Brice Sopher, who has been a UberEats driver since the spring of 2019, says since the company brought in its new pay scheme, couriers are making as little as $3.99 per trip before tips.
Brice Sopher, who has been a UberEats driver since the spring of 2019, says since the company brought in its new pay scheme, couriers are making as little as $3.99 per trip before tips.
LOS ANGELES — Tiger Woods was seriously injured Tuesday when his SUV crashed into a median, rolled over and ended up on its side on a steep roadway in suburban Los Angeles known for wrecks, authorities said. The golf superstar had to be pulled out through the windshield, and his agent said he was undergoing leg surgery. Woods was alone in the SUV when it crashed into a raised median shortly before 7:15 a.m., crossed two oncoming lanes and rolled several times, authorities said at a news conference. No other cars were involved. The 45-year-old was alert and able to communicate as firefighters pried open the front windshield to get him out. The airbags deployed, and the inside of the car stayed basically intact and that “gave him a cushion to survive the crash,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Both of his legs were seriously injured, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. They said there was no immediate evidence that Woods was impaired. Authorities said they checked for any odor of alcohol or other signs he was under the influence of a substance and did not find any. They did not say how fast he was driving. The crash happened on a sweeping, downhill stretch of a two-lane road through upscale Los Angeles suburbs. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first to arrive at the wreck, told reporters that he sometimes catches people topping 80 mph in the 45 mph zone and has seen fatal crashes there. “I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. Woods was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament host of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, where he presented the trophy on Sunday. He was to spend Monday and Tuesday filming with Discovery-owned GOLFTV, with whom he has an endorsement. A tweet Monday showed Woods in a cart smiling with comedian David Spade. According to Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, the TV shoot was on-course lessons for celebrities, such as Spade and Dwyane Wade, at Rolling Hills Country Club. Woods, a 15-time major champion who shares with Sam Snead the PGA Tour record of 82 career victories, has been recovering from Dec. 23 surgery on his lower back. It was his fifth back surgery and first since his lower spine was fused in April 2017, allowing him to stage a remarkable comeback that culminated with his fifth Masters title in 2019. He has carried the sport since his record-setting Masters victory in 1997 when he was 21, winning at the most prolific rate in modern PGA Tour history. He is singularly responsible for TV ratings spiking, which has led to enormous increases in prize money during his career. Even at 45, he remains the biggest draw in the sport. The SUV he was driving Tuesday had tournament logos on the side door, indicating it was a courtesy car for players at the Genesis Invitational. Tournament director Mike Antolini did not immediately respond to a text message, though it is not unusual for players to keep courtesy cars a few days after the event. Woods feared he would never play again until the 2017 fusion surgery. He returned to win the Tour Championship to close out the 2018 season and won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time. He last played Dec. 20 in the PNC Championship in Orlando, Florida, an unofficial event where players are paired with parents or children. He played with his son, Charlie, who is now 12. Woods also has a 13-year-old daughter. During the Sunday telecast on CBS from the golf tournament, Woods was asked about playing the Masters on April 8-11 and said, “God, I hope so.” He said he was feeling a little stiff and had one more test to see if he was ready for more activities. He was not sure when he would play again. Athletes from Mike Tyson to Magic Johnson and others offered hopes that Woods would make a quick recovery. “I’m sick to my stomach,” Justin Thomas, the No. 3 golf player in the world, said from the Workday Championship in Bradenton, Florida. “It hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he’s all right.” Crews used a crane to lift the damaged SUV out of the hillside brush. The vehicle was placed upright on the street and sheriff’s investigators inspected it and took photos. Then it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away Tuesday afternoon. This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation. The most notorious was the early morning after Thanksgiving in 2009, when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree. That was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months. In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder. Woods has not won since the Zozo Championship in Japan in fall 2019, and he has reduced his playing schedule in recent years because of injuries. The surgery Tuesday would be his 10th. He has had four previous surgeries on his left knee, including a major reconstruction after he won the 2008 U.S. Open, and five surgeries on his back. ___ Ferguson reported from Jacksonville, Florida. Stefanie Dazio And Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. As American officials plan steps to restore direct ties with the Palestinian leadership, Biden’s national security team is taking steps to restore relations that had been severed while Trump pursued a Mideast policy focused largely around Israel, America's closest partner in the region. On Tuesday, for the second time in two days, Biden's administration categorically embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that Trump had been purposefully vague about while slashing aid to the Palestinians and taking steps to support Israel’s claims to land that the Palestinians want for an independent state. The State Department said Tuesday that a U.S. delegation attended a meeting of a Norwegian-run committee that serves as a clearinghouse for assistance to the Palestinians. Although little-known outside foreign policy circles, the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee has been influential in the peace process since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. “During the discussion, the United States reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians and to preserve the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States underscored the commitment to supporting economic and humanitarian assistance and the need to see progress on outstanding projects that will improve the lives of the Palestinian people, while urging all parties to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve,” it said. U.S. participation in the meeting followed a Monday call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s foreign minister in which Blinken stressed that the new U.S. administration unambiguously supports a two-state solution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is close to Trump, has eschewed the two-state solution. Biden spoke to Netanyahu last week for the first time as president after a delay that many found suspicious and suggestive of a major realignment in U.S. policy. Blinken, however, has spoken to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi twice amid ongoing concern in Israel about Biden's intentions in the region, particularly his desire to reenter the Iran nuclear deal. In Monday's call, Blinken “emphasized the Biden administration’s belief that the two-state solution is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace alongside a viable and democratic Palestinian state,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The Trump administration had presented its own version of a two-state peace plan, though it would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty. The Palestinians, however, rejected it out of hand and accused the U.S. of no longer being an honest peace broker after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moved the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and rescinded a long-standing legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law, Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — A report commissioned by the BC Salmon Farmers Association says millions of juvenile salmon and eggs will be destroyed because of a federal decision to phase out fish farms in British Columbia's Discovery Islands. The report by economics firm RIAS Inc. says more than 10.7 million young salmon and eggs will be destroyed over the course of the 18-month phase-out. The industry association says in a news release that salmon farmers operate in five-year cycles and were expecting to transfer the young fish to farms that are fallowing when they reach maturity. The report also estimates the farm closures will results in the loss of 690 jobs in the salmon industry and put at risk an additional 845 jobs in indirect industries like car rental companies and veterinary colleges. Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan announced in December her decision to phase out the farms after hearing unanimous opposition from local First Nations. She said licences for the Discovery Island would receive a final 18-month extension to allow existing fish on the farms to mature to harvest. "While the culling of any fish would be unfortunate, industry leaders would have known for months prior, if not years, that a final decision would be made by December 2020 regarding the future of the farms," Jordan's office says in a statement. The statement cited a recommendation by the Cohen commission on the decline of Fraser River sockeye in 2012 that fish farm licences should only be renewed on an annual basis in the region. The commission said the Discovery Islands act as a bottleneck along wild salmon migration routes. Eliminating the fish farms was one of its key recommendations. The recommendation was also contingent on Fisheries and Oceans finding more than a minimal risk to migrating sockeye by September 2020. Last fall, the department reported finding nine pathogens from farmed Discovery Islands salmon, but said they posed minimal risk to wild stocks. "B.C. salmon farmers are asking that the decision be set aside to give everyone with a stake in salmon farming time to develop a plan to minimize the serious impacts of this decision," the industry association says. The Fisheries Department says it's working with the provincial government, industry, First Nations and other stakeholders to transition away from open-net pen farming by 2025. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
Kati George-Jim carries teachings about the relational cycles of ecosystems, passed on to her by one of her many women. The T’suk woman speaks of how salmon are nurtured by natural water systems — when fish bones are left on the side of the beach, animals are able to feed off that same nutrition. Bears and other animals then expel that waste, which nurtures other relatives on the floor of the forest, and helps plants grow which are then harvested from the land. It’s one of many teachings that are key to understanding Indigenous food systems in the territories they serve, Jim says. “Those teachings, that language and the relationship to nutrition all comes back to food,” she says. “Whether it’s feeding us or feeding ecosystems, it’s important to understand that relationship.” George-Jim has ancestry from both her parents stemming from the southern part of so-called Vancouver Island, T’Sou-ke and W̱SÁNEĆ Territories. She says she was raised to acknowledge jurisdictions outside of those boundaries which is why she she uses the more territory-based word T’suk. She is currently the community liaison Initiative lead of ŚW̱,ȻENEṈITEL Indigenous Food Systems Initiative, a First Nations-led program focused on sustaining local traditional foods. ŚW̱,ȻENEṈITEL recently put out a call for spring grant applications for projects involving local Indigenous food and knowledge systems on Lekwungen, W̱SÁNEĆ, T’suk and Pacheedaht territories. The grants range from $100 to $10,000 and cover activities such as creating food or medicine gardens, providing nutritional education, removing invasive species, providing traditional food for entire communities, and land restoration. This year, the Initiative has created four themed categories for proposals: Fill Your Basket & Community Harvest; Maintenance & Restoration; Storytelling; and Transformation & Transition. “For us as Indigenous peoples, it all comes back to the land itself and the land, as we know, reflects our economy,” says George-Jim, who has worked with the initiative since 2019. “When we have sustenance, that comes from ensuring that we have abundance. We have the land management and the laws that ensure the longevity of the land and who we are.” The initiative initially started with the intention of wanting to do things differently — granting projects from inside the communities instead of through outside agencies. Many times, external bodies that provide funding don’t actually address the root of the problem, George-Jim says. There are philanthropic foundations and charities that are starting to take steps towards having different relationships with Indigenous Peoples on the receiving end of grants, explains George-Jim, “but as we know, alot of diversity and inclusion strategies still don’t talk about the root.” George-Jim explains that ŚW̱,ȻENEṈITEL is unique as a place-based program, because it’s about how Indigenous leaders can move between the spaces and boundaries that have been put up around them. She says the grants are about direct relationships and working together to care for communities, the land, and future generations. “It’s actually working with communities (through) community partnerships,” she says. The work of the initiative is about self-determination. This is done by creating space and resources for funders to come to the understanding of how the initiatives need to be met — with an Indigenous-led focus, says George-Jim. The Initiative is now at a place where the funders don’t want to speak on behalf of communities and instead want to act as a facilitator for change, she adds. “The work of our own people and communities often does not fit into a program or into a funding stream,” she says. The grants aren’t just about food sovereignty, but also incorporate language, culture and family structures. “We are interdependent on each other,” says George-Jim. “We can and have always been self-sufficient, and our wealth is seen as how we take care of the land and how we give back to the land versus … wealth, in the view of a foreign economy to these territories, is seen as how much can be extracted.” George-Jim speaks to the legacy of colonialism in the changing landscape through agriculture and the displacement of Indigenous peoples through colonialism, including residential schools, reserve systems, and more. “If we really want to tackle systemic issues, we need to talk about what is literally rooted here,” she says, adding that, “it’s all of our responsibility to remove the conditions of colonialism from these territories in order to restore balance to our food systems and our ways of being as local Indigenous people.” People from Lekwungen, W̱SÁNEĆ, Tsuk, and Pacheedaht territories can apply for grants either through a written or oral application by Feb. 25. Katłįà (Catherine) Lafferty, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The huge parachute used by NASA’s Perseverance rover to land on Mars contained a secret message, thanks to a puzzle lover on the spacecraft team. Systems engineer Ian Clark used a binary code to spell out “Dare Mighty Things” in the orange and white strips of the 70-foot (21-meter) parachute. He also included the GPS co-ordinates for the mission's headquarters at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Clark, a crossword hobbyist, came up with the idea two years ago. Engineers wanted an unusual pattern in the nylon fabric to know how the parachute was oriented during descent. Turning it into a secret message was “super fun," he said Tuesday. Only about six people knew about the encoded message before Thursday’s landing, according to Clark. They waited until the parachute images came back before putting out a teaser during a televised news conference Monday. It took just a few hours for space fans to figure it out, Clark said. Next time, he noted, “I’ll have to be a little bit more creative.” “Dare Mighty Things” — a line from President Theodore Roosevelt — is a mantra at JPL and adorns many of the centre's walls. The trick was “trying to come up with a way of encoding it but not making it too obvious," Clark said. As for the GPS co-ordinates, the spot is 10 feet (3 metres) from the entrance to JPL's visitor centre. Another added touch not widely known until touchdown: Perseverance bears a plaque depicting all five of NASA's Mars rovers in increasing size over the years — similar to the family car decals seen on Earth. Clark suspects there are even more so-called hidden Easter eggs, but adds: “I'm not even privy to them." ___ 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. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
BUCHAREST, Romania — Olivier Giroud’s bicycle-kick goal awarded after video review gave Chelsea a 1-0 win against Atlético Madrid in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday. It took nearly three minutes for Giroud and his teammates to be able to celebrate the important 68th-minute away goal that was initially disallowed for offside. Giroud was clearly in front of the defenders when he pulled off his acrobatic shot, but VAR determined that the ball came from Atlético defender Mario Hermoso, thus annulling the offside. Atlético was the home team but the match was played in Bucharest, Romania, because of travel restrictions preventing visitors from Britain entering Spain. The second leg will be on March 17 in London. In the other round-of-16 match on Tuesday, Bayern Munich defeated Lazio 4-1 in Italy. It was the second consecutive loss for Atlético after a seven-match unbeaten streak in all competitions. It was also the eighth straight game in which the Spanish club has conceded a goal, extending its worst run without a clean sheet since coach Diego Simeone arrived in late 2011. Chelsea is yet to lose in its eight matches since coach Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard at the helm. It had been a lacklustre match until Giroud’s goal, with neither team managing to create many significant scoring opportunities and with the goalkeepers not having to work too hard. Chelsea controlled possession and looked a bit more dangerous, but both sides appeared to be satisfied with the scoreless draw and didn’t take too many risks. Hermoso was trying to clear the ball from the area and ended kicking it backward in a ball dispute with Mason Mount. Giroud reached up high with his left foot send the ball toward the corner of Atlético goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Mount and Jorginho were shown yellow cards and will miss the second leg because of accumulation of cards. Simeone had to improvise with midfielder Marcos Llorente as a right back against Chelsea because of several absences on defence, including Kieran Trippier following an English betting investigation. The teams had played in the group stage of the Champions League in the 2017-18 season, with Chelsea winning 2-1 in Spain before a 1-1 draw in London. Atlético eliminated Chelsea in the semifinals in 2014. It was in Bucharest that Simeone won his first title with Atlético, the 2012 Europa League. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (18,330.09, down 86.65 points.) Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC). Financials. Down 18 cents, or 0.73 per cent, to $24.44 on 18.6 million shares. Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Up 44 cents, or 1.7 per cent, to $26.34 on 15.3 million shares. The Supreme Cannabis Co. Inc. (TSX:FIRE). Health care. Down 1.5 cents, or 4.84 per cent, to 29.5 cents on 12 million shares. Toronto-Dominion Bank. (TSX:TD). Financials. Up $1.19, or 1.55 per cent, to $78.03 on 10.5 million shares. Zenabis Global Inc. (TSX:ZENA). Health care. Down half a cent, or 3.57 per cent, to 13.5 cents on 9.2 million shares. Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE). Energy. Up 17 cents, or 1.88 per cent, to $9.23 on eight million shares. Companies in the news: Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B). Down one cent, or 1.7 per cent, to 56 cents. Bombardier says it has been the target of a cybersecurity breach that compromised confidential information related to its employees, customers and suppliers. Hackers gained access to the data by exploiting a vulnerability in a third-party file transfer application, Bombardier said in a news release. The breach affected approximately 130 employees based in Costa Rica, the company says. Bombardier did not specify when the incident occurred, saying only that it happened recently. The company says it was not specifically targeted and the vulnerability affected multiple organizations using the software. Gibson Energy Inc. (TSX:GEI). Up 27 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $21.26. The CEO of Gibson Energy Inc. says "clarity" about the future of the cancelled Keystone XL pipeline has prompted increased interest from potential customers in an expansion of its diluent recovery unit now under construction at the Hardisty crude transport hub in east-central Alberta. Diluent, a light oil mixed with sticky, heavy bitumen from the oilsands to allow it to flow in a pipeline, makes up as much as a third of the volume of blended bitumen or "dilbit'' headed to U.S. refineries. Gibson's project is designed to remove the diluent from dilbit transported by pipeline to Hardisty, allowing transfer of the concentrated heavy crude to railcars for shipping south, while the diluent can be recycled to Alberta oilsands producers. Scotiabank (TSX:BNS). Up $2.02, or 2.8 per cent, to $74.10. Scotiabank was one of two banks to report that it is in a better financial position now than before COVID-19 became widespread in Canada. Scotiabank said on Tuesday that it had a profit of $2.4 billion or $1.86 per diluted share in the three months ending Jan. 31, up from nearly $2.33 billion or $1.84 per share in the same period last year. Although the novel coronavirus was identified in Canada in late January last year and sent the economy into a downturn by March, Scotiabank executives said that Canadian and international banking "showed marked improvement" by this winter. Provisions for credit losses for the quarter amounted to $764 million, down from $926 million a year ago. BMO Financial Group (TSX:BMO). Up $3.06, or three per cent, to $104.90. BMO Financial Group beat expectations as it reported its first-quarter profit was up compared with a year ago, before the pandemic began, as clients found ways to make their loan payments. The bank's executives also said on Tuesday that U.S. clients are benefiting from a faster vaccine rollout compared with Canada. BMO beat expectations as it reported a profit of nearly $2.02 billion or $3.03 per diluted share for the quarter ended Jan. 31, up from $1.59 billion or $2.37 per diluted share in the same period a year earlier. The profit came as BMO's provisions for credit losses for the quarter amounted to $156 million, down from $349 million a year ago and $432 million in the fourth quarter of its 2020 financial year. Thomson Reuters Corp. (TSX:TRI). Up $10.89, or 10.7 per cent, to $112.15. Thomson Reuters Corp. raised its dividend as it reported a fourth-quarter profit of US$562 million and beat expectations. The company, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, says it will now pay a quarterly dividend of 40.5 cents per share, up from 38 cents. The increased payment to shareholders came as Thomson Reuters says it earned US$1.13 per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, down from a profit of US$1.32 billion or US$2.64 per diluted share a year ago when it benefited from a large one-time gain. Revenue for the quarter totalled $1.62 billion, up from $1.58 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Adam Hunter/CBC - image credit) Saskatchewan's Opposition is calling on the province to change the date for the introduction of this year's budget because it falls on the third anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. But Premier Scott Moe says the budget will be delivered as scheduled. The Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly's spring sitting is scheduled to begin on April 6 with the tabling of the 2021-22 budget. NDP finance critic Trent Wotherspoon said it would be insensitive and inappropriate to introduce the budget on that day. "It represents indescribable loss for the families involved and for the community involved and for the team," Wotherspoon said. "It really did shake the province.You know, we're three years on from [the tragedy], but it's pretty critical that it's given it's due to properly remember and recognize those lives and the impact of all those that are affected." He said a family member reached out to him expressing concerns about the matter. "Listening to that family, I just wholeheartedly agree that it would be insensitive to hold this budget and to start the session on that day." Wotherspoon said whether or not it is just an oversight by the government, the Opposition would like to see the date moved forward. "We're calling on the government to do the right thing. And we're fully prepared to work with government to adjust and make that happen." Premier says finance minister understands weight of tragedy Moe said Finance Minister Donna Harpauer — who is also the MLA for Humboldt — will deliver the budget as scheduled. Moe said Harpauer represents the Humboldt area and understands the weight of the tragedy on the community, as she did three years ago when the crash happened. At the time, he said, he offered that she could delay presenting that year's budget, which was set for within a week of the collision, but "she wouldn't hear of it." "I know for certain that our minister of finance when she delivers the budget this spring will also be honouring those families, all of those impacted," said Moe. "She'll have her [hockey] sticks outside her door. We'll have them outside of the legislative assembly." The premier also suggested that instead of circulating a statement to the media, Wotherspoon could have contacted Harpauer directly with his concerns. Opposition finance critic Trent Wotherspoon says the government should move the start of spring session from the same day as the third anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. Looking toward the budget Wotherspoon said when it comes to the budget there needs to be investment in the communities, from the classrooms to mental health and addictions to community-based organizations. "We have a lot of community based organizations that are hanging on by a thread right now that do such vital work in this province. And so they need to be supported," he said. "Then importantly, we need all the resources, of course, to contain the virus and to ensure successful vaccination and to get us back into a recovery." Wotherspoon said the NDP is also calling on the government to remove the PST from construction. A six per cent Provincial Sales Tax has applied to construction in Saskatchewan since April 1, 2017. Wotherspoon said the tax has hurt the economy and cost jobs.
(CBC - image credit) A man Prince District RCMP had asked for help finding has been located safe. Just before 7 p.m. Tuesday, RCMP issued a news release about the missing man. The man was found about an hour after the release was issued.
(Submitted by Rod O'Connell - image credit) Two retired foresters from the Bathurst area have identified the largest known specimens in the province of two different kinds of trees, in an area they've nominated for provincial protection. Rod O'Connell and Karl Branch found a yellow birch tree measuring 145 centimetres in diameter and a black ash tree measuring 69 cm in diameter while walking along one of the three Portage Lakes, about 60 kilometres south of Campbellton. They first noticed the big trees about 10 years ago, O'Connell recalled. At the time, the men were taking part in an annual Christmas bird count in the Upsalquitch Valley along Route 180, also known as the Road to Resources. But it wasn't until O'Connell's daughter gave him a copy of the second edition of David Palmer's Great Trees of New Brunswick as a Christmas present that he decided they deserved further investigation. "I looked in the book and I said, 'Oh, my! Our trees up there might be bigger,'" said O'Connell. "So, this December we took a measuring tape and an instrument to measure the height. … And sure enough, they were bigger." Karl Branch stands next to a yellow birch tree at Portage Lakes that is estimated to be over 400 years old. The yellow birch at Portage Lakes is not quite the tallest known. O'Connell measured it at 20 metres. And the book lists one at Ayers Lake that's 28.5 metres. But its trunk is almost 50 per cent wider than the next largest birch Palmer has documented. There are three in the book that are each 1 metre in diameter. "It's just absolutely amazing and exciting," said the author, who may soon have enough material for a third edition. "I keep getting calls and emails from people saying, 'Oh, I've got a tree bigger than any in your book. You should come and look at this horse chestnut. It was planted back in 1902 by so-and-so. And did you know about this white spruce? It just keeps on going." O'Connell said he may know of a balsam fir that beats the record, too. It's located on the Nepisiguit Mi'gmaq Trail. He plans to measure it this spring. Palmer estimated the yellow birch tree at Portage Lakes may be five centuries old. "It's obviously been there for a while. Yellow birch is not a fast growing tree. It puts on a few millimetres of growth a year." "I wouldn't hesitate to say it's maybe four or five hundred years old." Palmer said it looks to be in good condition and might even live another 200 years. Yellow birch are "one of the iconic trees of the Acadian forest," said Palmer. "In mature stands," he said, you can usually find "a good sprinkling" of them. They're the longest lived of the three birch species in the province. White birch are old at about 100 years, he said. And gray birch typically only lasts 30 to 40 years. Karl Branch stands next to the large black ash tree found near Portage Lakes O'Connell estimates the black ash at Portage Lakes is about 150 years old. He measured it to be 20.75 metres tall. Palmer's book has one in Exmoor, north of Metepenagiag, that's 24 metres tall, but it's only 55 cm in diameter. The one O'Connell and Branch found is 14 cm wider. "These are two exceptional trees for sure," said Branch. "Just thinking that this birch tree was growing on that site probably before permanent European settlement in North America is difficult to envisage. The odds of a tree surviving all those seasons along with the wind storms, droughts, insect epidemics, fungal attacks, forest fires and more recently logging, are astonishing." Besides their size, he's also surprised by how close they are to each other. "They're only 20 feet apart," said Branch, "— practically twins." Branch didn't want to reveal the exact location of the trees because he's concerned it might put them at risk. "There's always a danger when you bring too much attention to the trees then people want to go see them and destroy what you're trying to protect in the first place." They've been able to survive there for so long, he said, because of "a combination of excellently adapted genes and lots of luck." For one thing, the land is "part of a wetland complex," so the trees are not easily accessible for harvesting and "it wouldn't have been easy ground to work on." This black ash tree near Portage Lakes is thought to be about 150 years old. For another, the forest make-up in the area is primarily hardwood, while softwood was traditionally sought for logging. "It's really only the last 20 to 30 years we've been actively harvesting hardwoods," said Branch. "So, it's been kind of ignored, basically." Palmer noted that yellow birch does have commercial use in high-end furniture and flooring. He described the wood as "beautiful" with a "rich, yellowish brown" colour. But over the long span of these trees' lives there would have been greater threats than forestry, said Branch. "Logging is relatively recent compared to the age of these trees," he said. "They really survived there because they're partially sheltered in the valley bottom. And they're growing obviously on a rich site. So that all contributed. And being a wetland complex there's a lower fire risk of fire. That would have been a much higher risk to them in the long term. They're sheltered from the wind storms … These trees lucked out and just germinated in a great spot, obviously." Owl surveys are done in the Portage Lakes area each spring, said O'Connell. This barred owl was photographed in December about 50 metres away from the site of the two large trees. O'Connell and Branch have submitted a proposal to protect the land that the trees are on. The trees themselves are worth protecting, said Branch, but he also sees them as part of a bigger picture. "It's the whole idea of allowing for older habitat to develop," he said. "It shows us what potentially the forest could look like." Big trees are becoming rarer in New Brunswick forests, said Branch, due to "more intensive forest management activities." "Short" harvesting cycles of 50 to 60 years don't allow most trees to "attain their full ecological potential," he said. Barred owls like large old trees for habitat. O'Connell said the Portage Lakes area has good habitat for barred owls. He participates in owl surveys there from April to mid-May. "It's sort of a protected spot along the lakes," said O'Connell. "Therefore we have a tendency to find more mature-forest-type birds like the black-backed woodpecker, which is fairly rare." Branch said other birds of prey use the large branches of "veteran" trees for perching and nesting. A few types of ducks and owls use their cavities for breeding. And mammals such as pine martens and fishers make dens in them to birth and raise their young. Unlike other ducks, wood ducks prefer to nest in cavities of old trees. "Clearly it's a very rich site and should be protected," said Palmer. The provincial Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development acknowledged the Portage Lakes area is of "known interest for conservation." Part of the area is already protected. The department said O'Connell and Branch's nomination is one of 111 that have been submitted for the latest round of possible "nature legacy" protection. It said each site will be considered by a team of biologists, foresters and geologists. Candidate areas for protection as shown on an interactive map on the Natural Resources and Energy Development website. Those who submitted nominations prior to the most recent Jan. 31 deadline can expect a status update by "this spring," said department spokesperson Nick Brown. After the initial screening, said Brown, proposed new protected areas will be released for review by First Nations, industry rights holders and the public before the government makes any final decisions. Since November, DNRED has opened comments on possible protection of more than 150,000 hectares, said Brown. He said two more batches of sites should be released in April and June.
TORONTO — A judge accused of lying to a disciplinary committee said on Tuesday that he did indeed give up all involvement with a Black federation he helped found out of fear he would be suspended from the bench.Testifying at a hearing into his alleged misconduct, Ontario court Judge Donald McLeod said he resigned from his roles on the Federation of Black Canadians in mid-2018.At the time, the disciplinary committee was weighing in on a complaint about McLeod's efforts as a member of the federation's steering committee and its lobbying of the federal government. The complaint turned on whether he was compromising his position as a judge by being a part of an activist group.McLeod, who has won widespread accolades for his work on Black issues, said he was surprised to learn he was under threat of judicial sanction and worried what would happen if that became public."It left me in an unenviable position," McLeod said. "Now they were going to suspend me. I’m the only Black judge on the Ontario court of justice. It would cause harm to my reputation.”McLeod had founded the federation in 2016. It describes itself as a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization to advance the social, economic, political and cultural interests of Canadians of African descent. The activist organization lobbied government on issues they considered key, including on behalf of Somali child refugee, Abdoulkader Abdi.Faced with suspension pending a ruling on the complaint against him, McLeod said he felt he had no choice other than to inform the Ontario Judicial Council in 2018 that he was no longer active with the federation.“I had to just go,” he said. “Then I was gone and all communication (with the federation) would have ceased.”A panel of the Ontario Judicial Council is looking at whether McLeod committed perjury when he told the first panel he was no longer active with the group."Justice McLeod resumed a leadership role in the FBC," according to the allegation against him.For example, in December 2018, evidence before the hearing was that McLeod was involved in an email chain with members of the federation. He explained they had reached out to him about proposed changes the organization wanted to make.McLeod said he offered information that only he had as a former member of the steering committee."I’m probably the only one who has the experience of the organization from the very beginning," McLeod said. “They would need my historical knowledge in order to see if this could actually be done."After the initial complaint was dismissed in Dec. 20, 2018, McLeod said he resumed limited, non-lobbying activities with the federation. He said the ruling had clarified what judges could and could not do, and he acted within those limits.“What the ruling does is it now gives us the four corners that we can work within,” he said.He said he did chair meetings but did not vote, except once accidentally on a routine motion, and absolutely refrained from any advocacy and had no role in any fundraising.. A newspaper broke the story of his new troubles and suspension with pay in September 2019 on a day he was achieving a prestigious award from United Nations in New York.“This has been a very tough run.” he said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
LONDON — Together, politicians Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon took the quest for Scottish independence from long shot to strong possibility. But now Scotland's former leader and his successor as first minister are locked in a feud that is tearing apart their Scottish National Party, even as its goal of an independent Scotland outside the United Kingdom is closer than ever. The two former allies have traded accusations for months over who knew what and when about allegations against Salmond, who was tried and acquitted last year on sexual assault charges. Salmond was scheduled to tell his version of the story Wednesday to a Scottish Parliament inquiry into how the Edinburgh-based government handled the allegations. He claims the sexual misconduct accusations, first levelled in 2018, were part of a witch-hunt, and he won a civil lawsuit when Scotland’s highest civil court ruled in 2019 that the way the Scottish government had handled the matter was unlawful. But Salmond on Tuesday cancelled his appearance after his written witness statement was removed from the Scottish Parliament website. He had refused to testify, if it was not made public. It was taken down after the national prosecutors’ office expressed concern about potential contempt of court, and later partially republished with some sections redacted. Salmond accuses people within the Scottish National Party and the Scottish government of a “malicious and concerted effort” to sideline him and hurt his reputation. He has also accused Sturgeon of lying about her meetings with him and of breaking the code of conduct for government ministers. If that was found to be true, she would have to resign. Sturgeon, who is due to testify in the inquiry next week, accused her predecessor of making “wild claims” that there was a conspiracy against him. “It is time for insinuation and assertion to be replaced with actual evidence,” she said. “There is no evidence, because there was no conspiracy.” The case has exposed a bitter rift between two former allies who have dominated Scottish politics for a generation. Salmond, who led the SNP for two decades and was Scotland's first minister between 2007 and 2014, built the separatist party into a major political force and took the country to the brink of independence by holding a 2014 referendum. He stepped down as first minister after the “remain” side won, and Sturgeon, his friend and deputy, replaced him. In 2019, Salmond was charged with sexual assault and attempted rape after allegations by nine women who had worked with him as first minister or for the party. Salmond called the charges “deliberate fabrications for a political purpose," and was acquitted after a trial in March 2020. The SNP has become increasingly split between Salmond's supporters, who want a new independence referendum come what may, and supporters of the more cautious Sturgeon. Sturgeon and her allies are also critical of Salmond’s efforts to stay in the public eye, especially his talk show on the Kremlin-funded English-language television station RT. Sturgeon’s popularity, meanwhile, has been boosted by her response to the coronavirus pandemic. Her calm, measured style in regular media briefings contrasts with the erratic messaging and frequent policy shifts of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is unpopular in Scotland. The crisis is amplified by the hothouse atmosphere of politics in Scotland, a small nation of 5.5 million. Among the Scottish National Party figures accused by Salmond of colluding against him is chief executive Peter Murrell — Sturgeon’s husband. The feud threatens to derail a party that is riding high in the polls and increasingly confident it can secure its long-held goal of leading Scotland out of the United Kingdom. Scotland's 2014 referendum was billed at the time as a once-in-a-generation decision. But the SNP says Brexit has fundamentally changed the situation by dragging Scotland out of the European Union even though a majority of Scottish voters in the U.K.'s 2016 EU membership referendum opted to remain in the EU. The U.K. as a whole voted narrowly to leave the bloc. An election for the Scottish Parliament is due in May, and the SNP has a strong lead in opinion polls. Sturgeon says that if she wins a majority, she will push for a new independence referendum and challenge Johnson in the courts, if the British government refuses to agree. John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, said the twisting Salmond-Sturgeon saga did not yet appear to have had a major impact on public opinion ahead of an election overshadowed by the impact of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic. “People won’t have read these detailed documents,” he said. “They know that Alex thinks that somebody was conspiring against him, and Nicola denies it. “The backdrop to this election is the most important public policy decision that the U.K. has taken at least since 1973, and the worst pandemic in a century," Curtice said. "So there’s plenty of competition for people’s attention.” Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Police are still seeking a suspect in the slaying of a Montreal-area woman on Sunday who had told authorities days prior about being the victim of alleged death threats. Provincial police said there have been no arrests in the killing of Marly Edouard, 32, known in Haiti's music scene as a former manager, producer and radio host. A command post was set up near her home in the Montreal suburb of Laval on Monday; a police spokeswoman said Tuesday she had no new information to provide. Djimy Ducasse, who lives in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and co-owned a music agency with Edouard, said in an interview Tuesday the community to which Edouard was closely tied is taking her death hard. Edouard came to Canada in 2016 and, two years later, set up Symbiose509, a Laval-based promotion, marketing and events agency with Ducasse, which operated in Haiti. Ducasse said he met Edouard in 2013 when she was managing rap stars in Haiti and he was hosting a radio show. It was a friendship that would continue with the pair becoming business partners. “We became good friends, we spoke all the time, we spoke about business, we spoke about everything and nothing,” said Ducasse, who last spoke to her on Friday — the same day she reported alleged threats to local police. Ducasse said they spoke about some tasks she wanted him to do and some recent health problems she'd encountered, but she never mentioned anything about threats on her life. He said he had tried calling her Sunday but Edouard never responded, which he said was unlike her. On Monday, Ducasse was alerted to Montreal media reports that Edouard had been killed. Quebec provincial police have classified Edouard's death as a homicide and have said her body bore marks of violence when it was found Sunday in the parking lot of her condominium building. Meanwhile, Quebec’s police watchdog is investigating the Laval police's response to the alleged threats Edouard reported last Friday. The Bureau des enquetes independantes said Edouard had called 911 to ask for help from Laval police on Feb. 19. The call was placed about 12:40 p.m. to police; officers met with her and left, according to the watchdog agency. Less than 48 hours later, Edouard was found dead. Edouard was described by Ducasse as kind and driven. She had been involved in the music scene in Haiti at a very young age and had worked with many artists in the country. Some artists took to social media to pay their respects to her. “Marly isn’t someone that went unnoticed,” Ducasse said. “Everyone who was part of the rap scene in Haiti, it was nearly impossible to not have worked on at least one project with Marly Edouard. It’s why her death hits hard for a lot of people in Haiti." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
Golf superstar Tiger Woods needed surgery after a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday that left him with multiple leg injuries. Officials say he was conscious when pulled from the wrecked SUV and the injuries are not life threatening.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden says the United States will work together with Canada to secure the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig from China. Biden says human beings are not bartering chips, and that the two countries won't rest until Spavor and Kovrig are home. The pair were swept up two years ago after Canada's arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who faces U.S. charges of violating sanctions against Iran. Biden's words were likely one of Trudeau's top demands when the two leaders sat down today for the president's first bilateral meeting since his election. They also vowed to move in "lockstep" in their collective fight against climate change, and to work together to defeat COVID-19. Today's meeting had to take place virtually, with Biden in Washington and Trudeau in Ottawa, due to the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
Sept-Rivières trône au sommet des MRC du Québec, pour l’augmentation du prix de vente de ses maisons, avec une hausse de 142% de la valeur de mise en vente sur une décennie. La Ville de Port-Cartier est celle où les ventes de maisons ont obtenu la plus grande fluctuation avec une augmentation de 181% du prix des ventes en 10 ans, pour des maisons unifamiliales, avec une moyenne de vente aux environs de 149 000$. Celle de Sept-Îles est tout de même à une élévation de 142%, avec un prix moyen de 205 500$. Malgré la pandémie, les ventes de maisons n’ont pas diminué en 2020. Le prix de vente a continué à progresser, avec une augmentation du coût moyen de 25%. Selon l’étude publiée par JLR, Solutions foncières, ce sont 392 propriétés qui ont été vendues à Port-Cartier, Sept-Îles et Fermont en 2020, une augmentation minime de 1%, comparativement à l’année antérieure. Les taux d’intérêt relativement bas sur les prêts hypothécaires auraient eu un impact sur les ventes de maison, ainsi que les besoins familiaux qui ont été revus en temps de pandémie. Ceci pourrait avoir fait augmenter les prix de vente, face à une grande demande. L’étude avance que ce chiffre de 25% pourrait être explicable par une vente de plusieurs maisons à valeur élevée. Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he expects a provincial lab will be able to test for samples of concerning COVID-19 variants by next month. He says the Roy Romanow Provincial Lab in Regina is in the process of becoming certified so it can carry out such tests on strains that appear to be able to spread more easily. Currently, samples have to been sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, which means results can take two weeks. Moe says testing variants in Saskatchewan will mean more samples can be analyzed more quickly. Health officials say two more cases of the mutation first identified in the United Kingdom were found in two residents in the Regina area. The Ministry of Health says they were tested at the end of January and health officials believe there is no link to travel. The province also reported its first case of the strain initially found in South Africa in a resident who was tested last month and lives in a region that includes Prince Albert. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021 The Canadian Press
NORTH BAY, Ont. — Public health officials say a second person has died in connection with a COVID-19 outbreak at a North Bay, Ont., apartment building where a variant of the virus has been found. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit says the person who died had tested positive for a variant of concern. The health unit says 42 people have contracted COVID-19 in the building outbreak, including 27 who have tested positive for a variant. The variant first detected in South Africa has been detected in one case, while the specific variant strains in the other cases have yet to be determined. The health unit announced the first death in the outbreak just a week after it was declared on Feb. 8. The district is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 variant cases, which the health unit says is particularly worrying because variants spread more easily. North Bay is one of only three regions in Ontario that remain under a stay-at-home order. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Alberta's energy minister says public consultations on coal mining will begin on March 29. Sonya Savage says her staff are still working out the details. The United Conservative government revoked a policy last May that had protected Alberta's Rocky Mountains from open-pit coal-mining since 1976. Widespread public outrage forced Savage to reinstated the protection earlier this month with a promise Albertans would be consulted on a new coal policy. The government has said it won't lease any more of the land in question for coal exploration until it gets input from the public. Leases for thousands of hectares have already been sold and the government says it will honour them. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to work toward achieving net zero emissions by 2050. "We're launching a high-level, climate-ambition ministerial and to align our policies and our goals to achieve net zero emissions by 2050," Biden said in a speech following a bilateral meeting with the Canadian leader. U.S. Special Climate Change Envoy John Kerry and his Canadian counterpart, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, will host the ministerial.