseph Dahine, an intensive care specialist. "Just high blood pressure and a little bit of asthma." Psychologists regularly check in with the ICU staff to see how they are coping with the exhaustion and emotional strain of COVID-19.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) The unknown road ahead In mid-February, CBC Montreal was granted exclusive access to the hospital's intensive care unit. A year into the pandemic, it's still difficult to predict who will only need a few days of oxygen to bounce back and who will be on a ventilator for weeks. But what is clear is the virus spares no one. The ICU has treated severely ill patients as young as 24. Back in January, about two-thirds of the patients were under 60. At the time of CBC's visit, there were five patients. Over the past 11 months, the ICU has treated a total of 175 patients. Twenty-five have died. During that time, the ICU has worked in uncharted territory, with personnel at times risking their own health to ensure those suffering the most severe COVID-19 complications get care. WATCH | Staff inside the ICU talk about the cases that still haunt them and the unknown road ahead: "Trying to keep the morale has been the hardest aspect of all of this," said Joanie Bolduc-Dionne, the ICU's head nurse. "Right now, we have some fantastic psychologists that come day, evening, night to support the team." The psychologists visit to get a sense of how staff are coping, and what they might be struggling with, she said. Family has to stay at a distance Life inside the ICU can be an emotional roller-coaster — for the staff, the patients and their families. The daughter of the woman who was recently extubated has arrived for a visit but she has to stay outside the room because her mother could still be contagious. The distance is painful for both of them. Exhausted from the effort of sitting and eating, the woman is back in her bed. Her eyes fill with tears as she looks at her daughter through the glass door. "It's harder to see her now, like this," said the daughter, turning to a nurse. "When she was intubated that was bad, but at least she didn't realize she was in that situation. Now, she knows what's going on. Dr. Joseph Dahine, pictured at right, consults with the ICU team at Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital in Laval. Treating COVID-19 patients requires constant re-calibration to pinpoint what may be causing a patient's deterioration.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) Startling deterioration Following CBC's visit, the woman had an unexpected setback overnight. During her sleep, her heart started to race. The ICU team managed to bring her heart rate back down, but the doctor on shift is concerned about her breathing, which is rapid and shallow. "If we can't give you enough oxygen and you are tired with the mask, and if we don't intubate you, well, it's death," Dr. Dahine tells the woman. With a resigned nod, she agrees to be re-intubated as a last resort. As she continues to deteriorate over the next few days, doctors have no choice but to put her back on a ventilator. It's a sobering reminder of just how unpredictable this virus can still be. At the beginning of March, the patient was brought out of the induced coma, but still needs a ventilator to breathe. She had to undergo a tracheotomy. She can only communicate with her family and the staff by blinking. "She still has a long way to go to recovery but at least she is no longer in a coma," said Bolduc-Dionne. At the height of the first wave, Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital had 22 COVID-19 patients in the ICU. The week CBC visited, there were five. Although the number of cases appears to be stabilizing, health officials are worried variants of the coronavirus could trigger a third wave.(Dave St-Amant/CBC) Although the number of COVID-19 cases may appear stable, the volume of cases linked to variants of the coronavirus is rising rapidly. 'The fight is not over' On Tuesday, Quebec's health minister continued to warn people to remain vigilant over the March break. This week, Laval's ICU accepted two new patients to the red zone, which is strictly for those who are severely ill with COVID-19. "The fight is not over," said Bolduc-Dionne. As the vaccination effort in Quebec gathers steam, staff here hope people don't forget there's a parallel battle being fought in the ICU, a battle the public doesn't see. "I hope they realize that [the virus] is really dangerous and that you can infect people you love," said nurse Caroline Brochu.
LONDON — U.K. authorities have launched an investigation into Apple's App Store over concerns it has a dominant role that stifles competition and hurts consumers. The Competition and Markets Authority said Thursday it was looking into “suspected breaches of competition law" by Apple. The announcement adds to regulatory scrutiny of the iPhone maker's app distribution platform, which is also the subject of three antitrust probes by the European Union's executive Commission. Apple said the App Store is “a safe and trusted place for customers” and a “great business opportunity for developers.” The investigation was triggered in part by complaints from app developers that Apple will only let them distribute their apps to iPhone and iPad users through the App Store. The developers also complained that the company requires any purchases of apps, add-ons or upgrades to be made through its Apple Pay system, which charges up to 30% commission. “Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play a game or order a takeaway," Andrea Coscelli, the authority's CEO, said in a statement. “So, complaints that Apple is using its market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict competition and choice – potentially causing customers to lose out when buying and using apps – warrant careful scrutiny." The watchdog said it would consider whether Apple has a “dominant position" in app distribution for Apple devices in the U.K., and, if it does, whether the company “imposes unfair or anti-competitive terms on developers” that results in less choice or higher prices for consumers buying apps and extra. Apple said it looked forward to explaining its App Store guidelines to the U.K. watchdog. “We believe in thriving and competitive markets where any great idea can flourish," the company said by email. “The App Store has been an engine of success for app developers, in part because of the rigorous standards we have in place — applied fairly and equally to all developers — to protect customers from malware and to prevent rampant data collection without their consent." The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A key Senate committee on Thursday approved the nomination of New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland to be interior secretary, clearing the way for a Senate vote that is likely to make her the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Haaland's nomination, 11-9, sending it to the Senate floor. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the lone Republican to support Haaland, who won unanimous backing from committee Democrats. Murkowski, a former chair of the committee, said she had “some real misgivings” about Haaland, because of her support for policies that Murkowski said could impede Alaska's reliance on oil and other fossil fuels. But the senator said she would place her “trust” in Haaland's word that she would work with her and other Alaskans to support the state. Her vote comes with a warning, Murkowski added: She expects Haaland “will be true to her word” to help Alaska. Haaland was not in the committee room, but Murkowski addressed her directly, saying, "I will hold you to your commitments.'' “Quite honestly,'' Murkowski added, ”we need you to be a success.'' Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Maria Cantwell of Washington state both called the committee vote historic, and both said they were disappointed at the anti-Haaland rhetoric used by several Republicans. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the panel's top Republican, and other GOP senators have repeatedly called Haaland's views “radical” and extreme. Heinrich said two interior secretaries nominated by former President Donald Trump could be called “radical” for their support of expanded drilling and other resource extraction, but he never used that word to describe them. Under the leadership of Cantwell and Murkowski, the energy panel has been bipartisan and productive in recent years, Heinrich said, adding that he hopes that tradition continues. The committee vote follows an announcement Wednesday by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that she will support Haaland in the full Senate. Her vote, along with Murkowski's, makes Haaland’s confirmation by the Senate nearly certain. The panel's chairman, Sen. Joe Manchin, announced his support for Haaland last week. Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, said Thursday that he does not agree with Haaland on a variety of issues, including the Keystone XL oil pipeline, but was impressed by the strong endorsement by Alaska Rep. Don Young, a conservative Republican who is the longest-serving member of the House and has forged a strong working relationship with the liberal Haaland. As a former governor, Manchin also said he knows how important it is for a president to have his “team on board” in the Cabinet. “It is long past time to give a Native American woman a seat at the Cabinet table,'' he said. Interior oversees the nation’s public lands and waters and leads relations with nearly 600 federally recognized tribes. Barrasso, who has led opposition to Haaland, said her hostility to fracking, the Keystone XL oil pipeline and other issues made her unfit to serve in a position in which she will oversee energy development on vast swaths of federal lands, mostly in the West, as well as offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. Barrasso said a moratorium imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands “is taking a sledgehammer to Western states’ economies.? The moratorium, which Haaland supports, could cost thousands of jobs in West, Barrasso said. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
With the Simcoe-Muskoka region entering a lockdown this week, for the third time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Lake of Bays' mayor Terry Glover says the move could have a "devastating" effect on already hard-hit local businesses in the otherwise COVID-free township. The province moved the region back into the grey zone March 1. Glover is among many regional mayors who've voiced their frustration with the lockdown, noting the majority of cases in the health unit's catchment area were found in Barrie, Simcoe and the southernmost communities. Lake of Bays has had six COVID-19 cases among its residents since the beginning of the pandemic. "We're so seasonal and everything is so fragile as it is," he said. "The implications for businesses are just devastating." Glover is himself a business owner: he owns Fork in the Road, a restaurant in Baysville. Glover said the township is doing "everything we can" to help local businesses navigate this third lockdown. He said it's been difficult to tackle and advocate for the division of Simcoe County and Muskoka region under the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit during this pandemic. His council has decided to aim at smaller, more "tangible" goals to mitigate the effects of the lockdown. "Nobody expected to have a pandemic like this," he said. "At this late stage in the game, you can't change the way it's divided up, I get that, but you can alter the way you look at the situation based on regions." On March 2, Lake of Bays council passed a resolution in favour of asking the provincial government to reconsider the capacity limits for restaurants across the province to be based on the size of the square footage of the seating area instead of occupancy. Before the lockdown, indoor gatherings, including restaurants, were only allowed to accommodate 10 people at a time. "It's ridiculous when any size restaurant can only have 10. That doesn't make a whole heap of sense and it doesn't help the bottom line of these people," he said. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. , Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.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".
Toymaker Mattel has unveiled a Barbie doll in the likeness of British presenter Clara Amfo, who made an emotional speech on her BBC radio show following the death of George Floyd, ahead of International Women's Day. The 36-year-old DJ, who was named a "UK Barbie Role Model", spoke about her own mental health when she made an on-air call to tackle racism after the death of Floyd, a Black man, in police custody last May sparked anti-racism protests against police brutality in the United States and around the world. Amfo featured in the September issue of British Vogue magazine which celebrated activists vocal in issues including the Black Lives Matter movement, poverty and gender inequality.
A Milan court on Thursday lifted restrictions on the management of an Italian unit of Uber Technologies, imposed last year as part of an investigation into possible exploitation of food delivery riders, a court document showed. The court said Uber Eats Italy srl, a division of Uber Italy, had complied with judges' orders to improve working conditions for riders including on health and safety, providing necessary equipment as well as sickness and accident coverage. The president of the panel of judges told Reuters that Uber Italy had also adjusted riders' pay and now pays its riders more than the collective labour agreement signed in Italy last year.
K-pop sensation BTS, whose catchy, upbeat songs have won legions of fans around the world, have scooped the 2020 Global Recording Artist of the Year Award from IFPI, the recorded music industry representative body said on Thursday. The seven-member group had a hugely successful 2020, becoming the first Korean pop act to reach no.1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, with English-language single "Dynamite", and securing its first major Grammy nomination. IFPI said the award takes account of an act's worldwide performance in digital and physical music formats during the year.
Apple could face an EU antitrust charge sheet in the coming weeks after a complaint by rival Spotify that it unfairly pushed its own music streaming service, two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The European Commission could send the statement of objections setting out suspected violations of the bloc's antitrust rules to Apple before the summer, one of the people said. The case is one of four opened by the EU competition enforcer against Apple in June last year.
Political leaders in New Caledonia on Thursday agreed new terms for the sale of Vale's nickel business, including a majority stakeholding for local interests, seeking to resolve unrest over the planned sale. The deal signed by pro-independence and loyalist leaders in the French Pacific territory also cited a "technical and industrial partnership" with Tesla, under which the electric car company would source raw materials for batteries. Brazilian miner Vale's decision last year to sell its nickel mine and processing plant to a consortium including Swiss commodity trader Trafigura sparked fierce opposition from pro-independence groups.